THERE was once a rich farmer's son who went out to woo. He had heard of a lass who was fair and gentle, and who was both clever in the house and good at cooking.
There he went, for it was just such a wife he wanted. The people on the farm knew, of course, on what errand he came, so they asked him to take a seat near to them, and they talked and chatted with him, as the custom is, and beside offered him a drink and asked him to stop to dinner. They went in and out of the room, so the lad had time to look about him, and over in a corner he saw a spinning wheel with the distaff full of flax.
"Whose spinning wheel is that?" asked the lad.
"Oh, that's our daughter's," said the woman of the house.
"There's a deal of flax on it," said the lad; "I suppose she takes more than a day to spin that," said he.
"No, not at all," said the woman; "she does it easily in one day and perhaps less than that."
That was more than he had ever heard of any one being able to spin in such a short time.
When they were going to carry in the dinner they all went out of the room and he was left alone. He then saw an old key lying in the window, and this he took and stowed well away among the flax on the distaff. So they ate and drank and got on well together, and when the lad thought he had been there long enough he said good-by and went his way. They asked him to come soon again, which he promised, but he did not speak of the matter he had at heart, although he liked the lass very well.
Some time after he came again to the farm, and they received him still better than the first time. But just as they were chatting at their best the farmer's wife said:
"Last time you were here something very remarkable happened; our storehouse key disappeared all at once and we have never been able to find it since."
The lad went over to the spinning wheel, which stood in the corner with just as much flax on it as when last he was there. He put his hand in among the flax and said:
"Here is the key! Much cannot be made by the spinning when the spinning day lasts from Michaelmas to Easter."
So he said good-by, and did not speak of the matter he had at heart that time either.