206 THE ENCHANTED HEAD
anything with. So they all sat silent at their work, inwardly cursing the head which was the cause of their misfortunes.
When evening came, and there was no sign of supper, the head spoke, for the first time that day:
' Good mother, does no one ever eat here ? During all the hours I have spent in your house not a creature has touched anything.'
' No,' answered the old woman, ' we are not eating anything.'
' And why not, good mother ? '
' Because we have no money to buy any food.'
' Is it your custom never to eat ?'
' No, for every morning I go into the city to sell my veils, and with the few shillings I get for them I buy all we want. To-day I did not cross the bridge, so of course I had nothing for food.'
' Then I am the cause of your having gone hungry all day ? ' asked the head.
' Yes, you are,' answered the old woman.
' Well, then, I will give you money and plenty of it, if you will only do as I tell you. In an hour, as the clock strikes twelve, you must be on the bridge at the place where you met me. When you get there call out" Ahmed," three times, as loud as you can. Then a negro will appear, and you must say to him : " The head, your master, desires you to open the trunk, and to give me the green purse which you will find in it." '
'Very well, my lord,' said the old woman, ' I will set off at once for the bridge.' And wrapping her veil round her she went out.
Midnight was striking as she reached the spot where she had met the head so many hours before.
' Ahmed ! Ahmed ! Ahmed !' cried she, and immediately a huge negro, as tall as a giant, stood on the bridge before her.
' What do you want ? ' asked he.