UDEA AND HER SEVEN BROTHERS 157
home till the tears ran down his cheeks and dropped on her bare arm. And where the tears fell a white mark was made. Then the brother took a cloth and rubbed the place, and he saw that she was not black at all.
' Tell me, who painted you over like this?' cried he.
' I am afraid to tell you,' sobbed the girl, ' the negro will kill me.'
' Afraid ! and with seven brothers !'
'Well, I will tell you then,' she answered. 'The negro forced me to dismount from the camel and let his wife ride instead. And the stones cut my feet till they bled and I had to bind them. And after that, when we heard your castle was near by, he took pitch and smeared my body with it.'
Then the brother rushed in wrath from the room, and seizing his sword, cut off first the negro's head and then his wife's. He next brought in some warm water, and washed his sister all over, till her skin was white and shining again.
'Ah, now we see that you are our sister!' they all said. ' What fools the negro must have thought us, to believe for an instant that we could have a sister who was black ! ' And all that day and the next they remained in the castle.
But on the third morning they said to their sister: ' Dear sister, you must lock yourself into this castle, with only the cat for company. And be very careful never to eat anything which she does not eat too. You must be sure to give her a bit of everything. In seven days we shall be back again.'
'All right,' she answered, and locked herself into the castle with the cat.
On the eighth day the brothers came home. ' How are you?' they asked. ' You have not been anxious?'
' No, why should I be anxious? The gates were fast locked, and in the castle are seven doors, and the seventh is of iron. What is there to frighten me?'