THE THREE GOLDEN HAIRS. 141
N What are you about now ?" asked the Demon, in a rage.
" Oh, don't be angry," said the woman, " I have had another dream."
" What was this dream about ?" he asked.
" Why, I dreamt that in a certain country there grows a fruit tree which used to bear golden apples, but now it produces nothing but leaves. What is the cause of this ?"
"Why, don't they know," answered the Demon, "that there is a mouse gnawing at the root ? Were it dead, the tree would again bear golden apples; and if it gnaws much longer the tree will wither anddry up. Bother your dreams ; if you disturb me again, just as I am comfortably asleep, you will have a box on the ear."
Then the old woman spoke kindly to him, and smoothed and combed his hair again, till he slept and snored. Then she seized the third golden hair, and pulled it out.
The Demon, on this, sprang to his feet, roared out in a greater rage than ever, and would have done some mischief in the house, but she managed to appease him this time also, and said, " How can I help my bad dreams ?"
"And whatever did you dream ?" he asked, with some curiosity.
" Well, I dreamt about a ferryman, who complains that he is obliged to take people across the river, and is never free."
" Oh, the stupid fellow !" replied the wizard, " he can very easily ask any person who wants to be ferried over to take the oar in his hand, and he will be free at once."
Then the Demon laid his head down once more; and as the old mother had pulled out the three golden hairs, and got answers to all the three questions, she let the old fellow rest and sleep in peace till the morning dawned.
As soon as he had gone out next day, the old woman took the ant from the folds of her dress, and restored the lucky youth to his former shape. " Here are the three golden hairs for which you wished," said she; " and did you hear all the answers to your three questions ?"
"Yes," he replied, " every word, and I will not forget them."
" Well, then, I have helped you out of your difficulties, and low get home as fast as you can."
After thanking the old woman for her kindness, he turned his tttps homeward, full of joy that everything had succeeded so well.