When his extreme hunger wakened him after several hours, hewas still alone; but a little table, upon which was a good dinner,had been drawn up close to him, and, as he had eaten nothingfor twenty-four hours, he lost no time in beginning his meal,hoping that he might soon have an opportunity of thanking hisconsiderate entertainer, whoever it might be.
But no one appeared, and even after another long sleep, fromwhich he awoke completely refreshed, there was no sign of any-body, though a fresh meal of dainty cakes and fruit was preparedupon the little table at his elbow. Being naturally timid, thesilence began to terrify him, and he resolved to search once morethrough all the rooms; but it was of no use. Not even a servantwas to be seen; there was no sign of life in the palace! He beganto wonder what he should do, and to amuse himself by pretendingthat all the treasures he saw were his own, and considering howhe would divide them among his children. Then he went downinto the garden, and though it was winter everywhere else, herethe sun shone, and the birds sang, and the flowers bloomed, andthe air was soft and sweet. The merchant, in ecstacies with all hesaw and heard, said to himself:
"All this must be meant for me. I will go this minute and bringmy children to share all these delights."
In spite of being so cold and weary when he reached the castle,