272 THE BATTLE OF THE BIRDS
So he went and gave the eggs to the giant, who nodded his head.
' Make ready for thy marriage,' cried he, ' for the wedding shall take place this very night, and I will summon thy bride to greet thee.' Then his three daughters were sent for, and they all entered dressed in green silk of the same fashion, and with golden circlets round their heads. The king's son looked from one to another. Which was the youngest ? Suddenly his eyes fell on the hand of the middle one, and there was no little finger.
' Thou hast aimed well this time too,' said the giant, as the king's son laid his hand on her shoulder, ' but perhaps we may meet some other way'; and though he pretended to laugh, the bride saw a gleam in his eye which warned her of danger.
The wedding took place that very night, and the hall was filled with giants and gentlemen, and they danced till the house shook from top to bottom. At last everyone grew tired, and the guests went away, and the king's son and his bride were left alone.
' If we stay here till dawn my father will kill thee,' she whispered, ' but thou art my husband and I will save thee, as I did before,' and she cut an apple into nine pieces, and put two pieces at the head of the bed, and two pieces at the foot, and two pieces at the door of the kitchen, and two at the big door, and one outside the house. And when this was done, and she heard the giant snoring, she and the king's son crept out softly and stole across to the stable, where she led out the blue-grey mare and jumped on its back, and her husband mounted behind her. Not long after, the giant awoke.
' Are you asleep ? ' asked he.
' Not yet,' answered the apple at the head of the bed, and the giant turned over, and soon was snoring as loudly as before. By and bye he called again.
' Are you asleep ? '