354 THE KING OF THE GOLDEN MOUNTAIN.
Father and son took leave of each other, and then they went down to a flowing stream that was not far distant, where the little ship lay. Bravely the boy stepped in, and his father, touching it with his foot, it turned over, and sank till every part was covered with water. Then the father, believing that his son was lost, went home and mourned for him deeply.
The little ship, however, did not sink, but righted itself again, and, as the boy had clung to it closely, he was able to regain the boat, and seating himself once more, was carried away over the waters for a long distance.
At length it reached an unknown shore, and immediately became fast. The youth stepped out on the land, and, seeing before him a beautiful castle, he walked up to it But the moment he entered he was under the sorcerer's power. He went, however, from room to room, and found them all empty, except the last, in which lay a snake coiled round in rings on the floor.
The snake, however, was a bewitched maiden, who was delighted when she saw him, and said : "Are you come, my deliverer ? I have waited for you for twelve years already, and it is you who are to set me free P
" How can I do so ?" he asked.
" I will tell you," she replied. "To-night there will come here twelve dark men bearing chains and fetters, who will ask you what you are doing here. Then must you be silent, and not answer a word in reply, let them do what they will to you. They will beat and torment you dreadfully; but whatever happens, do not speak, and at twelve o'clock they will be obliged to go away. To-morrow night another twelve men will come, and on the third night twenty-four. These last will cut off your head; but at twelve o'clock, if you have not spoken a word during the three nights, their power is over, and I am free. Then I shall be able to restore you to life, for I have a bottle of water which can cure everything, and if I touch you with this you will soon be well, and as healthy as ever."
Then said he: " All that you have told me I will remember to do, for I arn quite willing to release you from this enchantment."
It all happened exactly as she had said. The dark men came, but they could not make him speak a word, and so, on the third night, the snake ws changed to a beautiful princess. The moment