188 THE WATER OF LIFE
your feet, and walk straight forward, turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, and paying no heed to the laughs and scoffs which will follow you, till you reach the top, and then you may take all that you desire.'
The young man thanked the giant for his counsel, and set forth to the mountain. And when he began to climb there burst forth all around him a storm of scoffs and jeers; but he thought of the giant's words, and looked neither to the right hand nor to the left, till the mountain top lay straight before him. A moment now and he would have gained it, when, through the groans and yells, he heard his brothers' voices. He turned, aud there was one stone the more.
And all this while his sister was pacing up and down the palace, hardly letting the knife out of her hand, and dreading what she knew she would see, and what she did see. The blade grew red before her eyes, and she said, ' Now it is my turn.'
So she walked, and she walked, and she walked till she came to the giant, and prayed him to tell her if he had seen three young men pass that wray seeking the distant mountain.
' I have seen them pass, but they have never returned, and by this I know that the spell has fallen upon them.'
' And what must I do to set them free, and to find the water of life, and the talking bird, and a branch of the tree of beauty ? '
; You must go to that mountain, which is so full of stones that your feet will hardly find a place to tread, and as you climb you will hear a noise as if all the stones in the world were mocking you; but pay no heed to anything you may hear, and, once you gain the top, you have gained everything.'
The girl thanked him for the counsel, and set out for the mountain; and scarcely had she gone a few steps upwards when cries and screams broke forth around her, and she felt as if each stone she trod on was a living