THE ROBBERS' CAVE. 557
Then he took the dead animal on his shoulder, and carried him into the castle. They roasted a portion of the flesh for dinner, and enjoyed themselves, feeling quite content, for they had now sufficient food to last for some time.
After this, they agreed among themselves that two should go out hunting every day, and each take it in turns to stay at home and cook their meals.
The first day the Fir-twister remained at the old castle, while Hans and the Rock-splitter went to the hunt.
While the Fir-twister was in the kitchen busy at his cooking, there came a little withered-up old man to the castle, and demanded meat.
" Be off, you little scamp !" he cried, " you will get no meat from me!"
To the astonishment of the Fir-twister, the little, insignificant-looking old man sprang upon him, and, before he could prevent him, beat him so terribly with his fist that he fell to the ground and gasped for breath. But the little man did not go away till he had vented his rage fully upon him.
When the two others returned home, the Fir-twister did not tell them of the little man, nor of the dreadful thrashing he had given him. He thought, "When they remain at home, they must take their chance with the little wretch as well as I," and the thought gave him great pleasure.
The following day the Rock-splitter remained at home, and the same visitor made his appearance. When the little man found the meat again refused, he attacked the Rock-splitter in the same way, and beat and overpowered him as he had done the other. At last the day came for Hans to stay at home, and though the others knew what he would have to endure, they both remained silent, and thought Hans ought "totaste the soup" as well as they.
Hans was very busy preparing the dinner in the kitchen, not expecting any visitors. Presently, as he stood skimming the pot at the fire, in walked the little man, and demanded at once a piece of meat
" The poor little wretch is hungry," thought Hans, "I will give him my share, that the others may not come short." So he offered him a piece of meat.
As soon as the dwarf had devoured it, he asked for more, and