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Little Muck
by [?]

IN Nicaeea, my dearly-loved native city, lived a man who was called Little Muck, I can recall him distinctly, although I was quite young at the time, chiefly because of a severe chastisement I received from my father on his account. This Little Muck was already an old man when I knew him, and yet he was not more than four feet in height. His figure presented a singular appearance, as his body, small and childlike, seemed but a slender support for a head much larger than the heads of ordinary people. He lived all alone in a large house, and cooked his own meals, and had it not been for the smoke that rose from his kitchen chimney at midday, the townspeople would have remained in doubt as to whether he still lived; for he went out but once a month. He was, however, occasionally seen walking on the house-top, and to one looking up from the street there was presented the singular sight of a head moving to and fro. My companions and myself were rather bad boys, who took delight in teasing and making sport of everybody; so it was always a great holiday for us whenever Little Muck went out. We gathered before his house on the appointed day, and waited; and when now the door opened, and the large head, wrapped in a still larger turban, peeped out, followed by the rest of his little body, done up in a threadbare cloak, baggy breeches, and a wide sash, from which hung a dagger so long that it could not be told whether Muck stuck on the dagger or the dagger on Muck–when he thus made his appearance, the air echoed with our shouts; we threw up our caps, and danced around him like mad. Little Muck, however, returned our salute with a grave nod of the head, and shuffled slowly down the street in such great, wide slippers as I had never seen before. We boys ran behind him, shouting: “Little Muck! Little Muck!” We also had a jolly little verse that we now and then sang in his honor, which ran as follows:

Little Muck, little Muck,
Living in a house so fair,
Once a month you take the air,
You, brave little dwarf, ’tis said,
Have a mountain for a head;
Turn around just once and look;
Run and catch us, little Muck!

Thus had we often entertained ourselves, and, to my shame be it confessed, I behaved the worst–often catching him by the cloak, and once I trod on the heel of his slipper so that he fell down. This struck me as a very funny thing, but the laugh stuck in my throat as I saw him go to my father’s house. He went right in and remained there for some time. I hid myself near the front door, and saw Little Muck come out again, accompanied by my father, who held his hand and parted from him on the door-step with many bows. Not feeling very easy in my mind, I remained for a long time in my hiding place; but I was at last driven out by hunger, which I feared worse than a whipping, and, spiritless and with bowed head, I went home to my father. “I hear that you have been insulting the good Little Muck,” said he, in a grave tone. “I will tell you the story of Little Muck, and you will certainly not want to laugh at him again; but before I begin, and after I am through, you will receive ‘ the customary.'” Now “the customary” consisted of twenty-five blows, which he was accustomed to lay on without making any mistake in the count. He took for this purpose the long stem of a cherry pipe, unscrewing the amber mouth-piece, and belaboring me harder than ever before. When the five-and-twenty strokes were completed, he commanded me to pay attention, and told me the story of Little Muck.