king even more afraid. He saw traitors everywhere, and
"Old owl!" said the Captain of the Watch: "Be careful what you say! If you saw the rat, why did you then not aid this unhappy citizen who was bitten by it--first, to avoid that rodent, and subsequently to slay it, thereby relieving the public of a pestilential danger?"
Cethru looked at him, and for some seconds did not reply; then he said slowly: "I were just passin' with my lanthorn."
"That you have already told us," said the Captain of the Watch; "it is no answer."
Cethru's leathern cheeks became wine-coloured, so desirous was he to speak, and so unable. And the Watch sneered and laughed, saying:
"What would I be duin'--killin' rats; tidden my business to kill rats."
The Captain of the Watch caressed his beard, and looking at the old man with contempt, said:
"It seems to me, brothers, that this is an idle old vagabond, who does no good to any one. We should be well advised, I think, to prosecute him for vagrancy. But that is not at this moment the matter in hand. Owing to the accident--scarcely fortunate--of this old man's passing with his lanthorn, it would certainly appear that citizens have been bitten by rodents. It is then, I fear, our duty to institute proceedings against those poisonous and violent animals."
And amidst the sighing of the Watch, it was so resolved.