The Brave Little Man

Once there lived a little man named Spiro. Although he was tiny, he was also very clever and fearless, and one day he decided it was time to see the world.

As night fell, Spiro found himself in a thick wood and, deciding it was too dark to see where he was going, he lay down on the ground to sleep.

He slept deeply, and as he slept, he snored, making a curious sound like a giant mosquito.

It so happened that a great lord was also passing through the wood on a hunting trip. He happened to pause near Spiro, and hearing the strange noise, he looked around to see where it was coming from. To his amazement, there, at his feet, was the most petite man he had ever seen.

The Lord bellowed laughter, but Spiro, a deep sleeper, slept on. “What are you doing here, little frog?” the Lord called out. “Why are you in the middle of the wood at night? Aren’t you afraid?”

Spiro, however, answered not a word. He just slept on it. Then the Lord called his followers over and pointed to the little man asleep at his feet.

“Take your guns and give him a good salute. That should wake him,” he said.

The men were amused, and they lifted their guns and fired altogether. At the noise, the little finger on Spiro’s left hand began to twitch, but the little man remained fast asleep.

The huntsmen fired their guns a second time, and this time Spiro’s right foot moved, but still, he did not wake.

“Fire again,” ordered the Lord and this time, Spiro jumped violently, leapt to his feet and bellowed at the top of his voice, “Do you wish me to give you a box on the ears, wretched man?”

The Lord looked down at the furious Spiro and was amused at such a little man with great courage that he began to roar with laughter. He laughed and laughed.

At last, he said, “Tell me, little man, with what grasshopper do you intend to fight?”

“Do not talk to me of grasshoppers,” bellowed Spiro. “Find me, rather, a bear. If I vanquish him, all well and good. You can have me for a son-in-law”.

The Lord laughed even more at this. “Done,” he roared. “Defeat a bear, and you shall marry my daughter.”

When dawn rose, Spiro awoke to see a giant black bear coming through the trees towards him. When it saw the huntsmen, however, the bear turned and fled.

Spiro filled his pockets with small stones and followed the bear. At last, he found it asleep near a hay loft. From the shelter of a bush, Spiro threw a rock at it, and the bear woke up. Spiro threw a second stone, and the bear began to growl. Spiro threw another stone, and the bear rose onto its hind legs in a terrible fury and stretched out its paws to seize Spiro.

The little man ran for his life into the hay loft, but he hurled himself down just on the threshold and the bear, which was chasing him, leapt right over him and landed inside. Without wasting any time, Spiro ran outside and slammed the door shut so that the bear was trapped inside.

Then Spiro returned to the Lord and told him the bear was a prisoner in the hay loft.

“How did you do it?” asked the Lord, amazed.

“Never you mind,” retorted Spiro. “But I will tell you that I received no injury at all. I took him by the ear and hurled him to the ground.”

The Lord, however, refused to marry Spiro to his daughter until he defeated a band of brigands living in the wood, so Spiro, his pockets filled with small stones, set out once again.

He climbed a tree by the brigands’ hide-out, and at midnight they all returned and sat down to eat and drink. Then the brigand leader took off his hat. “Fleas are making my head itch. Drive them away,” he said to one of his men.

At this, Spiro let a stone fall on his head and then another and another until the brigand chief jumped to his feet and gave his companion a mighty box on the ears.

The man fell over backwards. “I did nothing,” he cried, but the brigand leader continued to beat him, and at last, the robber called to all the others for help. There was soon a great battle taking place, and it ended only when all the brigands lay dead or wounded on the ground.

Spiro climbed down from the tree and went to tell the Lord that all the brigands were defeated. The Lord, amazed, wanted to know how he had done it, but Spiro replied, “That is none of your business, but I will say that I suffered no injury. I hurled one to the ground and gave another a box on the ears until they were all defeated. There was nothing to it.”

However, the Lord still refused to keep his promise. “You may marry my daughter only if you drive away the soldiers invading my land,” he said.

Spiro asked for a suit of pure white and a white horse, which the Lord gave him. Spiro jumped on the horse and rode like the wind, all alone, towards the enemy soldiers.

When the soldiers saw him, coming towards them, a tiny figure in pure white, riding a snowy white horse, they thought he was a ghost or a magic spirit, and they began to feel afraid. Spiro never slackened his pace as he neared them, and they were sure he was a bad omen. They turned and fled as fast as their legs could carry them.

Spiro just stood grinning as the soldiers scampered in confusion towards the safety of the hills. Even when they were no more than silhouettes, far in the distance, their cries for help could still be heard.

First, Spiro had conquered the enormous black bear, then outwitted the robbers, and now he had fooled an entire enemy army.

Spiro turned his horse around to tell the Lord that the enemy army was defeated. The Lord was amazed, but he was pleased too. Now there was nothing he could do but give his daughter to Spiro in marriage, and they lived happily together for many years.

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