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Jolly and Richie

2006-07-13 22:30

  Once upon a time, in a small cottage on the bank of a river there lived a weaver with his two wives. He made a living by spinning cotton and weaving cloth out of it. In this he was helped by his younger wife and her daughter Jolly. The elder wife and her daughter Richie did not work. All day long they sat about gossiping.

  One day, the weaver fell ill and died. Jolly and her mother were grief stricken but not so Richie and her mother. They threw Jolly and her mother out of the cottage. The poor lady started living in a small hut nearby and went on spinning and weaving for a living.

  Richie and her mother had usurped all the weaver's money. They ate well, dressed well, went to parties and had many rich friends. Jolly and her mother worked hard all day long and led a life of simplicity.

  One morning Jolly's mother had to go to the market. She put some cotton to sun in the yard and told Jolly to guard it well.

  Suddenly there was a gust of wind and the cotton blew away. Jolly chased after it crying, “Mr. Wind, please return my cotton. We are very poor. My mother will be very angry if the cotton is lost.” But the wind would not hear and poor Jolly kept running after it.

  On the way, a cow mooed out, “Dear Jolly, please will you clean out my shed? It has become so dirty.” Jolly was not a girl who refused to do anything. She cleaned the shed, gave the cow some fresh water to drink and once again sped after the cotton.

  Now a big oak tree called out, “Dear Jolly, dear little girl, I am surrounded by old leaves and broken twigs. Please could you clean it a little?” Once again Jolly stopped. She did the oak tree's bidding with a smile and then proceeded on her way.

  She had run quite a distance when a big white mare neighed to her, “Jolly, Jolly, please stop. My master has not given me anything to eat for two days. I am so hungry.” At once Jolly went to the mare's aid. She filled her mouth bag with grain and the trough with clean water. Then off she ran chasing the cotton puffs.

  She ran and ran till she came to a little cottage by a river. In its porch sat a smiling old lady spinning cotton with a little wooden spindle. Jolly bowed to her and very humbly said, “Granny, do you have my cotton? The wind took away my cotton and blew it this way. My mother will be very angry if I lose it.”

  The old lady patted her on the head. “What a nice girl you are Jolly,” she said, “I'll give you your cotton. First why don't you bathe and eat something? You must be very very tired.”

  “Yes grandmother,” said Jolly, “that would be very nice if it does not bother you.”

  “Not at all. Go and bathe in the river. And remember, on not account must you dip your head in the water more than twice.”

  Jolly splashed in the cool river water happily. Then she put her head right into the water once. When she emerged, lo and behold, she was dressed in the most beautiful clothes.

  She ducked her head in once more and wonder of wonders, when she came out she was wearing magnificent jewels. Remembering the old lady's warning, she forbore to dip her head a third time.

  When she came back, a nice hot meal was ready. She shared it with the old lady giving her the tastier pieces. When dinner was over, she asked for her cotton again.

  “Go into the next room. There are many boxes of cotton. You can take whichever one you like,” said the old lady.

  Jolly saw many boxes of many different sizes. She picked out the smallest box, bowed to the old lady and started on her way home.

  The mare called out, “Jolly, dear Jolly, I have a gift for you. Take this little white pony. Now you can ride wherever you want.” Jolly thanked her wholeheartedly and started back again.

  The oak tree called, “Little girl, come here and take this gift. There is a pot full of gold coins near my roots. Dig it out and take it with you.”

  Now Jolly and twos gift along with the box of cotton. The cow called to her. “Come here Jolly and take this calf. When it grows up, it will give plenty of milk for your mother and you.”

  Meanwhile, Jolly's mother had been searching high and low for her daughter. She was weeping sadly when Jolly came along laden with gifts. How happy her mother was! Now they need not be poor any more. At night, they opened the little box of cotton and found it to be full of jewels instead of cotton.

  Richie and her mother were very surprised to see Jolly and her mother wearing good clothes and living comfortably. Richie's mother came to visit Jolly's mother and the simple old lady told her the whole story.

  Simmering with envy, Richie's mother put some cotton out in her own front yard and set Richie to guard it. Suddenly there was a gust of wind and the cotton blew away. Richie ran pell-mell after it.

  The cow mooed out, “Dear Richie, please stop and clean my stable. It is so dirty that I cannot stand here.” “Then don't stand there,” said Richie and ran away.

  The oak tree called, “Little Richie, sweet little girl, please would you clean the little round me?” “Clean it yourself,” retorted Richie and ran away.

  The mare neighed, Dear Richie, please give me something to eat. I am so hungry.“ I am hungry too, said Richie, ”I have to find food for myself. I have no time for you.“

  Finally, she reached the little cottage by the river where the smiling old lady was spinning with her little wooden spindle. Richie leapt at her and snatched away the spindle. “You old hag,” she shrieked, “come, come, be quick. Give me the riches and jewels. I am tired.”

  The old lady was very surprised but she still smiled nicely at Richie. “Why don't you bathe first in the river and then eat something,” she said, 'remember though you must not dip your head in the water more than twice.“

  Richie jumped into the river and dipped her head once. When she came out, she was wearing gorgeous clothes. When she dipped her head the second time, she emerged wearing lovely jewels. “If I dip my head a third time,” she thought, “I'll get even better things.” So she dipped her head a third time and-goodness gracious-what was this? Her hair had turned white and knotty, her teeth had fallen out and her skin was shriveled.

  Howling, Richie went back to the old lady. “What can I do, my child,” she said, 'you did not obey me. Here, have something to eat.“ Richie gobbled up the food without offering any to the old lady. Then grabbing the largest box in the store room, she set off home without even saying goodbye.

  When she reached the oak tree, the mare who was hiding behind it came out and gave her a hard kick. Before she could cry out, the oak tree dropped a heavy branch on her head. Shouting with anger, she was going on her way when the cow came charging with her horns lowered. Richie ran all the way home screaming with fright.

  Her mother was astonished to see her condition. The greedy pair now consoled themselves that their box was the biggest and heaviest in the old lady's store, so it must be full of lots of jewels. But when they opened it, a big python came out and gobbled up both Richie and her mother.

  Jolly and her mother lived happily even after helping the poor and the needy whenever necessary.

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