THE ROBBERS' CA VE.
" Dear Hans," she replied, " we will go and search till we find him !"
They took the key of the long passage leading to the door from the pocket of the chief, and Hans fetched a great flour-sack, into which they packed gold and silver, and many other beautiful things which they found, till the bag was full, and then the boy took it on his back.
When they left the cave, the change from the darkness almost put out his eyes; but presently he got used to the daylight and the green wood. The bright flowers, the song of the birds, and the glorious sun shining in the sky delighted the boy's heart. He stood looking round him with astonishment, as if he could not understand it.
But his mother led him away, and for two hours they wandered about before they could find the road to their cottage. At last they arrived, fortunately, at the lonely valley, and there it stood before them, and the father of Hans was sitting at the door.
When he recognised his wife, and heard that Hans was his son, he wept for joy, for he had long supposed that they were both dead. Hans, however, although he was only twelve years old, was a head taller than his father. They went together into the little room; but as soon as Hans laid the sack on a bench, the walls of the house began to crack. The bench broke first, and then the floor, so that the heavy sack sank through into the cellar below.
"Bless me!" cried the father, "what are you doing, Hans? Why the house is falling about our ears I"
"Never mind, father," said the youth, "don't let any grey hairs grow over that trouble. There is in my bag more than enough to pay for building a new house !"
As it seemed dangerous to remain in the old house, Hans and his father quickly began to build a new one. Then they had cattle to purchase, and land to buy, and housekeeping to provide, so they had plenty to do. Hans cultivated the fields, and, when he followed the plough, and guided it through the ground, the oxen had scarcely any weight to draw, he was so strong. The next spring Hans asked his father to keep the money he had brought from the robbers' cave, and said that all he wanted was a heavy walking-stick to take with him on his travels, as he intended to visit distant lands. The wished-for walking-stick was soon ready, and