The White Cat
The Prince had forgotten all about meeting his brothers: he did not even know what country he belonged to; but the White Cat knew when he ought to go back, and one day she said to him:
"Do you know that you have only three days left to look for the little dog for your father, and your brothers have found lovely ones?"
Then the Prince suddenly recovered his memory, and cried:
"What can have made me forget such an important thing? My whole fortune depends upon it; and even if I could in such a short time find a dog pretty enough to gain me a kingdom, where should I find a horse who would carry me all that way in three days?" And he began to be very vexed. But the White Cat said to him: "King's son, do not trouble yourself; I am your friend, and will make everything easy for you. You can still stay here for a day, as the good wooden horse can take you to your country in twelve hours."
"I thank you, beautiful Cat," said the Prince; "but what good will it do me to get back if I have not a dog to take to my father?"
"See here," answered the White Cat, holding up an acorn; "there is a prettier one in this than in the Dogstar!"
"Oh! White Cat dear," said the Prince, "how unkind you are to laugh at me now!"
"Only listen," she said, holding the acorn to his ear.
And inside it he distinctly heard a tiny voice say: "Bow-wow!"
The Prince was delighted, for a dog that can be shut up in an acorn must be very small indeed. He wanted to take it out and look at it, but the White Cat said it would be better not to open the acorn till he was before the King, in case the tiny dog should be cold on the journey. He thanked her a thousand times, and said good-by quite sadly when the time came for him to set out.
"The days have passed so quickly with you," he said, "I only wish I could take you with me now."
But the White Cat shook her head and sighed deeply in answer.
After all the Prince was the first to arrive at the castle where he had agreed to meet his brothers, but they came soon after, and stared in amazement when they saw the wooden horse in the courtyard jumping like a hunter.