THE CLEVER HUNTER.
" Oh, yes," he replied, " that would be to me a mere trifle." So they went down to the water and seated themselves in a little boat, and were very soon across. As they approached the shore, out ran the little dog, but before he could utter a single bark, the hunter with his air-gun shot him dead. When the giants saw this they were mightily pleased, and thought now they were certain to have the princess, but the hunter wished to see first how the affair was to be managed, so he told them to remain outside till he called them.
Then he entered the castle alone and found everything as still as a mouse, for they all slept. In the first room he entered there hung upon the wall a sword of pure silver with a golden star upon it, in which was inscribed the king's name. On a table near lay a sealed letter; the hunter took it up, broke open the seal, and read what was written, that whoever wielded that sword could take the life of any one who came in his way.
He took the sword from the wall, fastened it on, and went farther. Presently he came to the chamber where the princess lay sleeping, and she was so beautiful that he stood still and held his breath as he looked at her. " Ah," thought he to himself, " I dare not allow this innocent maiden to fall into the power of those wild giants who have wickedness in their thoughts.
Then he looked round the room, and saw a pair of slippers ; on the right slipper was embroidered a star, with the king's name, and on the left another star with the princess's name. There was also a silk neckerchief, embroidered with gold, on which her father's and her own name were worked, and all in gold letters. The hunter took a pair of scissors, and cut a strip off the silk neckerchief, and put it in his knapsack; he also took the slipper with the king's name on it, and placed it with the strip of silk. And all this while the princess slept peacefully, and she did not even wake while he cut a piece from the sleeve of her nightdress, which he also placed in his bag, and went away without disturbing any one.
Outside the door he found the three giants waiting impatiently, and wondering that he did not bring the princess. He called to them, however, to come in. %i One at a time," he said, " for lean-not open the door for you, but there is a hole through which you can creep/- j