204 THE MAN WITHOUT A HEART
She gave him food, and when he had finished his meal she told him how his brothers had come to the town where she lived with her sisters, how they had each chosen a bride, and, taking herself with them, had started for home. She wept as she told how the others were turned to stone, and how she was kept as the old man's bride. She left out nothing, even telling him the story of her husband's heart.
When the young man heard this he said : ' I shall go in search of the bird. It may be that God will help me to find and catch it.'
'Yes, do go,' she said; 'it will be a good deed, for then you can set your brothers and my sisters free.' Then she hid the young man, for it was now late, and her husband would soon be home.
Next morning, when the old man had gone out, she prepared a supply of provisions for her guest, and sent him off on his travels, wishing him good luck and success.
He walked on and on till he thought it must be time for breakfast; so he opened his knapsack, and was delighted to find such a store of good things. ' What a feast! ' he exclaimed ; ' will anyone come and share it? '
'Moo-oo,' sounded close behind him, and looking round he saw a great red ox, which said, ' I have much pleasure in accepting your kind invitation.'
' I 'm delighted to see you. Pray help yourself. All I have is at your service,' said the hospitable youth. And the ox lay down comfortably, licking his lips, and made a hearty meal.
' Many thanks to you, said the animal as it rose up.. ' When you are in danger or necessity call me, even if only by a thought,' and it disappeared among the bushes.
The young man packed up all the food that was left, and wandered on till the shortenins; shadows and his own hunger warned him that it was midday. He laid the cloth on the ground and spread out his provisions,