THE HOUSE IN THE WOOD 21
On the third morning the woodcutter said to his wife, ' Send our youngest child to-day with my dinner. She is always good and obedient, and will keep to the right path, and not wander away like her sisters, idle drones!'
But the mother said, ' Must I lose my dearest child too? '
' Do not fear,' he answered; ' she is too clever and intelligent to lose her way. I will take plenty of peas with me and strew them along; they are even larger than lentils, and will show her the way.'
But when the maiden started off with the basket on her arm, the wood pigeons had eaten up the peas, and she did not know which way to go. She was much distressed, and thought constantly of her poor hungry father and her anxious mother. At last, when it grew dark, she saw the little light, and came to the house in the wood. She asked prettily if she might stay there for the night, and the man with the white beard asked his beasts again:
And you, pretty brindled cow,
What do you say now ?
' Duks,' they said. Then the maiden stepped up to the stove where the animals were lying, and stroked the cock and the hen, and scratched the brindled cow between its horns.
And when at the bidding of the old man she had prepared a good supper, and the dishes were standing on the table, she said, ' Shall I have plenty while the good beasts have nothing ? There is food to spare outside; I will attend to them first.'
Then she went out and fetched barley and strewed it before the cock and hen, and brought the cow an armful of sweet-smelling hay.
' Eat that, dear beasts,' she said, ' and when you are thirsty you shall have a good drink.'