23S THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE.
upon him, and so girt that the colonel could thrust no finger-tip between girth and skin. He left her to finish what she had so well begun, and went and graithed his own. He then chose for the princess a great red horse, twenty years old, which he knew to possess every equine virtue- This and his own he led to the palace, and the maid led the king's.
The king and Curdie stood in the court, the king in full armour of silvered steel, with a circlet of rubies and diamonds round his helmet He almost leaped for joy when he saw his great white charger come in, gentle as a child to the hand of the housemaid. But when the horse saw his master in his armour, he reared and bounded in jubilation, yet did not break from the hand that held him. Then out came the princess attired and ready, with a hunting-knife her father had given her by her side. They brought her mother's saddle, splendent with gems and gold, set it on the great red horse, and lifted her to it But the saddle was so big, and the horse so tall, that the child found no comfort in them.
" Please, king papa," she said, " can I not have my white pony ? "
"I did not think of him, little one,"said the king. "Where is he?"
" In the stable," answered the maid. "I found him half-starved, the only horse within the gates, the day