He proudly walked forward, supported by his cane, and awaited his opponent. At Muck’s own desire, the overseer of the slaves had selected the best runner. Walking in, he placed himself near the dwarf, and both looked for the signal. Thereupon the Princess Amarza made a sign with her veil as had been preconcerted, and, like two arrows shot from the same bow, the racers flew over the meadow.
At first the courier took a tremendous bound, but Muck pursued him in his slipper carriage, overtook him, passed him, and had been standing for some time at the goal, when his opponent, gasping for breath, ran up. Amazement for a few moments enchained the spectators: the king was the first to clap his hands; then shouted the crowd for joy, all exclaiming, “Long live the Little Muck, the victor in the race!”
Meanwhile they had brought up the little man; he prostrated himself before the king, saying, “Most mighty King, I have here given thee but a small proof of my powers; allow them, I pray thee, to give me a place among thy couriers.” The king answered:—
“Nay, dear Muck, thou shalt be my favorite messenger, and shalt remain about my person; every year shalt thou have a hundred gold pieces as thy wages, and thou shalt sup at the table of my first attendant.”
Then Muck thought he had at last found the fortune, of which he had so long been in search, and was merry and light-hearted. Moreover, he rejoiced in the peculiar favor of the king, for the latter employed him on his quickest and most secret errands, which he performed with the greatest care, and with inconceivable rapidity.
But the other attendants of the king were not well affected towards him, because they reluctantly saw themselves displaced from their lord’s favor by a dwarf, who knew how to do nothing, but to run fast. They set on foot many a conspiracy against him in order to work his destruction, but all failed, through the confidence which the king placed in his private Oberleibläufer, (for to this dignity had he in so short a time arrived.