Coming to a small lake they resolved to rest there that night; and having made a fire they placed their things near it, and prepared to sleep. Then the second brother said, "This night I will keep guard whilst you sleep!" So the two others fell asleep, and the second brother remained watching.

All at once the lake began to move, and lo! an alligator, with two heads, came running to swallow up the three. But the brother who watched grasped his knife, felled the alligator to the ground with one blow, and cut off both the heads. Having done this he cut off the two pairs of ears, put them in his pocket, and threw the body into the water, and the two heads after it.

The other brothers, however, knew nothing about the danger which they had escaped, and continued to sleep very soundly till the morning dawned.

Then the second brother awoke them, saying, "Arise, my brothers! It is day!" and they instantly jumped up, and prepared to continue their journey. But they knew not in what country they now were, and as they had eaten up nearly all their food, they feared greatly lest they should die of hunger in that unknown land. So they prayed God to give them sight of some city or village or, at least, that they might meet someone to guide them, for they had already been wandering three days up and down in a wilderness, and could see no end to it. Pretty early in the morning they came to a large lake and resolved to go no further, but remain there all the day, and also to spend the night there. "For if we go on," said they, "we are not sure that we shall find any more water near which we can rest." So they remained there.

When evening came they made a great fire, took their frugal supper, and prepared to sleep. Then the youngest brother said, "This night I will keep guard whilst you sleep"; and so the other two went to sleep, and the youngest brother kept awake, looking sharply about him, his eyes being turned often towards the lake. Part of the night had already passed, when suddenly the whole lake began to move; the waves dashed over the fire and half quenched it. Then he drew his sword and placed himself near the fire, as there appeared a great alligator with three heads, which rushed upon the brothers as if about to swallow them all three.

"There appeared a great alligator with three heads".

There appeared a great alligator with three heads

But the youngest brother had a brave heart, and would not awaken his brothers, so he met the alligator, and gave him three blows in succession, and at each blow he cut off one of the three heads. Then he cut off the six ears and put them in his pocket, and threw the body and the three heads into the lake. Whilst he was thus busy the fire had quite gone out, so he - having nothing there with which he could light the fire, and not wishing to awaken his brothers from their deep slumbers - stepped a little way into the forest, with the hope of seeing something with which he might rekindle the fire.

There was, however, no trace of any fire anywhere. At last, in his search, he climbed up a very high tree, and, having reached the top, looked about on all sides. After much looking he thought he saw the glare of a fire not very far off. So he came down from the tree and went in the direction in which he had seen the fire, in order to get some brand with which he might again light the fire. He walked very far on this errand, and though the glare seemed always near him, it was a very long time before he reached it. Suddenly, however, he came upon a cave, and in the cave a great fire was burning. Round it sat nine giants, and two men were being roasted, one on each side of the fire. Besides that, there stood upon the fire a great kettle full of the limbs of men ready to be cooked. When the king's son saw that, he was terrified and would gladly have gone back, but it was no longer possible.

Then he shouted as loud and cheerfully as he could, "Good evening, my dear comrades! I have been a very long time in search of you!"

They received him well, saying, "Welcome! if thou art of our company!"

He answered, "I shall remain yours for ever, and would give my life for your sake!"

"Eh!" said they, "if you intend to be one of us, you know, you must also eat man's flesh, and go out with us in search of prey?"

The king's son answered, "Certainly; I shall do everything that you do!"

"Then come and sit with us!" cried the giants; and the whole company, sitting round the fire, took meat out of the kettle and began to eat. The king's son pretended to eat, also, but instead of eating he always threw the meat behind him, and thus deceived them.

When they had eaten up the whole of the roasted meat the giants got up and said, "Let us now go to hunt, that we may have meat for to-morrow." So they went away, all nine of them, the king's son making the tenth. "Come along!" they said to him, "there is a city near in which a great king lives. We have been supplying ourselves with food from that city a great many years." As they came near the city they pulled two tall pine-trees up by the roots, and carried them along with them. Having come to the city wall, they reared one pine-tree up against it, and said to the king's son, "Go up, now, to the top of the wall, so that we may be able to give you the other pine-tree, which you must take by the top and throw down into the city. Take care, however," they said, "to keep the top of the tree in your hands, so that we can go down the stem of it into the city." Thereupon the king's son climbed up on the wall and then cried out to them, "I don't know what to do; I am not acquainted with this place, and I don't understand how to throw the tree over the wall; please one of you come up and show me what I must do." Then one of the giants climbed up the tree placed against the wall, caught the top of the other pine-tree, and threw it over the wall, keeping the top all the time safe in his hand. Whilst he was thus standing, the king's son drew his sword, struck him on the neck, and cut his head off, so that the giant fell down into the city.