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STORIES TO TELL TO CHILDREN (9)

2006-08-28 20:42

    LITTLE JACK ROLLAROUND

    Based on Theodor Storm's story of Der Kleine Hawelmanu (George Westermann, Braunschweig)。 Very freely adapted from the German story. Once upon a time there was a wee little boy who slept in a tiny trundle-bed near his mother's great bed. The trundle-bed had castors on it so that it could be rolled about, and there was nothing in the world the little boy liked so much as to have it rolled. When his mother came to bed he would cry, "Roll me around! roll me around!" And his mother would put out her hand from the big bed and push the little bed back and forth till she was tired. The little boy could never get enough; so for this he was called "Little Jack Rollaround."

    One night he had made his mother roll him about, till she fell asleep, and even then he kept crying, "Roll me around! roll me around!" His mother pushed him about in her sleep, until she fell too soundly aslumbering; then she stopped. But Little Jack Rollaround kept on crying, "Roll around! roll around!"

    By and by the Moon peeped in at the window. He saw a funny sight: Little Jack Rollaround was lying in his trundle- bed, and he had put up one little fat leg for a mast, and fastened the corner of his wee shirt to it for a sail, and he was blowing at it with all his might, and saying, "Roll around! roll around!" Slowly, slowly, the little trundle-bed boat began to move; it sailed along the floor and up the wall and across the ceiling and down again!

    "More! more!" cried Little Jack Rollaround; and the little boat sailed faster up the wall, across the ceiling, down the wall, and over the floor. The Moon laughed at the sight; but when Little Jack Rollaround saw the Moon, he called out, "Open the door, old Moon! I want to roll through the town, so that the people can see me!"

    The Moon could not open the door, but he shone in through the keyhole, in a broad band. And Little Jack Rollaround sailed his trundle-bed boat up the beam, through the keyhole, and into the street.

    "Make a light, old Moon," he said; "I want the people to see me!"

    So the good Moon made a light and went along with him, and the little trundle- bed boat went sailing down the streets into the main street of the village. They rolled past the town hall and the schoolhouse and the church; but nobody saw little Jack Rollaround, because everybody was in bed, asleep.

    "Why don't the people come to see me?" he shouted.

    High up on the church steeple, the Weather-vane answered, "It is no time for people to be in the streets; decent folk are in their beds."

    "Then I'll go to the woods, so that the animals may see me," said Little Jack. "Come along, old Moon, and make a light!"

    The good Moon went along and made a light, and they came to the forest. "Roll! roll!" cried the little boy; and the trundle- bed went trundling among the trees in the great wood, scaring up the chipmunks and startling the little leaves on the trees. The poor old Moon began to have a bad time of it, for the tree-trunks got in his way so that he could not go so fast as the bed, and every time he got behind, the little boy called, "Hurry up, old Moon, I want the beasts to see me!"

    But all the animals were asleep, and nobody at all looked at Little Jack Rollaround except an old White Owl; and all she said was, "Who are you?"

    The little boy did not like her, so he blew harder, and the trundle-bed boat went sailing through the forest till it came to the end of the world.

    "I must go home now; it is late," said the Moon. "I will go with you; make a path!" said Little Jack Rollaround.

    The kind Moon made a path up to the sky, and up sailed the little bed into the midst of the sky. All the little bright Stars were there with their nice little lamps. And when he saw them, that naughty Little Jack Rollaround began to tease. "Out of the way, there! I am coming!" he shouted, and sailed the trundle-bed boat straight at them. He bumped the little Stars right and left, all over the sky, until every one of them put his little lamp out and left it dark.

    "Do not treat the little Stars so," said the good Moon.

    But Jack Rollaround only behaved the worse: "Get out of the way, old Moon!" he shouted, "I am coming!"

    And he steered the little trundle-bed boat straight into the old Moon's face, and bumped his nose!

    This was too much for the good Moon; he put out his big light, all at once, and left the sky pitch-black.

    "Make a light, old Moon! Make a light!" shouted the little boy. But the Moon answered never a word, and Jack Rollaround could not see where to steer. He went rolling criss-cross, up and down, all over the sky, knocking into the planets and stumbling into the clouds, till he did not know where he was.

    Suddenly he saw a big yellow light at the very edge of the sky. He thought it was the Moon. "Look out, I am coming!" he cried, and steered for the light.

    But it was not the kind old Moon at all; it was the great mother Sun, just coming up out of her home in the sea, to begin her day's work.

    "Aha, youngster, what are you doing in my sky?" she said. And she picked Little Jack Rollaround up and threw him, trundle-bed boat and all, into the middle of the sea!

    And I suppose he is there yet, unless somebody picked him out again. HOW BROTHER RABBIT FOOLED THE WHALE AND THE ELEPHANT

    Adapted from two tales included in the records of the American Folk-Lore Society. One day little Brother Rabbit was running along on the sand, lippety, lippety, when he saw the Whale and the Elephant talking together. Little Brother Rabbit crouched down and listened to what they were saying. This was what they were saying:-

    "You are the biggest thing on the land, Brother Elephant," said the Whale, "and I am the biggest thing in the sea; if we join together we can rule all the animals in the world, and have our way about everything."

    "Very good, very good," trumpeted the Elephant; "that suits me; we will do it."

    Little Brother Rabbit snickered to himself. "They won't rule me," he said. He ran away and got a very long, very strong rope, and he got his big drum, and hid the drum a long way off in the bushes. Then he went along the beach till he came to the Whale.

    "Oh, please, dear, strong Mr. Whale," he said, "will you have the great kindness to do me a favor? My cow is stuck in the mud, a quarter of a mile from here. And I can't pull her out. But you are so strong and so obliging, that I venture to trust you will help me out."

    The Whale was so pleased with the compliment that he said, "Yes," at once.

    "Then," said the Rabbit, "I will tie this end of my long rope to you, and I will run away and tie the other end round my cow, and when I am ready I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull very, very hard, for the cow is stuck very deep in the mud."

    "Huh!" grunted the Whale, "I'll pull her out, if she is stuck to the horns."

    Little Brother Rabbit tied the rope-end to the whale, and ran off, lippety, lippety, till he came to the place where the Elephant was.

    "Oh, please, mighty and kindly Elephant," he said, making a very low bow "will you do me a favor?"

    "What is it?" asked the Elephant.

    "My cow is stuck in the mud, about a quarter of a mile from here," said little Brother Rabbit, "and I cannot pull her out. Of course you could. If you will be so very obliging as to help me——"

    "Certainly," said the Elephant grandly, "certainly."

    "Then," said little Brother Rabbit, "I will tie one end of this long rope to your trunk, and the other to my cow, and as soon as I have tied her tightly I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull; pull as hard as you can, for my cow is very heavy."

    "Never fear," said the Elephant, "I could pull twenty cows."

    "I am sure you could," said the Rabbit, politely, "only be sure to begin gently, and pull harder and harder till you get her."

    Then he tied the end of the rope tightly round the Elephant's trunk, and ran away into the bushes. There he sat down and beat the big drum.

    The Whale began to pull, and the Elephant began to pull, and in a jiffy the rope tightened till it was stretched as hard as could be.

    "This is a remarkably heavy cow," said the Elephant; "but I'll fetch her!" And he braced his forefeet in the earth, and gave a tremendous pull.

    "Dear me!" said the Whale. "That cow must be stuck mighty tight;" and he drove his tail deep in the water, and gave a marvelous pull.

    He pulled harder; the Elephant pulled harder. Pretty soon the Whale found himself sliding toward the land. The reason was, of course, that the Elephant had something solid to brace against, and, too, as fast as he pulled the rope in a little, he took a turn with it round his trunk!

    But when the Whale found himself sliding toward the land he was so provoked with the cow that he dove head first, down to the bottom of the sea. That was a pull! The Elephant was jerked off his feet, and came slipping and sliding to the beach, and into the surf. He was terribly angry. He braced himself with all his might, and pulled his best. At the jerk, up came the Whale out of the water.

    "Who is pulling me?" spouted the Whale.

    "Who is pulling me?" trumpeted the Elephant.

    And then each saw the rope in the other's hold.

    "I'll teach you to play cow!" roared the Elephant.

    "I'll show you how to fool me!" fumed the Whale. And they began to pull again. But this time the rope broke, the Whale turned a somersault, and the Elephant fell over backwards.

    At that, they were both so ashamed that neither would speak to the other. So that broke up the bargain between them.

    And little Brother Rabbit sat in the bushes and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

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