78 THE THREE LITTLE MEN IN THE WOOD.
basket with blackberries, and I dare not go home again till I have filled it"
The tiny mannikins said no more till she had eaten her bread, and then one of them gave her a broom and said, " Go and sweep the snow away from the back door."
Without a word the maiden took the broom and went out
As soon as she was gone the little men began to talk together about her. "She is a pretty, well behaved girl." said one, "what good fortuune shall we send her ?" " I will promise," said the first, " that she shall grow every day more beautiful." " And I will endow her with a wonderful gift," said the second; "every time she opens her mouth to speak, a piece of gold shall fall out Then the third foretold that a king's son should make her hia wife.
All this while the maiden was busily employed sweeping away the snow from the pathway behind the cottage, and at last what do you think she foundórich ripe strawberries of a deep red lying before her on the snow.
How quickly and joyfully she gathered them up and filled her basket we can easily guess, and after shaking hands with the little men, she thanked them for their kindness and ran home, for she was longing to show her step-mother what she had brought for her. As she entered the house and said " Good evening." a piece of gold immediately fell from her mouth on the floor.
Her step-mother was astonished, and then the maiden related what had happened to her in the wood, while at every word she uttered a piece of gold fell from her mouth, so that in a very short time the whole room glittered with the gold.
"I expect you will be proud and haughty," said the step-sister, " now that you can scatter gold in this way :" but she was deceit≠ful and jealous about it, and asked her step-mother privately to let her go into the wood to find strawberries.
"No, my dear little daughter," replied the mother, " it is too cold for you; it is freezing hard."
But the girl gave her mother no peace, till at last she allowed her to go. Not, however, till she had made her dress herself in a warm far jacket, and given her bread and butter and cake to eat on the way.
The maiden went to the wood, and walked on till she reached