THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS 273
' Not yet,' said the apple at the foot of the bed, and the giant was satisfied. After a while, he called a third time, ' Are you asleep ? '
' Not yet,' replied the apple in the kitchen, but when, in a few minutes, he put the question for the fourth time and received an answer from the apple outside the house door, he guessed what had happened, and ran to the room to look for himself.
The bed was cold and empty !
' My father's breath is burning my back,' cried the girl, ' put thy hand into the ear of the mare, and whatever thou findest there, throw it behind thee.' And in the mare's ear there was a twig of sloe tree, and as he threw it behind him there sprung up twenty miles of thornwood so thick that scarce a weasel could go through it. And the giant, who was striding headlong forwards, got caught in it, and it pulled his hair and beard.
' This is one of my daughter's tricks,' he said to himself, ' but if I had my big axe and my wood-knife, I would not be long making a way through this,' and off he went home and brought back the axe and the wood-knife.
It took him but a short time to cut a road through the blackthorn, and then he laid the axe and the knife under a tree.
' I will leave them there till I return,' he murmured to himself, but a hoodie crow, which was sitting on a branch above, heard him.
' If thou leavest them,' said the hoodie, ' we will steal them.'
' You will,' answered the giant, ' and I must take them home.' So he took them home, and started afresh on his journey.
' My father's breath is burning my back,' cried the girl at midday. ' Put thy finger in the mare's ear and throw behind thee whatever thou findest in it,' and the