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

The Brothers Lionheart

For Tengil made all the men of Wild Rose Valley stand in a row in front of him, and with his cruel forefinger, he pointed out which of them were to be taken across the river to Karmanyaka. I knew what that meant, for Jonathan had told me. None of those whom Tengil pointed out would ever come back alive. They would have to toil in Karmanyaka and haul stones up to the fortress which Tengil was having built on the top of the mountains of The Ancient Mountains. A fortress that could never be conquered by an enemy, it was to be, and there Tengil was to sit in his cruelty, year in and year out, and at last feel safe. But a great many bondsmen went into building such a fortress, and they all had to toil until they fell.

“And then Katla gets them,” Jonathan had said. When I remembered that, I shuddered in the warm sunlight. Katla was still only a horrible name to me then, nothing more.

It was quiet in the square while Tengil was pointing, only a little bird high up in the top of a tree above him singing and a trilling beautifully, unaware of what Tengil was doing down there under the lime trees.

Then there was the weeping, too. It was pitiable to hear how they all wept, all the women who would lose their husbands and all the children who would never see their fathers again. Everyone wept; I too.

Tengil did not hear the weeping; he just sat on his horse and pointed and pointed and the diamond on his forefinger flashed every time he condemned someone to death. It was terrible; he condemned people to death with nothing but his forefinger.

But one of the men he pointed at must have gone mad when he heard his children crying, for suddenly he broke out of the line, and before the soldiers could stop him, he had rushed up to Tengil.

“Tyrant!” he shouted. “One day you’ll die, too, have you thought about that!”

And then he spat on Tengil.

Tengil did not move a muscle. He just made a sign with his hand and the solider nearest raised his sword. I saw it flashing in the sunlight, but just then Jonathan grasped the back of my neck and pressed me to his chest, hiding my face, so that I saw no more.

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