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The Brothers Lionheart

They didn’t work hard enough and they protected Tengil’s Enemies.

“Lionheart has still not been found,” said Pyuke. “Our gracious sovereign is dissatisfied with that.”

“Yes, I can see that, I can see that,” I heard someone mumble just beside me. There was a poor man standing there, dressed in rags, a little old man with tangled hair and a tangled gray beard.

“Our gracious sovereign’s patience is almost at an end,” said Pyuke. “and he will punish Wild Rose Valley severely, without mercy.”

“Yes, he’s right there, he’s right there,” whined the old man beside me, and I realized he must be a simpleton, not quite right in the head.

“But,” said Pyuke, “in his great goodness, our gracious sovereign will wait a while longer before issuing his punishment, and he has even offered a reward. Twenty white horses will be given to the person who captures Lionheart for him.”

“Then I’ll get the little fox,” said the old man, nudging me in the side. “Twenty white horses I’ll get from our gracious sovereign; oh, that’s good payment for a little fox like that.”

I was so angry I would have liked to hit him; even if he was a simpleton, he was talking stupidly.

“Have you no sense?” I whispered, and then he laughed.

“No, not much,” he said. Then he looked straight at me and I saw his eyes; Jonathan was the only person in the world with such beautiful shining eyes. It was true, he really did have no sense. How could he have the nerve to come here right under Tengil’s nose! Though of course, no one would recognize him. Not even Mathias did, until Jonathan slapped him on the back and said:

“Old man, haven’t we met before?”

Jonathan liked dressing up. He used to playact for me in the kitchen in the evenings, when we lived on earth, I mean. He could make a real fright of himself and be so funny that I laughed so much sometimes my stomach used to ache.

But now, here, in front of Tengil, it was almost too bold.

“I must see what happens, too,” he whispered, and he wasn’t laughing then, for there was nothing to laugh at, either.

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