SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG 567
with owls. I have what I know through my own reflections. Will you just put that kettle upon the fiie and get water poured in up to the brim ! Now make up the fire, that the water may boil—it must boil over and over ! Now throw the peg in. Will the King now be pleased to dip his tail in the boiling water, and to stir it round ? The longer the King stirs it, the more powerful will the soup become. It costs nothing at all—no further materials are necessary, only stir it round ! '
' Cannot any one else do that ?' asked the Mouse King.
' No,' replied the Mouse. ' The power is contained only in the tail of the Mouse King.'
And the water boiled and bubbled, and the Mouse King stood close beside the kettle—there was almost danger in it—and he put forth his tail, as the mice do in the dairy, when they skim the cream from a pan of milk, and afterwards lick the tail; but he only got his into the hot steam, and then he sprang hastily down from the hearth.
' Of course—certainly you are my Queen,' he said. 1 We'll wait for the soup till our golden wedding, so that the poor of my subjects may have something to which they can look forward with pleasure for a long time.'
And soon the wedding was held. But many of the mice said, as they were returning home, that it could not be really called soup on a sausage-peg, but rather soup on a mouse's tail. They said that some of the stories had been very cleverty told ; but the whole thing might have been different. ' / should have told it so—and so—and so!'
Thus said the critics, who are always wise—after the fact.
And this story went round the world ; and opinions varied concerning it, but the story remained as it was. And that's the best in great things and in small, so also with regard to soup on a sausage-peg—not to expect any thanks for it.