THE BLACK THIEF AND KNIGHT OF THE GLEN 55
daughter, of whom he was very fond. Not long after, the Queen had a fine son, which caused great feasting and rejoicing at the Court, insomuch that the late Queen, in a manner, was entirely forgotten. That fared well, and King and Queen lived happy together for several years.
At length the Queen, having some business with the hen-wife, went herself to her, and, after a long conference passed, was taking leave of her, when the hen-wife prayed that if ever she should come back to her again she might break her neck. The Queen, greatly incensed at such a daring insult from one of her meanest subjects, demanded immediately the reason, or she would have her put to death.
' It was worth your while, madam,' says the hen-wife,' to pay me well for it, for the reason I prayed so on you concerns you much.'
' What must I pay you ? ' asked the Queen.
' You must give me,' says she, ' the full of a pack of wool, and I have an ancient crock which you must fill with butter, likewise a barrel which you must fill for me full of wheat.'
' How much wool will it take to the pack ? ' says the Queen.
' It will take seven herds of sheep,' said she, ' and their increase for seven years.'
' How much butter will it take to fill your crock ? '
' Seven dairies,' said she, ' and their increase for seven years.'
' And how much will it take to fill the barrel you have ? ' says the Queen.
' It will take the increase of seven barrels of wheat for seven years.'
' That is a great quantity,' says the Queen; ' but the reason must be extraordinary, and before I want it, I will give you all you demand.'
'Well,' says the hen-wife, ' it is because you are so stupid that you don't observe or find out those affairs that are so dangerous and hurtful to yourself and your child.'
' What is that ? ' says the Queen.
' Why,' says she, ' the King your husband has three fine sons he had by the late Queen, whom he keeps shut up in a tower until they come of age, intending to divide the kingdom between them, and let your son push his fortune; now, if you don't find some means of destroying them ; your child and perhaps yourself will be left desolate in the end.'
' And what would you advise me to do ? ' said she; ' I am wholly at a loss in what manner to act in this affair.'