GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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I But the sexton, who had disguised himself to frighten the boy, remained immovable, for he wished to be taken for a ghost, but Hans was not to be frightened. He exclaimed, for the second time, "What do you want here? speak, if you are an honest man, or I will throw you down the steps."
The sexton, thinking he could not intend to do any thing so dreadful, answered not a word, but stood still, as if he were made of stone. " Once more, I ask you what you want," said Hans; and as there was still no answer, he sprung upon the sham ghost, and giving him a push, he rolled down ten steps, and falling into a corner, there remained.
Thereupon Hans went back to the bell, tolled it for the proper number of minutes, then went home, laid himself down without saying a word, and went fast asleep. I The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, and finding he did not come home she became alarmed, and going to Hans, woke him and said, " Do you know why my husband is staying out so late—he was with you in the tower \ suppose ?"
" There was some one standing on the top of the steps when I went into the belfry dressed in white, and as he would not answer a word when I spoke to him, I took him for a thief and kicked him down-stairs. We will go and see who it is; if it should be your husband I shall be sorry, but of course I did not know."
The wife ran out to the tower and found her husband lying in a corner groaning, for he had broken his leg. Then she went to the father of Hans with a loud outcry against the boy. "Your son," cried she, "has brought bad luck to the house; he has thrown my husband down the steps and broken his leg; he shan't stay with us any longer, send for him home,"
Then the father was terribly vexed, sent for his son, and scolded him. "What do you mean, you wretched boy," he said, " by these wicked tricks ?"
"Father," answered the boy, "hear what I have to say. I never meant to do wrong, but when I saw a white figure standing there in the night, of course I thought it was there for some bad pur­pose. I did not know it was the sexton, and I warned him three times what I would do, if he did not answer."