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THERE was once a Forester who went into the woods to hunt, and he heard a cry like that of a little child.
He followed the sound, and at last came to a big tree where a tiny child was sitting high up on one of the top branches.
The mother had gone to sleep under the tree, and a bird of prey, seeing the child on her lap, had flown down and carried it off in its beak to the top of the tree.
The Forester climbed the tree and brought down the child, thinking to himself, ‘I will take it home, and bring it up with my own little Lina.’
So he took it home, and the two children were brought up together.
The foundling was called Foundlingbird, because it had been found by a bird.
Foundlingbird and Lina were so fond of each other, that they could not bear to be out of each other's sight.
Now the Forester had an old Cook, who one evening took two pails, and began carrying water.
She did not go once but many times, backwards and forwards to the well.
Lina saw this, and said: ‘Dear me, Sanna, why are you carrying so much water?’
‘If thou wilt not tell any one, I will tell thee why.’
Lina said no, she would not tell any one.
So then the Cook said: ‘To-morrow morning early, when the Forester goes out hunting, I am going to boil the water, and when it bubbles in the kettle, I am going to throw Foundlingbird into it to boil him.’
Next morning the Forester got up very early, and went out hunting, leaving the children still in bed.
Then said Lina to Foundlingbird: ‘Never forsake me, and I will never forsake thee.’
And Foundlingbird answered: ‘I will never forsake thee.’
Then Lina said: ‘I must tell thee now.
Old Sanna brought in so many pails of water last night, that I asked her what she was doing.
She said if I would not tell anybody, she would tell me what it was for.
So I promised not to tell anybody, and she said that in the morning, when the father had gone out hunting, she would fill the kettle, and when it was boiling, she would throw thee into it and boil thee.
Now we must get up quickly, dress ourselves, and run away.’
So the children got up, dressed quickly, and left the house.
When the water boiled, the Cook went to their bedroom to fetch Foundlingbird to throw him into it.
But when she entered the room, and went up to the bed, both the children were gone.
She was terribly frightened, and said to herself :
‘Whatever am I to say to the Forester when be comes home and finds the children gone?
We must hurry after them and get them back.’
So the Cook despatched three men-servants to catch up the children and bring them back.
The children were sitting near a wood, and when they saw the three men a great way off, Lina said to Foundlingbird, ‘Do not forsake me, and I will never forsake thee.’
And Foundlingbird answered, ‘I will never forsake thee as long as I live.’
Then Lina said, ‘Thou must turn into a rosebush, and I will be a rosebud upon it.’
When the three men reached the wood, they found nothing but a rosebush with one rosebud on it; no children were to be seen.
They said to each other, ‘There is nothing to be done here.’
And they went home and told the Cook that they had seen nothing whatever but a rosebush, with one rosebud on it.
The old Cook scolded them, and said: ‘You boobies, you ought to have hacked the rosebush to pieces, broken off the bud, and brought it home to me.
Off with you at once and do it.’
So they had to start off again on the search.
But the children saw them a long way off, and Lina said to Foundlingbird, ‘Do not forsake me, and I will never forsake thee.’
Foundlingbird said: ‘I will never forsake thee as long as I live.’
Then said Lina: ‘Thou must become a church, and I will be the chandelier in it.’
Now when the three men came up they found nothing but a church with a chandelier in it; and they said to each other :
‘What are we to do here?
We had better go home again.’
When they reached the house, the Cook asked if they had not found anything.
They said: ‘Nothing but a church with a chandelier in it.’
‘You fools,’ screamed the Cook, ‘why did you not destroy the church and bring me the chandelier?’
Then the old Cook put her best foot foremost, and started herself with the three men in pursuit of the children.
But the children saw the three men in the distance, and the old Cook waddling behind them.
Then said Lina: ‘Foundlingbird, do not forsake me, and I will never forsake thee.’
And he said: ‘I will never forsake thee as long as l live.’
Lina said: ‘Thou must become a pond, and I will be the duck swimming upon it.’
When the Cook reached the pond, she lay down beside it to drink it up, but the duck swam quickly forward, seized her head with his bill and dragged her under water; so the old witch was drowned.
Then the children went home together as happy as possible, and if they are not dead yet, then they are still alive.