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And Helga's eyes shone, and though she did not say anything, she thought
that she would learn to milk the cow herself.
A mile further on they came to a wide common, with short, springy turf,
where horses of all colours, with skins of satin, were kicking up their
heels in play. The sight of them so delighted Helga that she nearly
sprang from her saddle with a shriek of joy.
'Whose are they?' Oh! whose are they?' she asked. 'How happy any man
must be who is the master of such lovely creatures!'
'They are your Habogi's,' replied he, 'and the one which you think the
most beautiful of all you shall have for yourself, and learn to ride
At this Helga quite forgot the sheep and the cow.
'A horse of my own!' said she. 'Oh, stop one moment, and let me see
which I will choose. The white one? No. The chestnut? No. I think, after
all, I like the coal-black one best, with the little white star on his
forehead. Oh, do stop, just for a minute.'
But Habogi would not stop or listen. 'When you are married you will have
plenty of time to choose one,' was all he answered, and they rode on two
or three miles further.
At length Habogi drew rein before a small house, very ugly and
mean-looking, and that seemed on the point of tumbling to pieces.
'This is my house, and is to be yours,' said Habogi, as he jumped down
and held out his arms to lift Helga from the horse. The girl's heart
sank a little, as she thought that the man who possessed such wonderful
sheep, and cows, and horses, might have built himself a prettier place
to live in; but she did not say so. And, taking her arm, he led her up
But when she got inside, she stood quite bewildered at the beauty of all
around her. None of her friends owned such things, not even the miller,
who was the richest man she knew. There were carpets everywhere, thick
and soft, and of deep rich colours; and the cushions were of silk, and
made you sleepy even to look at them; and curious little figures in
china were scattered about. Helga felt as if it would take her all her
life to see everything properly, and it only seemed a second since she
had entered the house, when Habogi came up to her.
'I must begin the preparations for our wedding at once,' he said; 'but
my foster-brother will take you home, as I promised. In three days he
will bring you back here, with your parents and sisters, and any guests
you may invite, in your company. By that time the feast will be ready.'
Helga had so much to think about, that the ride home appeared very
short. Her father and mother were delighted to see her, as they did not
feel sure that so ugly and cross-looking a man as Habogi might not have
played her some cruel trick. And after they had given her some supper
they begged her to tell them all she had done. But Helga only told them
that they should see for themselves on the third day, when they would
come to her wedding.
It was very early in the morning when the party set out, and Helga's
two sisters grew green with envy as they passed the flocks of sheep,
and cows, and horses, and heard that the best of each was given to Helga
herself; but when they caught sight of the poor little house which was
to be her home their hearts grew light again.
'I should be ashamed of living in such a place,' whispered each to the
other; and the eldest sister spoke of the carved stone over HER doorway,
and the second boasted of the number of rooms SHE had. But the moment
they went inside they were struck dumb with rage at the splendour of
everything, and their faces grew white and cold with fury when they
saw the dress which Habogi had prepared for his bride--a dress that
glittered like sunbeams dancing upon ice.
'She SHALL not look so much finer than us,' they cried passionately to
each other as soon as they were alone; and when night came they stole
out of their rooms, and taking out the wedding-dress, they laid it in
the ash-pit, and heaped ashes upon it. But Habogi, who knew a little
magic, and had guessed what they would do, changed the ashes into roses,
and cast a spell over the sisters, so that they could not leave the spot
for a whole day, and every one who passed by mocked at them.
The next morning when they all awoke the ugly tumble-down house had
disappeared, and in its place stood a splendid palace. The guests' eyes
sought in vain for the bridegroom, but could only see a handsome young
man, with a coat of blue velvet and silver and a gold crown upon his
'Who is that?' they asked Helga.
'That is my Habogi,' said she.