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thine. Wilt ride? Wilt take the wee donkey that’s for my boy, or wilt thou fork
thy holy legs over this ill-conditioned slave of a mule that I have provided for
myself?- and had been cheated in, too, had he cost but the indifferent sum of a
month’s usury on a brass farthing let to a tinker out of work.’ ‘No-ride thy mule,
and lead thine ass; I am surer on mine own feet, and will walk.’ ‘Then, prithee,
mind the little beast for me while I take my life in my hands and make what
success I may toward mounting the big one.’ Then followed a confusion of kicks,
cuffs, tramplings and plungings, accompanied by a thunderous intermingling of
volleyed curses, and finally a bitter apostrophe to the mule, which must have
broken its spirit, for hostilities seemed to cease from that moment.
With unutterable misery the fettered little king heard the voices and footsteps
fade away and die out. All hope forsook him now for the moment, and a dull
despair settled down upon his heart. ‘My only friend is deceived and got rid of,’
he said; ‘the hermit will return and-’ He finished with a gasp; and at once fell to
struggling so frantically with his bonds again, that he shook off the smothering
And now he heard the door open! The sound chilled him to the marrow-already
he seemed to feel the knife at his throat. Horror made him close his eyes; horror
made him open them again-and before him stood John Canty and Hugo!
He would have said ‘Thank God!’ if his jaws had been free.
A moment or two later his limbs were at liberty, and his captors, each gripping
him by an arm, were hurrying him with all speed through the forest.