THE MASTER THIEF
things—and then he told the old woman to greet the robbers from him and thank them from him, and say that he had gone away, and that they would have a great deal of difficulty in finding him again, and with that he drove the horses out of the courtyard. After a long, long time he came to the road on which he was travelling when he came to the robbers. And when he had got very near home, and was in sight of the house where his father lived, he put on a uniform which he had found among the things he had taken from the robbers, and which was made just like a general's, and drove into the yard just as if he were a great man. Then he entered the house and asked if he could find a lodging there.
' No, indeed you can't!' said his father. ' How could I possibly be able to lodge such a great gentleman as you ? It is all that I can do to find clothes and bedding for myself, and wretched they are.'
' You were always a hard man,' said the youth, ' and hard you are still if you refuse to let your own son come into your house.'
' Are you my son ? ' said the man.
' Do you not know me again then ? ' said the youth.
Then he recognised him and said, ' But what trade have you taken to that has made you such a great man in so short a time ? '
' Oh, that I will tell you,' answered the youth. ' You said that I might take to anything I liked, so I apprenticed myself to some thieves and robbers, and now I have served my time and have become Master Thief.'
Now the Governor of the province lived by his father's cottage, and this Governor had such a large house and so much money that he did not even know how much it was, and he had a daughter too who was both pretty and dainty, and good and wise. So the Master Thief was determined to have her to wife, and told his father that he was to go to the Governor, and ask for his daughter for him. ' If he asks what trade I follow, you may say that I am a Master Thief,' said he.
'I think you must be crazy,' said the man, 'for you can't be in your senses if you think of anything so foolish.'
' You must go to the Governor and beg for his daughter—there is no help,' said the youth.
' But I dare not go to the Governor and say this. He is so rich and has so much wealth of all kinds,' said the man.
' There is no help for it,' said the Master Thief; 'go you must,