THE FAIRY OF THE DAWN 177
' Why don't you stay still?' asked Petru roughly.
' Do not pick the flowers ; it will bring you bad luck,' answered the horse.
'Why should it do that?'
' These flowers are under a curse. Whoever plucks them must fight the Welwa ' of the woods.'
' What kind of a goblin is the Welwa?'
' Oh, do leave me in peace ! But listen. Look at the flowers as much as you like, but pick none,' and the horse walked on slowly.
Petru knew by experience that he would do well to attend to the horse's advice, so he made a great effort and tore his mind away from the flowers.
But in vain! If a man is fated to be unlucky, unlucky he will be, whatever he may do!
The flowers went on beseeching him, and his heart grew ever weaker and weaker.
'What must come will come,' said Petru at length; ' at any rate I shall see the Welwa of the woods, what she is like, and which way I had best fight her. If she is ordained to be the cause of my death, well, then it will be so; but if not I shall conquer her though she were twelve hundred Welwas,' and once more he stooped down to gather the flowers.
'You have done very wrong,' said the horse sadly. ' But it can't be helped now. Get yourself ready for battle, for here is the Welwa!'
Hardly had he done speaking, scarcely had Petru twisted his wreath, when a soft breeze arose on all sides at once. Out of the breeze came a storm wind, and the storm wind swelled and swelled till everything around was blotted out in darkness, and darkness covered them as with a thick cloak, while the earth swayed and shook under their feet.
'Are you afraid? ' asked the horse, shaking his mane.
' Not yet,' replied Petru stoutly, though cold shivers
1 A goblin. 12