The Wonderful Birch
Take you the child; I will give the other one work, lest she weary.'
She kindled the fire, threw a potful of hemp seed among the ashes, and said to the girl:
`If you do not get this sorted, and all the seed back into the pot, I shall kill you!'
The girl wept bitterly; then she went to the birch tree, washed herself on one side of it and dried herself on the other; and this time still finer clothes were given to her, and a very beautiful steed. She broke off a branch of the birch tree, struck the hearth with it, so that the seeds flew into the pot, and then hastened to the castle.
Again the King's son came out to meet her, tied her horse to a pillar, and led her into the banqueting hall. At the feast the girl sat next him in the place of honour, as she had done the day before. But the witch's daughter gnawed bones under the table, and the Prince gave her a push by mistake, which broke her leg--he had never noticed her crawling about among the people's feet. She was VERY unlucky!
The good man's daughter hastened home again betimes, but the King's son had smeared the door-posts with tar, and the girl's golden circlet stuck to it. She had not time to look for it, but sprang to the saddle and rode like an arrow to the birch tree. There she left her horse and her fine clothes, and said to her mother:
`I have lost my circlet at the castle; the door-post was tarred, and it stuck fast.'
`And even had you lost two of them,' answered her mother, `I would give you finer ones.'
Then the girl hastened home, and when her father came home from the feast with the witch, she was in her usual place behind the stove. Then the witch said to her:
`You poor thing! what is there to see here compared with what WE have seen at the palace? The King's son carried my daughter from one room to another; he let her fall, 'tis true, and my child's foot was broken.'
The man's daughter held her peace all the time, and busied herself about the hearth.
The night passed, and when the day began to dawn, the witch awakened her husband, crying: