So he took him out of the wooden cage and placed him in the golden one. Hardly had he shut the door when the bird opened his eyes and gave a piercing scream; so shrill was it that it awoke the other birds, who began to sing as loud as they could, and gave the alarm to the guards at the palace door. These rushed in, seized the prince, and dragged him before the king. The latter was very angry, and said: “Infamous thief, who are you to have dared to force an entrance, and pass through my sentinels, to steal my bird Ohnivak?”
“I am not a thief,” answered the young prince indignantly, “I have come to reclaim a thief whom you protect. I am the son of a king, and in my father’s gardens is an apple tree that bears golden fruit. It blossoms at morning-time, while during the day the flower develops into an apple that grows and ripens after sunset. Now in the night your bird robbed us of our golden apples, and though I watched and wounded him I could not catch him. My father is dying with grief because of this, and the only remedy that can save and restore him to health, is that he may listen to the fire-bird’s song. This is why I beg your majesty to give him me.”
“You may have him,” said the king, “but on one condition, that you bring me Zlato-Nrivak, the horse with the golden mane.”
So the prince had to go away empty-handed.
“Why did you not do as I told you? Why must you go and take the golden cage?” said the fox, in despair at the failure of the expedition.
“I admit it was my own fault,” said the prince, “but do not punish me by being angry. I want your advice: tell me how I am to get Zlato-Nrivak?”
“I know how it can be done,” answered the red fox, “and I will help you once more. Get on your horse, follow me, and do as I tell you.”
The fox ran on in front, clearing the road with his bushy tail. The prince followed at a gallop, until they came to a castle built entirely of silver.
“In that castle lives the Horse with the Golden Mane,” said the fox. “You will have to go exactly at midday, when the sentinels are asleep; thus you will get past safe and sound.