and refrained from interfering. The old fellow did not move a finger to defend himself; he only looked at his tormentors with furious eyes each time they prodded him, and jerked his head to escape when the straws were already in his ears. I got more and more irritated at this sight, and could not keep my eyes away from it. The father looked up from his cards, and laughed at the youngsters; he also drew the attention of his comrades at play to what was going on. Why didn't the old fellow move? Why didn't he fling the children aside with his arms? I took a stride, and approached the bed.
"Let them alone! let them alone! he is paralysed," called the landlord.
And out of fear to be shown the door for the night, simply out of fear of rousing the man's displeasure by interfering with this scene, I stepped back silently to my old place and kept myself quiet. Why should I risk my lodging and my portion of bread and butter by poking my nose into the family squabbles? No idiotic pranks for the sake of a half-dying old man, and I stood and felt as delightfully hard as a flint.
The little urchins did not cease their