176 GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES.
on the path through the wood, but, nevertheless, at each step she cast to the right and left a few peas on the ground. So she went on the whole day until she came to the middle of the wood, where it was the darkest, and there stood a lonely house, not pleasant in her eyes, for it was dismal and unhomelike. She walked in, but there was no one there, and the greatest stillness reigned. Suddenly she heard a voice cry,
Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride, Within this house thou must not bide, For here do evil things betide."
The girl glanced round, and perceived that the voice came from a bird who was hanging in a cage by the wall. And again it cried,
" Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride, Within this house thou must not bide, For here do evil things betide."
Then the pretty bride went on from one room into another through the whole house, but it was quite empty, and no soul to be found in it.
At last she reached the cellar, and there sat a very old woman nodding her head.
" Can you tell me," said the bride, " if my bridegroom lives here ? "
" Oh, poor child," answered the old woman, " do you know what has happened to you ? You are in a place of cutthroats. You thought you were a bride, and soon to be married, but death will be your spouse. Look here, I have a great kettle of water to set on, and when once they have you in their power they will cut you in pieces without mercy, cook you, and eat you, for they are cannibals. Unless I have pity on you, and save you, all is over with you !"
Then the old woman hid her behind a great cask, where she could not be seen.
" Be as still as a mouse," said she ; " do not move or go away, or else you are lost. At night, when the robbers are asleep, we will escape. I have been waiting a long time for an opportunity."
No sooner was it settled than the wicked gang entered the house. They brought another young woman with them.