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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Arch Rogue"

The Arch Rogue

There once lived, years ago, a man known only by the name of the Arch Rogue. By dint of skill in the black art, and all arts of imposition, he drove a more flourishing trade than all the rest of the sorcerers of the age. It was his delight to travel from one country to another merely to play upon mankind, and no living soul was secure, either in house or field, nor could properly call them his own.

Now his great reputation for these speedy methods of possessing himself of others' property excited the envy of a certain king of a certain country, who considered them as no less than an invasion of his royal prerogative. He could not sleep a wink for thinking about it, and he despatched troops of soldiers, one after another, with strict orders to arrest him, but all their search was in vain. At length, after long meditation, the king said to himself—

"Only wait a little, thou villain cutpurse, and yet I will have thee."

Forthwith he issued a manifesto, stating that the royal mercy would be extended to so light-fingered a genius, upon condition that he consented to appear at court and give specimens of his dexterity for his majesty's amusement.

One afternoon, as the king was standing at his palace window enjoying the fine prospect of woods and dales, over which a tempest appeared to be then just gathering, some one suddenly clapped him upon the shoulder, and on looking round he discovered a very tall, stout, dark-whiskered man close behind him, who said—

"Here I am."

"Who are you?" inquired the king.

"He whom you look for."

The king uttered an exclamation of surprise, not unmixed with fear, at such amazing assurance. The stranger continued, "Don't be alarmed. Only keep your word with me, and I will prove myself quite obedient to your orders."

This being agreed on, the king acquainted his royal consort and the whole court that the great sleight-of-hand genius had discovered himself, and soon, in a full assembly, his majesty proceeded to question him, and lay on him his commands.

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