THE TRAVELLING COMPANION 49
yellow hair with golden combs : they were rocking themselves, two and two, on the great dew-drops that lay on the leaves and on the high grass ; sometimes the drop rolled away, and then they fell down between the long grass-stalks, and that occasioned much laughter and noise among the other little creatures. It was extremely amusing. They sang, and John recognized quite plainly the pretty songs which he had learned as a little boy. Great coloured spiders, with silver crowns on their heads, had to spin long hanging bridges and palaces from hedge to hedge ; and as the tiny dew-drops fell on these they looked like gleaming glass in the moonlight. This continued until the sun rose. Then the little elves crept into the flower-buds, and the wind caught their bridges and palaces, which flew through the air in the shape of spider's webs.
John had just come out of the wood, when a strong man's voice called out behind him, ' Halloo, comrade ! whither are you journeying ? '
' Into the wide world ! ' he replied. ' I have neither father nor mother, and am but a poor lad ; but Providence will help me.'
11 am going out into the wide world, too,' said the strange man : ' shall we two keep one another company ? '
' Yes, certainly,' said John; and so they went on together. Soon they became very fond of each other, for they were both good souls. But John saw that the stranger was much more clever than himself. He had travelled through almost the whole world, and could tell of almost everything that existed.
The sun already stood high when they seated themselves under a great tree to eat their breakfast; and just then an old woman came up. Oh, she was very old, and walked quite bent, leaning upon a crutch ; upon her back she carried a bundle of firewood which she had collected in the forest. Her apron was tucked up, and John saw that three great stalks of fern and some willow twigs stuck out of it. When she was close to them, her foot slipped ; s}ie fell and gave a loud scream^Jor^she_jiaxi'br5kefr"her leg, the poor old woman !
John directly proposed that they should carry the old woman home to her dwelling ; but the stranger opened