The Three Little Men In The Wood
softly! do not go near her; she is lying in a beautiful sleep, and must be kept quiet to-day." The King, not thinking of an evil design, came again the next morning the first thing; and when he spoke to his wife, and she answered, a toad sprang out of her mouth at every word, as a piece of gold had done before. So he asked what had happened, and the old woman said, "That is produced by her weakness, she will soon lose it again."
But in the night the kitchen-boy saw a Duck swimming through the brook, and the Duck asked:
"King, King, what are you doing?
Are you sleeping, or are you waking?"
And as he gave no answer, the Duck said:
"What are my guests a-doing?"
Then the boy answered:
"They all sleep sound."
And she asked him:
"How fares my child?"
And he replied:
"In his cradle he sleeps."
Then she came up in the form of the Queen to the cradle, and gave the child drink, shook up his bed, and covered him up, and then swam away again as a duck through the brook. The second night she came again; and on the third she said to the kitchen-boy, "Go and tell the King to take his sword, and swing it thrice over me, on the threshold." Then the boy ran and told the King, who came with his sword, and swung it thrice over the Duck; and at the third time his bride stood before him, bright, living, and healthful, as she had been before.
Now the King was in great happiness, but he hid the Queen in a chamber until the Sunday when the child was to be christened; and when all was finished he asked, "What ought to be done to one who takes another out of a bed and throws her into the river?" "Nothing could be more proper," said the old woman, "than to put such a one into a cask, stuck round with nails, and to roll it down the hill into the water." Then the King said, "You have spoken your own sentence"; and ordering a cask to be fetched, he caused the old woman and her daughter to be put into it, and the bottom nailed up. Then the cask was rolled down the hill until it fell into the water.