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The Hero of Esthonia and Other Studies in the Roma

And the headless dwarf vanished as if he had been wiped out


The headless dwarf continued, "My debt is now paid, but I will do more, and give you something to indemnify you for your thrashing. You need no longer toil in the service of a stingy parson. When you reach home to-morrow go straight to the north corner of the church, where you will find a great stone fixed in the wall, which is not secured with mortar like the others. It is full moon on the night of the day after to-morrow. Go at midnight, and take this stone out of the wall with a lever. Under the stone you will find an inestimable treasure, which many generations have heaped together; there are gold and silver church plate, and a large amount of money, which was once concealed in time of war. Those who hid the treasure have all died more than a hundred years ago, and not a living soul knows anything about the matter. You must divide one-third of the money among the poor of the parish, and all the rest is yours, to do what you like with." At this moment a cock crew in a distant village, and the headless dwarf vanished as if he had been wiped out.

Hans could not sleep for a long time for the pain in his limbs, and thought much of the hidden treasure, but he dropped asleep at last towards morning.

The sun was high in the heavens when his master returned from town. "Hans," said the parson, "you were a great fool not to go with me yesterday. Look here! I've had plenty to eat and drink, and got money in my pocket into the bargain." Meantime he jingled the money to vex him more. But Hans answered quietly, "Worthy Mister Parson, you have had to keep awake all night for that bit of money, but I've earned a hundred times as much in my sleep." "Show me what you earned," cried the parson. But Hans answered, "Fools jingle their copecks, but wise men hide their roubles."

When they reached home, Hans did his duty zealously, unharnessed and fed the horses, and then walked round the church till he found the stone in the wall that was not mortared.

On the first night after the full moon, when everybody else was asleep, Hans crept quietly out of the house with a pickaxe, wrenched out the stone with much difficulty, and actually found the hole with the money, just as the dwarf had described it to him. Next Sunday he divided the third part among the poor of the parish, and gave notice to the parson that he was about to quit his service, and as he asked no wages for so short a time, he got his discharge without any demur. But Hans travelled a long way off, bought himself a nice farm-house, married a young wife, and lived quietly and comfortably for many years.

At the time when my grandfather was a shepherd-boy, there were many old people living in our village who had known Hans, and who bore witness to the truth of this story.

[Footnote 62: Hans is a generic term in Esthonia for the cunning fellow who always contrives to outwit the Devil, &c.]

THE TREASURE AT KERTELL.

(JANNSEN.)

During a great war, the people of Kertell, in the island of Dagoe, caused a great iron chest to be made, wherein they stored all their gold and silver, and sunk it in the river near the old bridge. But they all perished without recovering it. Many years afterwards, a man who was passing by in the evening saw a small flame flickering in the air. He laid his pipe on a stone and followed the flame; but it disappeared, and on going to pick up his pipe, he found it gone, and money lying on the stone. But afterwards, whenever he passed the stone, he found money. His companions advised him to consult a magician with respect to raising the treasure, of which the tradition had persisted; and the magician directed him to go to the place where he had seen the flame on three successive Thursdays, and sacrifice a cock, but not to speak of it to any one.[63] On the third Thursday, he took some companions with him; and when the cock was sacrificed, the treasure-chest appeared above water, and they dragged it to shore with great labour. But one of the party looked towards the bridge, and saw a little boy mounted on a pig riding over it. He exclaimed to his companions, when the figures disappeared, the stakes and ropes gave way, and the treasure fell back into the river, and was irrecoverably lost to them.


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