516 THE YOUNG COUNT'S REWARD.
prove to you that peasants are not the only people who can carry burdens, I will carry yours for you."
" If you will do this for me," she replied, " I shall be very thankful. It is not more than an hour's walk, and there are those baskets to carry, but that will be nothing to you."
The young man became very thoughtful when he heard of an hour's walk, but the old woman would not let him off; she loaded him with the sack of grass and hung the baskets on his two arms, and said, "See now, isn't it very light ?"
" No, it is not at all light," said the young count, making a woful face; " the bundle weighs as heavy as if it were full of large pebble stones, and the apples and pears seem like lead, I can scarcely breathe."
He wished to place the burden on the ground again, but the old woman would not allow him. "See now," she said scornfully, " the young gentleman cannot even support a load which an old woman like me has carried so often. You are very ready with your fine words, but when it comes to the real thing you are as ready with your excuses. Why do you stand there ? come, step out and lift up your legs; no one can take that bundle from your back now."
So the young count started, and as long as he walked on level ground he got on very well, but when they reached a mountain and he found he had to climb up he began to lose strength, and the stones rolled under his feet as if they were alive. Drops of perspiration, stood on his forehead and ran down his back, making him feel hot and cold alternately. " Good mother," he said, " I cannot go any farther, I want to rest."
"You must not rest yet," replied the old woman; "by-and-by, when we reach the end of the journey will be the time to rest; now you must go fox-ward, and it may bring you good fortune in the end."
" You are a shameless old woman," said the young count, trying to throw the sack from his shoulders, but he tried in vain, it stuck as fast as if it had grown there, and twist and turn as he might, he could not get free. The old woman only laughed and danced round him on her crutches. "Don't excite yourself, my dear sir," she said, " you are getting as red in the face as a turkey cock. Carry your burden with patience, and when we get home you shall have a good draught to refresh you."