ESBEN AND THE WITCH 261
hated by everyone else, for he was wicked both in will and deed. This Sir Red became angry with the eleven brothers, because they would not always stand at attention for him, so he determined to avenge himself on them.
One day, therefore, he went to the king, and said that the eleven brothers who had come to the palace a little while ago, and served as stablemen, could do a great deal more than they pretended. One day he had heard them say that if they liked they could get for the king a wonderful dove which had a feather of gold and a feather of silver time about. But they wrould not procure' it unless they were threatened with death.
The king then had the eleven brothers called before him, and said to them, ' You have said that you can get me a dove which has feathers of gold and silver time about.'
All the eleven assured him that they had never said anything of the kind, and they did not believe that such a dove existed in the whole world.
' Take your own mind of it,' said the king; ' but if you don't get that dove within three days you shall lose your heads, the wiiole lot of you.'
With that the king let them go, and there was great grief among them; some wept and others lamented.
At that moment Esben came along, and, seeing their sorrowful looks, said to them, ' Hallo, what's the matter with you ?'
'What good would it do to tell you, you little fool? You can't help us.'
' Oh, you don't know that,' answered Esben. ' I have helped you before.'
In the end they told him how unreasonable the king was, and how he had ordered them to get for him a dove with feathers of gold and silver time about.
' Give me a bag of peas,' said Esben, ' and I shall see what I can do for you.'