Now when Carla failed to return home. Mother Grougans was lost in grief and she forbade her youngest daughter, Alween, to go into the wood on any account whatsoever. And she said, “Shall I lose my youngest and my dearest also?” But soon mother and daughter were both so hungry that Alween was forced to go into the forbidden forest in search of food. In her eagerness to get the largest and the sweetest berries for her mother, she too strayed away from the path, and all happened with her as it had with her sisters.
When Alween entered the hut and begged for food and shelter, the old man turned to his animals and said,—
“My cock, my hen,
My brindled cow,
What say you now?
What say you now?”
The cock, the hen, and the brindled cow all opened their mouths and called out together,—
“Oh, let her stay!
We’ll not say nay.”
Then Alween thanked the animals for their kindness and, going close to them, she stroked the smooth feathers of the cock and the hen and patted the brindled cow on the white star in her forehead. She made ready the supper and set it before the old man; but, before satisfying her own hunger, she said, “The good animals are hungry too. I must first get food for them.” So she placed a bundle of hay in front of the brindled cow and scattered wheat and barley for the cock and the hen and brought a fresh drink of water for all. Then she herself ate and was satisfied.
That night Alween slept soundly in the loft of the little hut, but not before she had seen the old man tucked snugly into his bed and fast asleep. When she wakened, with the first rays of morning light, she thought, “I must dress quickly and get breakfast for the poor old man and feed the little cock and the little hen and the pretty brindled cow.” But when she opened her eyes she seemed to be no longer in the loft of the little old hut in the wood. Instead of its dingy walls she saw before her a vast hall hung with cloth of gold and rich embroideries, and light and sunshine and flowers were everywhere. “I am surely dreaming,” said Alween. Pushing aside the rich silken curtain of her bed, which also seemed a part of her dream, she thought to dress herself; but the poor ragged clothes she had put off the night before were nowhere to be found. In their place lay costly garments of satin and velvet.
“Oh, this is a dream, a dream!” thought the girl. She rubbed her eyes again and again as she gazed at the rich curtains and the costly garments and the splendid walls with their gay embroideries. She called aloud. She ran to the old man’s bed to see if he were still asleep,—there in his place lay a stranger, young and handsome.