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By That Place Called Peradventure
by [?]

“Why did you do it, devil’s madcap?” he asked.

“Why didn’t you wait for the hundred men so strong?” she laughed.

“Why did you jump behind the tree?

“‘If I had a hundred men, heigho,
I would buy my corn for a penny a gill.
If I had a hundred men or so,
I would dig a grave for the maid of the hill, heigho!'”

He did not answer her, but stirred the soup in the pot and tasted it, and hung a great piece of meat over the fire. Then he sat down, and only once did he show anger as she mocked him, and that was when she thrust her hand into his breast, took out the little stone image, and said:

“If a little stone god had a hundred hearts,
Would a little stone goddess trust in one?”

Then she made as if she would throw it into the fire, but he caught her hand and crushed it, so that she cried out for pain and anger, and said:

“Brute of iron, go break the posts in the brigands’ prison-house, but leave a poor girl’s wrist alone. If I had a hundred men–” she added, mocking wildly again, and then, springing at him, put her two thumbs at the corners of his eyes, and cried: “Stir a hand, and out they will come–your eyes for my bones!”

He did not stir till her fury was gone. Then he made her sit down and eat with him, and afterwards she said softly to him, and without a laugh: “Why should the people say, ‘Golgothar is our shame, for he has great strength, and yet he does nothing but throw great stones for sport into the sea’?”

He had the simple mind of a child, and he listened to her patiently, and at last got up and began preparing for a journey, cleaning all his weapons, and gathering them together. She understood him, and she said, with a little laugh like music: “One strong man is better than a hundred–a little key will open a great door easier than a hundred hammers. What is the strength of a hundred bullocks without this?” she added, tapping him on the forehead.

Then they sat down and talked together quietly for a long time; and at sunset she saw him start away upon great errands.

Before two years had gone, Nooni, the city of their foes, was taken; the chain wall of the rebels opened to the fish and corn of the poor; the children wandered in the forest without fear of wild boars; the dyke was built to save the people in the lowlands; and Golgothar carried to the castle the King had given him the daughter of the city, freed from Mirnan.

“If Golgothar had a hundred wives–” said a voice to the strong man as he entered the castle gates. Looking up he saw Sapphire. He stretched out his hand to her in joy and friendship.

“–I would not be one of them,” she added, with a mocking laugh, as she dropped from the wall, leaped the moat by the help of her staff, and danced away laughing. There are those who say, however that tears fell down her cheeks as she laughed.