THE STORY OF ZOULVISIA 221
Wrapped in these reflections, he remained standing beneath the walnut tree, long after horse and rider had vanished from sight. Then he awoke with a start, to remember that he must find the way to the house of his enemy, though where it was he had no notion. However, he took the path down which the rider had come, and walked along it for many hours till he came to three huts side by side, in each of which lived an old fairy and her sons.
The poor king was by this time so tired and hungry that he could hardly speak, but when he had drunk some milk, and rested a little, he was able to reply to the questions they eagerly put to him.
' I am going to seek Zoulvisia,' said he; ' she has slain my brothers and many of my subjects, and I mean to avenge them.'
He had only spoken to the inhabitants of one house, but from all three came an answering murmur.
' What a pity wre did not know ! Twice this day has she passed our door, and we might have kept her prisoner.'
But though their words were brave their hearts were not, for the ' mere thought of Zoulvisia made them tremble.
' Forget Zoulvisia, and stay with us,' they all said, holding out their hands; ' you shall be our big brother, and we will be your little brothers.' But the king would not.
Drawing from his pocket a pair of scissors, a razor and a mirror, he gave one to each of the old fairies, saying:
' Though I may not give up my vengeance I accept your friendship, and therefore leave you these three tokens. If blood should appear on the face of either know that my life is in danger, and, in memory of our sworn brotherhood, come to my aid.'
' We will come,' they answered. And the king