THE DRAGON OF THE NORTH
glittered as she held it like the clearest sunbeam. She put it on the middle finger of her left hand, and told the youth to take a knife and try as hard as he could to cut her with it, for he would not be able to hurt her. He was unwilling at first, but the maiden insisted. Then he tried, at first only in play, and then seriously, to strike her with the knife, but an invisible wall of iron seemed to be between them, and the maiden stood before him laughing and unhurt. Then she put the ring on her third finger, and in an instant she had vanished from his eyes. Presently she was beside him again laughing, and holding the ring between her fingers.
' Do let me try,' said the youth, 'whether I can do these wonderful things.'
The maiden, suspecting no treachery, gave him the magic ring.
The youth pretended to have forgotten what to do, and asked what finger he must put the ring on so that no sharp weapon could hurt him ?'
' Oh, the middle finger of your left hand,' the maiden answered, laughing.
She took the knife and tried to strike the youth, and he even tried to cut himself with it, but found it impossible. Then he asked the maiden to show him how to split stones and rocks with the help of the ring. So she led him into a courtyard where stood a great boulder-stone. ' Now,' she said, ' put the ring upon the thumb of your left hand, and you will see how strong that hand has become. The youth did so, and found to his astonishment that with a single blow of his fist the stone flew into a thousand pieces. Then the youth bethought him that he who does not use his luck when he has it is a fool, and that this was a chance which once lost might never return. So while they stood laughing at the shattered stone he placed the ring, as if in play, upon the third finger of his left hand.
' Now,' said the maiden, 'you are invisible to me until you take the ring off again.'
But the youth had no mind to do that; on the contrary, he went farther off, then put the ring on the little finger of his left hand, and soared into the air like a bird.
"When the maiden saw him flying away she thought at first that he was still in play, and cried, ' Come back, friend, for now you see I hav-e told you the truth.' But the young man never came back.
Then the maiden saw she was deceived, and bitterly repented that she had ever trusted him with the ring.