240 THE STONES OF PLOUHINEC
found out what a piece of luck might befall him a week hence.'
' What piece of luck ? ' asked the donkey.
' Why, don't you know,' inquired the ox,' that once every hundred years the stones on Plouhinec heath go down to drink at the river, and that while they are away the treasures underneath them are uncovered ? '
' Ah, I remember now,' replied the donkey, ' but the stones return so quickly to their places, that you certainly would be crushed to death unless you have in your hands a bunch of crowsfoot and of five-leaved trefoil.'
' Yes, but that is not enough,' said the ox; ' even supposing you get safely by, the treasures you have brought with you will crumble into dust if you do not give in exchange a baptised soul. It is needful that a Christian should die before you can enjoy the wealth of Plouhinec.'
The donkey was about to ask some further questions, when she suddenly found herself unable to speak : the time allowed them for conversation was over.
' Ah, my dear creatures,' thought the beggar, who had of course heard everything, ' you are going to make me richer than the richest men of Vannes or Lorient. But I have no time to lose ; to-morrow I must begin to hunt for the precious plants.'
He did not dare to seek too near Plouhinec, lest somebody who knew the story might guess what he was doing, so he went away further towards the south, where the air was softer and the plants are always green. From the instant it was light, till the last rays had faded out of the sky, he searched every inch of ground where the magic plants might grow ; he scarcely gave himself a minute to eat and drink, but at length he found the crowsfoot in a little hollow ! Well, that was certainly a great deal, but after all, the crowsfoot was of no use without the trefoil, and there was so little time left.