26 THE YOUTH WHO COULD NOT
It would be a pity for a nice young man like this, with such fine blue eyes, never to see daylight again."
But Hans spoke for himself at once,—" If it is so bad as you say," he cried, "I should like to try as soon as possible; all I want is to learn how to shiver and shake, so tell me what I am to do." And the youth gave the landlord no rest till he had explained the matter to him.
"Well," he said at last, "not far from here stands an enchanted castle, where you could easily learn to shiver and shake, if you remain in it. The king of the country has promised to give his daughter in marriage to any one who will venture to sleep in the castle for three nights, and she is as beautiful a young lady as the sun ever shone upon. Rich and valuable treasures in the castle are watched over by wicked spirits, and any one who could destroy these goblins and demons, and set free the treasures which are rotting in the castle, would be made a rich and a lucky man. Numbers of persons have gone into the castle full of hope that they should succeed, but they have not been heard of since."
Hans was not in the least alarmed by this account, and the next morning he started off early to visit the king.
When he was admitted to the palace the king looked at him earnestly, and seemed much pleased with his appearance; then he said, " Do you really wish to be allowed to remain for three nights in the enchanted castle?"
"Yes," replied Hans, "I do request it."
"You can take no living creature with you," said the king; "what else will you have?"
"I only ask for a fire, a turning-lathe, a cutting-board, and a knife," he replied.
To this the king readily agreed, and these articles he was permitted to take into the castle during the day. When night came, he took up his abode in one of the rooms, lighted a fire Avhich soon burnt brightly, placed the turning-lathe and the cutting-board near it, and sat down on the cutting-board, determined to make himself comfortable. Presently he exclaimed, "Oh, when shall I learn to shiver and shake? Not here, I am certain, for I am feeling too comfortable."
But at midnight, just as he had stirred the fire into a blaze, he suddenly heard in a corner the cry of a cat,—" Miou, miou; how cold it is."