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NURSERY TALES


THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG

ONCE there was an old woman found a sixpence while she was sweeping, and she took it to the village and bought a little pig with it.

She got part way home, and she came to a stile, and the pig wouldn't go over the stile.

So she told her little dog to bite the pig, and he wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she came to a stick that was lying by the side of the road. And she said, "Stick, stick, beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the stick wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she came to a fire that was burning by the side of the road. And she said, "Fire, fire, burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the fire wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she came to a puddle of water in the road. And she said, "Water, water, quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the water wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she saw an ox standing in a field. And she said, "Ox, ox, drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the ox wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she came to a butcher standing in the door of his shop. And she said, "Butcher, butcher, kill ox, ox won't drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the butcher wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she saw a rope tied to the limb of a tree. And she said, "Rope, rope, hang butcher, butcher won't kill ox, ox won't drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the rope wouldn't.

Then she went along a little way, and she saw a rat. And she said, "Rat, rat, gnaw rope, rope won't hang butcher, butcher won't kill ox, ox won't drink water, water won't quench fire, fire won't burn stick, stick won't beat dog, dog won't bite pig, piggy won't jump over the stile; I see by the moonlight, 'tis half-past midnight, time pig and I were home an hour and a half ago."

But the rat wouldn't.

And the little old woman said to the rat, "I'll cut off your tail, then."

So the rat began to gnaw the rope, and the rope began to hang the butcher, and the butcher began to kill the ox, and the ox began to drink the water, and the water began to quench the fire, and the fire began to burn the stick, and the stick began to beat the dog, and the dog began to bite the pig, and the pig began to jump over the stile, and the little old woman got home that night.

This story has a number of variations, and in the following paragraphs is given a fragment of one of them:

"As I was passing over London bridge I found a kid.

And I said, 'Kid, kid, jump over the moon.'

"Kid wouldn't jump over the moon. 'Tis past midnight; tune kid and I were home an hour and a half ago.

"Then I went along a little farther, and I came to a dog. And I said, 'Dog dog, bite kid; kid won't jump over the moon. 'Tis past midnight, time kid and I were home an hour and a half ago."'

It was an old farmer over ninety years old who was husking corn in a hillside field that tried to repeat this to me. I told him I did not see what the woman wanted the kid to go over the moon for. "I don't see any sense in that," I said.

"Well," was the response, "what's the sense of any of it? All these things you're gettin' are just like that. There ain't no sense in any on 'em."

I was not convinced, but I could think of no satisfactory answer.

The following is probably a more correct version of what this old farmer tried to repeat:

"As I went over London Bridge I lost a guinea and found a kid, and the kid wouldn't go. See, by the moonlight, 'tis half-past midnight time kid and I were home an hour and a half ago.

"Then I went along a little way, and I found a staff; and I said, 'Pray, staff, lick kid; kid won't go,'" etc.

In still another telling, the old woman, instead of remarking the lateness of the hour by the moon, says, "Piggy won't jump over the stile, and I sha'n't get home in time to get my old man's supper to-night."


THE FOX AND THE LITTLE RED HEN.

Once upon a time there was a little red hen lived in the edge of some woods. On the other side of the woods lived an old fox with his mother.

One day the old fox said to his mother, "Now, mother, you have the pot boiling; I'm going to catch the little red hen, and we'll have her for dinner."

So he slung a bag over his shoulder, and started for the little red hen's house.

The little red hen was out in the yard picking up chips to make a fire to boil her teakettle with. So the old fox slipped into the house, and hid behind the door.

Pretty soon the little red hen came in with her apron full of chips. She turned around to lock the door, and she saw the old fox. Then she was so frightened that she dropped all her chips, and flew up to a peg in the wall.

The old fox laughed and said, "Ha, ha! I'll soon bring you down off from there."

Then he began running round and round after his tail.

The little red hen kept turning around on the peg to watch him, and she got so dizzy after a little that she fell off.

Then the old fox picked her up, and put her in his bag, and started home feeling very fine.

By and by the little red hen began to wonder if she could get out. She didn't want to be eaten for dinner that night, and she happened to think she had her scissors in her pocket. So she took them out, and snipped a hole in the bag and jumped out.

Then she picked up some stones in the road, and put them in the bag in her place, and ran home as fast as she could go.

By and by the old fox said to himself, "How heavy this little red hen is. She's so plump and fat, won't she make a good dinner!" and he smacked his lips to think of it.

When he came in sight of the house his mother stood in the door watching for him; and he called out, "Hi, mother, have you got the pot boiling?"

His mother said, "Yes, yes; have you got the little red hen?"

And he answered, "Yes; and she'll make a fine dinner. Now, when I say three, you take the cover off, and I'll pop her in."

"All right," says his mother.

"All ready," says the fox, "one, two, three."

His mother took the cover off, and plump went the stones into the boiling water, and the pot tipped over and scalded the old fox and his mother to death.

But the little red hen lives in the woods by herself yet.


JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

One day there was a woman sweeping her floor, and she swept up a little bean. She didn't know nothing where it came from, and she swept it along and along, and might 'a' swept it into the fireplace; but her little boy saw it, and he picked it up, and said, "I'm goin' to plant this bean, mother."

He took it out in the garden, and dug a hole and planted it. After that he was all the time runnin' out to see if his bean had come up, and when it did come up he was all the time runnin' out to see how it was growin'.

It didn't take it but a day to get as high as the window-sill. Next day it was as high as the house. Next day after that it was as high as the meetin'-house steeple. So it kept growin' until it got so high the top hitched on to one of the horns of the moon.

Then the little boy said he was goin' to climb it. He climbed up till he got to the moon, and when he got there he went along till he came to an old giant's house up there.

That night he crep' into the house, and got in where the giant was sleep-in'. The bed was covered with a great nice quilt, and Jack thought he'd have it. All along the edge was lots of little bells that went tinkle, tinkle, when he began to pull it.

The giant heard him and called out, "Who's round my house this dark, bloody night? "

Jack didn't say nothin', and when all was quiet he pulled the bedquilt off a little farther. The bells went tinkle, tinkle, and the giant woke up and called out, "Who's round my house this dark, bloody night?"

Jack kept still; and every time the giant fell asleep he pulled off a little more of the bedquilt, till finally he had it all, and ran away. He got to the beanstalk, and called out, "Hump it and bump it, and down I go."

Then he slid down, and carried the bedquilt in to his mother.

After a while the little boy thought he'd go up again, and he brought away something more of the giant's. He kept on that way goin' up every few days till I s'pose he got pretty much all that the old giant up there in the moon owned.

But there was one time the old giant caught Jack at it, and he put after him. Jack was a good runner, and he got to the beanstalk first; and he called out, "Hump it and bump it, and down I go."

He slid down so fast that he got to the ground before the giant was halfway down. Then he took his hatchet and chopped off the beanstalk, and the giant came tumbling down and was killed.

After that Jack and his mother were rich people.


THE LITTLE MOUSE WITH THE LONG TAIL.

The children in old times thought this one of the best stories that ever was. The oven spoken of was the brick opening at the side of the old kitchen fireplace where baking was done. When not in use it was a very comfortable place for the cat to jump up to and nap in. The mouse could come down the flue that connected the oven with the chimney, or in at some crevice.

Once there was an old cat in the oven spinin' and spinin'.

Bimeby there came along a little mouse, and the old cat bit its tail off.

Then the little mouse said, "Pray, cat, give me my great long tail again."

And the old cat said, "Well, go to the cow and get me some milk."

So first he hopped and then he jumped, and quickly he came to a good old cow again.

Then the mouse said, "Pray, cow, give me milk, I give cat milk, cat give me my great long tail again."

And the old cow said, "Well, go to the barn and get me some hay."

So first he hopped and then he jumped, and quickly he came to a good old barn again.

Then the mouse said, "Pray, barn, give me hay, cow give me milk, cat give me my great long tail again."

And the barn said, "Well, go to the smith and get me the key."

So first he hopped and then he jumped, and quickly he came to a good old smith again.

Then the mouse said, "Pray, smith, give me key, barn give me hay, cow give me milk, cat give me my great long tail again."

And the smith said, "Well, go to the coaler, and get me some coal."

So first he hopped, and then he jumped, and quickly he came to the good old coaler again.

Then the mouse said, "Pray, coaler, give me coal, smith give me key, barn give me hay, cow give me milk, cat give me my great long tail again."

So the coaler gave him the coal, and the smith gave him the key, and the barn gave him hay, and the cow gave him milk, and the little mouse gave the milk to the cat, and got his great long tail again.

The teller of the story made every repetition of the word "tail" long drawn out and emphatic.

In a variation of this story the mouse is sent by the cow to the men at work in the meadow for the hay. The men send the mouse to the brook for water; but finally, after various trials and tribulations, the mouse gets his great long tail again.

At the beginning of the story, where it speaks of the cat spinning, it means that she was purring.


THE LITTLE RED HEN AND THE WHEAT

Once there was a little red hen found a grain of wheat in the barnyard, and she said, "Who will plant this wheat?"

"I won't," says the dog.

"I won't," says the cat.

"I won't," says the goose.

"I won't," says the turkey.

"I will, then," says the little red hen.

So she planted the grain of wheat. After a while the wheat grew up and was ripe.

"Who will reap this wheat?" says the little red hen.

"I won't," says the dog.

"I won't," says the cat.

"I won't," says the goose.

"I won't," says the turkey.

"I will, then," says the little red hen. So she harvested the wheat.

"Who will thrash this wheat?" says the little red hen.

"I won't," says the dog.

"I won't," says the cat.

"I won't," says the goose.

"I won't," says the turkey.

"I will, then," says the little red hen. So she thrashed the wheat.

"Who will take this wheat to mill to have it ground?" says the Iittle red hen.

"I won't," says the dog.

"I won't," says the cat.

"I won't," says the goose.

"I won't," says the turkey.

"I will, then," says the little red hen. So she took the wheat to mill, and by and by she came back with the flour.

"Who will bake this flour?" says the little red hen.

"I won't," says the dog.

"I won't," says the cat.

"I won't," says the goose.

"I won't," says the turkey.

"I will, then," says the little red hen. So she baked the flour, and made a loaf of bread.

"Who will eat this bread?" said the little red hen.

"I will," says the dog.

"I will," says the cat.

"I will," says the goose.

"I will," says the turkey.

"I will," says the little red hen, and she ate the loaf of bread all up.


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