'There is a shocking draught here,' said the Prince, as he sat down on the ground.
'It will be worse than this when my sons come home!' said the woman. 'You are in the cavern of the winds; my sons are the four winds of the world! Do you understand?'
'Who are your sons?' asked the Prince. 'Well that's not so easy to answer when the question is stupidly put,' said the woman. 'My sons do as they like; they are playing rounders now with the clouds up there in the great hall,' and she pointed up into the sky.
'Oh indeed!' said the Prince. 'You seem to speak very harshly, and you are not so gentle as the women I generally see about me!'
'Oh, I daresay they have nothing else to do! I have to be harsh if I am to keep my boys under control! But I can do it, although they are a stiff-necked lot! Do you see those four sacks hanging on the wall? They are just as frightened of them as you used to be of the cane behind the looking-glass. I can double the boys up, I can tell you, and then they have to go into the bag; we don't stand upon ceremony, and there they have to stay; they can't get out to play their tricks till it suits me to let them. But here we have one of them.' It was the Northwind who came in with an icy blast; great hailstones peppered about the floor and snow-flakes drifted in. He was dressed in bearskin trousers and jacket, and he had a sealskin cap drawn over his ears. Long icicles were hanging from his beard, and one hailstone after another dropped down from the collar of his jacket.
'Don't go straight to the fire,' said the Prince. 'You might easily get chilblains!'
'Chilblains!' said the Northwind with a loud laugh. 'Chilblains! they are my greatest delight! What sort of a feeble creature are you? How did you get into the cave of the winds?'
'He is my guest,' said the old woman, 'and if you are not pleased with that explanation you may go into the bag! Now you know my opinion!'
This had its effect, and the Northwind told them where he came from, and where he had been for the last month.
'I come from the Arctic seas,' he said. 'I have been on Behring