THE ONE-HANDED GIRL 191
When she woke up on the seventh morning she saw from her perch smoke coming up from a little town on the edge of the forest. The sight of the huts made her feel more lonely and helpless than before. She longed desperately for a draught of milk from a gourd, for there were no streams in that part, and she was very thirsty, but how was she to earn anything with only one hand ? And at this thought her courage failed, and she began to cry bitterly.
It happened that the king's son had come out from the town very early to shoot birds, and when the sun grew hot he felt tired.
' I will He here and rest under this tree,' he said to his attendants. ' You can go and shoot instead, and I will just have this slave to stay with me!' Away they went, and the young man fell asleep, and slept long. Suddenly he was awakened by something wet and salt falling on his face.
' What is that ? Is it raining ? ' he said to his slave. ' Go and look.'
' No, master, it is not raining,' answered the slave.
' Then climb up the tree and see what it is,' and the slave climbed up, and came back and told his master that a beautiful girl was sitting up there, and that it must have been her tears which had fallen on the face of the king's son.
' Why was she crying ? ' inquired the prince.
' I cannot tell—I did not dare to ask her ; but perhaps she would tell you.' And the master, greatly wondering, climbed up the tree.
' What is the matter with you ? ' said he gently, and, as she only sobbed louder, he continued :
' Are you a woman, or a spirit of the woods ? '
' I am a woman,' she answered slowly, wiping her eyes with a leaf of the creeper that hung about her.
' Then why do you cry ? ' he persisted.