THE OLD-FANGLED FATHER
help me in return for my many years of kindness, as they do successfully in fairy stories, he would bite me for my pains, as he always does whenever I feed him."
And the second-born said :—
" If I were to fondle a pin and said, ' Ah, pin! canst thou help me in my distress ?' ten to one I would get pricked, and serve me right for being so imbecile."
" As for me," exclaimed the romantic one, " were a gentle wolf to find me mooning about the forest thinking of my beauteous Princess, surely would he stop and, with a keen sense of the fitness of things, he would not trifle with politeness, but he would eat of me as much as would satisfy his present need—perhaps even more than he could digest."
And the brothers laughed aloud in the splenetic bitterness of their three souls.
Another year went by. The sons had paid their father's debts and made some on their own account; so they held a council, and they confessed that they had idled so long because they were haunted by the rosy promise their father's words held out, and, do what they would, they could neither forget them nor yet find any solution.
Then together they pondered and thought, until