THE END OF THE BROWN BULL.
“’And happy they
ever lived after’—
Yes, that was the end of the tale.”
“The Princess collected her courage, and turned in the direction of the sound. It seemed to come from a little thicket of close-growing bushes near which she had been passing. For a minute or two she could distinguish nothing, but another moan guided her in the right direction, and there, to her horror and distress, she saw the poor Prince lying on the ground, pale and death-like. At first she thought he was without consciousness, but when she hastened up to him with a cry, he opened his eyes.
“‘Ah!’ he said, faintly; ’I never thought I should have escaped alive. How good of you to have come to seek for me, Princess; otherwise I might have died here without seeing you again.’
“‘But you must not die,’ said the Princess, weeping; ’can nothing be done for you?’
“He tried to sit up, and when the Princess had fetched him some water from one of the numerous springs in the garden, he seemed better. But his right arm was badly injured.
“‘How did it happen?’ asked the Princess. ’I thought no mortal weapon had power to hurt you. That has been my only consolation through these lonely days of waiting.’
“‘You are right,’ replied the Prince; ’as a bull nothing can injure me, but in my own form I am in no way magically preserved. All day long I have been chased by hunters, who saw in me, I suppose, a valuable prize. I was terrified of the hour of sunset arriving and finding me far from home. I used my utmost endeavour to reach this in time, but, alas! I was overcome with fatigue, from which no spell protects me. At the entrance to these gardens I saw the sun disappear, and I fell exhausted, just as an arrow struck my right arm at the moment of my transformation. All I could do was to crawl in among these bushes, and here I have lain, thankful to escape from my persecutors, and most thankful to the happy thought, Princess, which brought you this way.’
“The Princess, her eyes still full of tears, helped him to the palace, where she bound up his arm and tended him carefully, for, young as she was, she had learnt many useful acts of this kind in her father’s castle. The wound was not a very serious one; the Prince was suffering more from exhaustion and fatigue.
“‘If I could spend a day or two here in peace,’ he said sadly, ’I should quickly recover. But, alas! that is impossible. I must submit to my cruel fate. But this night I must confine my wanderings to the forests in this neighbourhood, where, perhaps, I may be able to hide from the huntsmen, who, no doubt, will be watching for me.’
“He sighed heavily, and the Princess’s heart grew very sad.
“‘I have little more than an hour left,’ he said.
“‘Yes,’ said the Princess, ‘sleep if you can; I will not disturb you.’