THE THREE DWARFS
her up with the clothes, so that nothing of her was seen. "When the King came home and wished to speak to his wife the woman called out:
' Quietly, quietly ! this will never do; your wife is very ill, you must let her rest all to-day.' The King suspected no evil, and didn't come again till next morning. When he spoke to his wife and she answered him, instead of the usual piece of gold a toad jumped out of her mouth. Then he asked what it meant, and the old woman told him it was nothing but weakness, and that she would soon be all right again.
But that same evening the scullion noticed a duck swimming up the gutter, saying as it passed :
' What does the King, I pray you tell, Is he awake or sleeps he well ? '
and receiving no reply, it continued :
' And all my guests, are they asleep ? ' and the Scullion answered :
' Yes, one and all they slumber deep.' Then the Duck went on :
' And what about my baby dear ? ' and he answered:
'Oh, it sleeps soundly, never fear.'
Then the Duck assumed the Queen's shape, went up to the child's room, tucked him up comfortably in his cradle, and then swam back down the gutter again, in the likeness of a Duck. This was repeated for two nights, and on the third the Duck said to the Scullion :
* Go and tell the King to swing his sword three times over me on the threshold.'
The Scullion did as the creature bade him, and the King came with his sword and swung it three times over the bird, and lo and behold! his wife stood before him once more, alive, and as blooming as ever.
The King rejoiced greatly, but he kept the Queen in hiding till the Sunday on which the child was to be christened. After the christening he said:
' What punishment does that person deserve who drags another out of bed, and throws him or her, as the case may be, into the water ?'
Then the wicked old stepmother answered: