442 THE DRUMMER.
In the evening she came, and, when she asked the question as the maiden had said she would, he threw the fish in her face, and repeated the words as she had told him. The old woman stood still, and appeared not to notice what he had done; excepting that she looked at him with malicious eyes.
The next morning she said to him: "The task I gave you yesterday was too easy, you must have something more difficult to-day. I expect you, therefore, to cut down all the trees of the forest behind this house, to split them into logs and stack them, and when evening comes all must be finished !"
She gave him an axe, a chopper, and a wedge. But the axe was made of lead, and the chopper and wedge of tin ; so that when he began his work the axe stuck fast in the wood, and the chopper and wedge struck one against the other, and became useless.
He knew not what to do, but at noon the maiden came again with his dinner and comforted him. " Lay your head in my lap," said she, "and sleep, and when you awake the work will be done."
While he slept, she turned the wish-ring on her finger, and in a moment the whole of the forest trees fell together with a crash The wood divided itself into logs and stacked itself in piles, it was as if an invisible giant had accomplished the task. When the dreamer awoke, the maiden said : " You see how all the wood is cut down and stacked, except one little bough. When the old woman comes this evening and asks what the bough is left there for, you must give her a blow with it and say, ' It is for you, old witch/ "
The old woman came, and when she saw the work all done, she said : " Ah, it was an easy task I gave you, but what is that bough left there for?"
" For you, witch," he replied, giving her a blow with it. But she appeared not to feel it, laughed scornfully, and said: " Tomorrow, you shall place all this wood in a heap, set fire to it, and burn it."
He was at the forest by daybreak, and began his work of gathering the wood into a heap, but how was it possible for one man to carry the trees of a whole forest into one spot. The work went backwards not forwards. The maiden, however, did not forget him in his trouble, she brought him his mid-day meal, and when he had eaten, made him lay his head in her lap and sleep. When