I told the sister and her three brothers that they would complete their temple to Beauty if they went up the mountain and brought back three things: a pitcher filled with the water of life, a branch from the tree of eternal Beauty, and a talking bird.
The eldest brother was anxious to go, but his sister asked, “What if some terrible thing happens to our brother? How will we know?”
I turned and walked away, reluctant to get further involved. The siblings followed me, hounding me with the question until I stopped and turned around. I took a knife out of my pocket and I gave it to them. I told them to keep it carefully. “When it is bright, all is well, but if the blade is bloody, you will know that something evil has occurred on the mountain.”
Old Man of the Mountain in The Water of Life, Pink Fairy Book. Painting by John Singer Sargent.