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He spoke in so very melancholy a tone, that it quite melted Gluck's heart. “They promised me one slice to-day, sir," said he; “I can give you that, but not a bit more.”
“That's a good boy," said the old gentleman again.
Then Gluck warmed a plate, and sharpened a knife. “I don't care if I do get beaten for it,” thought he. Just as he had out a large slice out of the mutton, there came a tremendous rap at the door. The old gentleman jumped off the hob, as if it had suddenly become inconveniently warm. Gluck fitted the slice into the mutton again, with desperate efforts at exactitude, and ran to open the door.
“What did you keep us waiting in the rain for p" said Schwartz, as he walked in, throwing his umbrella in Gluck's faco. “ Ay! what for, indeed, you little vagabond p" said Hans, administering an educational box on the ear, as he followed his brother into the kitchen.
“Bless my soul!” said Schwartz when he opened the door. ." Amen," said the little gentleman, who had taken his cap off, and was standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowing with the utmost possible velocity.
“Who's that ?” said Schwartz, catching up & rolling-pin, and turning to Gluck with a fierce frown.
“I don't know, indeed, brother,” said Gluck in great terror.
“How did he get in p” roared Schwartz.
“My dear brother,” said Gluck, deprecatingly, “ he was 80 very wet !"
The rolling-pin was descending on Gluck's head; but, at the instant, the old gentleman interposed his conical cap, on which it crashed with a shock that shook the water out of it all over the room. What was very odd, the rolling-pin no sooner touched the cap, than it flew out of Schwartz's hand, spinning like a straw in a high wind, and fell into the corner at the further end of the room.
“Who are you, sir ?" demanded Schwartz, turning upon
“What's your business ?" snarled Hans.
“ I'm a poor old man, sir,” the little gentleman began very modestly, “and I saw your fire through the window, and begged shelter for a quarter of an hour.”
“Have the goodness to walk out again, then,” said Schwartz. “We've quite enough water in our kitchen, without making it a drying-house.”
"It is a cold day to turn an old man out in, sir; look at my gray hairs.” They hung down to his shoulders, as I told you before.
“Ay!” said Hans, “there are enough of them to keep you warm. Walk !"
“I'm very, very hungry, sir; couldn't you spare me a bit of bread before I go pa
“ Bread, indeed !” said Schwartz; “ do you suppose we've nothing to do with our bread, but to give it to such red-nosed fellows as you ?”
“Why don't you sell your feather p" said Hans, sneeringly. « Out with you."
“A little bit,” said the old gentleman.
“Off, and be hanged}" cried Hans, seizing him by the col. lar. But he had no sooner touched the old gentleman's collar, than away he went after the rolling-pin, spinning round and round, till he fell into the corner on the top of it. Then Schwartz was very angry, and ran at the old gentleman to turn him out; but he also had hardly touched him, when away he went after Hans and the rolling-pin, and hit his head against the wall as he tumbled into the corner. And so there they lay, all three.
Then the old gentleman spun himself round with velocity in the opposite direction; continued to spin until his long cloak was all wound neatly about him; clapped his cap on his head, very much on one side, (for it could not stand upright without going through the ceiling,) gave an additional twist to his corkscrew moustaches, and replied with perfect cool. ness: “Gentlemen, I wish you a very good morning. At twelve o'clock to-night, I'll call again; after such a refusal of hospitality as I have just experienced, you will not be surprised if that visit is the last I ever pay you."
“If over I catch you hore again,” muttered Schwartz, coming, half frightened, out of the corner-but, before he could finish his sentence, the old gentleman had shut the house door behind him with a great bang; and there drove past the window, at the same instant, a wreath of ragged cloud, that whirled and rolled away down the valley in all manner of shapes ; turning over and over in the air ; and melting away at last in a gush of rain.
"A very pretty business, indeed, Mr. Gluck 1” said Schwartz. “Dish the mutton, sir. If ever I catch you at such a trick again-bless me, why the mutton's been cut 1"
“You promised me one slice, brother, you know," said Gluck.
“Oh! and you wero cutting it hot, I suppose, and going to catch all the gravy. It'll be long before I promise you such a thing again. Leave the room, sir; and have the kindness to wait in the coal-cellar till I call you."
Gluck left the room melancholy enough. The brothers ate · as much mutton as they could, locked the rest in the cupboard, and proceeded to get very drunk after dinner.
Such a night as it was ! Howling wind, and rushing rain, without intermission. The brothers had just sense enough left to put up all the shutters, and double bar the door, before they went to bed. They usually slept in the same room. As the clock struck twelve, they were both awakened by a tre
mendous crash. Their door burst open with a violence that shook the house from top to bottom.
“What's that ?” cried Schwartz, starting up in his bed. “Only I,” said the little gentleman.
The two brothers sat up on their bolster, and stared into the darkness. The room was full of water, and by a misty moonbeam, which found its way through a hole in the shutter, they could see, in the midst of it, an enormous foam globe, spinning round, and bobbing up and down like a cork, on which, as on a most luxurious cushion, reclined the little old gentleman, cap and all. There was plenty of room for it now, for the roof was off.
“Sorry to incommode you,” said their visitor, ironically, “I'm afraid your beds are dampish ; perhaps you bad better go to your brother's room; I've left the ceiling on there."
They required no second admonition, but rushed into Gluck's room, wet through, and in an agony of terror.
“You'll find my card on the kitchen table,” the old gentleman called after them. “Remember the last visit.”
“Pray Heaven it may !” said Schwartz, shuddering. And the foam globe disappeared.
Dawn came at last, and the two brothers looked out of Gluck's little window in the morning. The Treasure Valley was one mass of ruin and desolation. The inundation had swept away trees, crops, and cattle, and left, in their stead, a waste of red sand, and gray mud. The two brothers crept, shivering and horror-struck, into the kitchen. The water had gutted the whole first floor: corn, money, almost every movable thing had been swept away, and there was left only a small white card on the kitchen table. On it, in large, breezy, long-legged letters, were engraved the words :
· SOUTH WESI WIYD ESQUIRE
OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE THREE BROTIERS AFTER THE
VISIT OF SOUTH-WEST WIND, ESQUIRE; AND HOW LITTLE GLUCK HAD AN INTERVIEW WITH THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER,
SOUTH-West Wind, Esquire, was as good as his word. After the momentous visit above related, he entered the Treasure Valley no more; and, what was worse, he had so much influ. ence with his relations, the West Winds in general, and used it so effectually, that they all adopted a similar line of conduct. So no rain fell in the valley from one year's end to another. Though everything remained green and flourishing in the plains below, the inheritance of the Three Brothers was a desert. What had once been the richest soil in the kingdom, became a shifting heap of red sand; and the brothers, unable longer to contend with the adverse skies, abandoned their valueless patrimony in despair, to seek some means of gaining a livelihood among the cities and people of the plains. All their money was gone, and they had nothing loft but some
of their ill-gotten wealth.
“Suppose we turn goldsmiths p” said Schwartz to Hans, as they entered the large city. “It is a good knave's trade; we can put a great deal of copper into the gold, without any one's finding it out.”
The thought was agreed to be a very good one; they hired a furnace, and turned goldsmiths. But two slight circum