Collectanea. 3 1 9
thing happens, it will be all your fault. However, I will have a word with you, and if you accept the bargain, I will take you back."
" I accept willingly," said the Boy.
"Then listen," said the Horse, "as soon as we arrive at your father's castle, I will leave you and come back here, even if you only want to stop there for an hour."
" Be it as you wish," said the Boy, and bidding the Ladies fare- well, he went away, leaving them sighing and weeping behind.
So the Horse and the Boy rode away again, until they came to the Scorpion's Kingdom ; but there they found towns, and the woods had turned into fields. The Boy asked this one and that one about the Scorpion. But people, laughing at him, only answered that their great-grandfathers had heard from their great- grandfathers of such rubbish.
"How is that?" said the Boy, "I passed through here only the other day," and he began telling them all he knew. But the people only laughed at him anew, and listened to him as to one who dreams awake. And so he rode away, much grieved, not noticing that his hair and beard had turned quite white.
Then they came to the Wood-pecker's Kingdom, and here too all was changed, and when he asked again, and again got the same answers, and again was laughed at, the poor Prince could not understand how all these things could have changed in a few days ; and being now still more grieved, he rode off once more, his white beard reaching to his waist and his legs shaking in his stirrups.
And so he rode, for mile upon weary mile, until he came to his father's Kingdom ; but here, too, there were other people and other towns, and everything was so changed that he could not believe his eyes. He went to the castle in which he had been born. As soon as he dismounted, the Horse kissed his hand, saying :
"Good-bye, Master, I am going back. If you wish to come too, jump at once on my back and let us start."
"Go alone, and Good Health to you. I will come later on," said the Prince, sadly. So the Horse, sighing deeply, flew away as quickly as an arrow.