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The Brothers Lionheart

He heaved it up to me and I dragged it through the shutter to Mathias.

“More earth for my field,” said Mathias. “If only I had a few peas and beans to sow and plant there, that would the end of our hunger.”

“Do you think so?” said Jonathan. “Tengil takes nine out of every ten beans in your field; have you forgotten that?”

“You’re right,” said Mathias. “So long as Tengil is alive, there’ll be hunger and need in Wild Rose Valley.”

Mathias was now going to sneak out and empty the trough on his field and I was told to stay by the door and keep watch. I was to whistle, said Jonathan, if I noticed the slightest thing that might be dangerous. A special little tune, I was to whistle, one that Jonathan had taught me a long time ago when we lived on earth. We used to whistle a lot together at that time, in the evenings after we had gone to bed. So I’ve always been able to whistle.

Jonathan crawled down into his hole again to go on digging, and Mathias closed the shutter and pushed back the sideboard.

“Get this into your head, Rusky,” he said. “Never, never let Jonathan be in there without the shutter being closed and the sideboard pushed across. Get it into your head that you’re in a country where Tengil lives and rules.”

“I won’t forget,” I said.

It was dim in the kitchen, a single candle burning on the table, but Mathias put it out.

“The night must be dark in Wild Rose Valley,” he said. “For there are so many eyes wanting to see what they shouldn’t see.”

Then he took the trough and vanished, and I stood at the open door to keep watch. It was dark, just as Mathias wanted it to be. It was dark in the houses, and the sky over Wild Rose Valley was dark too, no stars twinkling and no moon. I could see nothing at all. But all those eyes of the night that Mathias had talked about, they couldn’t see anything either, I thought, and that was a comfort.

I felt miserable and lonely, standing there waiting, and it was creepy, too. Mathias was taking so long. I grew uneasy, more and more uneasy every moment that went by.

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Category: Chinese folktales
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