THE THREE LITTLE MEN IN THE WOOD. 79
the cottage. The three little men saw her coming, although she knew it not; and without guessing or seeing anything wrong, walked right into the room, seated herself by the stove, and began eating her bread and butter and cake.
" Give us a little of your nice breakfast," said one of the little men.
" I have not enough for myself," she replied, " how can I give you any?" So she went on eating, and they waited till she had finished.
Then they said, " There is a broom in the corner, take it and sweep the pathway at the back door."
" Go and do it yourself," she cried, " I am not your servant."
However, when she saw that they did move she was half afraid, and taking the broom went out
After she was gone the little men began to talk one to the other about her. "What shall we send her," asked one, "for she has such a naughty, wicked, and envious heart; we cannot grant her a favour." " Then," said the first, " I ordain that she shall grow more ugly every day." "I will send her such a gift," said the second, " that at every word she speaks a toad shall spring out of her mouth;" while the third prophesied that she should meet with an unlucky death.
After sweeping away the snow, the maiden searched in vain for strawberries, but none could she find; so she went home quite sullen, and out of temper. But how terrified she was when on opening her mouth to relate all that had happened to her in the wood, at each word a toad sprung out on the floor, so that she became disgusting to every one.
After this, the step-mother became more spiteful against her husband's daughter than ever, and thought only of the means to make her suffer pain and annoyance, for her beauty grew more and more daily.
At last, one morning, she took a kettle, and set it on the fire to boil yarn. As soon as it was ready she called the poor girl, and hanging the thread on her shoulder gave her an axe and told her to go to the frozen river, break a hole in the ice, and wash the thread.
Always obedient, she took the axe and went to break a hole in the ice. But as she struck the first blow a beautiful little carriage