A Double Story eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 125 pages of information about A Double Story.

One huge old wolf had outsped the rest—­not that he could run faster, but that from experience he could more exactly judge whence the cries came, and as he shot through the wood, she caught sight at last of his lamping eyes coming swiftly nearer and nearer.  Terror silenced her.  She stood with her mouth open, as if she were going to eat the wolf, but she had no breath to scream with, and her tongue curled up in her mouth like a withered and frozen leaf.  She could do nothing but stare at the coming monster.  And now he was taking a few shorter bounds, measuring the distance for the one final leap that should bring him upon her, when out stepped the wise woman from behind the very tree by which she had set the princess down, caught the wolf by the throat half-way in his last spring, shook him once, and threw him from her dead.  Then she turned towards the princess, who flung herself into her arms, and was instantly lapped in the folds of her cloak.

But now the huge army of wolves and hyenas had rushed like a sea around them, whose waves leaped with hoarse roar and hollow yell up against the wise woman.  But she, like a strong stately vessel, moved unhurt through the midst of them.  Ever as they leaped against her cloak, they dropped and slunk away back through the crowd.  Others ever succeeded, and ever in their turn fell, and drew back confounded.  For some time she walked on attended and assailed on all sides by the howling pack.  Suddenly they turned and swept away, vanishing in the depths of the forest.  She neither slackened nor hastened her step, but went walking on as before.

In a little while she unfolded her cloak, and let the princess look out.  The firs had ceased; and they were on a lofty height of moorland, stony and bare and dry, with tufts of heather and a few small plants here and there.  About the heath, on every side, lay the forest, looking in the moonlight like a cloud; and above the forest, like the shaven crown of a monk, rose the bare moor over which they were walking.  Presently, a little way in front of them, the princess espied a whitewashed cottage, gleaming in the moon.  As they came nearer, she saw that the roof was covered with thatch, over which the moss had grown green.  It was a very simple, humble place, not in the least terrible to look at, and yet, as soon as she saw it, her fear again awoke, and always, as soon as her fear awoke, the trust of the princess fell into a dead sleep.  Foolish and useless as she might by this time have known it, she once more began kicking and screaming, whereupon, yet once more, the wise woman set her down on the heath, a few yards from the back of the cottage, and saying only, “No one ever gets into my house who does not knock at the door, and ask to come in,” disappeared round the corner of the cottage, leaving the princess alone with the moon—­two white faces in the cone of the night.


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A Double Story from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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