THE BIRD OF TRUTH 301
dreary, but at nightfall the child could see behind the dark and bare rocks something darker still. This was the tower in which dwelt the witch; and seizing the knocker he gave three loud knocks, which were echoed in the hollows of the rocks around.
The door opened slowly, and there appeared on the threshold an old woman holding up a candle to her face, which was so hideous that the boy involuntarily stepped backwards, almost as frightened by the troop of lizards, beetles, and such creatures that surrounded her, as by the woman herself.
'Who are you who dare to knock at my door and wake me?' cried she. 'Be quick and tell me what you want, or it will be the worse for you.'
'Madam,' answered the child, 'I believe that you alone know the way to the castle of Come-and-never-go, and I pray you to show it to me.'
'Very good,' replied the witch, with something that she meant for a smile, 'but to-day it is late. To-morrow you shall go. Now enter, and you shall sleep with my lizards.'
'I cannot stay,' said he. 'I must go back at once, so as to reach the road from which I started before day dawns.'
'If I tell you, will you promise me that you will bring me this jar full of the many-coloured water from the spring in the court-yard of the castle?' asked she. 'If you fail to keep your word I will change you into a lizard for ever.'
'I promise,' answered the boy.
Then the old woman called to a very thin dog, and said to him:
'Conduct this pig of a child to the castle of Come-and-never-go, and take care that you warn my friend of his arrival.' And the dog arose and shook itself, and set out.
At the end of two hours they stopped in front of a large