286 THE HEADLESS DWARFS
Hans rang the bells for some time, then went to the hayloft, and fell fast asleep.
Now it was the custom of the minister to get up very early, and to go round to make sure that the men were all at their work. This morning everyone was in his place except Hans, and no one knew anything about him. Nine o'clock came, and no Hans, but when eleven struck the minister began to fear that he had vanished like the ringers who had gone before him. When, however, the servants all gathered round the table for dinner, Hans at last made his appearance stretching himself and yawning.
' Where have you been all this time ?' asked the minister.
' Asleep,' said Hans.
' Asleep! ' exclaimed the minister in astonishment. ' You don't mean to tell me that you can go on sleeping till mid-day?'
' That is exactly what I do mean,' replied Hans. ' If one works in the night one must sleep in the day, just as if one works in the day one sleeps in the night. If you can find somebody else to ring the bells at midnight I am ready to begin work at dawn; but if you want me to ring them I must go on sleeping till noon at the very aarliest.'
The minister tried to argue the point with him, but at length the following agreement was come to. Hans was to give up the ringing, and was to work like the rest from sunrise to sunset, with the exception of an hour after breakfast and an hour after dinner, when he might go to sleep. 'But, of course,' added the minister carelessly, ' it may happen now and then, especially in winter, when the days are short, that you will have to work a little longer, to get something finished.'
' Not at all!' answered Hans. ' Unless I were to leave off work earlier in summer, I will not do a stroke more than I have promised, and that is from dawn to dark ; so you know what you have to expect.'