THE GOLDEN BIRD.
nearer, he saw that they were his two brothers, who had committed all sorts of wicked actions, and wasted and spent all their property.
Eagerly he asked if he could not set them free and save them.
" If you will pay a ransom for them, you can," answered the crowd; " but why should you give your gold for two wicked men who deserve to be hung?"
But the younger brother did not listen to this; he paid the ransom for them, set them free, and told them to travel home with him.
When they reached the wood where each of them had first met the fox, it was so cool and pleasant, and so sheltered from the burning sun, that the elder brother said, " Let us stay here and rest for a time, while we take something to eat and drink." The younger brother was quite willing; he alighted from his horse, and when one of them asked him to sit on the brink of the well with him, he readily consented, quite forgetting the warning, and his promise to the fox. He had scarcely seated himself, when his two brothers suddenly turned upon him, and pushed him backwards into the well.
Then they started up, took possession of the young princess, the golden horse, and the golden bird, and travelled quickly home to their father.
"We have brought home not only the golden bird," they said, " but the golden horse and the young princess from the golden castle as booty."
There was great rejoicing on their arrival at first; but it caused much anxiety when it was found that the horse would not eat, the bird would not sing, and the young maiden only sat and wept.
The younger brother, however, was not dead. Fortunately the well was dry, and he fell on soft moss, without receiving the least injury. He could not, however, get out without help, and help was at hand, for in his trouble the faithful fox did not forsake him. He came to the well, and after looking over, he jumped down to him, and began to scold him well for having forgotten his advice.
i; I cannot, however, leave you here." he said; " I will help you again into the daylight."
So he told the young man to lay hold tightly by his tail, and then the fox climbed up, and dragged the young man after him.