THE MAIDEN WITHOUT HANDS. 145
A miller who had by degrees become very poor, had nothing at last left but his mill and a large apple-tree behind it One day when he went into the forest to gather wood, an old man, whom he had never seen before, came towards him, and said, " Why do you take the trouble to cut down wood ? I will give you great riches if you will promise to let me have what stands behind your mill."
" That can be no other than my apple-tree," thought the miller, " I possess nothing else," so he said to the old man, " Yes, I will let you have it."
Then the stranger smiled maliciously, and said, " In three years I will come again to claim what belongs to me," and after saying this he departed.
As soon as the miller returned home, his wife came towards him and said, " Miller, from whence have all these riches come so suddenly to our house ? All at once every drawer and chest has become full of gold. No one brought it here, and I know not where it came from."
" Oh," replied her husband, " I know all about it. A strange man, whom I met in the wood, promised me great treasures if I would make over to him what stood behind the mill. I knew I had nothing there but the large apple-tree, so I gave him my promise."
" Oh, husband !" said the wife, in alarm, " that must have been the wizard; he did not mean the apple-tree, but our daughter, who was behind the mill, sweeping out the court"
The miller's daughter was a modest and beautiful maiden, and lived in innocence and obedience to her parents for three years, until the day came on which the wicked wizard was to claim her. She knew he was coming, and after washing till she was pure and clean as snow, she drew a circle of white chalk, and stood within it
The wizard made his appearance very early, but he did not dare