After he had waited there some time, he sold the sack of flour for a very good price, and then he returned home at once, for he was afraid that if he stopped too late he might meet some robbers on the way.
“‘It has certainly been a hard day,’ said little Hans to himself as he was going to bed, ‘but I am glad I did not refuse the Miller, for he is my best friend, and, besides, he is going to give me his wheelbarrow.’
“Early the next morning the Miller came down to get the money for his sack of flour, but little Hans was so tired that he was still in bed.
“‘Upon my word,’ said the Miller, ‘you are very lazy. Really, considering that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow, I think you might work harder. Idleness is a great sin, and I certainly don’t like any of my friends to be idle or sluggish. You must not mind my speaking quite plainly to you. Of course I should not dream of doing so if I were not your friend. But what is the good of friendship if one cannot say exactly what one means? Anybody can say charming things and try to please and to flatter, but a true friend always says unpleasant things, and does not mind giving pain. Indeed, if he is a really true friend he prefers it, for he knows that then he is doing good.’
“‘I am very sorry,’ said little Hans, rubbing his eyes and pulling off his night-cap, ‘but I was so tired that I thought I would lie in bed for a little time, and listen to the birds singing. Do you know that I always work better after hearing the birds sing?’
“‘Well, I am glad of that,’ said the Miller, clapping little Hans on the back, ‘for I want you to come up to the mill as soon as you are dressed, and mend my barn-roof for me.’
“Poor little Hans was very anxious to go and work in his garden, for his flowers had not been watered for two days, but he did not like to refuse the Miller, as he was such a good friend to him.
“‘Do you think it would be unfriendly of me if I said I was busy?’ he inquired in a shy and timid voice.
“‘Well, really,’ answered the Miller, ‘I do not think it is much to ask of you, considering that I am going to give you my wheelbarrow; but of course if you refuse I will go and do it myself.’
“‘Oh! on no account,’ cried little Hans and he jumped out of bed, and dressed himself, and went up to the barn.
“He worked there all day long, till sunset, and at sunset the Miller came to see how he was getting on.
“‘Have you mended the hole in the roof yet, little Hans?’ cried the Miller in a cheery voice.
“‘It is quite mended,’ answered little Hans, coming down the ladder.
“‘Ah’! said the Miller, ‘there is no work so delightful as the work one does for others.’
“‘It is certainly a great privilege to hear you talk,’ answered little Hans, sitting down, and wiping his forehead, ‘a very great privilege. But I am afraid I shall never have such beautiful ideas as you have.’
“‘Oh! they will come to you,’ said the Miller, ‘but you must take more pains. At present you have only the practice of friendship; some day you will have the theory also.’
“‘Do you really think I shall?’ asked little Hans.
“‘I have no doubt of it,’ answered the Miller, ‘but now that you have mended the roof, you had better go home and rest, for I want you to drive my sheep to the mountain to-morrow.’
“Poor little Hans was afraid to say anything to this, and early the next morning the Miller brought his sheep round to the cottage, and Hans started off with them to the mountain.