Here also he dwelt for a year and a day, and then he left it because he could do no harm. For those who loved each other trusted each other, and the magician made mischief in vain. In one of his disguises he was detected, and only escaped with his life from the enraged villagers by changing himself into a cockchafer and flying on to the next place, where Vengeance had gone before.
In this village he made less mischief than in the first, and more than in the second. And he exercised all his art, and changed his disguises constantly; but the dogs knew him under all.
One dog—the oldest dog in the place—was keeping watch over the miller’s house, when he saw the magician approaching, in the disguise of an old woman.
“Do you see that old witch?” said he to the sparrows, who were picking up stray bits of grain in the yard. “With her evil tongue she is parting my master’s daughter and the finest young fellow in the country-side. She puts lies and truth together, with more skill than you patch moss and feathers to build nests. And when she is asked where she heard this or that, she says, ‘A little bird told me so.’”
“We never told her,” said the sparrows indignantly, “and if we had your strength, Master Keeper, she should not malign us long!”
“I believe you are right!” said Master Keeper. “Of what avail is it that we have learned the language of men, if we do not help them to the utmost of our powers? She shall torment my young mistress no more.”
Saying which he flew upon the disguised magician as he entered the gate, and would have torn him limb from limb, but that the mischief-maker changed himself as before into a cockchafer, and flew hastily from the village.
And thus he might doubtless have escaped to do yet further harm, had not three cock-sparrows overtaken him just before he crossed the bridge.
From three sides they hemmed him in, crying, “Which of us told you?” “Which of us told you?” “Which of us told you?”—and pecked him to pieces before he could transform himself again.
After which peace and prosperity befell all the neighbourhood.
KNAVE AND FOOL.
A Fool and a Knave once set up house together; which shows what a fool the Fool was.
The Knave was delighted with the agreement; and the Fool thought himself most fortunate to have met with a companion who would supply his lack of mother-wit.
As neither of them liked work, the Knave proposed that they should live upon their joint savings as long as these should last; and, to avoid disputes, that they should use the Fool’s share till it came to an end, and then begin upon the Knave’s stocking.
So, for a short time, they lived in great comfort at the Fool’s expense, and were very good company; for easy times make easy tempers.
Just when the store was exhausted, the Knave came running to the Fool with an empty bag and a wry face, crying, “Dear friend, what shall we do? This bag, which I had safely buried under a gooseberry-bush, has been taken up by some thief, and all my money stolen. My savings were twice as large as yours; but now that they are gone, and I can no longer perform my share of the bargain, I fear our partnership must be dissolved.”