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The Two Hunchbacked Brothers1
After treating him ill for a long time, she at last sent him away from the house altogether.
The poor little hunchback wandered away without knowing where to go.
On, on, on he went, till at last he came to a lonely hut on a wide moor. At his approach a whole host of little hunchbacks came out and danced round him, chanting plaintively—
a great number of times. At last our little hunchback felt his courage stirred, and, taking up the note of their chant, chimed in with—
Instantly the dancing ceased, all the little hunchback dwarfs became full-grown, well-formed men, and, what was better still, his own hump was gone too, and he felt that he, too, was a well-grown lad.
'Grood people,' said our hunchback now hunchbacked—no more—'I thank you much for ridding me of my hump and making me a well-grown lad. Give me now some work to do among you, and let me live with you.'
But the chief of the strange people answered him and said: 'This favour we owe to you, not you to us; for it was your chiming in with the right word on the right note which destroyed the spell that held us all. And in testimony of our gratitude we give you further this little wand, and you will not need to work with us. Go back and live at home, and if ever anyone beats you as heretofore, you have only to say to it, "At 'em, good stick!"2 and you will see what it will do for you.'
Then all disappeared, and the boy went home.
'So you've come back, have you?' said the stepmother. 'What, and without your hump, too! Where have you left that?'
Then the good boy told her all that had happened, without hiding anything.
'Do you hear that?' said the stepmother to her own son. 'Now go you and get rid of your hump in the same way.'
So the second hunchback went forth, and journeyed on till he came to the lonely hut on the moor.
A tribe of hunchbacks came out and danced round him, and sung—
to which the bad son of the stepmother added in his rough voice, all out of tune—
Immediately all the hunchbacks came round him and gave him a drubbing, and the chief of them stuck on him a hump in front as well as behind.
Thus they sent him home to his mother.
When his mother saw him come home in this plight, she turned upon the stepson and abused him for having misled her son to injure him; and both mother and son set upon him and belaboured him after their wont. But he had only told the truth, without intention to deceive; and the stepmother's son had incurred the anger of the dwarfs by his discordant addition to their chant. So the first hero took out his wand and said, 'At' em, good stick!' and the wand flew out of his hand and administered on mother and son a sounder drubbing than that they had themselves been administering. Ever after that he was able to live at home in peace, for everyone was afraid to injure him because of the power of his stick.
1 'I due Fratelli Gobbi.'
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