So Ethelried left the palace, and wandered away over mountain and moor with a heavy heart. No one knew that he was a prince; no fireside offered him welcome; no lips gave him a friendly greeting. The scissors hung useless and rusting by his side.
One night as he lay in a deep forest, too unhappy to sleep, he heard a noise near at hand in the bushes. By the light of the moon he saw that a ferocious wild beast had been caught in a hunter’s snare, and was struggling to free itself from the heavy net. His first thought was to slay the animal, for he had had no meat for many days. Then he bethought himself that he had no weapon large enough.
While he stood gazing at the struggling beast, it turned to him with such a beseeching look in its wild eyes, that he was moved to pity.
“Thou shalt have thy liberty,” he cried, “even though thou shouldst rend me in pieces the moment thou art free. Better dead than this craven life to which my father hath doomed me!”
So he set to work with the little scissors to cut the great ropes of the net in twain. At first each strand seemed as hard as steel, and the blades of the scissors were so rusty and dull that he could scarcely move them. Great beads of sweat stood out on his brow as he bent himself to the task.
Presently, as he worked, the blades began to grow sharper and sharper, and brighter and brighter, and longer and longer. By the time that the last rope was cut the scissors were as sharp as a broadsword, and half as long as his body.
At last he raised the net to let the beast go free. Then he sank on his knees in astonishment. It had suddenly disappeared, and in its place stood a beautiful Fairy with filmy wings, which shone like rainbows in the moonlight.
“Prince Ethelried,” she said in a voice that was like a crystal bell’s for sweetness, “dost thou not know that thou art in the domain of a frightful Ogre? It was he who changed me into the form of a wild beast, and set the snare to capture me. But for thy fearlessness and faithful perseverance in the task which thou didst in pity undertake, I must have perished at dawn.”
At this moment there was a distant rumbling as of thunder. “’Tis the Ogre!” cried the Fairy. “We must hasten.” Seizing the scissors that lay on the ground where Ethelried had dropped them, she opened and shut them several times, exclaiming:
a giant’s height
And save us from the Ogre’s might!”
Immediately they grew to an enormous size, and, with blades extended, shot through the tangled thicket ahead of them, cutting down everything that stood in their way,—bushes, stumps, trees, vines; nothing could stand before the fierce onslaught of those mighty blades.
The Fairy darted down the path thus opened up, and Ethelried followed as fast as he could, for the horrible roaring was rapidly coming nearer. At last they reached a wide chasm that bounded the Ogre’s domain. Once across that, they would be out of his power, but it seemed impossible to cross. Again the Fairy touched the scissors, saying: