346 THE STORY OF HALFMAN
waited long for you, your uncle and I. The girls have become women, and are sought in marriage by many, but I knew you would come one day, and I have kept them for you. Follow me into my house.'
And the twelve brothers followed her gladly, and their father's brother stood at the door, and gave them meat and drink. But at night, when every one was asleep, Half man crept softly to his brothers, and said to them, ' Listen, all of you! This man is no uncle of ours, but an ogre.'
' Nonsense; of course he is our uncle,' answered they.
' Well, this very night you will see! ' said Halfman. And he did not go to bed, but hid himself and watched.
Now in a little while he saw the wife of the ogre steal into the room on tiptoe and spread a red cloth over the brothers and then go and cover her daughters with a white cloth. After that she lay down and was soon snoring loudly. When Halfman was quite sure she was sound asleep, he took the red cloth from his brothers and put it on the girls, and laid their white cloth over his brothers. Next he drew their scarlet caps from their heads and exchanged them for the veils which the ogre's daughters were wearing. This was hardly done when he heard steps coming along the floor, so he hid himself quickly in the folds of a curtain. There was only half of him !
The ogress came slowly and gently along, stretching-out her hands before her, so that she might not fall against anything unawares, for she had only a tiny lantern slung at her waist, which did not give much light. And when she reached the place where the sisters were lying, she stooped down and held a corner of the cloth up to the lantern. Yes! it certainly was red! Still, to make sure that there was no mistake, she passed her hands lightly over their heads, and felt the caps that covered them. Then she was quite certain the brothers lay sleeping before her, and began to kill them one by