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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "The Master Thief"

The Master Thief

He rode straight up to him, and asked if he had seen anyone hiding anywhere about in a wood that was close by.

`No,' said the man, `that have I not.'

`Hark you,' said the Governor. `If you will ride into that wood, and search it carefully to see if you can light upon a fellow who is hiding in there, you shall have the loan of my horse and a good present of money for your trouble.'

`I am not sure that I can do it,' said the man, `for I have to go to a wedding with this cask of mead which I have been to fetch, and the tap has fallen out on the way, so now I have to keep my finger in the tap-hole as I drive.'

`Oh, just ride off,' said the Governor, `and I will look after the cask and the horse too.'

So the man said that if he would do that he would go, but he begged the Governor to be very careful to put his finger into the tap-hole the moment he took his out.

So the Governor said that he would do his very best, and the Master Thief got on the Governor's horse.

But time passed, and it grew later and later, and still the man did not come back, and at last the Governor grew so weary of keeping his finger in the tap-hole that he took it out.

`Now I shall have ten dollars more!' cried the old woman inside the cask; so he soon saw what kind of mead it was, and set out homewards. When he had gone a very little way he met his servant bringing him the horse, for the Master Thief had already taken it home.

The following day he went to the Governor and wanted to have his daughter according to promise. But the Governor again put him off with fine words, and only gave him three hundred dollars, saying that he must do one more masterpiece of skill, and if he were but able to do that he should have her.

Well, the Master Thief thought he might if he could hear what it was.

`Do you think you can steal the sheet off our bed, and my wife's night-gown?' said the Governor.

`That is by no means impossible,' said the Master Thief. `I only wish I could get your daughter as easily.

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