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Little Muck

When the king returned to consciousness, he was terribly angry at Little Muck, who had suffered him to run until so entirely out of breath. “I have promised thee thy freedom and life,” said he, “but within twelve hours must thou leave my land; otherwise will I have thee hung.” The slippers and cane, however, he commanded them to bear to his treasure-chamber.

Thus, poor as ever, wandered the little fellow forth through the land, cursing the folly which had led him astray, and prevented his playing an important part at court. The land from which he was banished, was fortunately not extensive, and accordingly eight hours brought him to the frontier; but travelling, now that he was used to his dear slippers, came very hard to him. Having arrived at the border, he chose the usual road for reaching the most lonely part of the forest, for he hated all men, and resolved to live there by himself. In a thick portion of the wood, he lighted on a place, which seemed to him quite suitable for the resolution he had taken. A clear brook, surrounded by large shady fig-trees, and a soft turf, invited him: he threw himself down, determined to taste food no more, but calmly to await his end. Amid his sorrowful reflections on death, he fell asleep; when he awoke, he was tormented by hunger, and began to think that starving to death was rather an unpleasant affair; so he looked around to find something to eat.

Fine ripe figs hung upon the tree beneath which he had slept; he stretched forth his hand to pluck some; their taste was delicious, and then he descended into the brook to slake his thirst. But what was his horror, when the water showed his head adorned with two immense ears, and a long thick nose! Amazed, he clapped his hands upon his ears, and they were really more than half an ell long.

“I deserve ass’s ears!” he exclaimed; “for, like an ass, have I trodden Fortune under my feet.” He wandered around among the trees, and feeling hunger again, was obliged to have recourse once more to the fig-tree, for he could find nothing else that was eatable.

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