IB AND CHRISTINE
for a time, they threw themselves down on the dry leaves, and went fast asleep. ^
The sun was high in the heavens when the two children awoke. They were cold ; but on the hillock close at hand the sun shone through the trees, and there they thought they would warm themselves ; and from there lb fancied they would be able to see his parents' house. But they were far away from that, in quite another part of the forest. They clambered to the top of the rising ground, and found themselves on the summit of a slope running down to the margin of a transparent lake. They could see fish in great numbers in the pure water illumined by the sun's rays. This spectacle was quite a sudden surprise for them ; close beside them grew a nut tree covered with the finest nuts ; and now they picked the nuts and cracked them, and ate the delicate young kernels, which had only just begun to form. But there was another surprise and another fright in store for them. Out of the thicket stepped a tall old woman : her face was quite brown, and her hair was deep black and shining. The whites of her eyes gleamed like a negro's ; on her back she carried a bundle, and in her hand she bore a knotted stick. She was a gipsy. The children did not at once understand what she said. She brought three nuts out of her pocket, and told them that in these nuts the most beautiful, the loveliest things were hidden, for they were wishing-nuts.
lb looked at her, and she seemed so friendly that he plucked up courage and asked her if she would give him the nuts ; and the woman gave them to him, and gathered some more for herself, a whole pocketful, from the nut tree.
And lb and Christine looked at the wishing-nuts with great eyes.
1 Is there a carriage with a pair of horses in this nut ? ' he asked.
' Yes, there's a golden carriage with golden horses,' answered the woman.
1 Then give me the nut,' said little Christine.
And lb gave it to her, and the strange woman tied it in her pocket-handkerchief for her.
* Is there in this nut a pretty little neckerchief, like the one Christine wears round her neck ? ' inquired lb.