speak, and for a moment he rather wished to run away ; but the charm of her sweet talk took his strength from him, and so it was his Fear alone that fled.
Then, what do you think ? The Tortoise tumbled three times head over heels, and there she stood, — a Maiden, delicate, grace- ful, and so very pretty that there was no one like her under the sun. Our Lad wished that he could sip her in a spoonful of water from sheer love. But he stopped himself and did not move, so that he should not disturb or vex the Maiden, for he felt that he could not possibly live without her.
They began to talk, but do you think they knew what they were talking about ? Now they began about this, then they began about that, just like that, until they suddenly found that it was evening. As the two other lads were going to bring their be- trothed to their father on the following day. Our Lad told the Maiden that he must go home to tell his father that he, too, had found his fate.
So the Maiden went back into the Pool, while the Lad set off for his father's castle. He walked along, but it seemed to him as if something were drawing him backwards. He kept on looking back, but there was nothing to be seen ; yet back and back he still kept looking. Luckily, he soon got home, for had the walk been longer, you wouldn't have been at all surprised had he got a crooked neck from so much looking backwards !
When he got home, and found his father and his brothers, he began to tell them of the queer things that happened to him. When he got to the part of his story where he had said to the Tortoise, "Thou shalt be my Bride!" up went a great shout of laughter from his brothers, and they began to make fun of him, and to crack many unsalted jokes about him and his Tortoise. The Youngest Lad tried to explain that the Tortoise was a beautiful Maiden, but he couldn't get a word in, they didn't give him time, but talked and talked the silliest nonsense.
When the Lad saw this he kept quiet, and swallowed the shame that he felt in being made fun of by his brothers before his father.
"You see," thought he, "just now, a thousand words are not worth a penny. Wait and see," he said to himself, " for he who laughs last, laughs longest."