Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

Tales of laughter : a third fairy book online

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fast and oft?"

" Why not, when Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the
cask and drowned himself, and Dame Partlet sits in the ingle
and sighs and sobs? That's why I grind and groan," said
the handquern.

[305]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" If I can do naught else I will crack," said the chair; and
with that he fell to creaking and cracking,

When the door heard that it said :

" What's the matter ? Why do you creak and crack so, Mr.
Chair?"

" Why not ? " said the chair. " Goodman Chanticleer has
fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits
in the ingle sighing and sobbing, and the handquern grinds
and groans. That's why I creak and crackle, and croak and
crack."

" Well," said the door, " if I can do naught else, I can
rattle and bang, and whistle and slam " ; and with that it began
to open and shut, and bang and slam ; it deaved one to hear,
and all one's teeth chattered.

All this the stove heard, and it opened its mouth and called
out:

" Door ! door ! why all this slamming and banging ? "

" Why not," said the door, " when Goodman Chanticleer
has fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet
sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds
and groans, and the chair creaks and cracks. That's why I
bang and slam."

" Well," said the stove, " if I can do naught else, I can
smolder and smoke " ; and so it fell a-smoking and steaming
till the room was all in a cloud.

The ax saw this as it stood outside, and peeped with its
shaft through the window.

" What's all this smoke about, Mrs. Stove ? " said the ax in
a sharp voice.

" Why not," said the stove, " when Goodman Chanticleer
has fallen into the cask and drowned himself; Dame Partlet
sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds
and groans ; the chair creaks and cracks, and the door bangs
and slams. That's why I smoke and steam."

" Well, if I can do naught else, I can rive and rend," said
the ax ; and with that it fell to riving and rending all around
about.

[306]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

This the aspen stood by and saw.

" Why do you rive and rend everything so, Mr. Ax ? " said
the aspen.

" Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and
drowned himself," said the ax ; " Dame Partlet sits in the ingle
sighing and sobbing; the handquern grinds and groans; the
chair creaks and cracks; the door slams and bangs, and the
stove smokes and steams. That's why I rive and rend all
about."

" Well, if I can do naught else," said the aspen, " I can
quiver and quake in all my leaves " ; so it grew all of a quake.

The birds saw this, and twittered out:

" Why do you quiver and quake, Miss Aspen ? "

" Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and
drowned himself," said the aspen, with a trembling voice;
" Dame Partlet sits in the ingle sighing and sobbing ; the
handquern grinds and groans; the chair creaks and cracks;
the door slams and bangs; the stove steams and smokes,
and the ax rives and rends. That's why I quiver and
quake."

" Well, if we can do naught else, we will pluck off all our
feathers," said the birds ; and with that they fell a-pilling and
plucking themselves till the room was full of feathers.

This the master stood by and saw; and, when the feathers
flew about like fun, he asked the birds :

" Why do you pluck off all your feathers, you birds ? "

" Oh, Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into the ale-cask and
drowned himself," twittered out the birds ; " Dame Partlet sits
sighing and sobbing in the ingle; the handquern grinds and
groans; the chair creaks and cracks; the door slams and
bangs; the stove smokes and steams; the ax rives and rends,
and the aspen quivers and quakes. That's why we are pilling
and plucking all our feathers off."

" Well, if I can do nothing else, I can tear the brooms
asunder," said the man; and with that he fell tearing and
tossing the brooms till the birch-twigs flew about east and
west.

[307]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

The goody stood cooking porridge for supper, and saw all
this.

" Why, man ! " she called out, " what are you tearing the
brooms to bits for ? "

" Oh," said the man, " Goodman Chanticleer has fallen into
the ale-vat and drowned himself; Dame Partlet sits sighing
and sobbing in the ingle ; the handquern grinds and groans ;
the chair cracks and creaks ; the door slams and bangs ; the
stove smokes and steams ; the ax rives and rends ; the aspen
quivers and quakes ; the birds are pilling and plucking all their
feathers off, and that's why I am tearing the besoms to bits."

" So, so ! " said the goody ; " then I'll dash the porridge over
all the walls," and she did it ; for she took one spoonful after
the other, and dashed it against the walls, so that no one could
see what they were made of for very porridge.

That was how they drank the burial ale after Goodman
Chanticleer, who fell into the brewing- vat and was drowned ;
and, if you don't believe it, you may set off thither and have
a taste both of the ale and the porridge.



[308]



Reynard Wants to Taste Horse-flesh



day as Bruin lay by a horse which he had slain,
and was hard at work eating it, Reynard came along
that way, and came up spying about and licking his
lips, to see if he might get a taste of the horse-flesh. So he
doubled and turned till he got just behind Bruin's back, and
then he jumped on the other side of the carcass and snapped
a mouthful as he ran by. Bruin was not slow either, for he
made a grab at Reynard and caught the tip of his red brush
in his paw ; and ever since then Reynard's brush is white at
the tip, as any one may see.

But that day Bruin was merry, and called out:

" Bide a bit, Reynard, and come hither, and I'll tell you
how to catch a horse for yourself."

Yes, Reynard was ready enough to learn, but he did not
for all that trust himself to go very close to Bruin.

" Listen," said Bruin. " When you see a horse asleep, bask-
ing in the sunshine, you must mind and bind yourself fast by
the hair of his tail to your brush, and then you must make
your teeth meet in the flesh of his thigh."

As you may fancy, it was not long before Reynard found
out a horse that lay asleep in the sunshine, and then he did as
Bruin had told him; for he knotted and bound himself well
into the hair of his tail, and made his teeth meet in the horse's
thigh.

Up sprang the horse, and began to kick and rear and gallop,
so that Reynard was dashed against stock and stone, and got
battered black and blue, so that he was not far off losing both
wit and sense. And while the horse galloped, they passed Jack
Longears, the hare.

[309]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Whither away so fast, Reynard? " cried Jack Longears.

" Post-haste, on business of life and death, dear Jack," cried
Reynard.

And with that Jack stood upon his hind-legs, and laughed
till his sides ached and his jaws split right up to his ears.
It was so funny to see Reynard ride post-haste.

But you must know, since that ride Reynard has never
thought of catching a horse for himself. For that once at
least it was Bruin who had the best of it in wit, though they
do say he is nearly always as simple-minded as the trolls.



Bruin and Reynard Partners

NCE on a time Bruin and Reynard were to own a field
ki common. They had a little clearing up in the wood,
and the first year they sowed rye.

" Now we must share the crop as is fair and right," said
Reynard. " If you like to have the root, I'll take the top."

Yes, Bruin was ready to do that; but when they had
threshed out the crop, Reynard got all the corn, but Bruin
got nothing but roots and rubbish. He did not like that at all,
but Reynard said it was how they had agreed to share it.

" This year I have the gain," said Reynard ; " next year it
will be your turn. Then you shall have the top, and I shall
have to put up with the root."

But when the spring came, and it was time to sow, Rey-
nard asked Bruin what he thought of turnips.

" Aye, aye ! " said Bruin, " that's better food than corn " ;
and so Reynard thought also. But when harvest came Rey-
nard got the roots, while Bruin got the turnip-tops. And then
Bruin was so angry with Reynard that he put an end at once
to his partnership with him.



Pork and Honey



y^T dawn the other day, when Bruin came tramping

jt-i over the bog with a fat pig, Reynard sat up on a
-^L JL stone by the moorside.

" Good day, grandsire," said the fox. " What's that so nice
that you have there ? "

" Pork," said Bruin.

" Well, I have got a dainty bit too," said Reynard.

" What is that? " asked the bear.

" The biggest wild bee's comb I ever saw in my life," said
Reynard.

" Indeed, you don't say so," said Bruin, who grinned and
licked his lips, he thought it would be so nice to taste a little
honey. At last he said : " Shall we swap our fare ? "

" Nay, nay! " said Reynard, " I can't do that."

The end was that they made a bet, and agreed to name
three trees. If the fox could say them off faster than the
bear, he was to have leave to take one bite of the bacon ; but
if the bear could say them faster, he was to have leave to take
one sup out of the comb. Greedy Bruin thought he was
sure to sup out all the honey at one breath.

"Well," said Reynard, "it's all fair and right, no doubt,
but all I say is, if I win, you shall be bound to tear off the
bristles where I am to bite."

" Of course," said Bruin, " I'll help you, as you can't help
yourself."

So they were to begin and name the trees.

" FIR, SCOTCH FIR, SPRUCE," growled out Bruin, for he
was gruff in his tongue, that he was. But for all that he only
named two trees, for fir and Scotch fir are both the same.

" Ash, Aspen, Oak," screamed Reynard, so that the wood
rang again.






TALES OF LAUGHTER

So he had won the wager, and down he ran and took the
heart out of the pig at one bite, and was just running off with
it. But Bruin was angry because Reynard had taken the best
bit out of the whole pig, and so he laid hold of his tail and held
him fast.

" Stop a bit, stop a bit," he said, and was wild with rage.

" Never mind," said the fox, " it's all right ; let me go,
grandsire, and I'll give you a taste of my honey."

When Bruin heard that, he let go his hold, and away went
Reynard after the honey.

" Here, on this honeycomb," said Reynard, " lies a leaf, and
under this leaf is a hole, and that hole you are to suck."

As he said this he held up the comb under the bear's nose,
took off the leaf, jumped up on a stone, and began to gibber
and laugh, for there was neither honey nor honeycomb, but a
wasp's nest, as big as a man's head, full of wasps, and out
swarmed the wasps and settled on Bruin's head, and stung
him in his eyes and ears, and mouth and snout. And he had
such hard work to rid himself of them that he had no time
to think of Reynard.

And that's why, ever since that day, Bruin is so afraid of
wasps.



[313]



How Reynard Outwitted Bruin

NCE on a time there was a bear, who sat on a hillside
in the sun and slept. Just then Reynard came slouching
by and caught sight of him.

" There you sit taking your ease, grandsire," said the iox.
" Now, see if I don't play you a trick." So he went and
caught three field-mice and laid them on a stump close under
Bruin's nose, and then he bawled out into his ear, " Bo ! Bruin,
here's Peter the Hunter, just behind this stump"; and as he
bawled this out he ran off through the wood as fast as ever
he could.

Bruin woke up with a start, and when he saw the three
little mice, he was as mad as a March hare, and was going
to lift up his paw and crush them, for he thought it was they
who had bellowed in his ear.

But just as he lifted it he caught sight of Reynard's tail
among the bushes by the woodside, and away he set after him,
so that the underwood crackled as he went, and, to tell the
truth, Bruin was so close upon Reynard that he caught hold
of his off hind-foot just as he was crawling into an earth
under a pine-root. So there was Reynard in a pinch ; but for
all that he had his wits about him, for he screeched out,

" SLIP THE PINE-ROOT AND CATCH REYNARD'S FOOT," and SO

the silly bear let his foot slip and laid hold of the root instead.

But by that time Reynard was safe inside the earth, and called

out:

" I cheated you that time, too, didn't I, grandsire ? "

" Out of sight isn't out of mind," growled Bruin down the

earth, and was wild with rage.



tan]



Nanny Who JPouldnt Go Home to Supper

rHERE was once upon a time a woman who had a son
and a goat. The son was called Espen and the goat
was called Nanny. But they were not good friends,
and did not get on together, for the goat was perverse and
wayward, as goats will be, and she would never go home at
the right time for her supper. So it happened one evening
that Espen went out to fetch her home, and when he had
been looking for her awhile, he saw Nanny high, high up on
a crag.

" My dear Nanny, you must not stay any longer up there ;
you must come home now, it is just supper-time. I am so
hungry and want my supper."

" No, I sha'n V said Nanny, " not before I have finished
the grass on this tussock, and that tussock and this and that
tussock."

" Then I'll go and tell mother," said the lad.

" That you may, and then I shall be left to eat in peace,"
said Nanny.

So Espen went and told his mother.

" Go to the fox and ask him to bite Nanny," said his
mother.

The lad went to the fox. " My dear fox, bite Nanny, for
Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry, and I want
my supper," said Espen.

" No, I don't want to spoil my snout on pig's bristles and
goat's beard," said the fox.

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the wolf/' said his mother.

[315]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

The lad went to the wolf. " My dear wolf, tear the fox,
for the fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home
in time. I am so hungry, and I want my supper."

" No," said the wolf, " I won't wear out my paws and teeth
on a skinny fox."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the bear and ask him to slay the wolf," said
the mother.

The lad went to the bear. " My dear bear, slay the wolf,
for the wolf won't tear the fox, and the fox won't bite Nanny,
and Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry and
want my supper."

" No, that I won't," said the bear ; " I don't want to wear
out my claws for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the Finn and ask him to shoot the bear."

The lad went to the Finn. " My dear Finn, shoot the bear,
for the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox,
the fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in
time. I am so hungry and want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the Finn ; " I am not going to shoot
away my bullets for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the fir," said his mother, " and ask it to crush
the Finn."

The lad went to the fir-tree. "My dear fir, crush the
Finn, for the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay
the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite
Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry
and want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the fir ; "I am not going to break
my boughs for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the fire," said his mother, " and ask it to burn
the fir."

The lad went to the fire. " My dear fire, burn the fir, for
the fir won't crush the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear,



TALES OF LAUGHTER

the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the
fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in time.
I am so hungry and want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the fire ; " I am not going to burn
myself out for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the water, and ask it to quench the fire," she
said.

The lad went to the water. " My dear water, quench the
fire, for the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't crush the
Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the
wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Nanny,
and Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry and
want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the water ; " I am not going to waste
myself for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the ox," said she, " and ask him to drink up
the water."

The lad went to the ox. " My dear ox, drink up the water,
for the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn the
fir, the fir won't crush the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear,
the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the
fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in time.
I am so hungry and want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the ox ; "I am not going to burst
myself for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the yoke," said she, " and ask it to throttle
the ox."

The lad went to the yoke. " My dear yoke, throttle the ox,
for the ox won't drink the water, the water won't quench the
fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't crush the Finn,
the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf,
the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Nanny, and
Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry and want
my supper."

[317]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" No, I will not," said the yoke ; " I am not going to break
myself in two for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

"Well, go to the ax," said she, "and tell it to split the
yoke."

The lad went to the ax. "My dear ax, split the yoke,
for the yoke won't throttle the ox, the ox won't drink
the water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't
burn the fir, the fir won't crush the Finn, the Finn won't
shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf
won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny
won't come home in time, I am so hungry and want my
supper."

" No, I will not," said the ax ; " I am not going to blunt my
edge for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the smith," said she, " and ask him to hammer
the ax."

The lad went to the smith. " My dear smith, hammer the
ax, for the ax won't split the yoke, the yoke won't throttle
the ox, the ox won't drink the water, the water won't quench
the fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't crush the
Finn, the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the
wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Nanny,
and Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry and
want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the smith ; " I'll not burn my coals
and wear out my sledge-hammers for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the rope," said she, " and ask it to hang the
smith."

The lad went to the rope. " My dear rope, hang the smith,
for the smith won't hammer the ax, the ax won't split the
yoke, the yoke won't throttle the ox, the ox won't drink the
water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn
the fir, the fir won't crush the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the
bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox,



TALES OF LAUGHTER

the fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in
time. I am so hungry and want my supper."

" No, I will not," said the rope ; " I am not going to break
in two for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the mouse," said she, " and ask her to gnaw
the rope."

The lad went to the mouse. " My dear mouse, gnaw the
rope, for the rope won't hang the smith, the smith won't ham-
mer the ax, the ax won't split the yoke, the yoke won't throttle
the ox, the ox won't drink the water, the water won't quench
the fire, the fire won't burn the fir, the fir won't crush the Finn,
the Finn won't shoot the bear, the bear won't slay the wolf,
the wolf won't tear the fox, the fox won't bite Nanny, and
Nanny won't come home in time. I am so hungry and want
my supper."

" No, I will not," said the mouse; " I am not going to wear
out my teeth for that."

So the lad went and told his mother.

" Well, go to the cat," said she, " and ask her to catch the
mouse."

The lad went to the cat. " My dear cat, catch the mouse,
for the mouse won't gnaw the rope, the rope won't hang the
smith, the smith won't hammer the ax, the ax won't split the
yoke, the yoke won't throttle the ox, the ox won't drink the
water, the water won't quench the fire, the fire won't burn
the fir, the fir won't crush the Finn, the Finn won't shoot the
bear, the bear won't slay the wolf, the wolf won't tear the fox,
the fox won't bite Nanny, and Nanny won't come home in
time. I am so hungry and want my supper."

"Yes, but give me a drop of milk for my kittens and
then " said the cat.

Yes, that she should have. So the cat caught the mouse,
and the mouse gnawed the rope, and the rope hanged the
smith, and the smith hammered the ax, and the ax split the
yoke, and the yoke throttled the ox, and the ox drank the
water, and the water quenched the fire, and the fire burned



TALES OF LAUGHTER

the fir, and the fir crushed the Finn, and the Finn shot the
bear, and the bear slew the wolf, and the wolf tore the fox,
and the fox bit Nanny, and Nanny took to her heels, scam-
pered home, and ran against the barn wall and broke one of
her legs.

" M a h a h ! " bleated the goat. There she lay, and
if she isn't dead she is still limping about on three legs. But
Espen said it served her right, because she would not come
home in time for supper that day.



[320]



The Box With Something Pretty In It

NCE on a time there was a little boy who was out walk-
m S on tne road, and when he had walked a bit he found
a box.

" I am sure there must be something pretty in this box," he
said to himself; but however much he turned it, and however
much he twisted it, he was not able to get it open.

But when he had walked a bit farther, he found a little tiny
key. Then he grew tired and sat down, and all at once he
thought what fun it would be if the key fitted the box, for it
had a little keyhole in it. So he took the little key out of his
pocket, and then he blew first into the pipe of the key, and
afterward into the keyhole, and then he put the key into the
keyhole and turned it. " Snap ! " it went within the lock ; and
when he tried the hasp, the box was open.

But can you guess what there was in the box? Why, a
cow's tail; and if the cow's tail had been longer, this story
would have been longer too.




The Farmer and the Troll

TROLL once lived in a little hill that stood in the
corner of a farm. Thinking that the ground should
not lie idle the Farmer came one day and began to
plow it up. He had hardly begun, when the Troll appeared
and asked:

" How dare you plow in the roof of my house ? "
" I did not know it was the roof of your house," returned
the Farmer. " I thought it a pity to let such a good piece of
land lie idle, and I think so still. Let me make an agreement
with you."

"What is your agreement?" said the Troll.
" Well, let me see. I will plow, sow, and reap the ground
every year, and we will take the produce year and year about.
One year you will take what grows above ground, and I will
take what grows below. Then we can change around, and I
will take what grows above ground, and you, what grows
below. What do you say ? "

" Very well," answered the Troll ; " that will satisfy me."
The agreement was then made ; but the crafty Farmer took
care to sow carrots the year the Troll was to have what grew
above ground, and corn the year the Troll was to have what
grew below. So the poor elf got only carrot-tops and corn-
roots. However, he was content, and the Farmer and he lived
for years amicably under this arrangement.



[322]



Ones Own Children Always Prettiest



upon a time a man went out shooting in a forest,
and there he met a woodcock.

" Pray, don't shoot my children," cried the woodcock.

" What are your children like ? " asked the man.

" Mine are the prettiest children in the forest," answered
the woodcock.

" I suppose I mustn't shoot them, then," said the man.

When he came back he carried in his hand a whole string of
young woodcocks which he had shot.

" Oh, dear, oh, dear ! Why, you have shot my children
after all ! " wept the woodcock.

" Are these yours? " said the man. " Why, I shot the ugli-
est I could find."

" Yes, yes," answered the woodcock ; " but don't you know
that every one thinks his own children the prettiest ? "



[323]



The Princess Whom Nobody Could Silence

rHERE was once upon a time a king, and he had a
daughter who would always have the last word; she
was so perverse and contrary in her speech that no
one could silence her. So the king therefore promised that he



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 21 of 31)