THE ESCAPE OF THE MOUSE 329
' Good-day to thee, lord ; and what art thou doing ? '
' I am hanging a thief that I caught robbing me.'
' What manner of thief, lord ? '
' A creature in the form of a mouse. It has been robbing me, and it shall suffer the doom of a thief.'
' Lord,' said the priest, ' sooner than see thee touch this reptile, I would purchase its freedom.'
' I will neither sell it nor set it free.'
' It is true that a mouse is worth nothing, but rather than see thee defile thyself with touching such a reptile as this, I will give thee three pounds for it.'
' I will not take any price for it. It shall be hanged as it deserves.'
' Willingly, my lord, if it is thy pleasure.' And the priest went his way.
Then Manawyddan noosed the string about the mouse's neck, and was about to draw it tight when a bishop, with a great following and horses bearing huge packs, came by.
' What work art thou upon ? ' asked the bishop, drawing rein.
' Hanging a thief that I caught robbing me.'
' But is not that a mouse that I see in thine hand ? ' asked the bishop.
' Yes ; that is the thief,' answered Manawyddan.
' Well, since I have come at the doom of this reptile, I will ransom it of thee for seven pounds, rather than see a man of thy rank touch it. Loose it, and let it go ! '
' I will not let it loose.'
' I will give thee four and twenty pounds to set it free,' said the bishop.
' I will not set it free for as much again.'
' If thou wilt not set it free for this, I will give thee all the horses thou seest and the seven loads of baggage.'
' I will not set it free.'
' Then tell me at what price thou wilt loose it, and I will give it.'