THE S1L VER AXE.
the wood, ate his dinner, and was soon running along full of spirits, for he saw in the green branches here and there the form of a nest He went on for some distance, however, till at last he came to ah immense weird-looking oak, which was certainly many hundred years old, and its trunk so large that five men, with their hands joined together, could not have spanned it
The boy stood still and looked at it, and thought : " How many birds must have built their nests in that oak."
Presently, aj he stood admiring it, he thought he heard a voice. He listened, and it sounded again in smothered tones, and cried : " Let me out; let me out V He looked about, but could discover nothing. Still, it appeared to him as if the voice came from under the ground.
At last he cried : " Where are you ?"
The voice answered : "Here I am, just under the roots of the oak. Let me out! let me out!"
The scholar at once commenced clearing away the underwood from the roots, and searching carefully, till at last he discovered in a corner a glass bottle. He took it up, and held it against the light, and saw something in the shape of a frog springing up and down, and crying: "Let me out; let me out!" The scholar, suspecting no harm, took the cork out of the bottle, and instantly a spirit rose in the air ; and, spreading as it rose, became in a very few moments a frightful looking creature half as high as the tree.
" Knowest thou," he exclaimed to the youth, in a terrible voice, " what will be thy reward for this ?"
"No,"answered the youth, fearlessly, "how should I?"
" Well, then, I will tell you," cried the ghost, " I shall have to break your neck V
"If you had told me that before," said the scholar, "I should certainly have left you stuck fast in your bottle. As for my head, that shall remain on my shoulders for all your threats. There are more people to consult than myself in the matter."
" More people coming! more people here !" cried the gianr. " Do you think that after being shut up so long I can have any inclination to mercy ? No, indeed, I have had my punishment, and ' will be revenged! I am the great and mighty'Mercury,and you have set me free; therefore must I break your neck !"
" Gently," replied the scholar, " there need not be such haste as