was all my imagination. Let us set to work again.'
And taking up the axe he struck a tremendous blow on the piece of wood.
'Oh! oh! you have hurt me!' cried the same little voice dolefully.
This time Master Cherry was petrified. His eyes started out of his head with fright, his mouth remained open, and his tongue hung out almost to the end of his chin, like a mask on a fountain. As soon as he had recovered the use of his speech, he began to say, stuttering and trembling with fear:
'But where on earth can that little voice have come from that said Oh! oh!? . . . Here there is certainly not a living soul. Is it possible that this piece of wood can have learnt to cry and to lament like a child? I cannot believe it. This piece of wood, here it is; a log for fuel like all the others, and thrown on the fire it would about suffice to boil a saucepan of beans. . . . How then? Can any one be hidden inside it? If any one is hidden inside, so much the worse for him. I will settle him at once.'
So saying, he seized the poor piece of wood and commenced beating it without mercy against the walls of the room.
Then he stopped to listen if he could hear any little voice lamenting. He waited two minutes—nothing; five minutes—nothing; ten minutes—still nothing!