HANS, THE MERMAID'S SON 119
old hacks into the cart, but they could not move it from the spot. He was annoyed at this, and took them out again, twisted a rope round the cart, and all the trees, lifted the whole affair on his back, and set off home, leading the horses behind him by the rein. When he reached the gate, he found the whole row of carts standing there, unable to get any further for the stone which lay in the gap.
' What! ' said Hans, ' can twelve men not move that stone ?' With that he lifted it and threw it out of the way, and went on with his burden on his back, and the horses behind him, and arrived at the farm long before any of the others. The squire was walking about there, looking and looking, for he was very curious to know what had happened. Finally, he caught sight of Hans coming along in this fashion, and was so frightened that he did not know what to do, but he shut the gate and put on the bar. When Hans reached the gate of the courtyard, he laid down the trees and hammered at it, but no one came to open it. He then took the trees and tossed them over the barn into the yard, and the cart after them, so that every wheel flew off in a different direction.
When the squire saw this, he thought to himself, ' The horses will come the same way if I don't open the door,' so he did this.
' Good day, master,' said Hans, and put the horses into the stable, and went into the kitchen, to get something to eat. At length the other men came home with their loads. When they came in, Hans said to them, 'Do you remember the bargain we made last night? Which of you is it that's going to be hanged? ' ' Oh,' said they, ' that was only a joke ; it did n't mean anything.' * Oh well, it doesn't matter,' said Hans, and there w\is no more about it.
The squire, however, and his wife and the steward, had much to say to each other about the terrible man they had got, and all were agreed that they must get rid