daughter, of whom he was very fond. Not long after, the Queen had a fine son, which caused great feasting and rejoicing at the Court, insomuch that the late Queen, in a manner, was entirely forgotten. That fared well, and King and Queen lived happy together for several years.
At length the Queen, having some business with the hen-wife, went herself to her, and, after a long conference passed, was taking leave of her, when the hen-wife prayed that if ever she should come back to her again she might break her neck. The Queen, greatly incensed at such a daring insult from one of her meanest subjects, demanded immediately the reason, or she would have her put to death.
'It was worth your while, madam,' says the hen-wife, 'to pay me well for it, for the reason I prayed so on you concerns you much.'
'What must I pay you?' asked the Queen.
'You must give me,' says she, 'the full of a pack of wool, and I have an ancient crock which you must fill with butter, likewise a barrel which you must fill for me full of wheat.'
'How much wool will it take to the pack?' says the Queen.
'It will take seven herds of sheep,' said she, 'and their increase for seven years.'
'How much butter will it take to fill your crock?'
'Seven dairies,' said she, 'and their increase for seven years.'
'And how much will it take to fill the barrel you have?' says the Queen.
'It will take the increase of seven barrels of wheat for seven years.'
'That is a great quantity,' says the Queen; 'but the reason must be extraordinary, and before I want it, I will give you all you demand.'
'Well,' says the hen-wife, 'it is because you are so stupid that you don't observe or find out those affairs that are so dangerous and hurtful to yourself and your child.'
'What is that?' says the Queen.
'Why,' says she, 'the King your husband has three fine sons he had by the late Queen, whom he keeps shut up in a tower until they come of age, intending to divide the kingdom between them, and let your son push his fortune; now, if you don't find some means of destroying them; your child and perhaps yourself will be left desolate in the end.'
'And what would you advise me to do?' said she; 'I am wholly at a loss in what manner to act in this affair.'