Page:Popular tales from the Norse (1912).djvu/200
THE OLD DAME AND HER HEN
Once on a time there was an old widow who lived far away from the rest of the world, up under a hill-side, with her three daughters. She was so poor that she had no stock but one single hen, which she prized as the apple of her eye; in short, it was always cackling at her heels, and she was always running to look after it. Well! one day, all at once, the hen was missing. The old wife went out, and round and round the cottage, looking and calling for her hen, but it was gone, and there was no getting it back.
So the woman said to her eldest daughter, "You must just go out and see if you can find our hen, for have it back we must, even if we have to fetch it out of the hill."
Well! the daughter was ready enough to go, so she set off and walked up and down, and looked and called, but no hen could she find. But all at once, just as she was about to give up the hunt, she heard some one calling out in a cleft in the rock—
"Your hen trips inside the hill!
So she went into the cleft to see what it was, but she had scarce set her foot inside the cleft, before she fell through a trap-door, deep, deep down, into a vault under ground. When she got to the bottom she went through many rooms, each finer than the other; but in the inner-