PINKEL THE THIEF
daughter, as they knew by the cloak that this was a famous witch.
'What do you want?' asked she, at the same time signing to her daughter to stir the large pot on the fire.
'We are tired and hungry, and would fain have shelter for the night,' answered the eldest brother.
'You cannot get it here,' said the witch, 'but you will find both food and shelter in the palace on the other side of the lake. Take your boat and go; but leave this boy with me — I can find work for him, though something tells me he is quick and cunning, and will do me ill.'
'What harm can a poor boy like me do a great Troll like you,' answered Pinkel. 'Let me go, I pray you, with my brothers. I will promise never to hurt you.' And at last the witch let him go, and he followed his brothers to the boat.
The way was further than they thought, and it was morning before they reached the palace.
Now, at last, their luck seemed to have turned, for while the two eldest were given places in the king's stables, Pinkel was taken as page to the little prince. He was a clever and amusing boy, who saw everything that passed under his eyes, and the king noticed this, and often employed him in his own service, which made his brothers very jealous.
Things went on in this way for some time, and Pinkel every day rose in the royal favour. At length the envy of his brothers became so great that they could bear it no longer, and consulted together how best they might ruin his credit with the king. They did not wish to kill him — though, perhaps, they would not have been sorry if they had heard he was dead — but merely wished to remind him that he was after all only a child, not half so old and wise as they.
Their opportunity soon came. It happened to be the king's custom to visit his stables once a week, so that he