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قراءة كتاب Folk Tales Every Child Should Know

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Folk Tales Every Child Should Know

Folk Tales Every Child Should Know

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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original the imagination of a race, the more interesting and varied will be its stories. From the earliest times, long before books were made, the people of many countries were eagerly listening to the men and women who could tell thrilling or humorous tales, as in these later days they read the novels of the writers who know how to tell a story so as to stir the imagination or hold the attention and make readers forget themselves and their worries and troubles. In India and Japan, in Russia and Roumania, among the Indians at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, these stories are still told, not only to children by their mothers and grandmothers, but to crowds of grown-up people by those who have the art of making tales entertaining; and there are still so many of these stories floating about the world from one person to another that if they were written down they would fill a great library. "Until the generation now lately passed away," says Mr. Gosse in his introduction to that very interesting book, "Folk and Fairy Tales" by Asbjörnsen, "almost the only mode in which the Norwegian peasant killed time in the leisure moments between his daily labour and his religious observances, was in listening to stories. It was the business of old men and women who had reached the extreme limit of their working hours, to retain and repeat these ancient legends in prose and verse, and to recite or sing them when called to do so." And Miss Hapgood has told us that in Russia these stories have not only been handed down wholly by word or mouth for a thousand years, but are flourishing to-day and extending into fresh fields.

The stories made by the people, and told before evening fires, or in public places and at the gates of inns in the Orient, belong to the ages when books were few and knowledge limited, or to people whose fancy was not hampered by familiarity with or care for facts; they are the creations, as they were the amusement, of men and women who were children in knowledge, but were thinking deeply and often wisely of what life meant to them, and were eager to know and hear more about themselves, their fellows, and the world. In the earlier folk-stories one finds a childlike simplicity and readiness to believe in the marvellous; and these qualities are found also in the French peasant's version of the career of Napoleon.

HAMILTON W. MABIE


FOLK TALES EVERY CHILD SHOULD KNOW


I

HANS IN LUCK

Hans had served his Master seven years, and at the end of that time he said to him: "Master, since my time is up, I should like to go home to my mother; so give me my wages, if you please."

His Master replied, "You have served me truly and honestly, Hans, and such as your service was, such shall be your reward;" and with these words he gave him a lump of gold as big as his head. Hans thereupon took his handkerchief out of his pocket, and, wrapping the gold up in it, threw it over his shoulder and set out on the road toward his native village. As he went along, carefully setting one foot to the ground before the other, a horseman came in sight, trotting gaily and briskly along upon a capital animal. "Ah," said Hans, aloud, "what a fine thing that riding is! one is seated, as it were, upon a stool, kicks against no stones, spares one's shoes, and gets along without any trouble!"

The Rider, overhearing Hans making these reflections, stopped and said, "Why, then, do you travel on foot, my fine fellow?"

"Because I am forced," replied Hans, "for I have got a bit of a lump to carry home; it certainly is gold, but then I can't carry my head straight, and it hurts my shoulder."

"If you like we will exchange," said the Rider. "I will give you my horse, and you can give me your lump of gold."

"With all my heart," cried Hans; "but I tell you fairly you undertake a very heavy burden."

The man dismounted, took the gold, and helped Hans on to the horse, and, giving him the reins into his hands, said, "Now, when you want to go faster, you must chuckle with your tongue and cry, 'Gee up! gee up!'"

Hans was delighted indeed when he found himself on the top of a horse, and riding along so freely and gaily. After a while he thought he should like to go rather quicker, and so he cried, "Gee up! gee up!" as the man had told him. The horse soon set off at a hard trot, and, before Hans knew what he was about, he was thrown over head and heels into a ditch which divided the fields from the road. The horse, having accomplished this feat, would have bolted off if he had not been stopped by a Peasant who was coming that way, driving a cow before him. Hans soon picked himself up on his legs, but he was terribly put out, and said to the countryman, "That is bad sport, that riding, especially when one mounts such a beast as that, which stumbles and throws one off so as to nearly break one's neck. I will never ride on that animal again. Commend me to your cow: one may walk behind her without any discomfort, and besides one has, every day for certain, milk, butter, and cheese. Ah! what would I not give for such a cow!"

"Well," said the Peasant, "such an advantage you may soon enjoy; I will exchange my cow for your horse."

To this Hans consented with a thousand thanks, and the Peasant, swinging himself upon the horse, rode off in a hurry.

Hans now drove his cow off steadily before him, thinking of his lucky bargain in this wise: "I have a bit of bread, and I can, as often as I please, eat with it butter and cheese, and when I am thirsty I can milk my cow and have a draught: and what more can I desire?"

As soon, then, as he came to an inn he halted, and ate with great satisfaction all the bread he had brought with him for his noonday and evening meals, and washed it down with a glass of beer, to buy which he spent his two last farthings. This over, he drove his cow farther, but still in the direction of his mother's village. The heat meantime became more and more oppressive as noontime approached, and just then Hans came to a common which was an hour's journey across. Here he got into such a state of heat that his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and he thought to himself: "This won't do; I will just milk my cow, and refresh myself." Hans, therefore tied her to a stump of a tree, and, having no pail, placed his leathern cap below, and set to work, but not a drop of milk could he squeeze out. He had placed himself, too, very awkwardly, and at last the impatient cow gave him such a kick on the head that he tumbled over on the ground, and for a long time knew not where he was. Fortunately, not many hours after, a Butcher passed by, trundling a young pig along upon a wheelbarrow. "What trick is this!" exclaimed he, helping up poor Hans; and Hans told him that all that had passed. The Butcher then handed him his flask and said, "There, take a drink; it will revive you. Your cow might well give no milk: she is an old beast, and worth nothing at the best but for the plough or the butcher!"

"Eh! eh!" said Hans, pulling his hair over his eyes, "who would have thought it? It is all very well when one can kill a beast like that at home, and make a profit of the flesh; but for my part I have no relish for cow's flesh; it is too tough for me! Ah! a young pig like yours is the thing that tastes something like, let alone the sausages!"

"Well now, for love of you," said the Butcher, "I will make an exchange, and let you have my pig for your cow."

"Heaven reward you for your kindness!" cried Hans; and, giving up the cow, he untied the pig from the barrow and took into his hands the string with which it was tied.

Hans walked on again, considering how everything had happened just as he wished, and how all his vexations had turned out for the best after all! Presently a boy overtook

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