384 MOGARZEA AND HIS SON
' Well, you may go!' they said, ' but remember that even if you break your promise you will not escape us.'
So they both agreed that the next day he should come straight there with the sheep, and play to them till the sun went down. This being settled, they each returned home.
Mogarzea was surprised to find that his sheep gave so much more milk than usual, but as the boy declared he had never crossed the border the big man did not trouble his head further, and ate his supper heartily.
With the earliest gleams of light, the boy was off" with his sheep to the elfin meadow, and at the first notes of his flute the maidens appeared before him and danced and danced and danced till evening came. Then the boy let the flute slip through his fingers, and trod on it, as if by accident.
If you had heard the noise he made, and how he wrung his hands and wept and cried that he had lost his only companion, you would have been sorry for him. The hearts of the elves were quite melted, and they did all they could to comfort him.
' I shall never find another flute like that,' moaned he. ' I have never heard one whose tone was as sweet as mine! It was cut from the centre of a seven-year-old cherry tree!'
There is a cherry tree in our garden that is exactly seven years old,' said they. ' Come with us, and you shall make yourself another flute.'
So they all went to the cherry tree, and when they were standing round it the youth explained that if he tried to cut it down with an axe he might very likely split open the heart of the tree, which was needed for the flute. In order to prevent this, he would make a little cut in the bark, just large enough for them to put their fingers in, and with this help he could manage to tear the tree in two, so that the heart should run no risk of damage. The elves did as he told them without a