THE MAIDEN WITHOUT HANDS.
whole day, and her hunger was so great that she could not help crying out, " Oh, if I were only able to get some of that delicious fruit! I shall die unless I can obtain something to eat very soon."
Then she knelt down and prayed for help, and while she prayed a guardian fairy appeared and made a channel in the water so that she was able to pass through on dry ground.
When she entered the garden the fairy was with her, although she did not know it, so she walked to a tree full of beautiful pears, not knowing that they had been counted.
Being unable to pluck any without hands, she went quite close to the tree and ate one with her mouth as it hung. One, and no more, just to stay her hunger. The gardener, who saw her with the fairy standing near her, thought it was a spirit, and was too frightened to move or speak.
After having satisfied her hunger, the maiden went and laid herself down among the shrubs and slept in peace. On the following morning, the king, to whom the garden belonged, came out to look at his fruit trees, and when he reached the pear-tree and counted the pears, he found one missing. At first he thought it had fallen, but it was not under the tree, so he went to the gardener and asked what had become of it.
Then said the gardener, "There was a ghost in the garden last night who had no hands, and ate a pear off the tree with its mouth."
" How could the ghost get across the water ?" asked the king; " and what became of it after eating the pear ?"
To this the gardener replied, " Some one came first in snow-white robes from heaven, who made a channel and stopped the flow of the water, so that the ghost walked through on dry ground. It must have been an angel," continued the gardener ; " and therefore I was afraid to ask questions or to call out. As soon as the spectre had eaten one pear it went away."
Then said the king, " Conceal from every one what you have told me, and I will watch myself to-night"
As soon as it was dark the king came into the garden and brought a priest with him to address the ghost, and they both seated themselves under a tree with the gardener standing near them, and waited in silence. About midnight the maiden crept out from the bushes, and went to the peai-iree, and the three