36 GEIRLAUG THE KING'S DAUGHTER
small house where the forester lived with his two daughters.
' Do you want a girl to sweep, and to milk the cows ?' asked she, when one of the sisters answered her knock.
' Yes, we do, very badly ; and as you look strong and clean, we will take you for a servant if you like to come,' replied the young woman.
' But, first, what is your name ? '
' Lauphertha,' said Geirlaug quickly, for she did not wish anyone to know who she was ; and following her new mistress into the house, she begged to be taught her work without delay. And so clever was she, that, by-and-by, it began to be noised abroad that the strange girl who had come to live in the forester's house had not her equal in the whole kingdom for skill as well as beauty. Thus years slipped away, during which Geirlaug grew to be a woman. Now and then she caught glimpses of Grethari as he rode out to hunt in the forest, but when she saw him coming she hid herself behind the great trees, for her heart was still sore at his forgetful-ness. One day, however, when she was gathering herbs, he came upon her suddenly, before she had time to escape, though as she had stained her face and hands brown, and covered her beautiful hair with a scarlet cap, he did not guess her to be his foster-sister.
' What is your name, pretty maiden ? ' asked he.
' Lauphertha,' answered the girl, with a low curtsy.
' Ah ! it is you, then, of whom I have heard so much,' said he ; ' you are too beautiful to spend your life serving the forester's daughters. Come with me to the palace, and my mother the queen will make you one of her ladies in waiting.'
' Truly, that would be a great fortune,' replied the maiden. ' And, if you really mean it, I will go with you. But how shall I know that you are not jesting ?'
' Give me something to do for you, and I will do it,