i46 THE MAIDEN WITHOUT HANDS.
to venture over the white circle, therefore he could not get near her. In great anger he said to the miller, " Take away every drop of water, that she may not wash, otherwise I shall have no power over her."
The frightened miller did as he desired, but on the next morning, when the wizard came again, her hands were as pure and clean as ever, for she had wept over them. On this account the wizard was still unable to approach her; so he flew into a rage, and said, " Chop her hands off, otherwise I cannot touch her."
Then the miller was terrified, and exclaimed, " How can I cut off the hands of my own child ?"
Then the wicked wizard threatened him and said, " If you will not do as I desire you, then I can claim you instead of your daughter, and carry you off."
The father listened in agony, and in his fright promised to obey. He went to his daughter and said to her, " Oh, my child, unless I cut off your two hands the wizard will take me away with him, and in my anguish I have promised. Help me in my trouble, and forgive me for the wicked deed I have promised to do."
"Dear father," she replied, "do with me what you will, I am your child." Thereupon she placed her two hands on the table before him, and he cut them off. The wizard came next day for the third time, but the poor girl had wept so bitterly over the stumps of her arms, that they were as clean and white as ever. Then he was obliged to give way, for he had lost all right to the maiden.
As soon as the wizard had departed, the miller said, " My child, I have obtained so much good through thy conduct, that for thy whole lifetime I shall hold thee most precious and dear."
"But I cannot stay here, father," she replied, "I am not safe; let me go away with people who will give me the sympathy I need so much."
"I fear such people are very seldom to be found in the world," said her father. However he let her go. So she tied up her maimed arms and went forth on her way at sunrise.
For a whole day she travelled without food, and as night Came on, found herself near one of the royal gardens. By the light of the moon she could see many trees, laden with beautiful fruit, but she could not reach them, because the place was surrounded by a moat full of water. She had been without a morsel to eat the