"Be comforted," said the old woman, " I will help you. Here is a golden comb ; wait till the moon is at its full, then go and comb your long black hair as you sit beside the mill-pond; when you have finished, lay the comb by the water's edge, and you will see what will happen."
The woman returned home, but the time seemed long to her before the full moon appeared. At last its luminous disc was seen shining in the heavens, and then she went to the mill-pond and sat down and combed her long black hair. When she had done this, she laid the comb down beside the water. She had not long to wait, before the depths became troubled and stormy, and a great wave rose and rolled towards the shore, bearing the comb away with it as it retired. After no longer space of time than was required for the comb to reach the bottom, the surface of the water parted, and the head of the huntsman rose above it. He did not speak, but he looked mournfully towards his wife. In the same instant, a second wave came rushing up and swept over the man's head, and again everything had disappeared. The waters of the pond were as tranquil as before, and only the face of the full moon lay shining upon them. Full of sorrow and disappointment, the woman turned away, but again that night a dream showed her the old woman's cottage. The following morning she once more made her way to the wise woman and poured out her grief to her. This time the old woman gave her a golden flute, and said, "Wait till the full moon comes again, then take the flute and play a beautiful air upon it as you sit by the mill-pond ; afterwards lay it on the sand; you will see what will happen."
The wife did as the old woman told her. She had hardly laid the flute down on the sand, when the depths of the water were troubled as before, a great wave rose and rolled towards the shore, and bore away the flute. Again the water divided, and this time not only the head, but half the body of the huntsman appeared. He stretched out his arms towards his wife with a longing gesture, but a second wave rose and overwhelmed him, and drew him down again beneath the water.
" Alas! " exclaimed the unhappy wife, " of what comfort is it to me to see my beloved one, only to lose him again!"
Grief overflowed her heart, but a third time a dream took her to the cottage of the old woman. So she went again to her and the wise woman gave her a golden spinning-wheel, and spoke cheeringly to her, saying, "Everything has not yet been fully accomplished; wait till there is again a full moon, then take the spinning-wheel, and sit down by the shore and spin the spindle full; when that is done, place the wheel near the water, and you will see what will happen."
The wife followed out all these directions with care. As soon as the full moon appeared, she carried the spinning-wheel to the side of the mill-pond, and there sat down and span industriously until she had used up all the flax and had filled the spindle. She had but just placed the wheel near the water, when its depths were stirred even more violently than before, and then an enormous wave rolled rapidly towards the shore and carried away the wheel. In the same moment a column of water rose into the air, and with it the head and the whole body of her husband. He quickly leaped on to the bank, seized his wife by the hand and fled. But they had gone but a little distance, when, with a tremendous roar, the whole mill-pond rose, and with a gigantic force sent its waters rushing over the surrounding country. The fugitives saw themselves face to face with death ; in her terror the wife called upon the old woman for help, and she and her husband were instantly changed, she into a toad and he into a frog. The flood as it reached them, could not now kill them, but it tore them away from one another and carried them far in opposite directions.
When the waters had subsided and they again found themselves on dry land, they were changed back again into their human form. But neither knew what had become of the other; they were both among strangers who knew nothing of their native land. High mountains and deep valleys lay between them. In order to support chemselves, they were both obliged to tend sheep, and for many long years they led their flocks over the plains and through the forests, full of sorrow and longing.
Once more the spring had broken forth over the earth, when, as fate would have it, they met one another one day while out with their flocks. The husband saw a flock of sheep on a distant hill-side and drove his own towards them, and in a valley on the way he came upon his wife. They did not recognise each other, but both of them were glad to think that they would no longer be so lonely as heretofore. From this time forth they tended their flocks side by side ; they did not speak much, but they felt comforted.
One evening, when the full moon was shining in the heavens above them, and the sheep were already lying down for the night, the shepherd drew his flute out of his pocket and played on it a beautiful but melancholy air. When he had finished, he saw that the shepherdess was weeping bitterly. "Why do you weep?" he asked. " Alas, she answered, " even as now the full moon was shining, when I played that tune for the last time upon the flute, and saw my beloved one's head rise above the waters." He looked at her, and it seemed to him as if a veil fell from before his eyes, and he recognised his dearest wife. And she looked up and saw the moonlight shining on her husband's face, and she also knew him again.
They kissed and embraced one another, and there is no need to ask if they were happy.