THE THREE CROWNS 101
says he, when all was done, ' I smell fresh meat still.' ' It's sleepy you are,' says she ; ' go to bed.' ' When will you marry me ? ' says the giant. ' You're putting me off too long.' ' St. Tibb's Eve,' says she. ' I wish I knew how far off that is,' says he ; and he fell asleep, with his head in the dish.
Next day, he went out after breakfast, and she sent the prince to the castle where the eldest sister was. The same thing happened there; but when the giant was snoring, the princess wakened up the prince, and they saddled two steeds in the stables and rode into the field on them. But the horses' heels struck the stones outside the gate, and up got the giant and strode after them. He roared and he shouted, and the more he shouted, the faster ran the horses, and just as the day was breaking he was only twenty perches behind. But the prince didn't leave the castle of Seven Inches without being provided with something good. He reined in his steed, and flung a short, sharp knife over his shoulder, and up sprung a thick wood between the giant and themselves. They caught the wind that blew before them, and the wind that blew behind them did not catch them. At last they were near the castle where the other sister lived ; and there she was, waiting for them under a high hedge, and a fine steed under her.
But the giant was now in sight, roaring like a hundred lions, and the other giant was out in a moment, and the chase kept on. For every two springs the horses gave, the giants gave three, and at last they were only seventy perches off. Then the prince stopped again, and flung the second knife behind him. Down went all the flat field, till there was a quarry between them a quarter of a mile deep, and the bottom filled with black water ; and before the giants could get round it, the prince and princesses were inside the kingdom of the great magician, where the high thorny hedge opened