GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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At nightfall he went to the churchyard, and seated himself neat the grave. All was still, the moon threw her soft light over the tomb-stones, and only the hoot of the owl disturbed the peaceful silence. At sunrise he returned home unhurt, and went again the second night without anything happening even to alarm him.
When the third evening arrived, however, he felt a kind of fore­boding that something would occur, and, on entering the church­yard, he saw a man standing by the wall whom he had never seen before. He was not young; he had a scarred face, and eyes that were sharp and piercing.
" What do you want here T cried the peasant. " Are you not afraid of the lonely churchyard ?"
"I want nothing," replied the man, "and I fear nothing. I am like the young man who went out to learn how to fear, and had his trouble for nothing, excepting that he married a king's daughter, and obtained great riches. I am always poor. I am a discharged soldier, and I came to the churchyard to pass the night here, for I have no other shelter."
" If you are not afraid," said the peasant, " then stay with me and help me to watch by this grave."
"Willingly," he replied; "for to mount guard is my trade. Whatever we meet with here, good or bad, I will share the conse* quences with you."
The peasant consented, and they seated themselves by the grave together. All remained quiet till midnight: at that moment a shrill whistle was heard in the air, and the two watchers saw all at once, standing before them, the Evil One himself in person.
"Be off, you scoundrels," he cried; "he who lies in this grave is mine: I have come to fetch him, and if you do not go away at once, I will wring your necks."
"My lord of the red feather," replied the soldier," you are not my captain. I cannot, therefore, obey orders from you, and I have never yet learnt to fear. So take yourself off: we shall remain here as long as we please."
On seeing the men so firm, the Evil One thought he might easily bribe two such poor scamps as these with gold, so assuming a gentle tone, he asked them if they would resign their position for a purse of gold.
* Come, now, that is worth hearing," said the soldief ; " but a