48 THE TRAVELLING COMPANION
his hands, and said his evening prayer ; and before he was aware of it he was asleep and dreaming, while it thundered and lightened without.
When he woke it was midnight ; but the bad weather had passed by, and the moon shone in upon him through the windows. In the midst of the church stood an open coffin with a dead man in it who had not yet been buried. John was not at all timid, for he had a good conscience ■; and he knew very well that the dead do not harm any one. It is living people who do harm. Two such living bad men stood close by the dead man, who had been placed here in the church till he should h§^^ buried^^TheyJiad an evil design against him, and wouldjioJJe£h4m-^?es4-^uie_tly in his coffin, but were going To~thro^-
' Why will you do that ? ' asked John ; * that is wrong and wicked. Let him rest, for mercy's sake.'
* Nonsense ! ' replied the bad men ; ' he has cheated us. He owed us money and could not pay it, and now he 's dead into the bargain, and we shall not get~a-penny ! So we mean to revenge ourselves properly : he shall lie like a dog outside the church door ! '
c I have not more than fifty dollars,' cried John, c that is my whole inheritance ; but I will gladly give it you, if you will honestly promise me to leave the poor dead man in peace. I shall manage to get on without the money ; I have hearty strong limbs, and Heaven will always help me.'
1 Yes,' said these ugly bad men, ' if you will pay his debt we will do nothing to him, you may depend upon that! ' And then they took the money he gave them, laughed aloud at his good nature, and went their way. But he laid the corpse out again in the coffin, and folded its hands, took leave of it, and went away contentedly through the great forest.
All around, wherever the moon could shine through between the trees, he saw the graceful little elves playing merrily. They did not let him disturb them ; they knew that he was a good innocent lad ; and it is only the bad people who never can see the elves. Some of them were not larger than a finger, and had fastened up their long