The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE FAIRY OF THE DAWN 181
out and the water disappeared, without his knowing how or when.
' Take breath,' said the horse, ' for you have no time to lose. The Welwa will return in a moment.'
Petru made no reply, only wondered how, exhausted as he was, he should ever be able to carry on the fight. But he settled himself in his saddle, grasped his sword, and waited.
And then something came to him what I cannot tell you. Perhaps, in his dreams, a man may see a creature which has what it has not got, and has not got what it has. At least, that was what the Welwa seemed like to Petru. She flew with her feet, and walked with her wings; her head was in her back, and her tail was on top of her body; her eyes were in her neck, and her neck in her forehead, and how to describe her further I do not know.
Petru felt for a moment as if he was wrapped in a garment of fear; then he shook himself and took heart, and fought as he had never yet fought before.
As the day wore on, his strength began to fail, and when darkness fell he could hardly keep his eyes open. By midnight he knew he was no longer on his horse, but standing on the ground, though he could not have told how he got there. When the grey light of morning came, he was past standing on his feet, but fought now upon his knees.
' Make one more struggle ; it is nearly over now,' said the horse, seeing that Petru's strength was waning fast.
Petru wiped the sweat from his brow with his gauntlet, and with a desperate effort rose to his feet.
' Strike the Welwa on the mouth with the bridle,' said the horse, and Petru did it.
The Welwa uttered a neigh so loud that Petru thought he would be deaf for life, and then, though she too was nearly spent, flung herself upon her enemy; but Petru
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