44 IAN, THE SOLDIER'S SON
in clean water, and take balsam from a vessel on top of the door, and rub it over your body, and to-morrow you will be as strong as many men, and I will lead you to the dwelling of the middle one.'
Ian did as the raven bade him, and in spite of the eldest daughter's entreaties, he set out to seek her next sister. He found her where she was seated sewing, her very thimble wet from the tears which she had shed.
'What brought you here?' asked the second sister.
'Why may I not go where you can go?' answered he; 'and why are you weeping?'
'Because in one day I shall be married to the giant who is on the hunting hill.'
'How can I get him home?' asked Ian.
'Nought will bring him but a shake of that iron chain which hangs outside the gate. But there is neither to leeward, nor to westward, nor in the four brown boundaries of the sea, any man that can hold battle with him, save Ian, the soldier's son, and he is now but sixteen years of age.'
'In the land whence I have come there are many men with the strength of Ian,' said he. And he went outside and pulled at the chain, but he could not move it, and fell on his knees. At that he rose to his feet, and gathering up his strength mightily, he seized the chain, and this time he shook it so that three links broke. And the second giant heard it on the hunting hill, and lifted his head, thinking —
'It sounds like the noise of Ian, the soldier's son,' said he; 'but as yet he is only sixteen years old. Still, I had better look to it.' And home he came.
'Are you Ian, the soldier's son?' he asked, as he entered the castle.
'No, of a surety,' answered Ian, who had no wish that this giant should know him either; 'but I will wrestle with you as if I were he.'