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The Magic Shoes and Staff

He might quite easily have flown to her cottage and cheered her with his presence; but he was so wrapped up in his love for Patala that everything else went out of his head. This selfishness on his part presently got him into serious trouble, for he became careless about making himself invisible when he flew up to the princess' window. So that one night he was discovered by a guardian of the palace. The matter was at once reported to the king, who could not at first believe such a thing was possible. The man must have seen a big bird, that was all. The king, however, ordered one of his daughter's ladies to keep watch every night in an ante-room, leaving the door open with the tapestry, in which there was a slit, drawn carefully over it, and to come and tell him in the morning if she had seen or heard anything unusual.

Now the lady chosen loved the princess, and, like many of her fellow-attendants, thought it was very cruel of the king to punish his own child for being so beautiful, by shutting her up as he did. It so happened that the very first night she was on guard, Putraka had flown a very, very long way, not noticing where he was going, because he was thinking so earnestly of Patala. When at last he flew in at her window, he was so weary that he sank down on a couch and fell fast asleep. The princess too was tired, because she had lain awake talking to her lover so many nights running that she had had hardly any rest. So when the lady peeped through the slit in the tapestry, there, by the light of the night lamp, she saw the young king lying unconscious, whilst the princess also was asleep.

Very cautiously the attendant crept to the side of Putraka, and took a long, long look at him. She noticed how handsome he was, and that he was dressed in beautiful clothes. She especially remarked the turban he wore, because in India the rank to which men belong is shown by the kind of turbans they wear. "This is no common man," she thought, "but a prince or king in disguise.

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