236 THE HISTORY OF DWARF LONG NOSE
only one old woman, who is ninety years old, said it might have been the fairy Herbaline, who came into the town once in every fifty years to buy things.'
As his father spoke, things grew clearer to Jem's mind, raid he saw now that he had not been dreaming, but had really served the old woman seven years in the shape of a squirrel. As he thought it over rage filled his heart. Seven years of his youth had been stolen from him, and what had he got in return? To learn to rub up cocoa nuts, and to polish glass floors, and to be taught cooking by guinea pigs! He stood there thinking, till at last his father asked him :
' Is there anything I can do for you, young gentleman? Shall I make you a pair of slippers, or perhaps'— with a smile — ' a case for your nose ?'
' What have you to do with my nose?' asked Jem. ' And why should I want a case for it ?'
' Well, everyone to his taste,' replied the cobbler ; ' but I must say if I had such a nose I would have a nice red leather cover made for it. Here is a nice piece; and think what a protection it would be to you. As it is, you must be constantly knocking up against things.'
The lad was dumb with fright. He felt his nose. It was thick, and quite two hands long. So, then the old woman had changed his shape, and that was why his own mother did not know him, and called him a horrid dwarf!
' Master,' said he, ' have you got a glass that I could see myself in?'
'Young gentleman,' was the answer, 'your appearance is hardly one to be vain of, and there is no need to waste your time looking in a glass. Besides, I have none here, and if you must have one you had better ask Urban the barber, who lives over the way, to lend you his. Good morning.'
So saying, he gently pushed Jem into the street, shut the door, and went back to his work.