JESPER WHO HERDED THE HARES 209
walked on. At a turn of the road he suddenly came upon the old woman. ' Good morning,' said she; ' what have you got in your basket?'
' Pearls,' said Jesper; ' I'm going to the palace to win the princess with them.' And in case she might not believe him, he lifted the cover and let her see them.
' Beautiful,' said the old woman; ' very beautiful indeed; but they will go a very little way towards winning the princess, unless you can also perform the tasks that are set you. However,' she said, 'I see you have brought something with you to eat. Won't you give that to me: you are sure to get a good dinner at the palace.'
' Yes, of course,' said Jesper, ; I hadn't thought of that'; and he handed over the whole of his lunch to the old woman.
He had already taken a few steps on the way again, when the old woman called him back.
' Here,' she said; ' take this whistle in return for your lunch. It isn't much to look at, but if you blow it, anything that you have lost or that has been taken from you will find its way back to you in a moment.'
Jesper thanked her for the whistle, though he did not see of what use it was to be to him just then, and held on his way to the palace.
When Jesper presented his pearls to the king there were exclamations of wonder and delight from everyone who saw them. It was not pleasant, however, to discover that Jesper was a mere fisher-lad; that wasn't the kind of son-in-law that the king had expected, and he said so to the queen.
' Never mind,' said she, ' you can easily set him such tasks as he will never be able to perform : we shall soon get rid of him.'
' Yes, of course,' said the king; ' really I forget things nowadays, with all the bustle we have had of late.'
That day Jesper dined with the king and queen and