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The Master Thief

When the Governor learnt what had happened to the Priest he laughed till he nearly killed himself, but when the Master Thief came and wanted to have his daughter according to promise, he once more gave him nothing but fine words, and said, `You must give me one more proof of your skill, so that I can really judge of your worth. I have twelve horses in my stable, and I will put twelve stable boys in it, one on each horse. If you are clever enough to steal the horses from under them, I will see what I can do for you.'

`What you set me to do can be done,' said the Master Thief, `but am I certain to get your daughter when it is?'

`Yes; if you can do that I will do my best for you,' said the Governor.

So the Master Thief went to a shop, and bought enough brandy to fill two pocket flasks, and he put a sleeping drink into one of these, but into the other he poured brandy only. Then he engaged eleven men to lie that night in hiding behind the Governor's stable. After this, by fair words and good payment, he borrowed a ragged gown and a jerkin from an aged woman, and then, with a staff in his hand and a poke on his back, he hobbled off as evening came on towards the Governor's stable. The stable boys were just watering the horses for the night, and it was quite as much as they could do to attend to that.

`What on earth do you want here?' said one of them to the old woman.

`Oh dear! oh dear! How cold it is!' she said, sobbing, and shivering with cold. `Oh dear! oh dear! it's cold enough to freeze a poor old body to death!' and she shivered and shook again, and said, `For heaven's sake give me leave to stay here and sit just inside the stable door.'

`You will get nothing of the kind! Be off this moment! If the Governor were to catch sight of you here, he would lead us a pretty dance,' said one.

`Oh! what a poor helpless old creature!' said another, who felt sorry for her. `That poor old woman can do no harm to anyone. She may sit there and welcome.'

The rest of them thought that she ought not to stay, but while they were disputing about this and looking after the horses, she crept farther and farther into the stable, and at last sat down behind the door, and when once she was inside no one took any more notice of her.

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