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SCARCELY had the pilgrim gone when seven doves came flying into the room, and said:
“Behold your brothers turned to birds and made companions of snipes, woodpeckers, jays, owls, rooks, starlings, blackbirds, tomtits, larks, kingfishers, wrens, and sparrows. We shall be persecuted by hawks, and hunters will try to shoot us. Ah! why did you pluck that accursed rosemary and bring such a calamity on us? Doves we must remain for the rest of our lives unless you find the Mother of Time. She can tell you bow to get us out of our trouble.”
Channa was greatly distressed over what she had done, and said she would start at once searching for the Mother of Time.
She urged them to make the ogre’s house their home until she returned.
Away she went and journeyed on and on until she came to the seashore, where the waves were banging against the rocks. A huge whale came to the surface close at hand, looked at her, and asked, “What are you seeking, my pretty maiden?”
She replied, “I am seeking the Mother of Time.”
“Hear then what you must do,” the whale said. “Go along the shore, and when you come to a river, follow it up to its source. There you will meet some one who will show you the way. But do me one kindness. After you have found the old woman, ask her how I can swim about safely without so often knocking on the rocks and being thrown up on the sands.”
“I will gladly do that for you,” Channa said.
Then she thanked the whale and walked on along the shore. At length she came to a river and followed it up to its source in a beautiful open country of meadows starred with flowers. There she met a mouse who said to her, “Where are you going all alone, my pretty maiden?”
“I am seeking the Mother of Time,” Channa replied.
“You have a long way to go,” the mouse commented. “But do not lose heart. Go to yonder mountain, and you will obtain more news to help you in your search. And when you find the Mother of Time, will you do me one favor? Ask her what we mice can do to get rid of the tyranny of the cats.”
Channa promised to do this for the mouse, and trudged off toward the mountain. When she got to it she sat down on a stone to rest. Some ants were busy close by, and one of them addressed Channa, saying,
“Who are you and whither are you going?” She answered, “I am an unhappy girl who is seeking the Mother of Time.”
“Then keep on over the mountain to a large plain, and there you will get more news, “the ant said. “After you find the old woman please ask her how the ants can live longer. We store up a great deal of food, and this seems to me a folly while our lives are so short.”
“Be at ease,” Channa responded. “You can be sure that I will do your errand.”
Then she toiled on over the mountain to the great plain, where a wide-spreading old oak tree called to her as she was passing. “Whither are you going so sad, my little lady?” it said. “Come and rest in my shade.”
She thanked the old oak, but begged to be excused from stopping because she was going in haste to find the Mother of Time.
“You are not far from her dwelling,” the oak announced. “Before you have finished another day’s journey you will get to a high mountain on the summit of which is the home of her whom you seek. If you have as much kindness as beauty you will oblige me by asking her why it is that my fruit which used to be relished by strong men is now only made the food of hogs.”
“It will be a pleasure to do you such a service,” Channa affirmed, and departed.
The next day she arrived at the foot of a mountain which had. its summit far up among the clouds. There she found an old man, wearied and wayworn, who bad lain down on some hay. The moment he saw Channa he knew her, for he was the pilgrim to whom she had ministered. When she told him what she was seeking he responded that at last he could make some return for her kindness.
“My pretty maiden,” he said, “I would have you know that on the top of this mountain you will find a castle which was built so long ago that no one knows when it was built. The walls are cracked, the foundations are crumbling, the doors are worm-eaten, the furniture is worn out, and, in short, everything is gone to wrack and ruin.
“When you are almost to the castle, hide until Time goes out. After he has gone, enter, and you will find an old, old woman, whose face is covered with deep wrinkles, and whose eyebrows are so shaggy she will not be able to see you. She is seated on a clock which is fastened to the wall.
“Go in quickly and take off the weights that keep the machinery of the clock in motion. Then ask the old woman to answer your questions. She will instantly call her son to come and destroy you, but because you have stopped the clock by taking the weights he cannot move. Therefore she will be obliged to tell you what you want to know.”