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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Astrid Lindgren > Fairy tale "The Brothers Lionheart"

The Brothers Lionheart

“Jonathan Lionheart,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot about you at home in Wild Rose Valley. And now you’re come here.”

“Yes, now I’ve come here,” said Jonathan, and then I heard that he too was crying a little because of Orvar and his wretchedness. But then he whipped out the knife he kept in his belt and began hacking at the cage.

“Come on, Rusky! Help, now,” he said, and I hacked with my knife too, though what could we do with two knives? What we needed was an ax and saw.

But we hacked away with our knives until our hands were bleeding. We hacked and wept, for we knew we had come too late. Orvar knew it too, but perhaps he wished to believe that it wasn’t true, for he was panting with excitement inside his cage, mumbling now and again:

“Hurry! Hurry!”

We hurried so that the blood ran. We hacked away wildly, every moment expecting the gate to open and the black escorts to come in. Then the end would have come for Orvar and for us and for the whole of Wild Rose Valley.

They won’t be fetching only one, I thought. Katla will have three tonight.

I felt that I couldn’t endure much more; my hands were shaking so that I could hardly hold the knife, and Jonathan was shouting with rage, rage against those timbers that would not give way, however much we hacked at them. He kicked them, shouted and kicked and hacked again and kicked again, and then at last there was a crash---at last one timber gave way. And then another. It was enough.

“Now, Orvar, now!” said Jonathan, but there was nothing but a gasp in reply. So Jonathan crawled into the cage and pulled out Orvar, who could neither stand nor walk. Neither could I, almost, by then, but I reeled ahead of them with the lantern, and Jonathan began to drag Orvar away toward our rescue hole. He was tired now and panting, too; yes, we were panting like hunted animals, all three of us, which was exactly what we felt like, too; at last I did.

However he managed it, Jonathan succeeded in dragging Orvar right across the cavern, squeezing into the hole and in some amazing way taking Orvar with him, now more dead than alive, as I felt then, too.

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