From this day on Elsa lived as happily as the richest human child, that has been rocked in a golden cradle. She had neither sorrow nor care. Her former hard life seemed a dream.
But an unknown Magic Power appeared to govern the life around her. A huge granite stone stood near the Mansion. At every meal-time, the Little Old Man with a beard longer than himself, went up to the stone, drew a silver wand from his bosom, and struck the stone three times, so that it rang clearly. Then a great golden Cock sprang out and perched on the stone. Every time the Cock clapped his wings and crowed, something came out of the stone.
First a long table came all set with as many plates as there were people to eat. The table went of itself into the house, as if on the wings of the wind. When the Cock crowed a second time, chairs followed the table. After that platters of food following one another, all sprang out of the stone and flew like the wind to the table. Likewise flagons and apples and berries. Everything seemed alive, so that no one had to fetch or carry.
When all had eaten, the Little Old Man struck the stone again with his silver wand, and as the golden Cock crew, flagons, plates, platters, chairs, and table all returned and entered the stone, all except the thirteenth platter which had not been touched. A great black cat ran after that. The thirteenth platter and the cat sat down on the stone beside the Cock, till the Old Man took the platter in one hand, the cat under his arm, and the Cock on his shoulder. Then he vanished under the stone.
Elsa asked Kiisiki what all this meant, but Kiisiki said she did not know. It was a mystery.
The years flew by like swift arrows for Elsa in her happiness. She grew to be a blooming young girl. But Kiisiki stayed the same little child that she was when she found Elsa in the Tontla Wood.
One day the Lady sent for Elsa to her sleeping-chamber. Elsa marvelled at this, for she had never been sent for before. Her heart beat fast enough to burst. As she stepped over the threshold, she saw that the Lady's cheeks were flushed and tears stood in her eyes.
"Dear adopted Child!" said she. "The time has come for us to part."
"Part!" cried Elsa, throwing herself at the Lady's feet. "No! Beloved Lady, that can never be till death parts us. Why do you drive me away?"
"Child," said the Lady, "it is for your good. You are now grown up. You are a human being and can stay here no longer. You must go out among other human beings. You will find a beloved husband and live happily till the end of your days. We have human forms but we are not human beings."
Then the Lady combed Elsa's hair with a golden comb, and hung around her neck a small gold locket on a silken string, and she placed a seal ring on her finger. Then she called the Little Old Man, and pointed her finger at Elsa. She took leave of Elsa with sorrow.
Before Elsa could speak, the Little Old Man gently tapped her head three times with his silver wand. She felt herself changing into a bird. Out of her arms grew wings; her legs became eagle's legs with claws; her nose became a beak. Feathers clad her whole body. She rose suddenly in the air, soaring up towards the clouds like an eaglet just hatched from the egg.
So she flew southward for many days. She would have liked to rest when her wings grew tired. She felt no hunger. One day she was hovering over a low wood where hunting dogs were bellowing, when suddenly she felt an arrow pierce her feathers. She fell to earth. She fainted from terror.
When Elsa woke from her swoon and opened her eyes, she found herself in her own human form again, lying among bushes. How she came there seemed a dream. Then a handsome King's Son came riding up, and offered Elsa his hand, saying:
"It was a happy hour this morning when I started forth! Every night, I have dreamed of you, beautiful Maiden, for half a year; dreamed that I should find you here in this wood. Today I shot a great eagle which seemed to fall on this very spot. I hurried to get my booty, and found instead of the eagle--you!"
Then he placed Elsa on his horse, and rode with her to the city, where the old King welcomed her. A few days later the marriage was celebrated magnificently. On the wedding morning arrived fifty cart-loads of costly treasures, sent to Elsa by her adopted Mother.
After the old King's death, Elsa was Queen. But the Wood of Tontla was never seen nor heard of again.
WEIRD! WEIRD! WEIRD! EVER WEIRD! sang the Wizard of the Crystal-Lighted Cavern.