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A Dreadful Boar

A POOR Old Woman, who lived with her one little granddaughter in a wood, was out gathering sticks for fuel and found a green stalk of sugar-cane which she added to her bundle. She presently met an elf in the form of a Wild Boar, that asked her for the cane. She declined giving it to him, saying that at her age to stoop and to rise again was to earn what she picked up, and she was going to take the cane home and let her little granddaughter suck its sap.

The Boar, angry at her refusal, said that during the coming night he would come and eat her granddaughter instead of the cane, and went off into the wood.

When the Old Woman reached her cabin she sat down by the door and wailed, for she knew that she had no means of defending herself against the Boar. While she sat crying a vender of needles came along and asked her what was the matter. She told him, but all that he could do for her was to give her a box of needles. The Old Woman stuck the needles thickly over the lower half of the door, on its outer side, and then went on crying.

Just then a Man came along with a basket of crabs, heard her lamentations, and stopped to inquire what was the matter. She told him, but he said he knew no help for her, but he would do the best he could for her by giving her half his crabs. The woman put the crabs in her water jar, behind her door, and again sat down and cried.

A Farmer, who was coming along from the fields, leading his ox, also asked the cause of her distress and heard her story. He said he was sorry he could not think of any way of preventing the evil she expected, but that he would leave his ox to stay all night with her, as it might be a sort of company for her in her loneliness. She led the ox into her cabin, tied it to the head of her bedstead, gave it some straw, and then sat down to cry again.

A courier returning on horseback from a neighboring town was the next to pass her door, and he dismounted to inquire what troubled her. Having heard her tale, he said he would leave his horse to stay with her, and make the ox more contented. So she tied the horse to the foot of the bed, and, thinking how surely evil was coming upon her, she burst out crying anew.

A boy just then came along with a snapping turtle that he had caught and stopped to ask what had happened to her. On learning the cause of her weeping he said it was no use to contend against sprites, but that he would give her his snapping turtle as a proof of his sympathy. She took the turtle, tied it in front of her bedstead, and continued to cry.

Some men who were carrying millstones then came along, inquired into her trouble, and expressed their compassion by giving her a millstone, which they rolled into her back yard. While they were doing this a Man went by carrying hoes and a pickaxe, and he stopped and asked her why she was crying so hard. She told him her grief, and he said he would gladly help her if he could, but he was only a well digger and could do nothing for her except to dig a well. She pointed out a place in the backyard, and he went to work and quickly dug a well.

On his departure the old woman cried again, until a Paper Seller came and inquired what was the matter. When she told him he gave her a large sheet of white paper, as a token of pity, and she laid it smoothly over the mouth of the well.

Nightfall came. The old woman shut and barred her door, put her granddaughter snugly on the wall side of the bed, and then lay down beside her to await the foe.

At midnight the Boar came and threw himself against the door to break it in. The needles wounded him sorely, so that when he had gained an entrance he was heated and thirsty, and went to the water jar to drink.

When he thrust in his snout the crabs attacked him, clung to his bristles, and pinched his ears, till he rolled over and over to free himself.

Then in a rage he approached the front of the bed; but the snapping turtle nipped his tail and made him retreat under the feet of the horse, who kicked him over to the ox, and the ox tossed him back to the horse. Thus beset, he was glad to escape to the back yard to take a rest and to consider the situation.

Seeing a clean paper spread on the ground, he went to lie upon it, and fell into the well. The Old Woman, hearing the fall, rushed out and rolled the millstone down on him and crushed him.


By Adele M. Fielde

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