242 GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES.
were going to be hanged. And when he drew near he saw that it was his two brothers, who had done all sorts of evil tricks, and had wasted all their goods. He asked if there were no means of setting them free.
" Oh yes ! if you will buy them off," answered the people; " but why should you spend your money in redeeming such worthless men ? "
But he persisted in doing so; and when they were let go they all went on their journey together.
After a while they came to the wood where the fox had met them first, and there it seemed so cool and sheltered from the sun's burning rays that the two brothers said,
" Let us rest here for a little by the brook, and eat and drink to refresh ourselves."
The young man consented, quite forgetting the fox's warning, and he seated himself by the brook-side, suspecting no evil. But the two brothers thrust him backwards into the brook, seized the princess, the horse, and the bird, and went home to their father.
" Is not this the golden bird that we bring?" said they; " and we have also the golden. horse, and the princess of the golden castle."
Then there was great rejoicing in the royal castle, but the horse did not feed, the bird did not chirp, and the princess sat still and wept.
The youngest brother, however, had not perished. The brook was, by good fortune, dry, and he fell on soft moss without receiving any hurt, but he could not get up again. But in his need the faithful fox was not lacking ; he came up running, and reproached him for having forgotten his advice..
" But I cannot forsake you all the same," said he; "I ' will help you back again into daylight." So he told the young man to grasp his tail, and hold on to it fast, and so he drew him up again.
" Still you are not quite out of all danger," said the fox; "your brothers, not being certain of your death, have surrounded the wood with sentinels, who are to put you to death if you let yourself be seen."
A poor beggar-man was sitting by the path, and the young man changed clothes with him, and went clad in that wise