THE DONKEY CABBAGE
love. When he had wandered about for a couple of days he found it quite easily. He then browned his face quickly, so that his own mother would not have known him, and went into the castle, where he begged for a lodging.
' I am so tired,' he said, ' I can go no farther.'
The witch asked, ' Countryman, who are you, and what is your business ? '
He answered, ' I am a messenger of the King, and have been sent to seek the finest salad that grows under the sun. I have been so lucky as to find it, and am bringing it with me ; but the heat of the sun is so great that the tender cabbage threatens to grow soft, and I do not know if I shall be able to bring it any farther.'
When the old witch heard of the fine salad she wanted to cut it, and said, ' Dear countryman, just let me taste the wonderful salad.'
' Why not ? ' he answered; ' I have brought two heads with me, and will give you one.'
So saying, he opened his sack and gave her the bad one. The witch suspected no evil, and her mouth watered to taste the new dish, so that she went into the kitchen to prepare it herself. When it was ready she could not wait till it was served at the table, but she immediately took a couple of leaves and put them in her mouth. No sooner, however, had she swallowed them than she lost human form, and ran into the courtyard in the shape of a donkey.
Now the servant came into the kitchen, and when she saw the salad standing there ready cooked she was about to carry it up, but on the way, according to her old habit, she tasted it and ate a couple of leaves. Immediately the charm worked, and she became a donkey, and ran out to join the old witch, and the dish with the salad in it fell to the ground. In the meantime, the messenger was sitting with the lovely maiden, and as no one came with the salad, and she wanted very much to taste it, she said, ' I don't know where the salad is.'
Then thought the Hunter, 'The cabbage must have already begun to work.' And he said, 'I will go to the kitchen and fetch it myself.'
When he came there he saw the two donkeys running about in the courtyard, but the salad was lying on the ground.
'That's all right,' said he; 'two have had their share !' And lifting the remaining leaves up, ho laid them on the dish and brought them to the maiden.