68 HOW BALL-CARRIER FINISHED HIS TASK
that their beloved redbreast had been sacrificed for nothing, and begged him to try a little.bit.
' You felt so sure that it would do you good before,' said she, ' that I can't help thinking it would quite cure you now.' But the man only flew into a rage, and flung the bird out of the window. Then he got up and went out.
Now all this while the ball had been rolling, rolling, rolling to the old grandmother's hut on the other side of the world, and directly it rolled into her hut she knew that her grandson must be dead. Without wasting any time she took a fox skin and tied it round her forehead, and fastened another round her waist, as witches always do when they leave their own homes. When she was ready she said to the ball : ' Go back the way you came, and lead me to my grandson.' And the ball started with the old woman following.
It was a long journey, even for a witch, but, like other things, it ended at last; and the old woman stood before the platform of stakes, where the body of Ball-Carrier lay.
' Wake up, my grandson, it is time to go home,' the witch said. And Ball-Carrier stepped down off the platform, and brought his club and bow and arrows out of the hut, and set out, for the other side of the world, behind the old woman.
When they reached the hut where Ball-Carrier had fasted so many years ago, the old woman spoke for the first time since they had started on their way.
' My grandson, did you ever manage to get that gold from the Bad One ? '
' Yes, grandmother, I got it.'
' Where is it ? ' she asked.
'Here, in my left arm-pit,' answered he.
So she picked up a knife and scraped away all the gold which had stuck to his skin, and which had been sticking there ever since he first stole it. After she had finished she asked again :