THE HOUSE IN THE WOOD. 563
There will be plenty left for me, and I shall take care of them first."
Then she went and fetched some barley which she scattered before the chickens, and a whole armful of sweet hay for the cow. " Eat that up, you dear animals," she said, " and perhaps you are thirsty, so I will bring you some fresh water."
Then she brought in a large basin of water, and the cock and hen sprung on the brink, dipped in their beaks and lifted their heads in the manner that birds always do drink, while the spotted cow took a long draught. After the animals were fed, the maiden seated herself at the table and ate what the old man had left for her. In a very little while the fowls had their heads behind their wings, and the cow began to blink her eyes, so the maiden said: " Shall we not go to rest ?"
And the old man cried—
" Little chicks and spotted cow, Shall we let her sleep here now?"
And they replied quickly—
" Yes, for she is very good, She has brought us drink and food."
Then the maiden went upstairs, shook both beds, and made them up, and presently the old man came to his room, and when he laid himself on the bed his white beard nearly reached to his feet.
The maiden also said her prayers, and lying down slept peacefully till midnight, when a number of strange noises awoke her. The corners of the house were creaking and cracking, the doors sprang open and struck against the walls. The rafters groaned, as if their joints were broken and separated ; the stairs were turning upside down, and at last there was a crash, as if the roof and the walls had fallen in together. Then all was still.
The maiden had been too frightened to move, and all had happened so quickly that she would have had scarcely time to do so. But now finding she was not hurt, and still in her comfortable bed, she lay quiet and went to sleep again.
But in the morning when the bright sunshine awoke her, what a sight met her eyes! She was lying in a noble room, and every-