6o THE ENCHANTED STAG.
berries, for her own food, and sweet fresh grass for the fawn, which he ate out of her hand, and the poor little animal went out with her, and played about as happy as the day was long.
When evening came, and the poor sister felt tired, she would kneel down and say her prayers, and then lay her delicate head on the fawn's back, which was a soft warm pillow, on which she could sleep peacefully. Had this dear brother only kept his own proper form, how happy they would have been together! After they had been alone in the forest for some time, and the little sister had grown a lovely maiden, and the fawn a large stag, a numerous hunting party came to the forest, and amongst them the king of the country.
The sounding horn, the barking of the dogs, the halloa of the huntsmen, resounded through the forest, and were heard by the stag, who became eager to join his companions.
" Oh, dear," he said, " do let me go and see the hunt; I cannot restrain myself" And he begged so hard that at last she reluctantly consented.
"But, remember," she said, "I must lock the cottage door against those huntsmen, so when you come back in the evening, and knock, I shall not admit you, unless you say, 'Dear little sister, let me in.'"
He bounded off as she spoke, scarcely stopping to listen, for it was so delightful for him again to breathe the fresh air and be free. He had not run far when the king's chief hunter caught sight of the beautiful animal, and started off in chase of him; but it was no easy matter to overtake such rapid footsteps. Once, when he thought he had him safe, the fawn sprang over the bushes and disappeared.
As it was now nearly dark, he ran up to the little cottage, knocked at the door, and cried, "Dear little sister, let me in." The door was instantly opened, and oh, how glad his sister was to see him safely resting on his soft pleasant bed!
A few days after this, the huntsmen were again in the forest; and when the fawn heard the halloa, he could not rest in peace, but begged his sister again to let him go.
She opened the door, and said, " I will let you go this time; but pray do not forget to say what I told you, when you return this evening."