198 THE ONE-HANDED GIRL
and as long as she had him with her, she did not very much mind anything. So, taking her son on her arm, and hanging a Uttle earthen pot for cooking round her neck, she left her house with its great peacock fans and slaves and seats of ivory, and plunged into the forest.
For a while she walked, not knowing whither she went, then by and bye she grew tired, and sat under a tree to rest and to hush her baby to sleep. Suddenly she raised her eyes, and saw a snake wriggling from under the bushes towards her.
' I am a dead woman,' she said to herself, and stayed quite still, for indeed she was too frightened to move. In another minute the snake had reached her side, and to her surprise he spoke.
' Open your earthen pot, and let me go in. Save me from sun, and I will save you from rain,' and she opened the pot, and when the snake had slipped in, she put on the cover. Soon she beheld another snake coming after the other one, and when it had reached her it stopped and said, ' Did you see a small grey snake pass this way just now ? '
' Yes,' she answered, ' it was going very quickly.'
' Ah, I must hurry and catch it up,' replied the second snake, and it hastened on.
When it was out of sight, a voice from the pot said :
' Uncover me,' and she lifted the lid, and the Uttle grey snake sUd rapidly to the ground.
' I am safe now,' he said. ' But tell me, where are you going ? '
' I cannot tell you, for I do not know,' she answered. ' I am just wandering in the wood.'
' Follow me, and let us go home together,' said the snake, and the girl followed him through the forest and along the green paths, till they came to a great lake, where they stopped to rest.
' The sun is hot' said the snake. ' and vou have