158 UDEA AND HER SEVEN BROTHERS
' No one will try to hurt us' said the brothers, ' for they fear us greatly. But for yourself, we implore you to do nothing without consulting the cat, who has grown up in the house, and take care never to neglect her advice.'
' All right,' replied Udea, ' and whatever I eat she shall have half.'
' Capital! and if ever you are in danger the cat will come and tell us — only elves and pigeons, which fly round your window, know where to find us.' >
' This is the first I have heard of the pigeons,' said Udea. ' Why did you not speak of them before ? '
; We always leave them food and water for seven days,' replied the brothers.
' Ah, sighed the girl, ' if I had only known, I would have given them fresh food and fresh water; for after seven days anything becomes bad. Would it not be better if I fed them every day ?'
' Much better,' said they, ' and we shall feel any kindnesses you do towards the cat or the pigeons exactly as if they were shown to ourselves.'
' Set your minds at ease,' answered the girl, ' I will treat them as if they were my brothers.'
That night the brothers slept in the castle, but after breakfast next morning they buckled on their weapons and mounted their horses, and rode off to their hunting grounds, calling out to their sister, ' Mind you let nobody in till we come back.'
' Very well,' cried she, and kept the doors carefully locked for seven days and on the eighth the brothers returned as before. Then, after spending one evening with her, they departed as soon as they had done breakfast.
Directly they were out of sight Udea began to clean the house, and among the dust she found a bean which she ate.
' What are you eating ? ' asked the cat.
i Nothing,' said she.
' Open your mouth, and let me see.' The girl did as