BOOK OF STORIES
FOR THE STORY-TELLER
FANNY E. COE
GEORGE G. HARRAP & CO. LTD.
LONDON CALCUTTA SYDNEY
First published March 1914
by GEORGE G. HARRAP & COMPANY
39-41 Parker Street, Kingsway, London, W. C.
* * * * *
There is no need here to enter a plea for story-telling. Its value in the home and in the school is assured. Miss Bryant, in her charming book, How to Tell Stories to Children, says, "Perhaps never, since the really old days, has story-telling so nearly reached a recognized level of dignity as a legitimate and general art of entertainment as now." And, in the guise of entertainment, the story is often the vehicle conveying to the child the wholesome moral lesson or the bit of desirable knowledge so necessary to his well-being at the time. Thus it has come to be recognized that the ability to tell a story well is an important part of the equipment of the parent or the teacher of little children.
The parent is often at a loss for fresh material. Sometimes he "makes up" a story, with but poor satisfaction to himself or his child. The teacher's difficulty is quite otherwise. She knows of many good stories, but these same stories are scattered through many books, and the practical difficulty of finding time in her already overcrowded days for frequent trips to the library is well-nigh insurmountable. The quest is indefinitely postponed, with the result that the stories are either crowded out altogether, or that the teacher repeats the few tales she has at hand month after month, and year after year, until all freshness and inspiration are gone from the story time.
The stories in the present collection are drawn from many nations and from widely differing sources. Folk tales, modern fairy tales, and myths have a generous showing; and there is added a new field as a source for stories. This is Real Life, in which children soon begin to take decided interest. Under this heading appear tales of child life, of child heroes, of adult heroes, and of animals.
Mr Herbert L. Willett, of the University of Chicago, has said: "It is not through formal instruction that a child receives his impulses toward virtue, honour and courtesy. It is rather from such appeal to the emotions as can be made most effectually through the telling of a story. The inculcation of a duty leaves him passionless and unmoved. The narrative of an experience in which that same virtue finds concrete embodiment fires him with the desire to try the same conduct for himself. Few children fail to make the immediate connection between the hero or heroine of the story and themselves."
Because of this great principle of imitation, a large number of the stories in this little volume have been chosen for their moral value. They present the virtues of persistence, faithfulness, truthfulness, honesty, generosity, loyalty to one's word, tender care of animals, and love of friends and family. Some themes are emphasized more than once. "Hans the Shepherd Boy," "The Story of Li'l' Hannibal," and "Dust under the Rug," teach wholesome facts in regard to work. "The Feast of Lanterns" and "The Pot of Gold" emphasize the truth that
East or west, Hame's best.
Filial devotion shines from the stories of "Anders' New Cap," "How the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind went out to Dinner," and "The Wolf-Mother of Saint-Ailbe."
The form of each story is such that the parent or teacher can tell or read the story, as it appears in the book, with only such slight modification as his intimate knowledge of the individual child or class would naturally prompt him to make.
The compiler wishes especially to express her appreciation for many helpful suggestions as to material received from Mrs Mary W. Cronan, teller of stories at various branches of the Boston Public Library.
* * * * *
FOLK TALES PAGE
THE FOX AND THE WOLF 11
THE FOX AND THE CAT R. Nesbit Bain 16
THE HOBYAHS Carolyn Sherwin Bailey 19
HOW THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE WIND WENT OUT TO DINNER Fanny E. Coe 23
A LEGEND OF THE NORTH WIND Mary Catherine Judd 26
HOW THE ROBIN'S BREAST BECAME RED Flora J. Cooke 30
HOW THE ROBIN CAME 32
THE STORY OF THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER 35
THE LITTLE RABBITS Joel Chandler Harris 38
"HEYO, HOUSE" Joel Chandler Harris 44
From the French of Frederic Ortoli
Translated by Joel Chandler Harris 49
ST CHRISTOPHER 63
WONDERING JACK James Baldwin 68
THE FEAST OF LANTERNS
From W. T. Stead's "Books for the Bairns" 81
MODERN FAIRY TALES
PRINCE HARWEDA AND THE MAGIC PRISON Elizabeth Harrison 93
THE HOP-ABOUT MAN Agnes Grozier Herbertson 107
THE STREET MUSICIANS Lida McMurry 118
THE STRAW OX R. Nesbit Bain 124
THE NECKLACE OF TRUTH Jean Mace 131
ANDERS' NEW CAP Anna Wohlenberg 136
DUST UNDER THE RUG Maud Lindsay 142
A NIGHT WITH SANTA CLAUS Annie R. Annan 149
THE STORY OF LI'L' HANNIBAL Carolyn Sherwin Bailey 157
HOW WRY-FACE PLAYED A TRICK ON ONE-EYE, THE POTATO-WIFE Agnes Grozier Herbertson 164
THE POT OF GOLD Horace E. Scudder 176
THE FROG-TSAREVNA R. Nesbit Bain 188
OEYVIND AND MARIT Bjoerne Bjoerneson 197
THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES 207
RHOECUS Fanny E. Coe 214
KING SOLOMON AND THE ANTS Flora J. Cooke 217
THE STORY OF PEGASUS Fanny E. Coe 219
THE WOLF-MOTHER OF SAINT AILBE Abbie Farwell Brown 223
WHO WAS THE MIGHTIER? Fanny E. Coe 231
STORIES FROM REAL LIFE
HANS THE SHEPHERD BOY Ella Lyman Cabot 234
NATHAN AND THE BEAR M. A. L. Lane 236
THE MAN ON THE CHIMNEY Fanny E. Coe 241
POCAHONTAS E. A. and M. F. Blaisdell 244
THE DAY KIT AND KAT WENT FISHING Lucy Fitch Perkins 247
THE HONEST FARMER Ella Lyman Cabot 257
DAMON AND PYTHIAS Ella Lyman Cabot 259
LINCOLN'S UNVARYING KINDNESS Fanny E. Coe 261
HOW MOLLY SPENT HER SIXPENCE Eliza Orne White 265
HANS AND HIS DOG Maud Lindsay 275
* * * * *
The Fox and the Wolf
A Russian Fable
Once upon a time there was a fox so shrewd that, although he was neither so fleet of foot, nor so strong of limb, as many of his kindred, he nevertheless managed to feed as comfortably as any of them.
One winter's day, feeling rather hungry, he trotted out of his lair to take a look round. The neighbouring farmers guarded their hen-roosts so carefully from his depredations that a nice fat hen was out of the question, and the weather was too cold to tempt the rabbits out of their snug warren. Therefore Mr Fox set his wits to work and kept his eyes open for what might come along.
After a while, as he slunk along the bottom of a dry ditch, he descried in the distance an old man driving a cart. This was Truvor, the fisherman, who, since two or three days of December sunshine had melted the ice, had had a good catch of fish in the lake by the mountain-side.
"Aha!" said the fox to himself, "I should relish a dinner of fine, fresh trout. Truvor is far too selfish to share them with me, so I will have them all."
To achieve the purpose in view, he laid himself flat in the road over which the fisherman must pass and pretended to be dead. The fisherman beheld him with surprise when he drew near, and jumping from his seat poked his sleek sides with his whip. The fox did not move a muscle, and Truvor decided that he had been frozen to death by the cold of the preceding night.
"I will take him home to my wife," he remarked, as he flung the limp body into his cart. "His coat will make a very nice rug for our parlour, and she can use his brush to dust with."
The fox had much ado to refrain from laughing when he heard this and found himself amongst the fish. They smelt delicious, but he did not think it wise to eat them then, so he silently dropped them one by one into the road, and when the cart was empty, sprang out himself. Knowing nothing of what had been going on, the old man drove on until he reached his cottage.
"Come and see what I have brought you!" he called to his wife. You can imagine the good woman's disgust when she found the cart quite empty. Not only was she without the rug, but they would have no dinner.
Meanwhile, the fox was thoroughly enjoying himself. The fish that he could not eat he hid away under a heap of grasses that he might make use of them some other time. While engaged in this occupation a wolf came up.
"Won't you give me a taste, little brother?" he asked. "I have had no food for the last two days, and know not where to seek it."
"You have nothing to do but to go to the lake and dip your tail over the edge of the bank, or through a hole in the ice if the water has frozen over again, as I expect it has done from the nip in the air. If you say these words: 'Come, little fish and big fish. Come!' the finest fish will take hold of the bait, and when you feel them hanging on you will have only to whisk your tail out of the water."
The wolf was a dull and stupid fellow and, never doubting the fox, hied him off to the lake. Sure enough the water had once more frozen over, but, finding a hole, he thrust in his tail and rammed it through, and sat down to wait till the fish should come. The fox was delighted to find him still sitting there as he passed by, and looking at the sky above him murmured: "Sky, sky, keep clear! Water, water, freeze, freeze!"
"What are you saying?" inquired the wolf, without turning his head.
"Nothing at all," replied the fox. "I was only trying to help you." Then he went his way, and the wolf sat on all through the night.
When morning came he was cramped with cold, and tried to draw out his tail. Finding this impossible, since the water had frozen fast around it, he congratulated himself on having caught so many fish that their weight prevented him from lifting his tail. He was still pondering how to transfer them to the surface when some women came to fill their water jars.
"A wolf! a wolf!" they exclaimed excitedly. "Oh, come and kill it!"
Their cries soon brought their husbands to their sides, and all united in belabouring the wolf. With a great effort, however, he managed to free his tail, and ran off howling into the woods.
The fox, meantime, had profited by the absence of the householders to make a good meal, visiting the various larders, and feasting at will on the daintiest morsels he could find. Having eaten rather more than was good for him, he felt disinclined for much exercise, and determined to go in search of the wolf that he might induce him to carry him home.
His sense of hearing being unusually keen, even for a fox, he was soon guided to the wolf's retreat by his mournful howls.
"Look at my tail," cried the wretched animal, as the fox poked his nose through the bushes. "See what trouble you brought upon me with your advice! I am in such pain that I can scarcely keep still."
"Look at my head," returned the fox, who had carefully dipped it into a flour bin after greasing it with butter that it might have the appearance of having been skinned. The wolf was kind-hearted, though stupid, and his sympathy was at once aroused.
"Jump on my back, little brother," he said, "and I will carry you home."
This was exactly what the fox had been scheming for, and the words were hardly out ere he had taken a comfortable seat. As he rode home in this way he hummed to himself a sly little song to the effect that he who was hurt carried him who had no hurt. Arrived at the end of his journey, he scampered off without a word of thanks, and, as he made a hearty supper on the remaining fish, he chuckled at the remembrance of the trick he had played the stupid wolf.
The Fox and the Cat
R. NESBIT BAIN
In a certain forest there once lived a fox, and near to the fox lived a man who had a cat that had been a good mouser in its youth, but was now old and half blind.
[Footnote 1: From Cossack Fairy Tales (London: George G. Harrap and Company).]
The man didn't want Puss any longer, but not liking to kill it he took it out into the forest and lost it there. Then the fox came up and said: "Why, Mr Shaggy Matthew, how d'ye do? What brings you here?"
"Alas!" said Pussy, "my master loved me as long as I could bite, but now that I can bite no longer and have left off catching mice—and I used to catch them finely once—he doesn't like to kill me, but he has left me in the wood, where I must perish miserably."
"No, dear Pussy!" said the fox; "you leave it to me, and I'll help you to get your daily bread."
"You are very good, dear little sister foxey!" said the cat, and the fox built him a little shed with a garden round it to walk in.
Now one day the hare came to steal the man's cabbage. "Kreem-kreem-kreem!" he squeaked. But the cat popped his head out of the window, and when he saw the hare he put up his back and stuck up his tail and said: "Ft-t-t-t-t-Frrrrrrr!"
The hare was frightened and ran away, and told the bear, the wolf and the wild boar all about it.
"Never mind," said the bear. "I tell you what, we'll all four give a banquet, and invite the fox and the cat, and do for the pair of them. Now, look here! I'll steal the man's mead; and you, Mr Wolf, steal his fat-pot; and you, Mr Wildboar, root up his fruit-trees; and you, Mr Bunny, go and invite the fox and the cat to dinner."
So they made everything ready as the bear had said, and the hare ran off to invite the guests. He came beneath the window and said: "We invite your little ladyship Foxey-Woxey, together with Mr Shaggy Matthew, to dinner," and back he ran again.
"But you should have told them to bring their spoons with them," said the bear.
"Oh, what a head I've got!—if I didn't quite forget!" cried the hare, and back he went again, ran beneath the window and cried: "Mind you bring your spoons!"
"Very well," said the fox.
So the cat and the fox went to the banquet, and when the cat saw the bacon he put up his back and stuck out his tail, and cried: "Mee-oo, mee-oo!" with all his might. But they thought he said: "Ma-lo, ma-lo!"
[Footnote 2: "What a little! What a little!"]
"What!" said the bear, who was hiding behind the beeches with the other beasts, "here have we four been getting together all we could, and this pig-faced cat calls it too little! What a monstrous cat he must be to have such an appetite!"
So they were all four very frightened, and the bear ran up a tree, and the others hid where they could.
But when the cat saw the boar's bristles sticking out from behind the bushes he thought it was a mouse, and put up his back again and cried: "Ft! ft! ft! Frrrrrrr!" Then they were more frightened than ever. And the boar went into a bush still farther off, and the wolf went behind an oak, and the bear got down from the tree, and climbed up into a bigger one, and the hare ran right away.
But the cat remained in the midst of all the good things and ate away at the bacon, and the little fox gobbled up the honey, and they ate and ate till they couldn't eat any more, and then they both went home licking their paws.
CAROLYN SHERWIN BAILEY
Once upon a time there lived a little old man and a little old woman in a house all made of hemp stalks. And they had a little dog named Turpie who always barked when anyone came near the house.
One night when the little old man and the little old woman were fast asleep, creep, creep, through the woods came the Hobyahs, skipping along on the tips of their toes.
"Tear down the hemp stalks. Eat up the little old man, and carry away the little old woman," cried the Hobyahs.
Then little dog Turpie ran out, barking loudly, and he frightened the Hobyahs so that they ran away home again.
But the little old man woke from his dreams, and he said:
"Little dog Turpie barks so loudly that I can neither slumber nor sleep. In the morning I will take off his tail."
So when morning came, the little old man took off little Turpie's tail to cure him of barking.
The second night along came the Hobyahs, creep, creep, through the woods, skipping along on the tips of their toes, and they cried:
"Tear down the hemp stalks. Eat up the little old man, and carry away the little old woman."
Then the little dog Turpie ran out again, barking so loudly that he frightened the Hobyahs, and they ran away home again.
But the little old man tossed in his sleep, and he said:
"Little dog Turpie barks so loudly that I can neither slumber nor sleep. In the morning I will take off his legs."
So when morning came, the little old man took off Turpie's legs to cure him of barking.
The third night the Hobyahs came again, skipping along on the tips of their toes, and they called out:
"Tear down the hemp stalks. Eat up the little old man, and carry away the little old woman."
The little dog Turpie barked very loudly, and he frightened the Hobyahs so that they ran away home again.
But the little old man heard Turpie, and he sat up in bed, and he said:
"Little dog Turpie barks so loudly that I can neither slumber nor sleep. In the morning I will take off his head."
So when morning came, the little old man took off Turpie's head, and then Turpie could not bark any more.
That night the Hobyahs came again, skipping along on the tips of their toes, and they called out:
"Tear down the hemp stalks. Eat up the little old man, and carry off the little old woman."
Now, since little dog Turpie could not bark any more, there was no one to frighten the Hobyahs away. They tore down the hemp stalks, they took the little old woman away in their bag, but the little old man they could not get, for he hid himself away under the bed.
Then the Hobyahs hung the bag which held the little old woman up in their house, and they poked it with their fingers, and they cried:
"Look you! Look you!"
But when daylight came, they went to sleep, for Hobyahs, you know, sleep all day.
The little old man was very sorry when he found that the little old woman was gone. He knew then what a good little dog Turpie had been to guard the house at night, so he fetched Turpie's tail, and his legs, and his head, and gave them back to him again.
Then Turpie went sniffing and snuffing along to find the little old woman, and soon came to the Hobyahs' house. He heard the little old woman crying in the bag, and he saw that the Hobyahs were all fast asleep. So he went inside.
Then he cut open the bag with his sharp teeth, and the little old woman hopped out and ran home; but Turpie got inside the bag to hide. When night came, the Hobyahs woke up, and they went to the bag, and they poked it with their fingers, crying:
"Look you! Look you!"
But out of the bag jumped little dog Turpie, and he ate every one of the Hobyahs. And that is why there are not any Hobyahs now.
How the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind went out to Dinner
FANNY E. COE
Once upon a time the Sun, the Moon, and the Wind went to dine with their uncle and aunt, the Thunder and the Lightning. They said good-bye to their mother, the Evening Star, crossed the great dark arching sky, and came to the deep cave where live Thunder and Lightning.
[Footnote 3: A folk-story of India.]
Here a wonderful feast was spread, and all sat down to enjoy it.
Now the Sun and the Wind were very greedy. They bent their heads low over their plates and they ate and ate of every dish that was passed to them. They thought of nothing but themselves and the good food before them.
But the Moon remembered her mother at home. Of every delicious dish she saved a portion for the Star.
At last the evening was over and they returned to their home.
"Well, my children, what have you brought to me?" asked their mother, the Star.
"I have brought you nothing," said the Sun. "I was having a jolly evening with my friends, and, of course, I couldn't fetch a dinner to you!"
"Neither have I brought you anything, mother!" said the Wind. "How it would have looked to be taking double portions of every dish!"
Then the Moon stepped forward. "Bring a plate, mother, for see!" She opened her hands and showered down rich fruit and delicious cakes which she had saved for her mother.
Then the Star turned to the Sun and said: "Because you forgot your mother at home, in the midst of your selfish pleasures, this is your doom. You shall burn, and burn, and burn with great heat, and men shall hate you. They shall cover their heads when you appear and seek the spots where your heat cannot beat upon them."
And that is why the Sun is so hot even to-day.
Then the Star turned to the Wind and said: "Because you also forgot your mother at home, in the midst of your selfish pleasures, this is your doom. You shall blow, blow, blow the hot sand and dust before you until men shall hate you. They shall flee from your face to the cool hills and even to faraway lands where the trees and grass are not parched and shrivelled by your fiery breath."
And that is why the Wind in the hot weather is so disagreeable.
Then the Star turned to the Moon and said: "Because you thought of your mother, in the midst of your happiness, receive my blessing. Henceforth your light shall be so soft, so cool, and so silvery, that all men shall delight in you and your beams. They shall seek to have you smile with favour upon all their loves and all their plans. They shall call you blessed."
And that is why the light of the Moon is so cool, and so bright, and so beautiful to this very day.
A Legend of the North Wind
MARY CATHERINE JUDD
North wind likes a bit of fun as dearly as a boy does, and it is with boys he likes best to play.
One day, North Wind saw a brave little fellow eating his lunch under a tree. Just as he went to bite his bread, North Wind blew it out of his hand and swept away everything else that he had brought for his lunch.
"You hateful North Wind!" cried the little fellow. "Give me back my supper, I'm so hungry."
Now North Wind, like all brave beings, is noble, and so he tried to make up for the mischief he had done.
"Here, take this tablecloth," said North Wind, "and in whatever house you stay, spread it on the table; then wish, and you shall have everything you wish for to eat."
"Thank you!" said the boy, and he took the tablecloth and ran as fast as he could to the first house, which proved to be an inn.
"I have enough to pay for lodging, so I'll stay all night," he said to himself.
"Bring me a table," he ordered the innkeeper, as he went to his room.
"Ha! ha!" laughed the innkeeper. "You mean bring me a supper."
"No, I don't. I want only a table and that right quick. I'm hungry."
The innkeeper brought the table, but after the door was shut he watched through the keyhole to see what would happen.
"Beans, bread and bacon," ordered the boy, as he spread out his tablecloth. On came beans, bread and bacon through the open window, whirled in by North Wind. Smoking hot they all were, too, for the dishes were tightly covered. After supper was over, the boy fell sound asleep.
North Wind did not waken him as the innkeeper took the table and the tablecloth and carried them downstairs. Next morning the boy was hungry again, but there was no tablecloth and so no breakfast.
"You are a cheat, North Wind; you have taken back your tablecloth."
"No," said North Wind, "that is not the sort of thing I do." But the boy did not get his tablecloth.
After a time North Wind met him again out under the trees.
"This time I will give you a sheep," he said. "Each time that you rub his wool, out will drop a gold-piece. Take care of him."
The boy ran back and found the sheep at the door of the stable, behind the inn. He caught the sheep by a strap which was round its neck, and led it slowly up the stairs of the inn, to the room from which the tablecloth had disappeared the night before.
As the boy was hungry for his breakfast, he obeyed North Wind's command and patted the sheep upon its back. A gold-piece fell out of its fleece upon the floor.
"Good old North Wind!" said the boy. "Here's my breakfast and some hay for my sheep. Come breakfast, come hay," and through the open window came first a bundle of hay, and then a fine breakfast for the hungry boy. After breakfast, the boy paid for a week's lodging with the gold-piece.
He slept soundly that night with his sheep for a pillow, and the next night also, but the third morning, when the boy awoke, his head lay upon the floor and the sheep was gone.
Perhaps too many gold-pieces had been seen in the boy's hand, for he had patted his sheep very often.
He blamed North Wind again. "You have taken back your sheep. I don't like you. You are as cold-hearted as you can be."
But North Wind said nothing. He put a queer stick into a bag and gave it to the boy and told him to go back and lock his door as tightly as before.
"Talk to the bag," he said, "and guard it as carefully as if there were a jewel in it."
That night the boy was wakened out of his soundest sleep by screams for help in his room. There was the innkeeper running about, and that queer stick was pounding him, first on the head, then on the feet, then on his back, then in his face.
"Help! help!" he cried.
"Give me back my sheep," said the boy.
"Get it, it is hidden in the barn," said the innkeeper.
The boy went out and found his sheep in the barn and drove it away as fast as he could, but he forgot about the innkeeper, and maybe that stick is pounding him to this day.
How the Robin's Breast became Red
FLORA J. COOKE
Long ago in the far North, where it is very cold, there was only one fire. A hunter and his little son took care of this fire and kept it burning day and night. They knew that if the fire went out the people would freeze and the white bear would have the Northland all to himself. One day the hunter became ill, and his son had all the work to do.
For many days and nights he bravely took care of his father and kept the fire burning.
The white bear was always hiding near, watching the fire. He longed to put it out, but he did not dare, for he feared the hunter's arrows.
When he saw how tired and sleepy the little boy was, he came closer to the fire and laughed to himself.
One night the poor boy could endure the fatigue no longer and fell fast asleep.
The white bear ran as fast as he could and jumped upon the fire with his wet feet, and rolled upon it. At last he thought it was all out and went happily away to his cave.
A brown robin was flying near and saw what the white bear was doing.
She waited until the bear went away. Then she flew down and searched with her sharp little eyes until she found a tiny live coal. This she fanned patiently with her wings for a long time.
Her little breast was scorched red, but she did not stop until a fine red flame blazed up from the ashes.
Then she flew away to every hut in the Northland. Wherever she touched the ground, a fire began to burn. Soon, instead of one little fire, the whole North country was lighted up.
The white bear went farther back into his cave in the iceberg and growled terribly. He knew that there was now no hope that he would ever have the Northland all to himself.
This is the reason that the people in the North countries love the robin, and are never tired of telling their children how its breast became red.
How the Robin Came
Long ago, as you know, the Indians roved over the plains and through the forests of America. Their leaders were called chiefs. This story tells about an Indian chief and his son.
[Footnote 4: This story is based upon a legend of the Algonquin Indians. John Greenleaf Whittier has a poem with a similar title, written upon the same theme.]
The Indian chief was very strong and very brave. He could bear cold, hunger and pain without a word. He was a wonderful hunter and a fierce enemy. Nothing ever made him afraid.
He had one son, whom he loved with all his heart. He hoped that this son would grow up to be a warrior, greater than his father.
But the lad was slender and white-faced. He did not seem strong; long marches wearied him. When the Indian boys are about eighteen years of age, they like to show that they will make brave warriors. To do this they take certain tests. These are some of them. They go without food and water, five, seven, or even ten days. Again they go without sleep for ten days. They let their friends cut them with knives and never even cry out.
The time came when the son of the chief must take the test. He went away to the wigwam, or lodge, where the testing took place. His father hoped that he would act like a brave young man.
When some days had passed, the father went to see his son. Pale and weak, he lay on the ground. He had not eaten nor slept.
"Father," he whispered, "I cannot bear this. Let me go free."
"Ah no, my boy," said the chief. "They will call you woman, if you fail. It is but two days more. Then you shall have good meat and deep sleep. Think of the time when you will be a great chief, with a hundred scalps at your belt. Be strong."
But the lad only shook his head.
Two days later, the father rose with the sun. He heaped moose-meat and corn into a wooden bowl and set off to his son.
As he drew near the wigwam he called, "Here is food, my son."
There was no reply.
He entered, and there, on the ground before him, lay his boy, dead.
They dug his grave close by the lodge, and brought his bow, pipe, and knife to bury with him.
As they were placing the youth in his grave, they heard a strange, new song. They looked up and saw, on the top of the lodge, an unknown bird. It had a brown coat and a red breast. As they watched, it began to sing. Its song seemed to say:
"I was once the chief's son. But now I am a bird. I am happier than if I had lived to be a fierce warrior, with scalps at my belt. Now I shall make all glad with my song. I shall tell the little children when spring has come. Then they will search for pussy-willows and anemones. I am the robin, a little brother to man! Who so happy as I?"
Even the father's grief was comforted by the bright little messenger. "It is best after all," he said. "My son could not kill men nor beasts; he is happier as a singer, even as this little bird."
The Story of the Red-Headed Woodpecker
Long, long ago, there lived an old woman in a little cottage by the forest. She was not a poor old woman. She had plenty of wood to burn in winter, and plenty of meal to bake into bread all the year round. Her clothes were old-fashioned but warm. She always wore a grey dress and a little red cap.
[Footnote 5: This story is told in verse in Phoebe Cary's A Legend of the Northland].
Late one summer afternoon, the cottage door was open. The old woman stood by her fire, baking cakes for her evening meal. How good they smelled!
A tall old man who was passing by the cottage stopped a moment. Then he pushed open the garden gate and walked up the path to the door.
The old woman was bending low over the cakes, but she saw his shadow and looked up.
"Will you give me one of your cakes?" said the man.
The woman thought to herself, "Why did I leave the door open? The smell of these hot cakes will bring every beggar within miles to my house." Then she looked a second time at the man and saw that he was no beggar. He stood like a king in the doorway. His blue eyes were kind but very keen.
She looked at the six cakes that lay crisp and hot on the hearth. "Well, I will give him one," she thought, "but these are all too large."
She took a small handful of meal from the barrel and began to bake it into a cake. The man watched her from the door. As she turned the cake, it seemed to her too large to give away.
"I will bake a smaller one," she said to herself. She did not glance toward the stranger, but caught up a wee bit of meal and began to cook the second cake.
But that also looked too large to give away. She cooked a third cake that was no larger than a thimble. But when it was done, she shook her head, for it also was too large to give away. And still the old man waited patiently in the doorway, watching it all.
Then the old woman gathered up the cakes, large and small, and put them on a plate. The plate she set on the pantry shelf and then locked the door.
"I have no food for you," she said to the old man. "My cakes seem very small when I eat them, but they are far too large to give away. Ask bread at another door."
The old man's blue eyes flashed with fire as he drew himself up proudly.
"I have been round the world but never have I met a soul so small. You have shelter, food, and fire, but you will not share with another. This is your punishment. You shall seek your scanty food with pain. You shall bore, bore, bore in hard tree-trunks for your food."
The old man struck his staff on the floor. A strong gust of wind carried the old woman up the chimney. The flames scorched her grey clothes black; but her red cap was unharmed.
A woodpecker flew out of the chimney and away to the wood. Rap! rap! rap! you can hear her tapping her beak on the tree-trunks as she hunts for food. But always and everywhere, she wears a black coat and a little red cap. Watch for the woodpecker and see if it is not so.
The Little Rabbits
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
"Honey," said Uncle Remus to the little boy, "why don' you git some flesh on yo' bones? If I wuz ole Brer Wolf en you wuz a young rabbit, I wouldn't git hongry 'nuff fer ter eat you, caze you's too bony."
[Footnote 6: From Uncle Remus and his Friends.]
"Did Brother Wolf want to eat the young rabbit, Uncle Remus?" inquired the little boy.
"Ain't I done tole you 'bout dat, honey? Des run over in yo' min' en see ef I ain't."
The youngster shook his head.
"Well," said Uncle Remus, "ole Brer Wolf want ter eat de little Rabs all de time, but dey wuz one time in 'tickeler dat dey make his mouf water, en dat wuz de time when him en Brer Fox wuz visitin' at Brer Rabbit's house. De times wuz hard, but de little Rabs wuz slick and fat, en des ez frisky ez kittens. Ole Brer Rabbit wuz off som'ers, en Brer Wolf en Brer Fox wuz waitin' fer 'im. De little Rabs wuz playin' 'roun', en dough dey wuz little dey kep' der years open. Brer Wolf look at um out'n de cornder uv his eyes, en lick his chops en wink at Brer Fox, en Brer Fox wunk back at 'im. Brer Wolf cross his legs, en den Brer Fox cross his'n. De little Rabs, dey frisk en dey frolic.
"Brer Wolf ho'd his head to'rds um en 'low, 'Dey er mighty fat.'
"Brer Fox grin, en say, 'Man, hush yo' mouf!'
"De little Rabs frisk en dey frolic, en play furder off, but dey keep der years primed.
"Brer Wolf look at um en 'low, 'Ain't dey slick en purty?'
"Brer Fox chuckle, en say, 'Oh, I wish you'd hush!'
"De little Rabs play off furder en furder, but dey keep der years open.
"Brer Wolf smack his mouf, en 'low, 'Dey er joosy en tender.'
"Brer Fox roll his eye en say, 'Man, ain't you gwine ter hush up, 'fo' you gi' me de fidgets?'
"Der little Rabs dey frisk en dey frolic, but dey hear ev'ything dat pass.
"Brer Wolf lick out his tongue quick, en 'low, 'Less us whirl in en eat um.'
"Brer Fox say, 'Man, you make me hongry! Please hush up!'
"De little Rabs play off furder en furder, but dey know 'zackly what gwine on. Dey frisk en dey frolic, but dey got der years wide open.
"Den Brer Wolf make a bargain wid Brer Fox dat when Brer Rabbit git home, one un um ud git 'im wropped up in a 'spute 'bout fust one thing en den anudder, whiles tudder one ud go out en ketch de little Rabs.
"Brer Fox 'low, 'You better do de talkin', Brer Wolf, en lemme coax de little Rabs off. I got mo' winning ways wid chilluns dan what you is.'
"Brer Wolf say, 'You can't make gourd out'n punkin, Brer Fox. I ain't no talker. Yo' tongue lots slicker dan mine. I kin bite lots better'n I kin talk. Dem little Rabs don't want no coaxin'; dey wants ketchin'—dat what dey wants. You keep ole Brer Rabbit busy, en I'll ten' der de little Rabs.'
"Bofe un um know'd dat whichever cotch de little Rabs, de tudder one ain't gwine smell hide ner hair un um, en dey flew up en got ter 'sputin', en whiles dey wuz 'sputin', en gwine on dat way, de little Rabs put off down de road—blickety-blickety,—fer ter meet der daddy. Kase dey know'd ef dey stayed dar dey'd git in big trouble.
"Dey went off down de road, de little Rabs did, en dey ain't gone so mighty fur 'fo' dey meet der daddy comin' 'long home. He had his walkin' cane in one han' en a jug in de udder, en he look ez big ez life, en twice ez natchul.
"De little Rabs run to'rds 'im en holler, 'What you got, daddy? What you got, daddy?'
"Brer Rabbit say, 'Nothin' but er jug er 'lasses.'
"De little Rabs holler, 'Lemme tas'e, daddy! Lemme tas'e, daddy!'
"Den ole Brer Rabbit sot de jug down in de road en let um lick de stopper a time er two, en atter dey is done get der win' back, dey up'n tell 'im 'bout de 'greement dat Brer Wolf en Brer Fox done make, en 'bout de 'spute what dey had. Ole Brer Rabbit sorter laugh ter hisse'f en den he pick up his jug en jog on to'rds home. When he git mos' dar he stop en tell de little Rabs fer stay back dar out er sight, en wait twel he call um 'fo' dey come. Dey wuz mighty glad ter do des like dis, kaz dey done seed Brer Wolf tushes, en Brer Fox red tongue, en dey huddle up in de broom-sage ez still ez a mouse in de flour bar'l.
"Brer Rabbit went on home, en sho 'nuff, he fin' Brer Wolf en Brer Fox waitin' fer 'im. Dey'd done settle der 'spute, en dey wuz settin' dar des ez smilin' ez a basket er chips. Dey pass the time er day wid Brer Rabbit, en den dey ax 'im what he got in de jug. Brer Rabbit hummed en haw'd, en looked sorter sollum.
"Brer Wolf looked like he wuz bleedz ter fin' out what wuz in de jug, en he keep a-pesterin' Brer Rabbit 'bout it; but Brer Rabbit des shake his head en look sollum, en talk 'bout de wedder en de craps, en one thing en anudder. Bimeby Brer Fox make out he wuz gwine atter a drink er water, en he slip out, he did, fer to ketch de little Rabs. Time he git out de house, Brer Rabbit look all 'roun' ter see ef he lis'nen, en den he went ter de jug en pull out de stopper.
"He han' it ter Brer Wolf en say, 'Tas'e dat.'
"Brer Wolf tas'e de 'lasses, en smack his mouf. He 'low, 'What kinder truck dat? Hit sho is good.'
"Brer Rabbit git up close ter Brer Wolf en say, 'Don't tell nobody. Hit's Fox-blood.'
"Brer Wolf looked 'stonish'. He 'low, 'How you know?'
"Brer Rabbit say, 'I knows what I knows!'
"Brer Wolf say, 'Gimme some mo'!'
"Brer Rabbit say, 'You kin git some mo' fer yo'se'f easy 'nuff, en de fresher 'tis, de better.'
"Brer Wolf 'low, 'How you know?'
"Brer Rabbit say, 'I knows what I knows!'
"Wid dat Brer Wolf stepped out, en start to'rds Brer Fox. Brer Fox seed 'im comin', en he sorter back off. Brer Wolf got little closer, en bimeby he make a dash at Brer Fox. Brer Fox dodge, he did, en den he put out fer de woods wid Brer Wolf right at his heels.
"Den atter so long a time, atter Brer Rabbit got done laughin', he call up de little Rabs, gi' um some 'lasses fer supper, en spanked um en sont um ter bed.'"
"Well, what did he spank 'em for, Uncle Remus?" asked the little boy.
"Ter make um grow, honey,—des ter make um grow!"
"Did Brother Wolf catch Brother Fox?"
"How I know, honey? Much ez I kin do ter foller de tale when it keeps in de big road, let 'lone ter keep up wid dem creeturs whiles dey gone sailin' thoo de woods. De tale ain't persoo on atter um no furder dan de place whar dey make der disappear'nce. I tell you now, when I goes in de woods, I got ter know whar I'm gwine."
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS
One evening Uncle Remus was telling the little boy a mighty tale of how Brer Rabbit got the better of ole Brer Lion. He ended in this way: "All de creeturs hear 'bout it, en dey go 'roun' en say dat Brer Rabbit sholy is got deze 'ere things up here." Uncle Remus tapped his forehead, and the little boy laughed.
[Footnote 7: From Uncle Remus and his Friends.]
"I don't think Brother Lion had much sense," remarked the little boy.
"Yes, he had some," said Uncle Remus. "He bleedz ter had some, but he ain't got much ez Brer Rabbit. Dem what got strenk ain't got so mighty much sense.
"After Brer Rabbit done make way wid ole Brer Lion, all de yuther creeturs say he sholy is a mighty man, en dey treat 'im good. Dis make 'im feel so proud dat he bleedz ter show it, en so he strut 'roun' like a boy when he git his fust pa'r er boots.
"'Bout dat time, Brer Wolf tuck a notion dat ef Brer Rabbit kin outdo ole Brer Lion, he can't outdo him. So he pick his chance one day whiles ole Miss Rabbit en de little Rabs is out pickin' sallid for dinner. He went in de house, he did, en wait fer Brer Rabbit ter come home. Brer Rabbit had his hours, en dis was one un um, en 't wan't long 'fo' here he come. He got a mighty quick eye, mon, en he tuck notice dat ev'ything mighty still. When he got a little nigher, he tuck notice dat de front door wuz on de crack, en dis make 'im feel funny, kaze he know dat when his ole 'oman en de chillun out, dey allers pulls de door shet en ketch de latch. So he went up a little nigher, en he step thin ez a batter-cake. He peep here, en he peep dar, yit he ain't see nothin'. He lissen in de chimbley cornder, en he lissen und' de winder, yit he ain't hear nothin'.
"Den he sorter wipe his mustach en study. He 'low ter hisse'f, 'De pot rack know what gwine up de chimbley, de rafters know who's in de loft, de bed-cord know who und' de bed. I ain't no pot-rack, I ain't no rafter, en I ain't no bed-cord, but, please gracious! I'm gwine ter fin' who's in dat house, en I ain't gwine in dar nudder. Dey mo' ways ter fin' out who fell in de mill-pond widout fallin' in yo'se'f.'
"Some folks," Uncle Remus went on, "would 'a' rushed in dar, en ef dey had, dey wouldn't 'a' rushed out no mo', kaze dey wouldn't 'a' been nothin' 'tall lef' un um but a little scrap er hide en a han'ful er ha'r.
"Brer Rabbit got better sense dan dat. All he ax anybody is ter des gi' 'im han'-roomance, en den what kin ketch 'im is mo' dan welly-come ter take 'im. Dat 'zackly de kinder man what Brer Rabbit is. He went off a little ways fum de house en clum a 'simmon stump en got up dar en 'gun ter holler.
"He 'low, 'Heyo, house!'
"De house ain't make no answer, en Brer Wolf, in dar behime de door, open his eyes wide. He ain't know what ter make er dat kinder doin's.
"Brer Rabbit holler, 'Heyo, house! Why n't you heyo?'
"House ain't make no answer, en Brer Wolf in dar behime de door sorter move roun' like he gittin' restless in de min'.
"Brer Rabbit out dar on de 'simmon stump holler mo' louder dan befo', 'Heyo, house! Heyo!'
"House stan' still, en Brer Wolf in dar behime de door 'gun ter feel col' chills streakin' up and down his back. In all his born days he ain't never hear no gwines on like dat. He peep thoo de crack er de door, but he can't see nothin'.
"Brer Rabbit holler louder, 'Heyo, house! Ain't you gwine ter heyo? Is you done los' what little manners you had?'
"Brer Wolf move 'bout wuss'n befo'. He feel like sum un done hit 'im on de funny-bone.
"Brer Rabbit holler hard ez he kin, but still he ain't git no answer, en den he 'low, 'Sholy sump'n nudder is de matter wid dat house, kaze all de times befo' dis, it been holler'n back at me, "Heyo, yo'se'f!"'
"Den Brer Rabbit wait little bit, en bimeby he holler one mo' time, 'Heyo, house!'
"Ole Brer Wolf try ter talk like he speck a house 'ud talk, en he holler back, 'Heyo, yo'se'f!'
"Brer Rabbit wunk at hisse'f. He 'low, 'Heyo, house! why n't you talk hoarse like you got a bad col'?'
"Den Brer Wolf holler back, hoarse ez he kin, 'Heyo, yo'se'f!'
"Dis make Brer Rabbit laugh twel a little mo' en he'd a drapt off'n dat ar 'simmon stump en hurt hisse'f.
"He 'low, 'Eh-eh, Brer Wolf! dat ain't nigh gwine ter do. You'll hatter stan' out in de rain a mighty long time 'fo' you kin talk hoarse ez dat house!'
"I let you know," continued Uncle Remus, laying his hand gently on the little boy's shoulder, "I let you know, Brer Wolf come a-slinkin' out, en made a break fer home. Atter dat, Brer Rabbit live a long time wid'out any er de yuther creeturs a-pesterin' un 'im!"
Teenchy Duck finds a Purse of Gold
Once upon a time there lived in a village in some country (I do not know where, but certainly nowhere near here), an old man and an old woman who were very poor indeed. They had never been able to save a single penny. They had no farm, not even a garden. They had nothing but a little Duck that walked around on her two feet every day singing the song of famine. "Quack! quack! Who will give me a piece of bread? Quack! quack! Who will give me a piece of bread?" This little duck was so small that she was named Teenchy Duck.
[Footnote 8: Translated from the French by Joel Chandler Harris.]
It so happened one day that Teenchy Duck was paddling in the water near the river's edge when she saw a fine purse filled with gold. At once she began to flap her wings and cry: "Quack! quack! Who has lost his beautiful money? Quack! quack! Who has lost his beautiful money?"
Just at that moment the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows passed along the road. He was richer than all the kings and emperors, but he was mean and miserly. He walked along with a stick in his hand, and as he walked he counted in his mind the millions that he had stored away in his strong-box.
"Quack! quack! Who lost his beautiful money? Quack! quack! Who lost his beautiful money?" cried Teenchy Duck.
"I have lost it," cried the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows, and then he seized the purse full of money that Teenchy Duck held in her bill, and went on his way.
The poor Puddle Duck was so astonished at this that she could scarcely stand on her feet.
"Well, well!" she exclaimed, "that rich lord has kept all for himself and given me nothing. May he be destroyed by a pestilence!"
Teenchy Duck at once ran to her master, and told him what had happened. When her master learned the value of what Teenchy Duck had found, and the trick that had been played on her by the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows, he went into a rage.
"Why, you big simpleton!" he exclaimed, "you find money and you do not bring it to us! You give it to a big lord, who did not lose it, when we poor people need it so much! Go out of this house instantly, and don't dare to come back until you have brought me the purse of gold!"
Poor Teenchy Duck trembled in all her limbs, and made herself small and humble; but she found her voice to say:
"You are right, my master! I go at once to find the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows."
But once out of doors the poor Puddle Duck thought to herself sorrowfully: "How and where can I find the Prince who was so mean as to steal the beautiful money?"
Teenchy Duck was so bewildered that she began to strike her head against the rocks in despair. Suddenly an idea came into her mind. She would follow his tracks and the marks that his walking-stick made in the ground until she came to the castle of the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows.
No sooner thought than done. Teenchy Duck went waddling down the road in the direction taken by the miserly Prince, crying with all her might:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money! Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
Teenchy Duck's Friends go with her on her Quest
Brother Fox, who was taking his ease a little way from the road, heard Teenchy Duck's cries, and knew her voice. He went to her and said:
"What in the world is the matter with you, my poor Teenchy Duck? You look sad and broken-hearted."
"I have good reason to be," said Teenchy Duck. "This morning, while paddling in the river, I found a purse full of gold, and gave it to the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows, thinking it was his. But now, here comes my master and asks me for it, and says he will kill me if I do not bring it to him soon."
"Well, where are you going in this style?" asked Brother Fox.
"I am going straight to the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows," said Teenchy Duck.
"Shall I go with you?" asked Brother Fox.
"I'd be only too glad if you would," exclaimed Teenchy Duck.
"But how can I go?" said Brother Fox.
"Get into my satchel," said Teenchy Duck, "and I'll try to carry you."
"It isn't big enough," said Brother Fox.
"It will stretch," said Teenchy Duck. So Brother Fox got into the satchel, and Teenchy Duck went waddling along the road, crying: "Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
She had not gone far when she met Brother Wolf, who was passing that way.
"What are you crying so for?" he inquired. "One would think you were going to die on the journey."
"It is only too true," said Teenchy Duck, and then she told Brother Wolf about finding the money-purse, just as she had told Brother Fox.
"Perhaps I can be of some service to you," said Brother Wolf. "Shall I go with you?"
"I am willing," said Teenchy Duck.
"But how can I go so far?" Brother Wolf asked.
"Get into my satchel," said Teenchy Duck, "and I'll carry you as best I can."
"It is too small," said Brother Wolf.
"It will stretch mightily," said Teenchy Duck.
So Brother Wolf also got into the satchel with Brother Fox.
Teenchy went on her way again. She didn't walk very fast, for her satchel was heavy; but she never ceased crying: "Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
Now it happened, as she was going along, she came up with a Ladder, which said, without asking after her health:
"My poor Teenchy Duck! You do not seem to be very happy."
"I should think not!" exclaimed Teenchy Duck.
"What can the matter be?" the Ladder asked.
Teenchy Duck then told her story over again.
"I am not doing anything at present," said the Ladder, "shall I go with you?"
"Yes," said Teenchy Duck.
"But how can I go, I who never walk?" inquired the Ladder.
"Why, get into my satchel," said Teenchy Duck, "and I'll carry you the best I know how."
The Ladder was soon in the satchel with Brother Fox and Brother Wolf, and Teenchy Duck went on her way, following the tracks of the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows, and always crying:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
Going along and crying thus, Teenchy Duck came to her best and oldest friend, the River.
"What are you doing here?" said the River, in astonishment, "and why are you crying so? When I saw you this morning you seemed very happy."
"Ah!" said Teenchy Duck, "would you believe it? I have not eaten since yesterday."
"And why not?" asked the sympathetic River.
"You saw me find the purse of gold," said Teenchy Duck, "and you saw the Prince seize it. Ah, well! my master will kill me if I do not get it and return it to him."
"Sometimes," the River replied, "a little help does a great deal of good. Shall I go with you?"
"I should be very happy," said Teenchy Duck.
"But how can I follow you—I that have no limbs?" said the River.
"Get into my satchel," said Teenchy Duck. "I'll carry you as best I can."
Then the River got into the satchel by the side of the other friends of Teenchy Duck.
She went on her journey, keeping her eyes on the ground, so as not to lose sight of the tracks of the thief, but still crying for her beautiful money. On her way she came to a Bee-Hive, which had a mind to laugh because Teenchy Duck was carrying such a burden.
"Hey, my poor Teenchy Duck! What a big fat satchel you have there," said the Bee-Hive.
"I'm not in the humour for joking, my dear," said Teenchy Duck.
"Why are you so sad?"
"I have been very unfortunate, good little people," said Teenchy Duck, addressing herself to the Bees, and then she told her story.
"Shall we go with you?" asked the Bees.
"Yes, yes!" exclaimed Teenchy Duck. "In these days of sorrow I stand in need of friends."
"How shall we follow you?" asked the Bees.
"Get into my satchel," said Teenchy Duck. "I'll carry you the best I know how."
Then the Bees shook their wings for joy and swarmed into the satchel along with the other friends of Teenchy Duck.
She went on her way always crying for the return of her beautiful money. She walked and walked without stopping to rest a moment, until her legs almost refused to carry her. At last, just as night was coming on, Teenchy Duck saw with joy that the tracks of the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows stopped at the iron gate that barred the way to a splendid castle.
"Ah!" she exclaimed, "I have arrived at my journey's end, and I have no need to knock on the gate. I will creep under."
What befell Teenchy Duck at the Castle
Teenchy Duck entered the grounds and cried out: "Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
The Prince heard her and laughed scornfully. How could a poor Teenchy Duck compel a great lord to return the purse of gold?
Teenchy Duck continued to cry:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
It was night, and the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows ordered one of his servants to take Teenchy Duck and shut her up in the henhouse with the turkeys, the geese, and the chickens, thinking that these fowls would kill the stranger, and that her disagreeable song would for ever be at an end.
This order was immediately carried out by the servant, but no sooner had Teenchy Duck entered the henhouse than she exclaimed:
"Brother Fox, if you do not come to my aid, I am lost."
Brother Fox came out of the satchel promptly, and worked so well at his trade that of all the fowls he found there, not one remained alive.
At break of day the servant-girl, whose business it was to attend to the poultry-yard, opened the door of the henhouse, and was astounded to see Teenchy Duck come out, singing the same old song:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
The astonished girl immediately told her master, the Prince, what had happened, and the wife of the Prince, who had at that moment learned all, said to her husband:
"This Duck is a witch. Give her the money, or it will bring us bad luck."
The Prince of the Seven Golden Cows refused to listen. He believed that the fox had only happened to enter his henhouse by accident.
Teenchy Duck made herself heard all day, and at night the Prince said to his servants:
"Take this squaller and throw her into the stable under the feet of the mules and horses. We will see in the morning what she will say."
The servants obeyed, and Teenchy Duck immediately cried:
"Brother Wolf, if you do not come quickly to my aid I shall be killed."
Brother Wolf made no delay, and it was not long before he had destroyed the horses and the mules. Next morning, before day, the servants went to get the animals to put them to the ploughs and waggons; but when they saw them lying dead their astonishment was great. In the stable Teenchy Duck stood alone, singing in her most beautiful voice:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
When the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows heard the sad news, he became white with rage, and in his fury he wanted to give his servants a thousand lashes for not having taken better care of the animals. But his wife calmed him little by little, then: "My husband, give back to Teenchy Duck this purse you have taken, or else we shall be ruined," she said.
"No," cried the Prince, "she shall never have it!"
All this time Teenchy Duck was walking up and down, to the right and to the left, singing at the top of her voice:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
"Heavens!" said the Prince, stopping his ears, "I am tired of hearing this ugly fowl squall and squawk. Quick! throw her into the well or the furnace, so that we may be rid of her."
"What shall we do first?" the servants asked.
"It matters not," said the Prince, "so long as we are rid of her."
The servants took Teenchy Duck and threw her into the well, thinking this the easier, and the quickest way to be rid of her.
As Teenchy Duck was falling, she cried: "Come to my assistance, good Ladder, or I am undone."
The Ladder immediately came out of the satchel, and leaned against the walls of the well. Teenchy Duck came up the rounds, singing:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
Everybody was astonished, and the Prince's wife kept saying: "Give the witch her money."
"They would say that I am afraid of a Teenchy Duck," said the Prince of the Seven Golden Cows. "I will never give it up." Then, speaking to his servants, he said: "Heat the oven, heat it to a white heat, and throw this witch in."
The servants had to obey, but they were so frightened that none dared touch her. At last, one bolder than the rest seized her by the end of the wing and threw her into the red-hot oven. Everyone thought that this was the end of Teenchy Duck, but she had had time to cry out:
"Oh! my dear friend River, come to my assistance, or I shall be roasted."
The River rushed out and quenched the fire and cooled the oven.
When the Prince went to see what was left of Teenchy Duck, she met him and began to repeat her familiar song:
"Quack! quack! Give me back my beautiful money!"
The Prince of the Seven Golden Cows was furious.
"You are all blockheads!" he cried to his servants. "You never knew how to do anything. Get out of here! I will drive you off the place. Hereafter I will take charge of this witch myself."
That night, before retiring, the Prince and his wife went and got Teenchy Duck, and prepared to give her such a beating as they had no doubt would cause her death.
Fortunately, Teenchy Duck saw the danger and cried out:
"Friend Bees! come out and help me."
A buzzing sound was heard, and then the Bees swarmed on the Prince and his wife, and stung them so badly that they became frightful to behold.
"Return the money to this ugly witch," groaned the unfortunate wife. "Run, or we are done for."
The Prince did not wait to be told twice. He ran and got the purse full of gold, and returned it to Teenchy Duck.
"Here," said he, "I am conquered. But get out of my grounds quickly."
Full of joy, Teenchy Duck went out into the road singing: "Quack! quack! I have got my beautiful money! Quack! quack! Here is my beautiful money!"
On her way home she returned the friends that had aided her to the places where she had found them, thanking them kindly for their help in time of need.
At break of day Teenchy Duck found herself at her master's door. She aroused him by her loud cries. After that, the family was rich and Teenchy Duck was well taken care of. If she went to the village pond it was only to tell her comrades of her remarkable way of gaining the beautiful money.
Once upon a time there lived a great giant. He had mighty arms and legs and could carry tons upon his back. His name was Offero.
Offero had one wish. He wished to serve the greatest king on earth. He was told that the emperor was the most powerful. So he went to him and said, "Lord Emperor, will you have me for your servant?"
The emperor was delighted with him. "Promise to serve me for ever, my good fellow," he said.
"Ah no," said Offero. "I dare not promise that. But of this be sure, as long as I am your servant, no harm shall come to you."
So they journeyed on together. The emperor was delighted with his new servant. All his soldiers were poor and weak compared to Offero.
In the evening when the soldiers rested, the emperor loved to listen to music. He had with him a harper who would play upon his harp and sing sweetly.
Once the harper sang a song in which the name of Satan was heard. At this name the emperor trembled and made the sign of the cross.
"Why do you tremble, Lord Emperor?" asked the giant.
"Hush!" said the emperor.
"Tell me, or I will leave you," said Offero.
"I tremble because I fear Satan," answered the emperor. "I made the sign of the cross so that he cannot harm me. He is as wicked as he is strong."
"Farewell," said the giant. "I seek Satan now. If he is stronger than you, I must serve him."
So he journeyed through the land and soon found Satan at the head of a large army.
"Where do you go? Whom do you seek?" asked Satan.
"I seek Satan," said Offero. "I would have him for my master, for he is the mightiest king on earth."
"I am he," answered Satan. "Come with me and you shall have happy and easy days."
Offero served Satan for months and was well pleased with his master. At last, as they were marching through the land one day, they came upon a place where four roads met. Just here stood a cross.
When Satan saw the cross, he turned his army and marched quickly away. "What does this mean?" asked the giant. "Are you afraid of that cross, my master?"
Satan was silent.
"Answer me," said Offero, "or I leave you at once."
Then Satan said, "Yes, it is true that I fear the cross. Upon it hung the Son of Mary."
"Then I leave you straightway," said Offero. "I seek the Son of Mary. He shall be my king, since he is stronger than you."
Many days he searched, but alas! few could tell him anything of his new king, the Son of Mary. At last he found an old hermit and asked him the question he had asked so many others.
"How can I serve the Son of Mary?"
"You must fast," said the hermit.
"Ah, no!" said Offero. "If I fasted I should lose my great strength."
"Then you must pray," said the hermit.
"How can I pray?" asked Offero, "I know no prayers."
"Then," said the gentle old man, "I think the Son of Mary would be pleased to have you use your strength in some good work. Why not carry travellers across the stream in the name of the Son of Mary?"
"That is just to my mind," cried Offero, overjoyed. So straightway he built a hut by the swift stream, and cut a stout staff to steady his steps when the river roared high.
Travellers were glad to be helped on their way by this rough yet kindly giant. Sometimes they offered him money, but he always shook his great head. "I do this for the love of the Son of Mary," he said.
Many years went by. Offero's hair was now white as snow and his back was a little bent. But his strength was still great. One night, as he lay asleep, he was awakened by a voice, such a gentle, pleading little voice—"Dear, good, kind Offero, carry me across!"
He sprang to his feet, caught up his staff, and crossed to the farther shore. No one was there.
"I must have been dreaming," thought Offero as he laid himself down in his bed once more.
Again he fell asleep and again the same voice awoke him. How sweet, yet sad it sounded! "Dear, good, kind Offero, carry me across!"
He patiently crossed the deep, swift river, but again no one was to be seen. Once more he lay down in his bed and fell asleep. And once more came the pleading little voice, "Dear, good, kind Offero, carry me across!"
And now, for the third time, the old giant seized his palm-tree staff and pressed through the cold river. There on the shore stood "a tender, fair little boy with golden hair. He looked at the giant with eyes full of trust and love."
Offero tossed him on his shoulder and then turned to the river. Dark and surging it rose to his waist. The child grew heavier and heavier. The giant bent under his burden. Now and then he felt he should surely sink into the river and be swept away.
At last he struggled up the bank and set down the child. "My little Master," he gasped, "do not pass this way again; I have come near losing my life."
But the fair child said to Offero, "Fear not, but rejoice. All thy sins are forgiven thee. Know that thou hast carried the Son of Mary. That thou mayest be sure of this, fix thy staff in the earth."
Offero obeyed, and lo! out of the bare palm-staff sprang leaves and dates. Then Offero knew that it was Christ whom he had borne, and he fell at His feet.
A little hand rested in blessing upon the giant's bowed head. "Henceforth," said the Son of Mary, "thy name shall be, not Offero but Christoffero."
Thus it was that Christopher came by his name. Because he was true to his name we always call him St Christopher.
The Brothers set out to seek their Fortunes
Once there was a poor farmer who had three sons—Peter, Paul, and Jack.
[Footnote 9: A fairy-tale of Finland.]
Now Peter was big, fat, red-faced, and slow; Paul was slender, awkward, and ill-natured; Jack was quick, and bright, and so little that he might have hidden himself in one of Peter's big boots.
The poor farmer had nothing in the world but a little hut that seemed ready to tumble down every time the wind blew. He worked hard, but it was all he could do to earn bread for his family.
The boys grew very fast, and by-and-by they were old enough to work. Then their father said to them, "Boys, I have taken care of you these many days when you were too little to take care of yourselves. Now I am old, and you are strong. It is time for you to go out and earn your living."
So, early the next morning, the three boys started out to seek their fortunes.
"Where shall we go?" asked Peter.
"Yes, where shall we go?" said Paul. "Things have come to a pretty pass when one can't stay at home."
"Well, I am going to the King's palace," said Jack.
"And what will you do there?" said Paul. "You are a fine fellow to be going to kings' palaces."
"I will tell you," said Jack. "The King's palace is a very grand place. It is built of white stones and it has six glass windows on the front side of it.
"But a huge oak-tree has grown up right against the glass windows. The leaves are so many and so big that they shut out all the sunlight, and the rooms of the palace are dark even in midday."
"Well, what of that?" asked Peter.
"Yes, what of that?" growled Paul. "What have you to do with the oak?"
"The King wants it cut down," said Jack.
"Well, then, why don't his men cut it down?" asked Paul.
"They can't," said Jack. "The tree is so hard that it blunts the edge of every axe; and whenever one of its branches is cut off, two bigger ones spring out in place of it. The King has offered three bags of gold to anyone who will cut the tree down."
"How did you learn all this?" asked Peter.
"Oh, a little bird told me," said Jack. "You see, I can read and you cannot. I am going to the King's palace to see if I can't earn those bags of gold."
"Not till I try it," cried Paul; "for I am older than you."
"I should have the first trial," said Peter; "for I am older than either of you. Come along, boys, let's all go down and take a look at the big oak."
And so all three took the road that led to the King's palace.
Their Adventures by the Way
Peter and Paul went jogging along with their hands in their pockets. They did not look either to the right or to the left.
But little Jack skipped this way and that, noticing everything by the roadside. He watched the bees buzzing among the flowers, the butterflies fluttering in the sunlight and the birds building their nests in the trees.
He asked questions about everything. "What is this? Why is this? How is this?"
But his brothers only growled and answered, "We don't know."
By-and-by they came to a mountain and a great forest of pine-trees. Far up the side of the mountain they could hear the sound of an axe and the noise of falling branches.
"I wonder who is chopping wood up there," said Jack. "Do you know, Paul?"
"Of course I don't know," growled Paul. "Hold your tongue."
"Oh, he is always wondering," said Peter. "You would think he'd never heard an axe before."
"Well, wonder or no wonder," said Jack, "I mean to go up and see who is chopping wood."
"Go, then," said Paul. "You will tire yourself out and be left behind. But it will be a good lesson to you."
Jack did not stop to listen to these words. For he was already climbing up the mountain toward the place where the chopping was heard.
When he came to the top, what do you think he saw?
He saw a bright steel axe working all alone and cutting down a big pine-tree. No man was near it.
"Good-morning, Mr Axe," he said. "I think you must be tired chopping at that old tree all by yourself."
"Ah, master," said the axe. "I have been waiting for you a long time."
"Well, here I am," said Jack; and he took the axe and put it into his pocket.
Then he ran down the mountain and soon overtook his brothers.
"Well, Mr Why-and-How," said Paul, "what did you find up there?"
"It was really an axe that we heard," answered Jack.
"Of course it was," said Peter. "You might have saved yourself all your trouble by staying with us."
After the boys had passed through the woods they came to a great rocky place between two mountains. The path was narrow and crooked, and steep cliffs towered above it on both sides.
Soon they heard a dull sound high up on the top of a cliff. Thump! Thump! Thud! it went, like someone striking iron against stone.
"I wonder why anyone is breaking stones up there," said Jack.
"Yes, of course you wonder," growled Paul; "you are always wondering."
"It is nothing but a woodpecker tapping on a hollow tree," said Peter. "Come along, and mind your own business."
"Business or no business," said Jack, "I mean to see what is going on up there."
With these words he began to climb up the side of the cliff. But Peter and Paul stood still and laughed at him, and cried, "Good-bye, Mr Why-and-How!"
And what do you think Jack found far up on the great rock?
He found a bright steel pickaxe working all alone. It was so hard and sharp that when it struck a rock it went into it a foot or more.
"Good-morning, Mr Pickaxe," he said. "Are you not tired digging here all by yourself?"
"Ah, my master," answered the pickaxe, "I have been waiting for you a long time."
"Well, here I am," said Jack; and he took the pickaxe and put it into his other pocket.
Then he slid merrily down between the rocks to the place where Peter and Paul were resting themselves.
"Well, Mr Why-and-How," said Paul, "what great wonder did you find up there?"
"It was really a pickaxe that we heard," answered Jack.
About noon the boys came to a pleasant brook. The water was cool and clear, and it flowed in shady places among reeds and flowers.
The boys were thirsty, and they stopped to drink. Then they lay down on the grass to rest.
"I wonder where this brook comes from," said Jack.
"Of course you do," growled Paul. "You are always trying to pry into things and find out where they come from. You are foolish."
"Foolish or not foolish," answered Jack, "I am going to find out all about this brook."
So, while his brothers went to sleep in the shade, he ran along up its banks, looking at this thing and that and wondering at them all.
The stream became narrower and narrower until at last it was not broader than his hand. And when he came to the very beginning of it, what do you think he found?
He found a walnut shell out of which the water was spouting as from a fountain.
"Good-morning, Mr Spring," said Jack. "Are you not tired staying here all alone in this little nook where nobody comes to see you?"
"Ah, my master," answered the spring in the walnut shell, "I have been waiting a long time for you."
"Well, here I am," said Jack; and he took the walnut shell and put it into his cap.
His brothers were just waking up when he rejoined them.
"Well, Mr Why-and-How," said Peter, "did you find where the brook comes from?"
"Indeed, I did," answered Jack. "It spouts up from a spring."
"You are too clever for this world," growled Paul.
"Clever or not clever," said Jack, "I have seen what I wished to see, and I have learned what I wished to learn."
Jack's Victory at the Palace
At last the three boys came to the King's palace. They saw the great oak that darkened the windows, and on the gateposts they saw a big poster printed in red and black letters.
"See there, Jack," said Paul. "Read that, and tell us what it says."
"Yes, I wonder what it says," said Jack, laughing. And this is what he read:
Know all men by these presents: If anyone will cut down this oak-tree and carry it away, the King will give him three bags full of gold. If anyone will dig a well in the courtyard so as to supply the palace with water, he may wed the King's daughter and the King will give him half of everything.
The King has said it and it shall be done.
"Better and better," said Peter. "There are three tasks instead of one, and the prize is more than double."
"But it will take someone smarter than you to win it," said Paul; and he stroked his head gently.
"It will take someone stronger than you," answered Peter; and he rolled up his shirt-sleeves and swung his big arms around till their muscles stood out like whipcords.
The boys went into the courtyard. There they saw another placard posted over the door of the great hallway.
"Read that, Jack," said Paul. "Read it and tell us what it says."
"Yes," said Jack, "I wonder what it says."
Know all men by these presents: If anyone shall try to cut down the oak and shall not succeed, he shall have both his ears cut off. If anyone shall try to dig the well and shall not succeed, he shall have his nose cut off. The King in his goodness has so commanded, and it shall be done.
"Worse and worse," said Peter. "But hand me an axe, and I will show you what I can do."
The sharpest axe in the country was given him. He felt its edge; he swung it over his shoulder. Then he began to chop on the oak with all his might; but as soon as a bough was cut off, two bigger and stronger ones grew in its place.
"I give it up," said Peter. "It cannot be done."
And the King's guards seized him and led him away to prison.
"To-morrow his ears shall come off," said the King.
"It was all because he was so awkward," said Paul. "Now, see what a skilful man can do."
He took the axe and walked carefully round the tree. He saw a root that was partly out of the ground, and chopped it off. All at once two other roots much bigger and stronger grew in its place.
He chopped at these, but the axe was dulled, and with all his skill he could not cut them off.
"Enough!" cried the King; and the guards hurried him also to jail.
Then little Jack came forward.
"What does that wee bit of a fellow want?" asked the King. "Drive him away, and if he doesn't wish to go, cut off his ears at once."
But Jack was not one whit afraid. He bowed to the King and said, "Please let me try. It will be time enough to cut off my ears when I have failed."
"Well, yes, it will, I suppose," said the King. "So go to work quickly and be done with it."
Jack took the bright steel axe from his pocket. He set it up by the tree and said, "Chop, Mr Axe! Chop!"
You should have seen the chips fly.
The little axe chopped and cut and split, this way and that, right and left, up and down. It moved so fast that nobody could keep track of it, and there was no time for new twigs to grow.
In fifteen seconds the great oak-tree was cut in pieces and piled up in the King's courtyard, ready for firewood in the winter.
"What do you think of that?" asked Jack, as he bowed again to the King.
"You have done wonders, my little man," said the King. "But the well must be dug or I shall take off your ears."
"Kindly tell me where you would like to have the well," said Jack, bowing again.
A place in the courtyard was pointed out. The King sat in his great chair on a balcony above, and by him sat his beautiful daughter, the Princess. They wanted to see the little fellow dig.
Jack took the pickaxe from his other pocket. He set it down on the spot that had been pointed out.
"Now, Mr Pickaxe, dig! dig!" he cried.
You should have seen how the rocks flew.
In fifteen minutes a well a hundred feet deep was dug.
"What do you think of that?" asked Jack.
"It is a fine well," said the King, "but it has no water in it."
Jack felt in his cap for his walnut shell. He took it out and dropped it softly to the bottom of the well. As he did so he shouted, "Now, Mr Spring, spout! spout!"
The water spouted out of the walnut shell in a great stream. It filled the well. It ran over into the King's garden.
All the people shouted, and the Princess clapped her hands.
With his cap in his hands Jack went and kneeled down before the King. "Sire," he said, "do you think that I have won the prize?"
"Most certainly I do," answered the King; and he bade his servants bring the three bags of gold and pour the coins out at Jack's feet.
"But, father," said the Princess, "have you forgotten the other part of the prize?" and she blushed very red.
"Oh no," said the King; "but you both are very young. When you are a few years older, we shall have a pretty wedding in the palace. Are you willing to wait, young man?"
"I am willing to obey you in everything," answered Jack; "but I wonder if I might not ask you for one other little favour?"
"Say on; and be careful not to ask too much," answered the King.
"May it please you, then," said Jack, "to pardon my two brothers?"
The King nodded, and in a short time Peter and Paul were brought around into the courtyard.
"Well, brothers," said Jack kindly, "I wonder if I was very foolish when I wanted to know all about things."
"You have certainly been lucky," said Paul; "and I am glad of it."
"You have saved our ears," said Peter, "and we are all lucky."
The Feast of Lanterns
Wang Chih watches a Game of Chess
Wang Chih was only a poor man, but he had a wife and children to love, and they made him so happy that he would not have changed places with the Emperor himself.
[Footnote 10: The story of a Chinese Rip Van Winkle. From Stead's Books for the Bairns, No. 52, Fairy Tales from China. By permission.]
He worked in the fields all day, and at night his wife always had a bowl of rice ready for his supper. And sometimes, for a treat, she made him some bean soup, or gave him a little dish of fried pork.
But they could not afford pork very often; he generally had to be content with rice.
One morning, as he was setting off to his work, his wife sent Han Chung, his son, running after him to ask him to bring home some firewood.
"I shall have to go up into the mountain for it at noon," he said. "Go and bring me my axe, Han Chung."
Han Chung ran for his father's axe, and Ho-Seen-Ko, his little sister, came out of the cottage with him.
"Remember it is the Feast of Lanterns to-night, father," she said. "Don't fall asleep up on the mountain; we want you to come back and light them for us."
She had a lantern in the shape of a fish, painted red and black and yellow, and Han Chung had got a big round one, all bright crimson, to carry in the procession; and, besides that, there were two large lanterns to be hung outside the cottage door as soon as it grew dark.
Wang Chih was not likely to forget the Feast of Lanterns, for the children had talked of nothing else for a month, and he promised to come home as early as he could.
At noontide, when his fellow-labourers gave up working, and sat down to rest and eat, Wang Chih took his axe and went up the mountain slope to find a small tree that he might cut down for fuel.
He walked a long way, and at last saw one growing at the mouth of a cave.
"This will be just the thing," he said to himself. But, before striking the first blow, he peeped into the cave to see if it were empty.
To his surprise, two old men, with long, white beards, were sitting inside playing chess, as quietly as mice, with their eyes fixed on the chessboard.
Wang Chih knew something of chess, and he stepped in and watched them for a few minutes.
"As soon as they look up, I can ask them if I may chop down a tree," he said to himself. But they did not look up, and by-and-by Wang Chih got so interested in the game that he put down his axe and sat on the floor to watch it better.
The two old men sat cross-legged on the ground, and the chessboard rested on a slab, like a stone table, between them.
On one corner of the slab lay a heap of small, brown objects which Wang Chih took at first to be date stones; but after a time the chess-players ate one each, and put one in Wang Chih's mouth; and he found it was not a date stone at all.
It was a delicious kind of sweetmeat, the like of which he had never tasted before; and the strangest thing about it was that it took his hunger and thirst away.
He had been both hungry and thirsty when he came into the cave, as he had not waited to have his midday meal with the other field workers; but now he felt quite comforted and refreshed.
He sat there some time longer, and noticed, as the old men frowned over the chessboard, their beards grew longer and longer, until they swept the floor of the cave, and even found their way out of the door.
"I hope my beard will never grow as quickly," said Wang Chih, as he rose and took up his axe again.
Then one of the old men spoke, for the first time. "Our beards have not grown quickly, young man. How long is it since you came here?"
"About half-an-hour, I daresay," replied Wang Chih. But as he spoke, the axe crumbled to dust beneath his fingers, and the second chess-player laughed, and pointed to the little brown sweetmeats on the table.
"Half-an-hour, or half-a-century—ay, half a thousand years—are alike to him who tastes of these. Go down into your village and see what has happened since you left it."
The Sad Consequences
So Wang Chih went down as quickly as he could from the mountain, and found the fields where he had worked covered with houses, and a busy town where his own little village had been. In vain he looked for his house, his wife, and his children.
There were strange faces everywhere; and although when evening came the Feast of Lanterns was being held once more, there was no Ho-Seen-Ko carrying her red and yellow fish, or Han Chung with his flaming red ball.
At last he found a woman, a very, very old woman, who told him that when she was a tiny girl she remembered her grandmother saying how, when she was a tiny girl, a poor young man had been spirited away by the Genii of the mountains, on the day of the Feast of Lanterns, leaving his wife and little children with only a few handfuls of rice in the house.
"Moreover, if you wait while the procession passes, you will see two children dressed to represent Han Chung and Ho-Seen-Ko, and their mother, carrying the empty rice bowl, between them; for this is done every year to remind people to take care of the widow and fatherless," she said.
So Wang Chih waited in the street; and in a little while the procession came to an end; and the last three figures in it were a boy and girl, dressed like his own two children, walking on either side of a young woman carrying a rice bowl. But she was not like his wife in anything but her dress, and the children were not at all like Han Chung and Ho-Seen-Ko; and poor Wang Chih's heart was very heavy as he walked away out of the town.
He slept out on the mountain, and early in the morning found his way back to the cave where the two old men were playing chess.
At first they said they could do nothing for him, and told him to go away and not disturb them; but Wang Chih would not go, and they soon found the only way to get rid of him was to give him some really good advice.
"You must go to the White Hare of the Moon, and ask him for a bottle of the elixir of life. If you drink that you will live for ever," said one of them.
"But I don't want to live for ever," objected Wang Chih; "I wish to go back and live in the days when my wife and children were here."
"Ah, well! For that you must mix the elixir of life with some water out of the Sky-Dragon's mouth."
"And where is the Sky-Dragon to be found?" inquired Wang Chih.
"In the sky, of course. You really ask very stupid questions. He lives in a cloud-cave. And when he comes out of it he breathes fire, and sometimes water. If he is breathing fire, you will be burnt up, but if it is only water, you will easily be able to catch some in a bottle. What else do you want?"
For Wang Chih still lingered at the mouth of the cave.
"I want a pair of wings to fly with, and a bottle to catch the water in," he replied boldly.
So they gave him a little bottle; and before he had time to say, "Thank you!" a White Crane came sailing past, and lighted on the ground close to the cave.
"The Crane will take you wherever you like," said the old men. "Go now, and leave us in peace."
Wang Chih visits the Fire Dragon
Wang Chih sat on the White Crane's back, and was taken up, and up, and up through the sky to the cloud-cave where the Sky-Dragon lived. And the Dragon had the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of a cow, and the claws of a hawk.
Besides this, he had whiskers and a beard, and in his beard was a bright pearl.
All these things show that he was a real, genuine dragon, and if you ever meet a dragon who is not exactly like this, you will know he is only a make-believe one.
Wang Chih felt rather frightened when he perceived the cave in the distance, and if it had not been for the thought of seeing his wife again, and his little boy and girl, he would have been glad to turn back.
While he was far away, the cloud-cave looked like a dark hole in the midst of a soft, white, woolly mass, such as one sees in the sky on an April day; but as he came nearer he found the cloud was as hard as a rock, and covered with a kind of dry, white grass.
When he got there, he sat down on a tuft of grass near the cave, and considered what he should do next.
The first thing was, of course, to bring the Dragon out, and the next to make him breathe water instead of fire.
"I have it!" cried Wang Chih at last; and he nodded his head so many times that the White Crane expected to see it fall off.
He struck a light, and set the grass on fire, and it was so dry that the flames spread all around the entrance to the cave, and made such a smoke and crackling that the Sky-Dragon put his head out to see what was the matter.
"Ho! ho!" cried the Dragon, when he saw what Wang Chih had done, "I can soon put this to rights." And he breathed once, and the water came from his nose and mouth in three streams.
But this was not enough to put the fire out. Then he breathed twice, and the water came out in three mighty rivers, and Wang Chih, who had taken care to fill his bottle when the first stream began to flow, sailed away on the White Crane's back as fast as he could, to escape being drowned.
The rivers poured over the cloud-rock, until there was not a spark left alight, and rushed down through the sky into the sea below.
Fortunately, the sea lay right underneath the Dragon's cave, or he would have done great mischief. As it was, the people on the coast looked out across the water toward Japan, and saw three inky-black clouds stretching from the sky into the sea.
"My word! There is a fine rain-storm out at sea!" they said to each other.
But of course it was nothing of the kind; it was only the Sky-Dragon putting out the fire Wang Chih had kindled.
Wang Chih visits the White Hare of the Moon
Meanwhile, Wang Chih was on his way to the Moon, and when he got there he went straight to the hut where the Hare of the Moon lived, and knocked at the door.
The Hare was busy pounding the drugs which make up the elixir of life; but he left his work, and opened the door, and invited Wang Chih to come in.
He was not ugly, like the Dragon; his fur was quite white and soft and glossy, and he had lovely, gentle brown eyes.
The Hare of the Moon lives a thousand years, as you know, and when he is five hundred years old he changes his colour, from brown to white, and becomes, if possible, better tempered and nicer than he was before.
As soon as he heard what Wang Chih wanted, he opened two windows at the back of the hut, and told him to look through each of them in turn.
"Tell me what you see," said the Hare, going back to the table where he was pounding the drugs.
"I can see a great many houses and people," said Wang Chih, "and streets—why, this is the town I was in yesterday, the one which has taken the place of my old village."
Wang Chih stared, and grew more and more puzzled. Here he was up in the Moon, and yet he could have thrown a stone into the busy street of the Chinese town below his window.
"How does it come here?" he stammered, at last.
"Oh, that is my secret," replied the wise old Hare. "I know how to do a great many things which would surprise you. But the question is, do you want to go back there?"
Wang Chih shook his head.
"Then close the window. It is the window of the Present. And look through the other, which is the window of the Past."
Wang Chih obeyed, and through this window he saw his own dear little village, and his wife, and Han Chung and Ho-Seen-Ko jumping about her as she hung up the coloured lanterns outside the door.
"Father won't be in time to light them for us, after all," Han Chung was saying.
Wang Chih turned, and looked eagerly at the White Hare.
"Let me go to them," he said. "I have got a bottle of water from the Sky-Dragon's mouth, and——"
"That's all right," said the White Hare. "Give it to me."
He opened the bottle, and mixed the contents carefully with a few drops of the elixir of life, which was clear as crystal, and of which each drop shone like a diamond as he poured it in.
"Now, drink this," he said to Wang Chih, "and it will give you the power of living once more in the Past, as you desire."
Wang Chih held out his hand, and drank every drop.
The moment he had done so, the window grew larger, and he saw some steps leading from it down into the village street.