"What fools you must be," he cried, "to want a saddle when you have not a horse to place it upon !"
"This saddle is worth a contest," said one of the men, "for whoever seats himself upon it, and wishes himself somewhere, even were it to the end of the world, he would have his wish accomplished the moment it was uttered !"
"The saddle is our joint property, and it is my turn to ride it; but my companion will not let me."
" I will soon put an end to this contention," said the drummer. " Go to a little distance, and stick a white staff in the ground; then come back, and start from here to run to the mark, and whoever is there first is to ride first."
They did as he advised, and then both started off at a full trot; but scarcely had they taken two steps, when the drummer swung himself on the saddle, and wished to be on the top of the mountain, and, ere a man could turn his hand, there he was.
The top of the mountain formed an extensive plain, on which stood an old stone-built house; in front of it a large fish-pond, and behind it a dark dreary forest. Neither man nor animals could be seen; not a sound disturbed the peaceful stillness, excepting the wind rustling the leaves, while the clouds floated silently over his head.
He stepped up to the door of the house and knocked. No one answered, and he knocked a second time ; but it was not till the third time that the door was opened by an old woman with a brown lace and red eyes. She had a pair of spectacles on her long nose, fi nd looked at him very sharply as she asked; " What is your business here?"
" I want admission, food, and a night's lodging," he replied.
" All these you shall have," she replied, " if you will perform three tasks for me."
" Willingly," he replied, " I do not shrink from work, however difficult it may be."
The old woman, on this, led him in, gave him a supper, and a good bed in the evening.
Next morning, when he got up, breakfast was ready for him, nd after eating it, he expressed his readiness to perform the tasks he had spoken of.
In reply, the old woman took a thimble from her lean finger,