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The Brothers Lionheart

Why didn’t he come? I stared into the darkness. But it wasn’t quite so dark now, was it? Suddenly I thought that it had grown lighter. Or was it only my eyes getting used to it? Then I saw what it was. The moon was coming out through the clouds, which was the worst thing that could happen, and I prayed to God that Mathias would get back in time while it was still dark enough to hide him. But it was too late, for now the moon was shining brilliantly and a river of moonlight was flooding the valley.

I saw Mathias in that light; far away, I saw him coming through the thickets with his trough. I looked wildly around, for I was supposed to be keeping watch, and then I saw something else, too---Dodik, Fatty Dodik, climbing down the wall on a rope ladder, his back to me.

It’s very difficult to whistle when you’re frightened, so it didn’t sound too good, but I more or less managed to get that tune out, and as swiftly as a lizard, Mathias vanished behind the nearest wild rose thicket.

By then Dodik was already upon me.

“What are you whistling for?” he shouted.

“Because---because I learned to today,” I stammered. “I couldn’t whistle before, but just think, I can suddenly do it today. Do you want to hear me?”

I started whistling again but Dodik stopped me.

“No, shut up, now,” he said. “Not that I know whether it’s forbidden to whistle, but I expect it is. I don’t think Tengil likes it. And anyhow you should keep your door shut, you know.”

“Doesn’t Tengil like you leaving your door open?” I said.

“Mind your own business,” said Dodik. “Do as you’re told. But give me a ladle of water first. I’m dying of thirst up there on that wall.”

I thought quickly; if he comes after me into the kitchen and finds Mathias isn’t there, what’ll happen? Poor Mathias, the death sentence for being out at night; I’d heard enough about that.

“I’ll get some,” I said quickly. “Stay here and I’ll get you some water.”

I ran inside and in the dark fumbled my way to the water barrel. I knew which corner it was in.

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