chapter  17
10 Pages

Nine

The king kept pondering what he could do to get rid of Nine. One day he summoned him and said: “Look, Nine, I want to have a well dug at the edge of the forest. I have hired the master workmen and you’ll go with them. When you finish digging and reach the

spring, you’ll line the well with stones. But I say to you, you must watch over the workmen, be with them at all times, for you are the smartest among them. You should be the one to begin paving the well and laying the foundations.”Nine said: “All right, Your Majesty, it will be done as you wish.”They dug the well and came upon the spring. Water was flowing in abundance. Nine asked: “Who among us will put in the foundation?”The others said: “Nine, you are the strongest. You better go down!”“I am not afraid,” he said. “I’ll go.”But they had agreed with the king that when Nine reached the bottom, they would drop a ten-ton rock on him, to kill him.Well, Nine went into the well and they pushed the ten-ton rock down, thinking it would hit his head and he would die. But he noticed the whooshing sound of the falling rock. He looked up, saw the rock, caught it with one hand and hurled it out of the well. The workmen got so frightened that they nearly died. They feared that he would come up and kill them. But he didn’t say a word. They worked until evening, finished the well and went home. The king called one of the master workmen to the side: “Why didn’t you do as you were told?”“We did, but he threw the rock back out with such force that it whizzed far past our heads.”Then the king got even more alarmed. If Nine was so strong, and he were to slap him in the face twice when the year was up, he would die on the spot.He summoned his advisers and began consulting with them about the best way to lose Nine.The advisers told him: “King, we found the solution. Write a letter to the town magistrate and tell him that you are sending him the most notorious robber. You are handing him over and he’ll know the rest, he’ll know what to do.”So the king said to Nine: “Look, son, I am sending you to town hall to see the magistrate.”“All right, Your Majesty, but I’d like to know what for?”“You see, son, the magistrate owes me a large sum of money,” he said. “He knows how much, and I’ll also tell him in my letter. You give him my message-that I need that money and would he please return it. You’ll have to tell him verbally!” Then the king put the letter in an envelope:“No one must open this, son. Hand it to the magistrate in person!”The king thought that if Nine read the letter, he would know that he was being turned in.