THE SISTER OF THE SUN 217
Suddenly, about midnight, the fox gave a low whine, and drew nearer to his bedfellow. ' Cousin,' he whispered very low, ' there is someone coming who will take the knapsack away from me. Look over there !' And the boy, peeping through the bushes, saw a man.
' Oh, I don't think he will rob us ! ' said the boy ; and when the man drew near, he told them his story, which so much interested the stranger that he asked leave to travel with them, as he might be of some use. So when the sun rose they set out again, the fox in front as before, the man and boy following.
After some hours they reached the castle of the Sister of the Sun, who kept the golden hens among her treasures. They halted before the gate and took counsel as to which of them should go in and see the lady herself.
' I think it would be best for me to enter and steal the hens,' said the fox ; but this did not please the boy at all.
' No, it is my business, so it is right that I should go,' answered he.
' You will find it a very difficult matter to get hold of the hens,' replied the fox.
' Oh, nothing is likely to happen to me,' returned the boy.
' Well, go then,' said the fox, ' but be careful not to make any mistake. Steal only the hen which has the feather missing from her tail, and leave the others alone.'
The man listened, but did not interfere, and the boy entered the court of the palace.
He soon spied the three hens strutting proudly about, though they were really anxiously wondering if there were not some grains lying on the ground that they might be glad to eat. And as the last one passed by him, he saw she had one feather missing from her tail.
At this sight the youth darted forward and seized the hen by the neck so that she could not struggle. Then, tucking her comfortably under his arm, he made straight for the gate. Unluckily, just as he was about to go