84 BROTHER AND SISTER
But her brother was already kneeling by the brook and bending over it to drink, and, sure enough, no sooner had his lips touched the water than he fell on the grass transformed into a little Roebuck.
Sister cried bitterly over her poor bewitched brother, and the little Roe wept too, and sat sadly by her side. At last the girl said :
' Never mind, dear little fawn, I will never forsake you,' and she took off her golden garter and tied it round the Roe's neck.
Then she plucked rushes and plaited a soft cord of them, which she fastened to the collar. When she had done this she led the Roe farther and farther, right into the depths of the forest.
After they had gone a long, long way they came to a little house, and when the girl looked into it she found it was quite empty, and she thought 'perhaps we might stay and live here.'
So she hunted up leaves and moss to make a soft bed for the little Roe, and every morning and evening she went out and gathered roots, nuts, and berries for herself, and tender young gi'ass for the fawn. And he fed from her hand, and played round her and seemed quite happy. In the evening, when sister was tired, she said her prayers and then laid her head on the fawn's back and fell sound asleep with it as a pillow. And if brother had but kept his natural form, really it would have been a most delightful kind of life.
They had been living for some time in the forest in this way, when it came to pass that the King of that country had a great hunt through the woods. Then the whole forest rang with such a blowing of horns, baying of dogs, and joyful cries of huntsmen, that the little Roe heard it and longed to join in too.
' Ah !' said he to sister, ' do let me go off to the hunt! I can't keep still any longer.'
And he begged and prayed till at last she consented.
' But,' said she, ' mind you come back in the evening. I shall lock my door fast for fear of those wild huntsmen; so, to make sure of my knowing you, knock at the door and say, " My sister dear, open; I'm here." If you don't speak I shan't open the door.'
So off sprang the little Roe, and he felt quite well and happy in the free open air.
The King and his huntsmen soon saw the beautiful creature and started in pursuit, but they could not come up with it, and whenever they thought they were sure to catch it, it bounded off to one side into the bushes and disappeared. When night came on it ran home, and knocking at the door of the little house cried :