THE MASTER THIEF
whether you like it or not. If I can't get yon to go by using good words, I will soon make you go with had ones.'
But the man was still unwilling, so the Master Thief followed him, threatening him with a great birch stick, till he went weeping and wailing through the door to the Governor of the province.
' Now, my man, and what's amiss with you ? ' said the Governor.
So he told him that he had three sons who had gone away one day, and how he had given them permission to go where they chose, and take to whatsoever work they fancied. ' Now,' he said, ' the youngest of them has come home, and has threatened me till I have come to you to ask for your daughter for him, and I am to say that he is a Master Thief,' and again the man fell a-weeping and lamenting.
' Console yourself, my man,' said the Governor, laughing. ' You may tell him from me that he must first give me some proof of this. If he can steal the joint off the spit in the kitchen on Sunday, when every one of us is watching it, he shall have my daughter. Will you tell him that ? '
The man did tell him, and the youth thought it would be easy enough to do it. So he set himself to work to catch three hares alive, put them in a bag, clad himself in some old rags so that he looked so poor and wretched that it was quite pitiable to see him, and hi this guise on Sunday forenoon he sneaked into the passage with his bag, like any beggar boy. The Governor himself and every one in the house was in the kitchen, keeping watch over the joint. While they were doing this the youth let one of the hares slip out of his bag, and off it set and began to run round the yard.
' Just look at that hare,' said the people in the kitchen, and wanted to go out and catch it.
The Governor saw it too, but said, ' Oh, let it go ! it's no use to think of catching a hare when it's running away.'
It was not long before the youth let another hare out, and the people in the kitchen saw this too, and thought that it was the same. So again they wanted to go out and catch it, but the Governor again told them that it was of no use to try.
Very soon afterwards, however, the j'outh let slip the third hare, and it set off and ran round and round the courtyard. The people in the kitchen saw this too, and believed that it was still the same hare that was running about, so they wanted to go out and catch it.
' It's a remarkably fine hare ! ' said the Governor. ' Come