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The Brothers Lionheart

But no sound came out of me. I sat paralyzed on my chair and just hated him, everything about him, his rough hands and thick neck and that wart on his forehead. I hated him because I knew he was now going to see the shutter leading into the hideout, and that would be the end of Jonathan.

But a cry came from Mathias:

“Look! Fire!” he shouted. “Has Tengil ordered you to set fire to our houses too?”

I don’t know how it had happened, but it was true. The sheep’s wool on the floor was burning briskly, and the soldiers had to hurry to put it out. They jumped and stamped and cursed and swore, and finally they tipped the water-barrel over it all, so the fire was out almost before it had started. But Mathias grumbled all the same and was angry with them.

“Have you no sense at all?” he said. “You can’t throw wool down like that right next to a fire, where there are flames and sparks!”

The soldier with the wart was furious.

“Shut up, old man!” he said. “Or I know several ways of shutting that mouth of yours.”

But Mathias would not let them frighten him.

“I hope you’re going to clean up after you,” he said. “Just look what you’ve done! The place looks like a pigsty.”

That was the right way to get them to go away.

“Clean up your own pigsty, old man,” said the man with the wart, and he went out first, the others following, leaving the door wide open behind them.

“They’ve got no sense at all,” said Mathias.

“What luck the fire started though,” I said. “What luck for Jonathan.”

Mathias blew on his fingertips.

“Yes, small fires are quite good things sometimes,” he said. “Though you get burned when you scrape red-hot charcoal out of the fire with your fingers.”

But that wasn’t the end of our miseries, whatever I’d thought.

They searched the stable for Jonathan, too, and then the soldier with the wart came to Mathias and said:

“You’ve got two horses, old man! No one in Wild Rose Valley is allowed more than one, you know that. We’ll send a man over from the other side tonight. He’ll fetch the one with a white blaze, you’ll have to give that one to Tengil.

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