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finished than smash! smash! crash! crash! went the plates clattering over the rocks.
"Oh!" exclaimed Magnus.
"Clatter, shatter, what's the matter?
All comes true about the platter,"
whistled the mocking-bird.
And then Magnus remembered what the bird had said should happen before he saw the white bear. "Polarelle,"
murmured the mocking-bird correctingly.
"How did you know what I was thinking about?" asked Magnus.
"Birds oft secrets know,
Birds oft secrets tell; But now the torches' glow
To thee doth show
That near is Polarelle."
Then Magnus sprang up and looked round in
hands appeared, each holding
a torch that gave a dazzling
light. Six flaming torches; and the hands held them quite steadily. Magnus wondered how they did it.
Then came a doleful crash on the stringed instruments, and Magnus was conscious of a fogginess in the air, which melted away before the heat of the torches, and a great white bear advanced, walking upon its hind legs and with a gold necklace round its throat.
Magnus felt a little confused; he had come on purpose to fight the bear, and to kill it, and here it was begging for pity.
What was he to do? He was indeed in a dilemma; for here was the finest white bear he had ever seen, and to slay it in honourable battle would be an exploit indeed, and he knew his praises would ring throughout all Lapland if he conquered him.
Nips, seeing howthings stood, began to prick up his ears; the white bear was evidently not to be feared, so Nips took courage and made a raid upon him, snapping at his legs, until Magnus commanded him to desist.
"You will sup with me tonight," said Polarelle, "and sleep in my cave. It is warmer than out here in the open air." "I don't know," said Magnus, bluntly.
"Fear me not, kind stranger," said Polarelle, "I shall not harm thee; let me feast thee to-night, and on the morrow thou shalt grant me the greatest fa
vour that it is
in the power of any one to grant to a wretched white bear."
Magnus was more and more bewildered.
"Promise all to Polarelle-
Things seem here; All will come right, So go to-night, Sup with the bear Without affright,"
piped the mocking-bird close to Magnus's ear.
"I came to kill a bear," muttered Magnus in a vexed tone.
"Don't spoil your journey by being stupid," returned the mocking-bird. "Take things as they come, and accept the white bear's invitation." "Come," said Polarelle.
And the six torches, two and two, preceded them; and Magnus and Polarelle, side by side, with Nips at their heels, entered the cavern to the strains of mournful music. Three elks which were standing there looked sadly at Magnus as he passed in.
and could have music, I would not have anything so doleful as this," thought Magnus.
"Yes, you would," replied the mocking-bird, who seemed determined not to lose sight of Magnus. "And you would have it a hundred times more dismal."
"I wish you didn't always know what I am thinking of," said Magnus brusquely; "it is very disagreeable not to have one's thoughts to oneself."
Just then the white bear drew aside a curtain,
and Magnus stepped into a second cave, where there were numbers of hands waving about in the air; and when he appeared they all shook hands with him as heartily as if he had been an old friend.
"Why, these must be the hands I saw before," thought Magnus.
"Of course they are," responded the mockingbird.
Suddenly the hands ranged themselves against the walls, each holding a flambeau.
Magnus did not know where they came from, or how they had been lighted; he only knew that there was a great blaze of light; and by the light he saw a train of white bears slowly advancing to meet Polarelle. They had glittering necklaces round their necks, and their fore paws had been cut off, and the stumps were bound round with
who wept with them, and
after that he gently stroked
them, and patted their heads, saying
"My bears, my bears, poor, poor bears." "Why poor?" began Magnus, but the mocking-bird stopped him before he said more.
"If you do Polarelle's bidding you will know." "To supper, now at once, to supper," said Polarelle. And the train of bears moved on to the supperroom, as did also Polarelle, Magnus, the mockingbird, and Nips.
Iceland moss and fish-that was all. But the bears had no appetites, so Magnus and Nips did the eating; and Magnus took a draught of cornbrandy to keep himself warm, for it was very cold in the cave.
Then Polarelle pointed to a small opening out of the larger cavern.
"There you will find a bed. Sleep, and dream, and wake resolved to do whatever I desire of you."
Magnus threw himself on the couch and drew the sealskins and fur rugs over him, whilst Nips crouched down beside him. Nips was very uneasy in his slumbers, and snorted and growled loudly. Magnus, however, had never slept so well in his life; the bed was very soft, and he had such
THREE ELKS... LOOKED SADLY AT MAGNUS" (p. 17).
that he was quite sorry when morning came and he awoke.
To his surprise he found by the side of the bed a
cup of coffee, some white bread and butter, and slices of ham.
Where did such food come from? He next drew on his reindeer garments, and sitting down on his bed made a very good breakfast; and Nips, suddenly becoming aware that eating was going on, roused up and took his share of the repast.
After this Mag. nus made his way to the first cave, where the music was still going on, and the bears howling a mournful accompaniment. The bears were ranged at the farther end of the cavern, but supplicating attitude,
Polarelle was standing in a gazing earnestly at Magnus. "Your promise to do my bidding," said Polarelle. "What wouldst thou have me to do?" asked Magnus, in rather a tragic tone, for he was awed by the solemnity of the scene.
Polarelle's paws were clasped, and not only Polarelle's, but about a dozen pairs of paws appeared in the air, and several pairs of hands also.
"Cut off my head," said Polarelle, imploringly. Magnus gave a start.
That would be a bad return for your hospitality,"
"Cut off my head," repeated Polarelle.
"Are you so very miserable that you wish to die?" asked Magnus, looking at him earnestly.
"To cut off my head is the kindest thing you can do. Cut it quickly, don't be afraid." But Magnus turned away.
"I cannot do it," said he.
"Your promise," said Polarelle.
"Your promise,” said the mocking-bird.
"Your promise," said all the bears and the three weeping elks.
And then a great cry rose up.
"Cut it off, cut it off. Cut off Polarelle's head. Don't be afraid."
And the hands and paws dashed frantically about, and one pair drew out Magnus' knife, and placed it in his hand. And Polarelle stood firm, not moving a muscle, not even winking.
"Strike!" said Polarelle to Magnus, "strike!" And before Magnus knew what he was doing (indeed, he always supposed that the hands and paws impelled him) he had cut off Polarelle's head, and was holding it in bis hand.
And now the greatest wonder of all came, for there stood before him the prettiest little girl he had ever seen, and she was pulling off off the bearskin as fast as she could, and would soon step out of it altogether! "Then you are not a white bear afterall," said the astonished Magnus. "Oh, no, certainly not. I am the Princess Inge
borg, and I am much obliged to you for freeing me from my prison!".
"Ingeborg!" repeated Magnus, for he had heard the story of how the little northern princess had been spirited away by the trolls, and could not be found; and, lo and behold, she had been a white bear named Polarelle all the time. How marvellous it all 1 vas! and what a good thing he had cut off her head ! And now the mourning chorus of the other tears died away, and instead came peals of merry
laughter. The hands and the paws were flying about, or rather, they were all hands now, and were fitting themselves to their right owners; for they belonged to the little playmates of Ingeborg, who had been carried off by the trolls at the same time, and had all been transformed into bears and elks.
Oh, what rejoicing! Oh, what laughing and embracing, and congratulating one another, and clustering round Magnus, and shaking his hands, and patting him, and calling him " a brave fellow," "a worthy son of Same-Landa," which means Lapland!
"And we shall now all of us go home! home! home!"
"And Magnus shall go with us," said Ingeborg, "and my father will give him great riches for what
"SHE WAS PULLING OFF THE BEARSKIN."
he has done, and every one will do honour to him, and the people will say, 'Long live Magnus, who set the Princess Ingeborg free.'"
Now the mocking-bird was a practical bird, and whilst the talking was going on he had slipped out and got several canoes together, which were soon filled with the happy children who were going home. The mocking-bird turned himself into an ancient Laplander, and took his place in the stern of the canoe in which Magnus and the Princess had seated themselves, whilst Nips stood up at the prow barking with all his might, as much as to say—
"Here we come, here we come!"
And all the people as they rowed along answered
"Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!" And when Ingeborg reached her own home the rejoicings were indeed very great.
And King Eric thought he could not do too much for Magnus, and the fathers of her playmates were equally grateful.
When at last Magnus returned to his own country and his own family, he took with him such treasures of gold and silver, that Gunnar his father, and Thorsten his grandfather, said that what he had done was very much better than bear-hunting. And Olaf his brother quite gave up the idea of going north to kill bears, for said he, "No bear would be of any account after the one that became the Princess."