THE DWARF'S FEAST
THERE appeared in the night to one of the Counts von Hoya, an extremely small little man. The count was utterly amazed at him, but he bid him not to be frightened; said he had a request to make of him, and entreated that he might not be refused. The count gave a willing assent, qualified with the provision, that the thing requested should be a matter which lay in his power, and would not be injurious to him or his. The little man then said, "There will come tomorrow night some people to thy house, and make a feast, if thou will lend, them thy kitchen, and hall for as long as they want them, and order thy servants to go to sleep, and no one to look at what they are doing or are about; and also let no one know of it but thyself; only do this and we shall be grateful to thee for thy courtesy: thou and thy family will be the better of it; nor will it be in any way hurtful to thee or thine." The count readily gave his consent, and on the following night there came, as if they were a travelling party, over the bridge into the house a great crowd of little people, exactly such as the Hill-mannikins are described to be. They cooked, cut up wood, and laid out the dishes in the kitchen, and had every appearance of being about preparing a great entertainment.
When it drew near the morning, and they were about to take their departure, the little man came again up to the count, and with many thanks, presented him a sword, a salamander-cloth, and a golden ring, in which there was inserted a red-lion, with directions for himself and his descendants to keep these three articles safe; and so long as they kept them together all would be at unity and well in the county, but as soon as they were separated from each other it would be a token that there was evil coming on the county: the red lion too would always become pale when one of the family was to die.
They were long preserved in the family; but in the time when count Jobst and his brothers were in their minority, and Francis von Halle was governor of the land, two of the articles, the sword and the salamander-cloth, were taken away, but the ring remained with the family until they became extinct. What has become of it since is unknown. [a]
[a] Related by Hammelmanm in the Oldenburg Chronicle, by Praetorius Bräuner, and others.