The tailor was right—they did fit—and in an hour afterwards Hans was on his way to the fete. When he arrived there many of his old friends stood agape for a few moments: but as stranger things had occurred in Germany than a man growing two feet in one night, they soon ceased to notice the alteration in Hans’ appearance. Agnes was evidently struck with the improvement of the barber’s figure, and for two whole hours did he enjoy the extreme felicity of making half-a-dozen other young gentlemen miserable, by monopolising the arm and conversation of the beauty of Stocksbawler. But pleasure, like fine weather, lasts not for ever; and, as Hans and Agnes turned the corner of a path, his eye again encountered the stranger. Whether it was from fear or dislike he knew not, but his heart seemed to sink, and so did his body; for to his utter dismay, he found that he had shrunk to his original proportions, and that the garment of the giant hung about him in anything but graceful festoons. He felt that he was a human telescope, that some infernal power could elongate or shut up at pleasure.
The whole band of jealous rivals set up the “Laughing Chorus,” and Agnes, in the extremity of her disgust, turned up her nose till she nearly fractured its bridge, whilst Hans rushed from the scene of his disgrace, and never stopped running until he opened the door of his little shop, threw himself into a chair, and laid his head down upon an old “family Bible” which chanced to be upon the table. In this position he continued for some time, when, on raising his head, he found his tormentor and the two ladies, grouped like the Graces, in the centre of the apartment.
“Well, Scrapshins,” said the gentleman, “I have called for my teeth. You see I have kept my promise.” Hans sighed deeply, and the ladies giggled.
“Nay, man, never look so glum! Here, take the flask—forget Agnes, and console yourself with the love of”—
The conclusion of this harangue must for ever remain a mystery; for Hans, at this moment, took up the family volume which had served him for a pillow, and dashed it at the heads of the trio. A scream, so loud that it broke the tympanum of his left ear, seemed to issue from them simultaneously—a thick vapour filled the room, which gradually cleared off, and left no traces of Hans’ visitors but three small sticks of stone brimstone. The truth flashed upon the barber—his visitor was the far-famed Mephistopheles. Hans packed up his remaining wardrobe, razor, strop, soap-dish, scissors and combs, and turned his back upon Stocksbawler forever. Four years passed away, and Hans was again a thriving man, and Agnes Flirtitz the wife of the doctor of Stocksbawler. Another year passed on, and Hans was both a husband and a father; but the coquette who had nearly been his ruin had eloped with the chasseur of a travelling nobleman.
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