210 THE TWO BROTHERS
' Oh dear, what nonsense ! ' exclaimed the elder; ' and, besides, what proof have we that you are speaking the truth?'
But again the younger brother interposed: ' Oh, do let him live ! You know if he is lying to us we can always catch him again. It is quite worth while trying.'
At last the young man gave in, and threw the fish back into the sea; and both brothers went supperless to bed, and wondered what fortune the next day would brine.
At the first streaks of dawn they were both up, and in a very few minutes were running down to the shore. And there, just as the fish had said, stood two magnificent horses, saddled and bridled, and on their backs lay suits of armour and underdresses, two swords, and two purses of gold.
There!' said the younger brother. ' Are you not thankful you did not eat that fish? He has brought us good luck, and there is no knowing how great we may become! Now, we will each seek our own adventures. If you will take one road I will go the other.'
' Very well,' replied the elder; ' but how shall we let each other know if we are both living ? '
' Do you see this fig-tree ? ' said the younger. ' Well, whenever we want news of each other we have only to come here and make a slit with our swords in the back. If milk flows, it is a sign that we are well and prosperous; but if, instead of milk, there is blood, then we are either dead or in great danger.'
Then the two brothers put on their armour; buckled their swords, and pocketed their purses ; and, after taking a tender farewell of each other, they mounted their horses and went their various ways.
The elder brother rode straight on till he reached the borders of a strange kingdom. He crossed the frontier, and soon found himself on the banks of a river; and before him, in the middle of the stream, a beautiful girl sat chained to a rock and weeping bitterly. For in this river dwelt a