320 THE ELF-HILL
the Hailing dance. Hurrah ! all at once the old gnome gave the old elf girl a kiss : that was a kiss ! and yet they were nothing to each other.
Now the elf maidens had to dance, both with plain and with stamping steps, and that suited them well; then came the artistic and solo dance. Wonderful how they could use their legs ! one hardly knew where they began and where they ended, which were their arms and which their legs—they were all mingled together like wood shavings; and then they whirled round till the death horse turned giddy and was obliged to leave the table.
' Prur!' said the old gnome; * that's the way to use one's legs. But what can they do more than dance, stretch out their limbs, and make a whirlwind ? '
1 You shall soon know !' said the Elf King.
And then he called forward the youngest of his daughters. She was as light and graceful as moonshine; she was the most delicate of all the sisters. She took a white peg in her mouth, and then she was quite gone : that was her art.
But the old gnome said he should not like his wife to possess this art, and he did not think that his boys cared for it.
The other could walk beside herself, just as if she had a shadow, and the gnome people had none. The third daughter was of quite another kind ; she had served in the brewhouse of the moor witch, and knew how to stuff elder-tree knots with glow-worms.
' She will make a good housewife,' said the old gnome ; and then he winked a health with his eyes, for he did not want to drink too much.
Now came the fourth : she had a great harp to play upon, and when she struck the first chord all lifted up their left feet, for the gnomes are left-legged ; and when she struck the second chord, all were compelled to do as she wished.
1 That's a dangerous woman !' said the old gnome ; but both the sons went out of the hill, for they had had enough of it.
6 And what can the next daughter do ? ' asked the old gnome.