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58
PORTUGUESE FAIRY TALES.

eluded their vigilance, and departed without being noticed even by the sentinels at the palace gate.

Next day the king was sorely puzzled and grieved when, on making enquiries, he found that no one in the palace could give him the slightest information about the lady to whom he had given the ring, in token of his admiration and choice. He ordered a search through all the country round, to find out, if possible, who the maiden was; but all was of no avail, for the damsel could not be discovered high or low. At this the king, from grief and disappointment, sickened, and lay in a stupor for days together, until the physicians began to fear he would not live much longer. One day Horse-skin met his majesty's nurse, and asked her how the king was. The nurse said the king was so ill that he was not expected to live through the day, all through the violent passion his majesty had conceived for the damsel to whom he had given the ring, and of whom no traces could be found. "And," said she, "unless the cruel girl makes herself known to his majesty soon, we shall lose our beloved king."

The nurse was at the time carrying some broth to give to the king; and Horse-skin took this opportunity to drop the ring into the basin, without the nurse perceiving her. Great was the king's surprise when he discovered the ring; and the nurse being asked who had put that ring in his broth, replied that