The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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THE STORY OF HALFMAN            347
one. And Halfman whispered to his brothers, ' Get up and run for your lives, as the ogress is killing her daughters.' The brothers needed no second bidding, and in a moment were out of the house.
By this time the ogress had slain all her daughters but one, who awoke suddenly and saw what had happened. 'Mother, what are you doing?' cried she. 'Do you know that you have killed my sisters ?'
' Oh, woe is me! ' wailed the ogress. ' Halfman has outwitted me after all! ' And she turned to wreak ven­geance on him, but he and his brothers were far away.
They rode all day till they got to the town where their real uncle lived, and inquired the way to his house.
' Why have you been so long in coming?' asked he, when they had found him.
' Oh, dear uncle, we were very nearly not coming at all! ' replied they. ' We fell in with an ogress who took us home and would have killed us if it had not been for Halfman. He knew what was in her mind and saved us, and here we are. Now give us each a daughter to wife, and let us return whence we came.'
' Take them! ' said the uncle ; ' the eldest for the eldest, the second for the second, and so on to the youngest.'
But the wife of Halfman was the prettiest of them all, and the other brothers were jealous and said to each other : 'What, is he who is only half a man to get the best? Let us put him to death and give his wife to our eldest brother! ' And they waited for a chance.
After they had all ridden, in company with their brides, for some distance, they arrived at a brook, and one of them asked, ' Now, who will go and fetch water from the brook ?'
' Halfman is the youngest,' said the elder brother, ' he must go.'
So Halfman got down and filled a skin with water, and they drew it up by a rope and drank. When they had done drinking, Halfman, who was standing in the
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