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  1. The Wheat-Beater
  2. The Rooster and His Companions

The Wheat-Beater

Some three thousand years ago, our neighbour had a lot of wheat in his barn, and every morning he found a portion of this wheat beaten and some sheaves prepared for the next day. He did not know how to explain it.

One evening, after he had hid himself in a corner of the barn, he saw a small man come in and begin to beat the corn. The farmer said to himself, "I must give him a fine coat for his efforts," for the little man was stark naked. As soon as the little man had left the barn, the farmer went to tell his wife. He said, "It is a small, naked man who comes to beat our wheat. We have to make him a little coat to repay him."

The next day the woman took all sorts of pieces of cloth and sowed a little coat of them. Her husband placed the little coat on a heap of wheat.

The brownie returned the next night, and when he was beating the wheat, he found the coat. In his joy he began to jump merrily around, saying, "It pays to serve a good master."

Then he put on the coat and found himself very handsome. "Since I am paid for my work, let whoever want to beat the wheat!" That said, he left and did not return.

[From Lorraine]

NOTE on threshing: When the wheat is beaten with a wooden staff with a short heavy stick swinging from it, it is to get the eatable kernel loosened and separated from the scaly chaff surrounding it. It is hard work.

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The Rooster and His Companions

Once there was a cock that was so old that the farmer decided to slaughter him. But the cock overheard what the farmer was about to do to him, and headed for the woods. On the way he met a sheep.

"Hello, rooster!"

"Hello, sheep! What are you doing?" said the rooster.

"Nothing."

"Do you want to come with me?"

"Yes."

On the way they met a cat.

"Hello, rooster and sheep!" said the cat.

"Hello, cat, what are you doing?"

"Nothing."

"Do you want to come with us?" said the rooster and the sheep.

"Yes."

In the night they saw a house with no lights coming out from the windows. The three companions went closer and found that three wolves lived there, and then they went up on the roof. A wild boar's skin was attached to the top of the chimney there to keep rain out.

The sheep sent the skin to the bottom of the chimney. When the sooted, heavy skin came banging down, the wolves were scared and fled at full speed. The three companions went into the house. The cock settled on a shelf, the sheep found a place next to the door, while the cat jumped into a corner by the fireplace.

But one of the wolves had forgotten his knife, and came back to look for it.

From his shelf the rooster said, "If I make use of my two sickles, I will cut off your head."

The cat said to him from his fireplace corner: "If I go with my awl, I'll tear out his eyes."

Terrified, the wolf started off at full speed for the door. Then the sheep, who stood next to it, butted him in the flanks.

When the wolf found his comrades, he said to them: "There was a reaper who wanted to cut my neck, a shoemaker who wanted to tear out my eyes, and a barrel-maker who rammed me in the back!" [From Dordogne]

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