348 THE STORY OF HALFMAN
middle of the stream, called out: ' Throw me the rope and draw me up, for I cannot get out alone.' And the brothers threw him a rope to draw him up the steep bank; but when he was half-way up they cut the rope, and he fell back into the stream. Then the brothers rode away as fast as they could, with his bride.
Halfman sank down under the water from the force of the fall, but before he touched the bottom a fish came and said to him,' Fear nothing, Halfman ; I will help you.' And the fish guided him to a shallow place, so that he scrambled out. On the way it said to him, ' Do you understand what your brothers, whom you saved from death, have done to you?'
' Yes ; but what am I to do?' asked Halfman.
' Take one of my scales,' said the fish, ' and when you find yourself in danger, throw it in the fire. Then I will appear before you.'
' Thank you,' said Halfman, and went his way, while the fish swam back to its home.
The country was strange to Halfman, and he wandered about without knowing where he was going, till he suddenly found the ogress standing before him. 'Ah, Halfman, have I got you at last? You killed my daughters and helped your brothers to escape. What do you think I shall do with you ?'
' Whatever you like!' said Halfman.
' Come into my house, then,' said the ogress, and he followed her. ' Look here ! ' she called to her husband, ' I have got hold of Halfman. I am going to roast him, so be quick and make up the fire! '
So the ogre brought wood, and heaped it up till the flames roared up the chimney. Then he turned to his wife and said : ' It is all ready, let us put him on ! '
'What is the hurry, my good ogre?' asked Halfman. ' You have me in your power, and I cannot escape. I am so thin now, I shall hardly make one mouthful. Better fatten me up; you will enjoy me much more.'