THE KINCS ARMY. 237
with a missed blow. And besides, I must be near my beasts."
" As you will," said the king. "—Three horses then, Sir Bronzebeard."
The colonel departed, doubting sorely in his heart how to accoutre and lead from the barrack stables three horses, in the teeth of his revolted regiment
In the hall he met the housemaid.
M Can you lead a horse ? * he asked.
u Are you willing to die for the king ?
" Yes, sir."
" Can you do as you are bid ? "
" I can keep on trying, sir."
" Come, then. Were I not a man I would be a woman such as thou."
When they entered the barrack-yard, the soldiers scattered like autumn leaves before a blast of winter. They went into the stable unchallenged—and lo ! in a stall, before the colonel's eyes, stood the king's white charger, with the royal saddle and bridle hung high beside him !
" Traitorous thieves ! * muttered the old man in his beard, and went along the stalls, looking for his own black charger. Having found him, he returned to saddle first the king's. But the maid had already the saddle