When they awoke the sun was high in the heavens, and shone brightly into the hollow tree, so they left their place of shelter and wandered away in search of water.
“Oh, I am so thirsty!” said the boy. “If we could only find a brook or a stream.” He stopped to listen, and said, “Stay, I think I hear a running stream.” So he took his sister by the hand, and they ran together to find it.
Now, the stepmother of these poor children was a wicked witch. She had seen the children go away, and, following them cautiously like a snake, had bewitched all the springs and streams in the forest. The pleasant trickling of a brook over the pebbles was heard by the children as they reached it, and the boy was just stooping to drink, when the sister heard in the babbling of the brook:
“Whoever drinks of me, a tiger soon will be.”
Then she cried quickly, “Stay, brother, stay! do not drink, or you will become a wild beast, and tear me to pieces.”
Thirsty as he was, the brother conquered his desire to drink at her words, and said, “Dear sister, I will wait till we come to a spring.” So they wandered farther, but as they approached, she heard in the bubbling spring the words—
“Who drinks of me, a wolf will be.”
“Brother, I pray you, do not drink of this brook; you will be changed into a wolf, and devour me.”
Again the brother denied himself and promised to wait; but he said, “At the next stream I must drink, say what you will, my thirst is so great.”
Not far off ran a pretty streamlet, looking clear and bright; but here also in its murmuring waters, the sister heard the words—
“Who dares to drink
Turned to a stag will be.”
“Dear brother, do not drink,” she began; but she was too late, for her brother had already knelt by the stream to drink, and as the first drop of water touched his lips he became a fawn. How the little sister wept over the enchanted brother, and the fawn wept also.
He did not run away, but stayed close to her; and at last she said, “Stand still, dear fawn; don’t fear, I must take care of you, but I will never leave you.” So she untied her little golden garter and fastened it round the neck of the fawn; then she gathered some soft green rushes, and braided them into a soft string, which she fastened to the fawn’s golden collar, and then led him away into the depths of the forest.
After wandering about for some time, they at last found a little deserted hut, and the sister was overjoyed, for she thought it would form a nice shelter for them both. So she led the fawn in, and then went out alone, to gather moss and dried leaves, to make him a soft bed.
Every morning she went out to gather dried roots, nuts, and berries, for her own food, and sweet fresh grass for the fawn, which he ate out of her hand, and the poor little animal went out with her, and played about as happy as the day was long.