122 HANS, THE MERMAID'S SON
The squire said that he could easily get all that, so Hans got all of these tied up together, hung them over his shoulder on his good staff, and tramped away to Devilmoss Lake.
There he got into the boat, rowed out upon the lake, and got everything ready to fish. As he now lay out there in the middle of the lake, and it was pretty late in the evening, he thought he would have something to eat first, before starting to work. Just as he was at his busiest with this, Old Eric rose out of the lake, caught him by the cuff of the neck, whipped him out of the boat, and dragged him down to the bottom. It was a lucky thing that Hans had his walking-stick with him that day, and had just time to catch hold of it when he felt Old Eric's claws in his neck, so when they got down to the bottom he said, 'Stop now, just wait a little; here is solid ground.' With that he caught Old Eric by the back of the neck with one hand, and hammered away on his back with the staff, till he beat him out as flat as a pancake. Old Eric then began to lament and howl, begging him just to let him go, and he would never come back to the lake again.
'No, my good fellow,' said Hans, 'you won't get off until you promise to bring all the fish in the lake up to the squire's courtyard, before to-morrow morning.'
Old Eric eagerly promised this, if Plans would only let him go; so Hans rowed ashore, ate up the rest of his provisions, and went home to bed.
Next morning, when the squire rose and opened his front door, the fish came tumbling into the porch, and the wdiole yard was crammed full of them. He ran in again to his wife, for he could never devise anything himself, and said to her, ' What shall we do with him now? Old Eric has n't taken him. I am certain all the fish are out of the lake, for the yard is just filled with them.'
1 Yes, that's a bad business,' said she ; ' you must see if you can't get him sent to purgatory, to demand tribute.5 The