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The Brothers Lionheart

I knew so little about Katla, but I shuddered and almost felt sorry for Jossi, although he was such a wretch.

The fire in the glade had burned low and I began to hope that Veder and Kader would also go away. I wanted it so much that I ached to see them disappear. Like a rat in a trap, I longed to be free. If only I could get their horses out of the cave before someone came in to fetch them, then perhaps I would manage, I thought, and Veder and Kader would ride away without knowing how easily they could have captured Jonathan Lionheart’s little brother.

But then I head Kader say:

“Let’s go and sleep in the cave for a while.”

Oh, so the end has come, I thought. Well, just as well, for I cannot go on. Let them take me; by all means put an end to it all.

But then Veder said:

“Why sleep? It’ll soon be morning and I’ve had enough of these mountains. I want to go back to Wild Rose Valley now.”

So Kader gave in.

“As you like,” he said. “Get the horses out.”

Sometimes, when things are really dangerous, it’s as if you saved yourself without thinking. I threw myself backwards and scrambled into the darkest corner of the cave, just as a little animal might have done. I saw Veder come in through the entrance, but the next moment he was in the pitch-black darkness of the cave and I could see him no longer, only hear him, and that was bad enough. He couldn’t see me either, but he ought to have been able to hear my heart. How it thumped as I lay there, waiting for what was to come, when Veder found three horses instead of two.

They whinnied a little when Veder came in. All three, Fyalar too. I would be able to recognize Fyalar’s whinny among a thousand others. But Veder, the fool, heard no difference; just imagine, he never even noticed that there were three horses in the cave. He drove out the two nearest to the entrance---their own two---and went after them himself.

As soon as I was alone with Fyalar, I rushed over and put my hand on his nose. Dear, sweet Fyalar, keep quiet, I prayed inwardly, for I knew that if he whinnied now, they would hear out there and realize something was wrong.

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Category: United States folktales
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