The VIOLET FAIRY BOOK - full online book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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288               THE HEADLESS DWARFS
minister, but Hans answered quietly, ' The sun is set and my work is over, and I am going to camp here for the night.'
In vain the master prayed and threatened, and pro­mised Hans a large reward if he would only drive him on. The young man was not to be moved.
' Are you not ashamed to urge me to break my word ? ' said he. ' If you want to reach the town to-night you must go alone. The hour of my freedom has struck, and I cannot go with you.'
' My good Hans,' entreated the minister, ' I really ought not to leave you here. Consider what danger you would be in! Yonder, as you see, a gallows is set up, and two evil-doers are hanging on it. You could not possibly sleep with such ghastly neighbours.'
' Why not? ' asked Hans. ' Those gallows birds hang high in the air, and my camp will be on the ground ; we shall have nothing to do with each other.' As he spoke, he turned his back on the minister, and went his way.
There was no help for it, and the minister had to push on by himself, if he expected to arrive in time for the christening. His friends were much surprised to see him drive up without a coachman, and thought some accident had happened. But when he told them of his conversation with Hans they did not know which was the most foolish, master or man.
It would have mattered little to Hans had he known what they were saying or thinking of him. He satisfied his hunger with the food he had in his knapsack, lit his pipe, pitched his tent under the boughs of a tree, wrapped himself in his furs, and went sound asleep. After some hours, he was awakened by a sudden noise, and sat up and looked about him. The moon was shining brightly above his head, and close by stood two headless dwarfs, talking angrily. At the sight of Hans the little dwarfs cried out:
' It is he! It is he! ' and one of them stepping nearer
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