186 THE ROBBER BRIDEGROOM.
As soon as the maiden heard this she came out from behind the cask, but when she saw that she had to step over the sleepers who lay stretched on the ground, she was in dreadful terror lest she should awaken them. But God helped her, so that she happily escaped without arousing one of them. The old woman stepped over with her, opened the doors, and they both hastened away as quickly as they could from the murderer's den. The strewed ashes had been scattered away by the wind, but the peas and the linseed had germinated, and little plants were springing up all over the pathway, so that in the moonlight they could easily find their way.
They walked all night and arrived next morning at the mill. And the maiden immediately described to her father all the horrors she had seen in the bridegroom's dreadful home. The miller made no movement in the matter until the day which had been fixed for the wedding arrived. He however invited all his relations and acquaintances to be present, so that when the bridegroom appeared, he found a large company assembled to meet him.
After dinner, as they sat at the table, the miller requested one or two of the guests to relate any wonderful circumstance which had occurred to them on their travels. After one or two interesting incidents had been told, the bridegroom said to the bride, who sat in silence, "Now, my love, have you nothing to relate? do tell us something."
" I will tell you a strange dream, if you like," she replied.
"Oh, yes," they all cried, " let us have it."
" It was a horrible dream," she said. "But still I will describe it. I dreamt that I went through a forest for a long way, till at last I came to a lonely house in the densest and darkest part; there was not a single human being in sight, but on the wall outside hung a cage with a bird in, and the bird cried—
" " Return, return thou youthful bride ! This is a murderer's den.'
And the bird kept repeating these words; yet I would not believe it, but went on through all the rooms, which were empty and gloomy. At last I came to a cellar, where sat a very old woman, who shook her head mournfully when she saw me. I asked her if my bridegroom dwelt in that house, and she answered,