THE ROBBERS" CA VE. 559
Hans placed the maiden in the basket, and called to his companions to draw her up. The basket came down again, but Hans did not quite trust his fellow travellers, " for," thought he, " they have been already false in not telling me of the dwarf's visits, and who knows, they may have some design against me."
So he placed his heavy staff in the basket, and it was fortunate for him that he did so, for, when the basket was half-way up, they let go the cord, and if Hans had been really sitting in it, he must have been dashed to pieces.
It was, however, still a sad difficulty for him to get out of that deep place, and, ponder as he might, there seemed no way of escape.
a It is very hard," he said to himself, " to know that I must stay here and be starved."
But as he wandered in and out, he came again to the room in which the young lady had been sitting, and saw on the finger of the dead dwarf a ring sparkling and glittering. He drew off the ring, and placed it on his own finger, and, as he turned it round, he suddenly heard a rushing sound over his head. He looked up, and saw a spirit of the air hovering over him, who said he was his master, and asked him what his commands were. Hans felt at first quite bewildered, but on saying he wished to be drawn up out of that cave, in a moment he was obeyed, and it appeared to him as if he flew.
When he reached the top, none of his companions were to be seen, and, on going to the old castle, he found it empty. The Fir-twister and the Rock-splitter had gone away, and taken the beautiful lady with them.
Hans directly turned his ring on his finger, and the spirit of the air appeared, and told him that his two companions were on the sea. Hans ran with all his might down to the sea shore, and was just in time to see at a distance a boat, in which his false companions were rowing away as fast as they could.
In his violent rage, and without a thought, he jumped into the water, still carrying his heavy staff, and attempted to swim after hem; but the weight of his staff dragged him down, and he was in the point of sinking when he thought of the ring.
The moment he turned it round, the spirit of the air appeared, and carried him with the speed of lightning to the boat He