THE SEVEN FOALS
* Come hither, come hither, my handsome son, and let me comb your hair for you.'
' Come to me, then ; come to me !' said Cinderlad, as he passed by jumping and running, and keeping tight hold of one of the foals' tails.
When he had got safely past the cleft in the rock, the youngest foal said:
' Get on my back, for we have still a long way to go.' So the lad did this.
And thus they journeyed onwards a long, long way.
' Dost thou see anything now'? ' said the Foal.
' No,' said Cinderlad.
So they journeyed onwards a good bit farther.
' Dost thou see anything now *? ' asked the Foal.
' Oh, no,' said the lad.
When they had gone thus for a long, long way, the Foal again asked:
' Dost thou see anything now ? '
'Yes, now I see something that is white,' said Cinderlad. 'It looks like the trunk of a great thick birch tree.'
' Yes, that is where we are to go in,' said the Foal.
When they got to the trunk, the eldest foal broke it down on one side, and then they saw a door where the trunk had been standing, and inside this there was a small room, and in the room there was scarcely anything but a small fire-place and a couple of benches, but behind the door hung a great rusty sword and a small pitcher.
' Canst thou wield that sword ? ' asked the Foal.
Cinderlad tried, but could not do it; so he had to take a draught from the pitcher, and then one more, and after that still another, and then he was able to wield the sword with perfect ease.
' Good,' said the Foal; ' and now thou must take the sword away with thee, and with it shalt thou cut off the heads of all seven of us on thy wedding-day, and then we shall become princes again as we were before. For we are brothers of the Princess whom thou art to have when thou canst tell the King what we eat and drink, but there is a mighty Troll who has cast a spell over us. When thou hast cut off our heads, thou must take the greatest care to lay each head at the tail of the body to which it belonged before, and then the spell which the Troll has cast upon us will lose all its power.'
Cinderlad promised to do this, and then they went on farther.