THE STORY OF HALF MAN 351
said, ' That was hard work; the rope has hurt my hands badly, but now I am rid of her for ever.'
So Half man came down from the tower, and went on, till he got to a desert place, and as he was very tired, he lay down to sleep. While it was still dark, an ogress passed by, and she woke him and said, ' Half man, tomorrow your brother is to marry your wife.'
' Oh, how can I stop it ? ' asked he. ' Will you help me ?'
'Yes, I will,' replied the ogress.
' Thank you, thank you!' cried Half man, kissing her on the forehead. ' My wife is dearer to me than anything else in the world, and it is not my brother's fault that I am not dead long ago.'
' Very well, I will rid you of him,' said the ogress, ' but only on one condition. If a boy is born to you, you must give him to me ! '
'Oh, anything,' answered Halfman, 'as long as you deliver me from my brother, and get me my wife.'
' Mount on my back, then, and in a quarter of an hour we shall be there.'
The ogress was as good as her word, and in a few minutes they arrived at the outskirts of the town where Halfman and his brothers lived. Here she left him, while she went into the town itself, and found the wedding guests just leaving the brother's house. Unnoticed by anyone, the ogress crept into a curtain, changing herself into a scorpion, and when the brother was going to get into bed, she stung him behind the ear, so that he fell dead where he stood. Then she returned to Halfman and told him to go and claim his bride. He jumped up hastily from his seat, and took the road to his father's house. As he drew near he heard sounds of weeping and lamentations, and he said to a man he met: 'What is the matter?'
' The judge's eldest son was married yesterday, and died suddenly before night.'