78 GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES.
11 What are you doing here in the wood this winter time in your little thin frock?"
" Oh," answered she, " I have to get a basket of strawberries, and I must not go home without them."
When she had eaten her bread they gave her a broom, and told her to go and sweep the snow away from the back door. When she had gone outside to do it the little men talked among themselves about what they should do for her, as she was so good and pretty, and had shared her bread with them. Then the first one said,
" She shall grow prettier every day." The second said,
" Each time she speaks a piece of gold shall fall from her mouth." The third said,
" A king shall come and take her for his wife."
In the meanwhile the girl was doing as the little men had told her, and had cleared the snow from the back of the little house, and what do you suppose she found ? fine ripe strawberries, showing dark red against the snow ! Then she joyfully filled her little basket full, thanked the little men, shook hands with them all, and ran home in haste to bring her step-mother the thing she longed for. As she went in and said, " Good evening," a piece of gold fell from her mouth at once. Then she related all that had happened to her in the wood, and at each word that she spoke gold pieces fell out of her mouth, so that soon they were scattered all over the room.
"Just look at her pride and conceit!" cried the step-sister, " throwing money about in this way!" but in her heart she was jealous because of it, and wanted to go too into the wood to fetch strawberries. But the mother said,
" No, my dear little daughter, it is too cold, you will be frozen to death."
But she left her no peace, so at last the mother gave in, got her a splendid fur coat to put on, and gave her bread and butter and cakes to eat, on the way.
The girl went into the wood and walked straight up to the little house. The three little men peeped out again, but she gave them no greeting, and without looking round or taking any notice of them she came stumping into the room, sat herself down by the oven, and began to eat her bread and butter and cakes.