III

Let us first follow the youngest brother in his wanderings. He travelled, with his attendant animals, all that day and the following night without stopping, and the next day saw before him a king's palace, and went straight towards it. Having been taken into the presence of the king, he begged his Majesty to employ him in watching his goats. The king consented to take him as goat-herd, and from that day he had the charge of the king's goats and lived on thus quietly for a long time.

One day the new goat-herd chanced to drive his flock to a high hill, not far from the king's palace. On the summit of the hill there was a very tall pine-tree, and the instant he saw it he resolved to climb up and look about from its top on the surrounding country. Accordingly, he climbed up, and enjoyed exceedingly the extensive and beautiful prospect. As he looked in one direction he saw, a long way off, a great smoke arising from a mountain. The moment he saw the smoke he fancied that one of his brothers must be there, as he thought it unlikely that anyone else would be in such a wilderness. So he resolved at once to give up his place of goat-herd, and travel to the mountain which he had seen in the distance. Coming down from the tree, therefore, he immediately collected his goats, which was a very easy task for him to do, since he had such good help in his bear, his wolf, his dog, and his cat.

No sooner had he reached the palace than he went straight to the king and said, "Sir, I can no longer be your Majesty's goat-herd. I must go away, for I saw to-day a smoking mountain, and I believe that one of my brothers is there, and I wish to go and see if this be so. I therefore beg your Majesty to pay me what you owe me, and to let me go!" All this time he thought the king knew nothing about the smoking mountain.

When he had said this, however, the king immediately began to advise him on no account to go to the mountain - for, as he assured him, whoever went there never came back again. He told him that all who had gone thither seemed at once to have sunk into the earth, for no one ever heard anything more about them. All the king's warnings and counsels, however, availed nothing; the goat-herd was bent on going to the smoking mountain, and looking after his two brothers.

After he had made all preparations for the journey he set out, accompanied, as usual, by his four animals. He went straight to the mountain; but, having got there, he could not at first find the fire. Indeed, he had trouble enough before he discovered it. At length, however, he found a large fire burning under a beech tree, and went near it to warm himself. At the same time he looked about on all sides to see who had made the fire. After looking about some time he heard a woman's voice, and upon his looking up to see whence the sound came, he saw an old woman sitting on one of the branches above his head. She sat huddled together all of a heap, and shaking with cold.