THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS 267
she whispered hurriedly, ' but when he is asleep, return hither, for I would speak with thee.' And the prince did as he was bid, and when midnight struck he crept back to the top of the castle.
' To-morrow,' said the girl, who was the giant's daughter, ' to-morrow thou wilt get the choice of my two sisters to marry, but thou must answer that thou wilt not take either, but only me. This will anger him greatly, for he wishes to betroth me to the son of the king of the Green City, whom I like not at all.'
Then they parted, and on the morrow, as the girl had said, the giant called his three daughters to him, and likewise the young prince, to whom he spoke.
' Now, O son of the king of Tethertown, the time has come for us to part. Choose one of my two elder daughters to wife, and thou shalt take her to your father's house the day after the wedding.'
' Give me the youngest instead,' replied the youth, and the giant's face darkened as he heard him.
' Three things must thou do first,' said he.
' Say on, I will do them,' replied the prince, and the giant left the house, and bade him follow to the byre, where the cows were kept.
' For a hundred years no man has swept this byre,' said the giant, ' but if by nightfall, when I reach home, thou hast not cleaned it so that a golden apple can roll through it from end to end, thy blood shall pay for it.'
All day long the youth toiled, but he might as well have tried to empty the ocean. At length, when he was so tired he could hardly move, the giant's youngest daughter stood in the doorway.
' Lay down thy weariness,' said she, and the king's son, thinking he could only die once, sank on the floor at her bidding, and fell sound asleep. When he woke the girl had disappeared, and the byre was so clean that a golden apple could roll from end to end of it. He