THE OWL AND THE EAGLE 239
more than utter soft sounds of joy. Hardly, however, were they set free, than a voice of thunder made the two sisters jump, while the little boy clung tightly round his mother's neck.
'What are you doing in my house?' cried she. And the wives answered boldly that now they had found their husbands they meant to save them from such a wicked witch.
'Well, I will give you your chance,' answered the ogress, with a hideous grin; 'we will see if you can slide down this mountain. If you can reach the bottom of the cavern, you shall have your husbands back again.' And as she spoke she pushed them before her out of the door to the edge of a precipice, which went straight down several hundreds of feet. Unseen by the witch, the frog's mother fastened one end of the magic line about her, and whispered to the little boy to hold fast to the other. She had scarcely done so when the witch turned round.
'You don't seem to like your bargain,' said she; but the girl answered:
'Oh, yes, I am quite ready. I was only waiting for you!' And sitting down she began her slide. On, on, she went, down to such a depth that even the witch's eyes could not follow her; but she took for granted that the woman was dead, and told the sister to take her place. At that instant, however, the head of the elder appeared, above the rock, brought upwards by the magic line. The witch gave a howl of disgust, and hid her face in her hands; thus giving the younger sister time to fasten the cord to her waist before the ogress looked up.
'You can't expect such luck twice,' she said; and the girl sat down and slid over the edge. But in a few minutes she too was back again, and the witch saw that she had failed, and feared lest her power was going. Trembling with rage though she was, she dared not show it, and only laughed hideously.
'I sha'n't let my prisoners go as easily as all that!'