THE GIRL WHO TROD ON THE LOAF 059
feet, and these webs cut like wire, and bound them like bronze fetters; and, moreover, there was an eternal unrest working in every heart—a miserable Tmrest. The miser stood there, and had forgotten the key of his strong box, and he knew the key was sticking in the lock. It would take too long to describe the various sorts of torture that were found there together. Inger felt a terrible pain while she had to stand there as a statue, for she was tied fast to the loaf.
' That 's the fruit of wishing to keep one's feet neat and tidy,' she said to herself. ' Just look how they're all staring at me ! '
Yes, certainly, the eyes of all were fixed upon her, and their evil thoughts gleamed forth from their eyes, and they spoke to one another, moving their lips, from which no sound whatever came forth : they were very horrible to behold.
' It must be a great pleasure to look at me ! ' thought Inger, ' and indeed I have a pretty face and fine clothes.' And she turned her eyes ; her neck was too stiff to turn. But she had not considered how her clothes had been soiled in the marsh woman's brewhouse. Her garments were covered with mud ; a snake had fastened in her hair, and dangled down her back ; and out of each fold of her frock a great toad looked forth, croaking like an asthmatic poodle. That was very unpleasant. ' But all the rest of them down here also look horrible,' she observed to herself, and derived consolation from the thought.
The worst of all was the terrible hunger that tormented her. But could she not stoop and break off a piece of the loaf on which she stood ? No, her back was too stiff, her hands and arms were benumbed, and her whole body was like a pillar of stone ; she was only able to turn her eyes in her head, to turn them quite round, so that she could see backwards : it was an ugly sight. And then the flies came up, and crept to and fro over her eyes, and she blinked her eyes, but the flies would not go away, for they could not fly : their wings had been pulled out, so that they were converted into creeping insects : it was horrible torment added to the hunger, for she felt empty, quite, entirely empty.
' If this lasts much longer,' she said, ' I shall not be able to bear it.'