186 THE WATER OF LIFE
11 am seeking the water of life, the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty.'
' Many have passed by seeking those treasures, but none have ever come back; and you will never come back either, unless you mark my words. Follow this path, and when you reach the mountain you will find it covered with stones. Do not stop to look at them, but keep on your way. As you go you will hear scoffs and laughs behind you ; and it will be the stones that mock. Do not heed them; above all, do not turn round. If you do you will become as one of them. Walk straight on till you get to the top, and then take all you wish for.'
The young man thanked him for his counsel, and walked, and walked, and walked, till he reached the mountain. And as he climbed he heard behind him scoffs and jeers, but he kept his ears steadily closed to them. At last the noise grew so loud that he lost patience, and he stooped to pick up a stone to hurl into the midst of the clamour, when suddenly his arm seemed to stiffen, and the next moment he was a stone himself!
That day his sister, who thought her brother's steps were long in returning, took out the knife and found the blade was red as blood. Then she cried out to her brothers that something terrible had come to pass.
' I will go and find him,' said the second. And he went.
And he walked, and he walked, and he walked, till he met the giant, and asked him if he had seen a young man travelling towards the mountain.
And the giant answered, ' Yes, I have seen him pass, but I have not seen him come back. The spell must have worked upon him.'
' Then what can I do to disenchant him, and find the water of life, the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty ?'
' Followr this path, and when you reach the mountain you will find it covered with stones. Do not stop to look