THE GRATEFUL BEASTS
in his sleep, but he said nothing, and fasted all that day and the next night. But on the following morning he was so hungry that he burst into tears, and implored his brothers to give him a little bit of their bread. Then the cruel creatures laughed, and repeated what they had said the day before ; but when Ferko continued to beg and beseech them, the eldest said at last, ' If you will let us put out one of your eyes and break one of your legs, then we will give you a bit of our bread.9
At these words poor Ferko wept more bitterly than before, and bore the torments of hunger till the sun was high in the heavens ; then he could stand it no longer, and he consented to allow his left eye to be put out and his left leg to be broken. When this was done he stretched out his hand eagerly for the piece of bread, but his brothers gave him such a tiny scrap that the starving youth finished it in a moment and besought them for a second bit.
But the more Ferko wept and told his brothers that he was dying of hunger, the more they laughed and scolded him for his greed. So he endured the pangs of starvation all that day, but when night came his endurance gave way, and he let his right eye be put out and his right leg broken for a second piece of bread.
After his brothers had thus successfully maimed and disfigured him for life, they left him groaning on the ground and continued their journey without him.
Foor Ferko ate up the scrap of bread they had left him and wept bitterly, but no one heard him or came to his help. Night came on, and the poor blind youth had no eyes to close, and could only crawl along the ground, not knowing in the least where he was going. But when the sun was once more high in the heavens, Ferko felt the blazing heat scorch him, and sought for some cool shady place to rest his aching limbs. lie climbed to the top of a hill and lay down in the grass, and as he thought under the shadow of a big tree. But it was no tree he leant against, but a gallows on which two ravens were seated. The one was saying to the other as the weary youth lay down, ' Is there anything the least wonderful or remarkable about this neighbourhood ? '
' I should just think there was,' replied the other; ' many things that don't exist anywhere else in the world. There is a lake down there below us, and anyone who bathes in it, though he were a1 death's door, becomes sound and well on the spot, and those who wash their eyes with the dew on this hill become as sharp-sighted as the eagle, even if they have been blind from their youth.'