Kisa the Cat (cont.)
(see previous page for audio)'The first day that I can spare I shall just go back and kill her,' he said; 'it would never do for people in the forest to know that a mere girl can defy me!'
And he and his wife were so busy calling Ingibjorg all sorts of names for her bad behaviour that they never noticed Kisa stealing into a dark corner and upsetting a whole bag of salt into the great pot before the fire.
'Dear me, how thirsty I am!' cried the giant by-and-by.
'So am I,' answered the wife. 'I do wish I had not taken that last spoonful of broth; I am sure something was wrong with it.'
'If I don't get some water I shall die,' went on the giant. And rushing out of the cave, followed by his wife, he ran down the path which led to the river.
Then Kisa entered the hut and lost no time in searching every hole till she came upon some grass, under which Ingibjorg's feet were hidden and, putting them in her cart, drove back again to her own hut.
Ingibjorg was thankful to see her, for she had lain, too frightened to sleep, trembling at every noise.
'Oh, is it you?' she cried joyfully, as Kisa turned the key. And the cat came in, holding up the two neat little feet in their silver slippers.
'In two minutes they shall be as tight as they ever were!' said Kisa. And taking some strings of the magic grass which the giant had carelessly heaped on them, she bound the feet on to the legs above.
'Of course you won't be able to walk for some time; you must not expect THAT,' she continued. 'But if you are very good, perhaps, in about a week, I may carry you home again.'
And so she did, and when the cat drove the cart up to the palace gate, lashing the horse furiously with her tail, and the king and queen saw their lost daughter sitting beside her, they declared that no reward could be too great for the person who had brought her out of the giant's hands.
'We will talk about that by-and-by,' said the cat, as she made her best bow and turned her horse's head.
The princess was very unhappy when Kisa left her without even bidding her farewell. She would neither eat nor drink, nor take any notice of all the beautiful dresses her parents bought for her.
'She will die, unless we can make her laugh,' one whispered to the other. 'Is there anything in the world that we have left untried?'
'Nothing except marriage,' answered the king. And he invited all the handsomest young men he could think of to the palace and bade the princess choose a husband from among them.
It took her some time to decide which she admired the most, but at last she fixed upon a young prince whose eyes were like the pools in the forest and his hair of bright gold. The king and the queen were greatly pleased, as the young man was the son of a neighbouring king, and they gave orders that a splendid feast should be got ready.
When the marriage was over, Kisa suddenly stood before them, and Ingibjorg rushed forward and clasped her in her arms.
'I have come to claim my reward,' said the cat. 'Let me sleep for this night at the foot of your bed.'
'Is that ALL?' asked Ingibjorg, much disappointed.
'It is enough,' answered the cat. And when the morning dawned, it was no cat that lay upon the bed, but a beautiful princess.
'My mother and I were both enchanted by a spiteful fairy,' said she; 'we could not free ourselves till we had done some kindly deed that had never been wrought before. My mother died without ever finding a chance of doing anything new, but I took advantage of the evil act of the giant to make you as whole as ever.'
Then they were all more delighted than before, and the princess lived in the court until she, too, married, and went away to govern one of her own.