When he saw his father's castle all grass-grown and in ruins, the Prince was overcome with sorrow, and with tears in his eyes he tried to remember how beautiful it had been, and how happily he had spent his childhood there. He tottered slowly round the ruins, and each crumbling room and weed-covered corner reminded him yet more bitterly of the past.
His white beard reached to his knees, he lifted his drooping eyelids with his fingers, while his weak and trembling legs could scarcely support him. And so staggering along, he came upon an old trunk. He raised the lid, and as he did so he heard a weak voice say :
"Be welcome! For had you come later, even I would have died ! "
Then Death, for it was She, fluttered out of the trunk right into his face, and he fell down lifeless, and turned at once into Dust.
And I jumped on a Saddle and came to tell you so. . . .
" The Tale of Peter." ^
I'll tell you a tale of what never was and what never will be ; who, therefore, wants to know what never was and what never will be, should read this tale, and he will know everything.
At one time there lived a mighty Emperor who had no children at all. Because of this, he always quarrelled with his Empress. One night, he went to sleep, feeling very cross that he could not have any children. During the night, he dreams that an Old Man comes to him and says :
" Emperor, if you want to have any children, then go, to-morrow, to a fisherman, and tell him to catch a fish and bring it to the Empress at a certain hour, and if the Empress eats that fish at that hour, she will have a child."
Next morning, the Emperor gets up and goes to a fisherman, who owned nothing else except a cat, a cock, a donkey and a small cart, — not forgetting himself and his wife. When the Emperor arrives he tells the Fisherman how things stand, and asks him if he can or can not bring him a fish at such and such
' This tale was taken down from the mouth of an old soldier, and the tenses are his.