Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin.

Tales of laughter : a third fairy book online

. (page 3 of 31)
Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 3 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


become young again, and instantly Minecco Aniello, who was
just at that minute in the presence of the king, was suddenly
seen to grow hoary, his hairs to whiten, his forehead to
wrinkle, his eyebrows to grow bristly, his eyes to sink in,
his face to be furrowed, his mouth to become toothless, his
beard to grow bushy, his back to be humped, his legs to
tremble, and, above all, his glittering garments to return to
rags and tatters.

The king, seeing this miserable beggar seated beside him at
table, ordered him to be instantly driven away with blows and
hard words; whereupon Aniello, thus suddenly fallen from
his good luck, went weeping to his daughter, and asked for the
ring in order to set matters to rights again. But when he heard
the fatal trick of the false merchant, he was ready to throw
himself out of the window, cursing a thousand times the ig-
norance of his daughter, who, for the sake of a silly doll, had
turned him into a miserable scarecrow, arid for a paltry thing
of rags had brought him to rags himself, adding that he was
resolved to go wandering about the world, like a bad shilling,
until he should get tidings of those merchants. So saying, he
threw a cloak about his neck and a wallet on his back, drew
his sandals on his feet, took a staff in his hand, and, leaving
his daughter all chilled and frozen, he set out walking desper-
ately on until he came to the kingdom of Deep-Hole, inhabited
by mice, where, having been taken for a big spy of the cats, he
was instantly led before Rosecone, 1 the king. The king at once
asked him who he was, whence he came, and what he was

Nibbler.
[27]






TALES OF LAUGHTER

about in that country; and Minecco Aniello, after first giving
the king a cheese-paring, in sign of tribute, related to him all
his misfortunes, one by one, and concluded by saying that he
was resolved to continue his toil and travel until he could get
tidings of those thievish villains who had robbed him of so
precious a jewel, taking from him at once the flower of his
youth, the source of his wealth, and the prop of his honor.

At these words Rosecone felt pity nibbling at his heart ; and
wishing to comfort the poor man, he summoned the oldest mice
to a council, and asked their opinions on the misfortunes of
Minecco Aniello, commanding them to use all diligence and
endeavor to obtain some tidings of those false merchants. Now
among the rest it happened that Rudolo and Saltariello 1 were
present, good mice who were used to the ways of the world,
and had lived for six years at a tavern of great resort hard by,
and they said to Aniello : " Be of good heart, comrade ! Mat-
ters will turn out better than you imagine. You must know
that one day, when we were in a room at the hostelry of the
Horn, where the most famous men of the world lodge and
make merry, two persons from the Hook Castle came in, who,
after they had eaten their fill and had seen the bottom of their
flagon, fell to talking of a trick they had played a certain old
man of Dark-Grotto, and how they had cheated him out of a
stone of great value, which one of them, named Jennarone,
said he would never take from his finger, that he might not
run the risk of losing it, as the old man's daughter had done.

When Minecco Aniello heard this, he told the two mice that
if they would trust themselves to accompany him to the country
where these rogues lived, and recover the ring for him, he
would give them a good lot of cheese and salt meat, which
they might eat and enjoy with his majesty, the king. Then
the two mice, after bargaining for a suitable reward, offered
to go over sea and mountain, and taking leave of his mousy
majesty, they set out.

After journeying a long way, they arrived at Hook Castle,
where the mice told Minecco Aniello to remain under some
1 Nibbler and Skipjack.
[28]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

trees on the brink of the river, which, much like a leech, drew
the moisture from the land and discharged it into the sea.
Then they went to seek the house of the magicians ; and, ob-
serving that Jennarone never took the ring from his finger,
they stood to gain the victory by stratagem; so, waiting till
night had dyed with purple grape-juice the sunburnt face of
heaven, and the magicians had gone to bed and were fast
asleep, Rudolo began to nibble the finger on which the ring
was; whereupon Jennarone, feeling the smart, took the ring
off and laid it on a table at the bed's head. But as soon as Sal-
tariello saw this, he bobbed the ring into his mouth, and in four
skips he was off to find Minecco Aniello, and with even greater
joy than the man at the gallows feels when the pardon arrives,
he instantly turned the magicians into two jackasses, and,
throwing his mantle over one of them, he bestrode him like a
noble count; then he loaded the other with cheese and bacon,
and set off toward Deep-Hole, where, having given presents to
the king and his counselors, he thanked them for all the good
fortune he had received by their assistance, praying Heaven
that no mouse-trap might ever lay hold of them, that no cat
might ever harm them, and that no arsenic might ever poison
them. Then, leaving that country, Minecco Aniello returned
to Dark-Grotto, even more handsome than before, and was re-
ceived by the king and his daughter with the greatest affection
of the heart, and having ordered the two asses cast down from
a rock, he lived happily with his wife, never more taking the
ring from his finger, that he might not again commit such a
folly.



[29]



The Fox and the Cat

/N 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.
The man didn't want puss any longer, but not liking to kill
him, took him out into the forest and lost him 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 get your daily bread."

" You are very good, dear little sister foxy ! " said the cat,
and the fox built him a little shed with a garden round it to
walk about 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."

[30]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

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, Foxy-Woxy, 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!" 1

" What ! " said the bear, who was hiding behind the beeches
with the other beasts, " here have all we four been getting to-
gether 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 climbed
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.

i What a little! what a little!



The Straw Ox

rHERE was once upon a time an old man and an old
woman. The old man worked in the fields as a pitch
burner, while the old woman sat at home and spun
flax. They were so poor that they could save nothing at all;
all their earnings went in bare food, and when that was gone
there was nothing left. At last the old woman had a good
idea.

" Look, now, husband," cried she, " make me a straw ox,
and smear it all over with tar."

" Why, you foolish woman ! " said he, " what's the good of
an ox of that sort ? "

" Never mind," said she ; " you just make it. I know what
I am about."

What was the poor man to do? He set to work and made
the ox of straw, and smeared it all over with tar.

The night passed away, and at early dawn the old woman
took her distaff and drove the straw ox out into the steppe to
graze, and she herself sat down behind a hillock and began
spinning her flax, and cried :

" Graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax ; graze away,
little ox, while I spin my flax ! " And while she spun, her head
drooped down, and she began to doze, and while she was doz-
ing, from behind the dark wood and from the back of the huge
pines a bear came rushing out upon the ox and said :

" Who are you ? Speak and tell me ! "

And the ox said:

" A three-year-old heifer am I, made of straw and smeared
with tar."

" Oh ! " said the bear, " stuffed with straw and trimmed with
tar, are you ? Then give me of your straw and tar, that I may
patch up my ragged fur again ! "

[32]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Take some," said the ox, and the bear fell upon him and
began to tear away at the tar.

He tore and tore, and buried his teeth in it till he found he
couldn't let go again. He tugged and he tugged, but it was
no good, and the ox dragged him gradually off, goodness
knows where. Then the old woman awoke, and there was
no ox to be seen. " Alas ! old fool that I am ! " cried she,
" perchance it has gone home." Then she quickly caught
up her distaff and spinning-board, threw them over her shoul-
ders, and hastened off home, and she saw that the ox had
dragged the bear up to the fence, and in she went to her
old man. " Dad, dad ! " she cried, " look, look ! the ox has
brought us a bear. Come out and kill it ! " Then the old
man jumped up, tore off the bear, tied him up, and threw
him in the cellar.

Next morning, between dark and dawn, the old woman took
her distaff and drove the ox into the steppe to graze. She her-
self sat down by a mound, began spinning, and said :

" Graze, graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax ! Graze,
graze away, little ox, while I spin my flax ! " And while she
spun, her head drooped down, and she dozed. And, lo! from
behind the dark wood, from the back of the huge pines, a gray
wolf came rushing out upon the ox and said :

" Who are you ? Come, tell me ! "

"I am a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and
trimmed with tar," said the ox.

" Oh, trimmed with tar, are you ? Then give me of your tar
to tar my sides, that the dogs and the sons of dogs tear me
not!"

" Take some," said the ox. And with that the wolf fell upon
him and tried to tear the tar off. He tugged and tugged, and
tore with his teeth, but could get none off. Then he tried to
let go, and couldn't; tug and worry as he might, it was no
good. When the old woman woke, there was no heifer in
sight. " Maybe my heifer has gone home ! " she cried ; " I'll
go home and see." When she got there she was astonished,
for by the paling stood the ox with the wolf still tugging at it.

[33]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

She ran and told her old man, and her old man came and threw
the wolf into the cellar also.

On the third day the old woman again drove her ox into the
pastures to graze, and sat down by a mound and dozed off.
Then a fox came running up. " Who are you ? " it asked
the ox.

" I'm a three-year-old heifer, stuffed with straw and daubed
with tar."

" Then give me some of your tar to smear my sides with,
when those dogs and sons of dogs tear my hide ! "

" Take some," said the ox. Then the fox fastened her teeth
in him and couldn't draw them out again. The old woman
told her old man, and he took and cast the fox into the cellar
in the same way. And after that they caught Pussy Swiftfoot l
likewise.

So when he had got them all safely the old man sat down on
a bench before the cellar and began sharpening a knife. And
the bear said to him:

" Tell me, daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for ? "

" To flay your skin off, that I may make a leather jacket for
myself and a pelisse for my old woman."

" Oh, don't flay me, daddy dear ! Rather let me go, and
I'll bring you a lot of honey."

" Very well, see you do it," and he unbound and let the
bear go. Then he sat down on the bench and again began
sharpening his knife. And the wolf asked him :

" Daddy, what are you sharpening your knife for ? "

" To flay off your skin, that I may make me a warm cap
against the winter."

" Oh ! Don't flay me, daddy dear, and I'll bring you a
whole herd of little sheep."

" Well, see that you do it," and he let the wolf go.

Then he sat down, and began sharpening his knife again.
The fox put out her little snout, and asked him :

" Be so kind, dear daddy, and tell me why you are sharpen-
ing your knife ? "

The hare.

[34]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" Little foxes," said the old man, " have nice skins that do
capitally for collars and trimmings, and I want to skin you ! "

" Oh ! Don't take my skin away, daddy dear, and I will
bring you hens and geese."

" Very well, see that you do it ! " and he let the fox go.

The hare now alone remained, and the old man began sharp-
ening his knife on the hare's account.

" Why do you do that ? " asked puss, and he replied :

" Little hares have nice little, soft, warm skins, which will
make me nice gloves and mittens against the winter ! "

" Oh, daddy dear ! Don't flay me, and I'll bring you kale
and good cauliflower, if only you let me go ! "

Then he let the hare go also.

Then they went to bed : but very early in the morning, when
it was neither dusk nor dawn, there was a noise in the door-
way like " Durrrrrr ! "

" Daddy ! " cried the old woman, " there's some one scratch-
ing at the door ; go and see who it is ! "

The old man went out, and there was the bear carrying a
whole hive full of honey. The old man took the honey from
the bear; but no sooner did he lie down than again there was
another " Durrrrr ! " at the door. The old man looked out and
saw the wolf driving a whole flock of sheep into the court-
yard. Close on his heels came the fox, driving before him
geese and hens, and all manner of fowls ; and last of all came
the hare, bringing cabbage and kale, and all manner of good
food. And the old man was glad, and the old woman was glad.
And the old man sold the sheep and oxen, and got so rich that
he needed nothing more. As for the straw-stuffed ox, it stood
in the sun till it fell to pieces.



[35]



The Cat, the Cock, and the Fox

rHERE was once upon a time a cat and a cock, who
agreed to live together ; so they built them a hut in a
barnyard, and the cock kept house while the cat went
foraging for sausages. One day the fox came running up :
" Open the door, little cock ! " cried she.
" Pussy told me not to, little fox ! " said the cock.
" Open the door, little cock ! " repeated the fox.
" I tell you pussy told me not to, little fox ! "
At last, however, the cock grew tired of always saying
" No ! " so he opened the door, and in the fox rushed, seized
him in her jaws, and ran off with him. Then the cock cried :

"Help! pussy-pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!"

The cat heard it, gave chase to the fox, rescued the cock,
brought him home, scolded him well, and said :

" Now keep out of her jaws in the future if you don't want
to be killed altogether ! "

Then the cat went out foraging for wheat, so that the cock
might have something to eat. He had scarcely gone when the
sly she-fox again came creeping up.

" Dear little cock ! " said she, " pray open the door ! "

" Nay, little fox ! Pussy said I wasn't to."

But the fox went on asking and asking till at last the cock
let- him in, when the fox rushed at him, seized him by the neck,
and ran off with him. Then the cock cried out :

[36]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

"Help! pussy -pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!"

The cat heard it, and again he ran after the fox and rescued
the cock, and gave the fox a sound drubbing. Then he said to
the cock :

" Now, mind you, never let her come in again, or she'll eat
you."

But the next time the cat went out, the she-fox came again,
and said :

" Dear little cock, open the door ! "

" No, little fox ! Pussy said I wasn't to."

But the fox begged and begged so piteously that at last the
cock was quite touched, and opened the door. Then the fox
caught him by the throat again, and ran away with him, and
the cock cried:

"Help! pussy-pussy!
That foxy hussy
Has got me tight
With all her might.
Across her tail
My legs do trail
Along the bridge so stony!"

The cat heard it, and gave chase again. He ran and ran, but
this time he couldn't catch the fox up; so he returned home
and wept bitterly, because he was now all alone. At last, how-
ever, he dried his tears and got him a little fiddle, a little fiddle-
bow, and a big sack, and went to the fox's hole and began to
play:

"Fiddle-de-dee!

The foxy so wee

Had daughters twice two,

And a little son too,

[37]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

Oh, fiddle-de-dee!
Come, foxy, and see
My sweet minstrelsy!"

Then the fox's daughter said:

" Mammy, I'll go out and see who it is that is playing so
nicely!"

So out she skipped, but no sooner did pussy see her than he
caught hold of her and popped her into his sack. Then he
played again:

"Fiddle-de-dee!
The foxy so wee
Had daughters twice two,
And a little son too
Oh! Fiddle-de-dee!
Come, foxy, and see
My sweet minstrelsy!"

Then the second daughter skipped out, and pussy caught her
by the forehead, and popped her into his sack, and went on
playing and singing till he had got all four daughters into his
sack, and the little son also.

Then the old fox was left all alone, and she waited and
waited, but not one of them came back. At last she said to
herself :

" I'll go out and call them home, for the cock is roasting,
and the milk pottage is simmering, and 'tis high time we had
something to eat."

So out she popped, and the cat pounced upon her and killed
her too. Then he went and drank up all the soup, and gobbled
up all the pottage, and then he saw the cock lying on a plate.

" Come, shake yourself, cock ! " said puss.

So the cock shook himself, and got up, and the cat took the
cock home, and the dead foxes too. And when they got home
they skinned them to make nice beds to lie upon, and lived
happily together in peace and plenty. And as they laughed
over the joke as a good joke, we may laugh over it too.



[38]



The Fox and the Dove



upon a time there was a dove who built her nest in
a high tree. Every year, about the time when her young
ones were beginning to get feathers, Reynard Sly-Boots
would come along and say to the dove :

" Give me your young ones to eat ; throw them down to me
of your own accord, or I will gobble you up, as well as them ! "

The dove, frightened at the threat, would throw down the
young birds and thus it had happened year after year.

Now one day, as the dove sat most melancholy upon her nest,
a great bird flew up and asked why she was so sad and down-
cast. And the dove answered that it was because Reynard
would soon come and eat up her young ones.

Upon this the great bird replied, " Oh, you goose ! Why
do you throw them down to him? Just bid your good friend
to please give himself the trouble to come after them. Then
you'll soon see him sneak away with his tail between his legs,
for Reynard cannot climb a tree."

So when the time came round and Reynard again presented
himself, the dove said to him, " If you want meat for dinner,
just be so kind as to come up and help yourself."

When the fox saw that he must go away empty he asked
the dove who had counseled her to speak thus, and she an-
swered :

" The great bird that has a nest yonder near the stream."

Reynard at once betook himself to the stream and remon-
strated with the great bird for building his nest in so exposed
a place, asking what he did in case of a high wind.

The great bird answered, " When the wind blows from the
right I turn to the left ; when it blows from the left I turn to
the right."

[39]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

" But what do you do when it blows from all sides ? " asked
the fox.

''' Then I stick my head under my wing," said the great bird,
showing how he did it. But quick as a wink, when the great
bird stuck his head under his wing, Reynard Sly-Boots sprang
upon him and seized him, saying :

u You know how to give counsel to other s^ but not to ad-
vise yourself."

So he ate him up!



[40]



The Fox and the Hedgehog

4 HEDGEHOG met Master Reynard in a field, and
jj said to him, " Hello, master! Whither away? "
JL JL " Oh, Fm just loafing around! " answered the fox.

" Tell me, now," said Reynard to the hedgehog, after they
had been chatting a while, " how manifold is your under-
standing? "

" Threefold," answered the hedgehog.

" Why, how is that ? " asked the fox.

" Why, you see, I have one sense above, one below, and the
third everywhere," replied the hedgehog; and added: "And
how manifold is your understanding? "

" Oh, mine is seventy-sevenfold," answered the fox.

" Well, well ! " said the hedgehog.

Thereupon they walked along through the fields, and so
eagerly were they talking that they gave no heed to the way,
and presently stumbled into a wolf's den. Then was good
counsel precious! How should they ever get out of this
scrape ?

Said Reynard to the hedgehog, " Come now, search around
in your head-piece for a means of getting out of this pickle."

" I should have done that before," answered the hedgehog,
" but I was afraid that by and by you would curse me. How
shall I, a little hedgehog, with only a threefold understanding,
devise anything better than you, who have a seventy-sevenfold
understanding? "

However, after talking back and forth a long time, the hedge-
hog made this suggestion : " Say, Reynard, just seize me by the
ear and throw me up out of the den, because I am the smaller."

" Yes, but how shall I get out? "

" Oh, just stick up your tail, and I will pull you out! "

[41]



TALES OF LAUGHTER

So Reynard seized the hedgehog by the ear and tossed him
up out of the den. Then he called upon him to keep his word.
" Hello, there, Gossip, now pull me out ! "

" Do you know what," answered the hedgehog, " I'll tell you
something. I have only a threefold understanding, and yet I
found a way of helping myself. Now do you help yourself
with your seventy-sevenfold understanding."

By this time a peasant came along, and finding the fox in the
den he made short work with him. But the hedgehog crept
away through the thicket with his threefold understanding,
while Reynard, with all his seventy-sevenfold understanding,
was carried off by the peasant.



[42]



The Disappointed Bear

upon a time a little old woman, who was walking
in the forest, climbed up into a wild-cherry tree to
gather cherries. Now, a bear espied her, and he came
under the tree and cried, " Come down, old woman, that I
may eat you ! "

" Go along with you ! " answered the old woman. " Why



Online LibraryKate Douglas Smith WigginTales of laughter : a third fairy book → online text (page 3 of 31)