THE WATER OF LIFE
at them, but climb steadily on. Above all, heed not the laughs and scoffs that will arise on all sides, and never turn round. And when you reach the top you can then take all you desire.'
The young man thanked him for his counsel, and set out for the mountain. But no sooner did he reach it than loud jests and gibes broke out on every side, and almost deafened him. For some time he let them rail, and pushed boldly on, till he had passed the place which his brother had gained; then suddenly he thought that among the scoffing sounds he heard his brother's voice. He stopped and looked back; and another stone was added to the number.
Meanwhile the sister left at home was counting the days when her two brothers should return to her. The time seemed long, and it would be hard to say how often she took out the knife and looked at its polished blade to make sure that this one at least was still safe. The blade was always bright and clear; each time she looked she had the happiness of knowing that all was well, till one evening, tired and anxious, as she frequently was at the end of the day, she took it from its drawer, and behold ! the blade was red with blood. Her cry of horror brought her youngest brother to her, and, unable to speak, she held out the knife!
' I will go,' he said.
So he walked, and he walked, and he walked, until he met the giant, and he asked, ' Have two young men, making for yonder mountain, passed this way?'
And the giant answered, ' Yes, they have passed by, but they never came back, and by this I know that the spell has fallen upon them.'
' Then what must I do to free them, and to get the water of life, and the talking bird, and the branch of the tree of beauty ? '
'Go to the mountain, which you will find so thickly covered with stones that you will hardly be able to place