Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/23

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11
GREAT CLAUS AND LITTLE CLAUS

that he could never bear to see a clerk. If a clerk appeared before his eyes he became quite wild. And that was the reason why the clerk had gone to the wife to wish her good day, because he knew that her husband was not at home; and the good woman therefore put the best fare she had before him. But when they heard the man coming they were frightened, and the woman begged the clerk to creep into a great empty chest which stood in the corner; and he did so, for he knew the husband could not bear the sight of a clerk. The woman quickly hid all the excellent meat and wine in her baking-oven; for if the man had seen that, he would have been certain to ask what it meant.

'Oh, dear!' sighed Little Claus, up in his shed, when he saw all the good fare put away.

'Is there any one up there?' asked the farmer; and he looked up at Little Claus. 'Why are you lying there? Better come with me into the room.'

And Little Claus told him how he had lost his way, and asked leave to stay there for the night.

'Yes, certainly,' said the peasant, 'but first we must have something to live on.'

The woman received them both in a very friendly way, spread the cloth on a long table, and gave them a great dish of porridge. The farmer was hungry, and ate with a good appetite; but Little Claus could not help thinking of the capital roast meat, fish, and cake, which he knew were in the oven. Under the table, at his feet, he had laid the sack with the horse's hide in it; for we know that he had come out to sell it in the town. He could not relish the porridge, so he trod upon the sack, and the dry skin inside crackled quite loudly.

'Hush,' said Little Claus to his sack; but at the same time he trod on it again, so that it crackled much louder than before.

'Why, what have you in your sack?' asked the farmer.

'Oh, that's a magician,' answered Little Claus. 'He says we are not to eat porridge, for he has conjured the oven full of roast meat, fish, and cake.'

'Wonderful!' cried the farmer; and he opened the oven in a hurry, and found all the dainty provisions which