ARLY IN THE morning the king's son went where the tree was, and that tree was not hard to hit upon. Its match was not in the whole wood. From the foot to the first branch was five hundred feet. The king's son was going all round the tree. She came who was always bringing help to him.
"You are losing the skin of your hands and feet."
"Ach! I am," says he. "I am no sooner up than down."
"This is no time for stopping," says the giant's daughter. "Now you must kill me, strip the flesh from my bones, take all those bones apart, and use them as steps for climbing the tree. When you are climbing the tree, they will stick to the glass as if they had grown out of it; but when you are coming down, and have put your foot on each one, they will drop into your hand when you touch them. Be sure and stand on each bone, leave none untouched; if you do, it will stay behind. Put all my flesh into this clean cloth by the side of the spring at the roots of the tree. When you come to the earth, arrange my bones together, put the flesh over them, sprinkle it with water from the spring, and I shall be alive before you. But don't forget a bone of me on the tree."
"How could I kill you," asked the king's son, "after what you have done for me?"
"If you won't obey, you and I are done for," said Auburn Mary. "You must climb the tree, or we are lost; and to climb the tree you must do as I say." The king's son obeyed. He killed Auburn Mary, cut the flesh from her body, and unjointed the bones, as she had told him.
As he went up, the king's son put the bones of Auburn Mary's body against the side of the tree, using them as steps, till he came under the nest and stood on the last bone.
Then he took the eggs, and coming down, put his foot on every bone, then took it with him, till he came to the last bone, which was so near the ground that he failed to touch it with his foot.
He now placed all the bones of Auburn Mary in order again at the side of the spring, put the flesh on them, sprinkled it with water from the spring. She rose up before him, and said: "Didn't I tell you not to leave a bone of my body without stepping on it? Now I am lame for life! You left my little finger on the tree without touching it, and I have but nine fingers."
"Now," says she, "go home with the eggs quickly, and you will get me to marry to-night if you can know me. I and my two sisters will be arrayed in the same garments, and made like each other, but look at me when my father says, 'Go to thy wife, king's son;' and you will see a hand without a little finger."
He gave the eggs to the giant.
"Yes, yes!" says the giant, "be making ready for your marriage."
Then, indeed, there was a wedding, and it 'was' a wedding! Giants and gentlemen, and the son of the king of the Green City was in the midst of them. They were married, and the dancing began, that was a dance! The giant's house was shaking from top to bottom.
But bed time came, and the giant said, "It is time for thee to go to rest, son of the king of Tethertown; choose thy bride to take with thee from amidst those."
She put out the hand off which the little finger was, and he caught her by the hand.
"Thou hast aimed well this time too; but there is no knowing but we may meet thee another way," said the giant.
But to rest they went. "Now," says she, "sleep not, or else you are a dead man. We must fly quick, quick, or for certain my father will kill you."
Out they went, and on the blue grey filly in the stable they mounted. "Stop a while," says she, "and I will play a trick to the old hero." She jumped in, and cut an apple into nine shares, and she put two shares at the head of the bed, and two shares at the foot of the bed, and two shares at the door of the kitchen, and two shares at the big door, and one outside the house.
The giant awoke and called, "Are you asleep?"
"Not yet," said the apple that was at the head of the bed.
At the end of a while he called again.
"Not yet," said the apple that was at the foot of the bed.
A while after this he called again: "Are your asleep?"
"Not yet," said the apple at the kitchen door.
The giant called again.
The apple that was at the big door answered.
"You are now going far from me," says the giant.
"Not yet," says the apple that was outside the house.
"You are flying," says the giant. The giant jumped on his feet, and to the bed he went, but it was cold--empty.
"My own daughter's tricks are trying me," said the giant. "Here's after them," says he.
At the mouth of day, the giant's daughter said that her father's breath was burning her back.
"Put your hand, quick," said she, "in the ear of the grey filly, and whatever you find in it, throw it behind us."
"There is a twig of sloe tree," said he.
"Throw it behind us," said she.
No sooner did he that, than there were twenty miles of blackthorn wood, so thick that scarce a weasel could go through it.
The giant came headlong, and there he is fleecing his head and neck in the thorns.
"My own daughter's tricks are here as before," said the giant; "but if I had my own big axe and wood knife here, I would not be long making a way through this."
He went home for the big axe and the wood knife, and sure he was not long on his journey, and he was the boy behind the big axe. He was not long making a way through the blackthorn.
"I will leave the axe and the wood knife here till I return," says he.
"If you leave 'em, leave 'em," said a hoodie that was in a tree, "we'll steal 'em, steal 'em."
"If you will do that," says the giant, "I must take them home." He returned home and left them at the house.