Just before the wood was a hollow way, through which all must pass; so he drove the cart on first, and built up behind him such a mound of fagots and briers that no horse could pass. This done, he drove on, and as he was going into the wood met the others coming out on their road home. "Drive away," said he, "I shall be home before you still." However, he only went a very little way into the wood, and tearing up one of the largest timber trees, put it into his cart, and turned about homewards. When he came to the pile of fagots, he found all the others standing there, not being able to pass by. "So," said he, "you see if you had staid with me, you would have been home just as soon, and might have slept an hour or two longer." Then he took his tree on one shoulder, and his cart on the other, and pushed through as easily as though he were laden with feathers; and when he reached the yard he showed the tree to the farmer, and asked if it was not a famous walking-stick. "Wife," said the farmer, "this man is worth something; if he sleeps longer, still he works better than the rest."
Time rolled on, and he had worked for the farmer his whole year; so when his fellow-labourers were paid, he said he also had a right to take his wages. But great dread came upon the farmer, at the thought of the blows he was to have, so he begged him to give up the old bargain, and take his whole farm and stock instead. "Not I," said he. "I will be no farmer; I am foreman, and so I mean to keep, and to be paid as we agreed." Finding he could do nothing with him, the farmer only begged one fortnight's respite, and called together all his friends, to ask their advice in the matter. They bethought themselves for a long time, and at last agreed that the shortest way was to kill this troublesome foreman. The next thing was to settle how it was to be done; and it was agreed that he should be ordered to carry into the yard some great mill-stones, and to put them on the edge of the well; that then he should be sent down to clean it out, and when he was at the bottom, the mill-stones should be pushed down upon his head.
Everything went right, and when the foreman was safe in the well, the stones were rolled in. As they struck the bottom, the water splashed to the very top. Of course they thought his head must be crushed to pieces; but he only cried out, " Drive away the chickens from the well; they are scratching about in the sand above, and they throw it into my eyes, so that I cannot see." When his job was done, up he sprang from the well, saying, " Look here! see what a fine neckcloth I have ! " as he pointed to one of the mill-stones that had fallen over his head and hung about his neck.
The farmer was again overcome with fear, and begged another fortnight to think of it. So his friends were called together again, and at last gave this advice ; that the foreman should be sent and made to grind corn by night at the haunted mill, whence no man had ever yet come out in the morning alive. That very evening he was told to carry eight bushels of corn to the mill, and grind them in the night. Away he went to the loft, put two bushels into his right pocket, two into his left, and four into a long sack slung over his shoulders, and then set off to the mill. The miller told him he might grind there in the day time, but not by night; for the mill was bewitched, and whoever went in at night had been found dead in the morning. "Never mind, miller, I shall come out safe," said he; " only make haste and get out of the way, and look out for me in the morning."
So he went into the mill, and put the corn into the hopper, and about twelve o'clock sat himself down on the bench in the miller's room. After a little time the door all at once opened of itself, and in came a large table. On the table stood wine and meat, and many good things besides. All seemed placed there by themselves; at any rate there was no one to be seen. The chairs next moved themselves round it, but still neither guests nor servants came; till all at once he saw fingers handling the knives and forks, and putting food on the plates, but still nothing else was to be seen. Now our friend felt somewhat hungry as he looked at the dishes, so he sat himself down at the table and ate whatever he liked best. "A little wine would be well after this cheer," said he; " but the good folks of this house seem to take but little of it." Just as he spoke, however, a flagon of the best moved on, and our guest filled a bumper, smacked his lips, and drank "Health and long life to all the company, and success to our next merry meeting!"
When they had had enough, and the plates and dishes, bottles and glasses, were all empty, on a sudden he heard something blow out the lights. " Never mind! " thought he; " one wants no candle to show one light to go to sleep by." But now that it was pitch dark he felt a huge blow fall upon his head. " Foul play ! " cried he ; " if I get such another box on the ear I shall just give it back again " : and this he really did when the next blow came. Thus the game went on all night; and he never let fear get the better of him, but kept dealing his blows round, till at daybreak all was still. "Well, miller," said he in the morning, " I have had some little slaps on the face, but I've given as good, I warrant you; and meantime I have eaten just as much as I liked." The miller was glad to find the charm was broken, and would have given him a great deal of money. " I want no money, I have quite enough," said he, as he took his meal on his back, and went home to his master to claim his wages.
But the farmer was in great trouble, knowing there was now no help for him; and he paced the room up and down, while the drops of sweat ran down his forehead. Then he opened the window for a little fresh air, and before he was aware his foreman gave him the first blow, and such a blow, that off he flew over the hills and far away. The next blow sent his wife after him, and, for aught I know, they may not have reached the ground yet; but, without waiting to know, the young giant took up his iron walking-stick and walked off.