268 ESBEN AND THE WITCH
' Was it also you that took my boar ? '
' Ye — e —- s!'
' And it was you that made me kill my eleven daughters ?'
' And now you have taken my lamp, and drowned my twelfth daughter in the well ? '
' Are you coming back again? '
' That may be,' said Esben.
'Then you '11 catch it,' said the witch.
It was only a minute before the stick had again landed Esben at the king's palace, and the brothers were then ireed from their distress. The king gave them many fine presents, but Esben did not get even so much as thanks from them.
Never had Sir Red been so eaten up with envy as he was now, and he racked his brain day and night to find something quite impossible to demand from the brothers.
One day he went to the king and told him that the lamp the brothers had procured was good enough, but they could still get for him something that was far better. The king asked what that was.
' It is,' said Sir Red, ' the most beautiful coverlet that any mortal ever heard tell of. It also has the property that, when anyone touches it, it sounds so that it can be heard over eight kingdoms.'
'That must be a splendid coverlet,' said the king, and he at once sent for the brothers.
' You have said that you know of a coverlet, the most beautiful in the whole world, and which sounds over eight kingdoms when anyone touches it. You shall procure it for me, or else lose your lives,' said he.
The brothers answered him that they had never said a word about such a coverlet, did not believe it existed, and that it was quite impossible for them to procure it. But the king would not hear a word; he drove them