562 THE HOUSE IN THE WOOD.
he said; "as the seeds are larger than the millet, she will see them more easily, and will not be likely to lose her way."
But at noon when the maiden went with her father's dinner, the linseed had disappeared; the birds of the forest, as on the day before, had picked them all up, so that there were none left. She also wandered about all day, and at last found a good supper and a night's lodging in the old man's cottage; but she also never thought of feeding the animals, or of making the old man's bed, so at night while she slept, he opened the trap-door and let her down into the cellar below as he had done her sister. On the third morning, the wood-cutter told his wife: " You must send our youngest child with my dinner to-day, she is always good and obedient, she will not lose her way as her sisters have done; they wander about like wild bees when they swarm."
The mother, however, would not listen. " No," she said, "why Should I lose my dearest child now that the others are gone ?"
" Don't fear," he said, " the maiden will never wander, she is too clever and sensible; besides, I will take a quantity of peas with me and strew them in the way, to show her the right path ; they are so much larger than linseed, and will be sure to remain."
So the next day, the mother, with much advice and caution, sent her youngest daughter to the forest. She carried a basket on her arm, but there were no peas to guide her, they were all in the crops of the pigeons, and therefore she knew not which path to take. She was very unhappy, and thought how hungry her poor father would be, and how her mother would fret if she remained away all night. However, in her wanderings after dark, she also saw the light, and came, as her sisters had done, to the house in the wood. She went in and begged for a night's lodging so gently that the man with the white beard said to his animals;
"Little chicks and spotted cow, Shall we keep her here or no ?"
The voice answered, " Yes," and presently the maiden went over to the stove where the animals lay, stroked the smooth feathers of the cock and hen with her hand, and rubbed the spotted cow between the horns. When the old man told her to go and cook some supper she got it ready very quickly, but when she placed the dishes on the table she said : "I am not going to feast myself with all these good things while the poor animals have nothing.