HOK LEE AND THE DWARFS. 233
"What dost thou want?" they asked; and Hok Lee proceeded to tell them of his fresh misfortunes, and begged so hard to be allowed one more trial at dancing that the dwarfs consented, for there is nothing they love so much as being amused.
Now, Hok Lee knew how much depended on his danc≠ing well, so he plucked up a good spirit and began, first quite slowly and faster by degrees, and he danced so well and gracefully, and made such new and wonderful steps, that the dwarfs were quite delighted with him.'
They clapped their tiny hands and shouted: "Well done, Hok Lee, well done. Go onódance more, for we are pleased."
And Hok Lee danced on and on, till he really could dance no more and was obliged to stop.
Then the leader of the dwarfs said: "We are well pleased, Hok Lee, and as a recompense for thy dancing thy face shall be cured. Farewell."
With these words he and the other dwarfs vanished, and Hok Lee, putting his hands to his face, found to his great joy that his cheeks were reduced to their natural size. The way home seemed short and easy to him, and he went to bed happy and resolved never to go out robbing again.
Next day the whole town was full of the news of Hok's sudden cure. His neighbors questioned him, but could get nothing from him, except the fact that he had dis≠covered a wonderful cure for all kinds of diseases.
After a time a rich neighbor, who had been ill for some years, came and offered to give Hok Lee a large sum of money if he would tell him how he might get cured. Hok Lee consented on condition that he swore to keep the secret. He did so, and Hok Lee told him of the dwarfs and their dances.
The neighbor went off, carefully obeyed Hok Lee's directions, and was duly cured by the dwarfs. Then another and another came to Hok Lee to beg his secret, and from each he extracted a vow of secrecy and a large sum of money. This went on for some years, so that at length Hok Lee became a very wealthy man and ended his days in peace and prosperity.*
* From the Chinese.