298 THE LITTLE GREY MAN.
who bade him "good morning," and said: "Give me a little piece of cake out of your basket and a drop of wine out of your bottle, for I am very hungry and thirsty."
But the youth, who was considered clever, replied: " What! give you my cake and my wine ! why, if I did I should have none for myself. Not I indeed, so take yourself off."
The old man went away, and the young man began cutting down a tree, till presently he made a false stroke, the axe slipped and cut his arm so badly that he was obliged to go home and have it bound up. Now this false stroke was caused by the little grey old man.
Next day, the second son went into the forest to cut wood, and his mother gave him also a cake and a bottle of wine. As he entered the wood the same little old man met him, and begged for a piece of cake and a drop of wine. But the second son answered rudely : " What I might give to you I shall want myself, so be off."
Then he left the little old man standing in the road and walked on. His punishment soon came; he had scarcely given two strokes on a tree with his axe, when he hit his leg such a terrible blow, that he was obliged to limp home in great pain.
Then the stupid son, whom nobody cared for, went to his father and said : " Let me go for once and cut wood in the forest"
But his father said : " No, your brothers have been hurt already, and it would be worse for you who don't understand wood-cutting."
The boy, however, begged so hard to be allowed to go that his father said : " There, get along with you; you will buy your experience very dearly, I expect."
His mother, however, gave him a cake which had been made with water and baked in the ashes, and a bottle of sour beer.
When he reached the wood the very same little old man met him, and after greeting him kindly, said: " Give me a little of your cake and a drop from your bottle, for I am very hungry and thirsty."
" Oh," replied the simple youth, " I have only a cake which has been baked in the ashes and some sour beer, but you are welcome to a share of it; let us sit down and eat and drink together."
So they seated themselves, and, lo and behold, when the youth opened his basket the cake had beeen turned into a beautiful