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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The engineer and the dwarfs"

The engineer and the dwarfs

What could that dreadful gap be in the wall of his room, blacker than the darkness? Surely it was a bogey hole leading down to the bottomless pit? The next minute he laughed at his fears, as we usually do when we come safely out of nightmare land and feel the earth—or bed beneath us again.

He saw that it was the mouth of the tunnel, and glancing up he saw the giant fir-tree under which he had been sleeping with outstretched arms above him in the light of the moon.

"Well—I never! what a dunderhead I am!" he said to himself—"fancy sleeping like that, why such a thing has never happened to me before! I had meant to go to have supper and stay the night at the new hotel in Elm. I have heard the landlord's daughter is an uncommonly pretty girl!"

"Heigho!" he went on, stretching himself, "there's nothing for it, but to walk home. I might wait a long time before a motor-car came to pick me up here!"

Then he remembered with a sudden start that there was only one possible way back to Elm, and that was through the tunnel. It was not a very pleasant idea to walk back alone through the dark, oppressive tunnel at midnight; luckily he had his lantern with him.

"How could I have been such an idiot!" he muttered to himself again. He found some bread and cheese in his pocket, which he ate with a good appetite. His headache had gone, and he felt much refreshed after his sleep. Then he put on his cloak, lighted the lantern, and set out cheerfully to walk through the tunnel.

He had not gone far into the black darkness, when he thought he heard voices whispering and talking not far away from him; then he distinctly felt something or somebody brush past him.

"Hullo, who's there?" he called out. Complete silence. He was not easily frightened; but his heart began to beat quicker than usual. "Well, if it's robbers or tramps, they won't find much to rob on me," he thought; for he had only a few shillings in his pocket for his night's lodging.

It was probably a bat that had strayed in at the opening, he decided.

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