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  1. The Robber Chief
  2. The Talking Tree
  3. The Fool

The Robber Chief

IN the long-ago stormy days of the Middle Ages, when might was right and the weak were the prey of the strong, in one of the mountainous districts of Italy there lived a robber chief called Jatagim.

ITALIAN FOLKTALES - storm.
From the stormy days of the strong of castles -

When but a boy he had broken away from all restraint and gone to live among the mountains, free as the wild animals he loved. He was tall and strong, active as a panther, and with a certain fierce beauty which belongs to wild things. As time went on he gathered companions around him, and together they lived by robbery and plunder.

At first these young brigands only took what they needed for their daily bread, a lamb or a kid from the flocks grazing on the hillside, or a fresh batch of bread from the frightened housewife's store. But as they grew stronger and bolder they began to rob travellers of their gold and merchandise, and even took the few pence they could seize from the poor.

So powerful did this band of robbers become that at last, with Jatagim at their head, they attacked and captured a splendid old castle which was built on the mountain-side, and there took up their abode. This was better than living among the caves and holes of the rocks, and it was a safe place too, where they might hide their plunder.

Night after night the great hall rang with the wild noise of their rioting and revelling; till it seemed as if the very demons which were said to haunt those hills had come down to keep the robbers company.

In the daytime Jatagim would look out from the watch-tower, like a cat stealthily waiting for her prey. All along the winding of the high-road his keen eye would sweep, and woe betide any traveller who passed unprotected along that way. It might be a rich noble going to Rome, with a train of frightened servants; it might be a ragamuffin ambling along on the convent donkey, or a poor woman laden with her market basket; it was all one to the robbers. Like some great bird of prey, Jatagim would swoop down suddenly with so sure an aim and so sudden an onslaught that no one had ever been known to escape his clutches. If the traveller had money or goods, he was stripped of all and suffered to depart; but if he had nothing wherewith to satisfy the greed of the robber band, he was driven up to the castle and thrust into the dungeons, there to await possible ransom.

But while Jatagim reigned like a king and boasted that there was no one who could stand against him, a silent enemy entered the castle and at his touch all Jatagim's great strength and power were brought low. In the grip of a terrible fever Jatagim tossed and groaned and grew weaker day by day. His rough companions gave him but scant pity.

"He will die," they said carelessly. "We need no longer trouble ourselves about him. Let us rather decide now who shall be our chief when he is dead."

In a little dark, bare room, without even a blanket to cover him, and with no one to give him the water he prayed for, they left Jatagim to die.

But among the band of cruel, rough men there was one kind heart that beat with pity for the suffering chief. In the midst of that wilderness of poisonous weeds one pure flower lifted its white cup as fresh and untainted as if it had been reared in some fair lady's bower. The daughter of one of the robber band, she had known no other home than the old grey castle, and no other companions than those men of evil growth. But there she lived her lonely life apart, and her gentle nature remained unharmed.

Hidea, for that was the maiden's name, never troubled herself about the wild life that went on around her. But there was one thing she could not bear. The sight of any creature suffering pain roused all the anger and sorrow which dwelt in her pitiful heart. Many a wounded animal had she saved and tended back to life, many a trapped creature had she set free. But most bitter of all to her was the thought of those poor prisoners driven like sheep into the dark dungeons. She spent many nights sobbing over the thought of what they suffered, and she would clench her hands and pray for the coming of the day when she should be strong and able to set them free.

It was some time before she knew that the chief was ill, and then she scarcely dared to think of entering the little dark room. Every one feared that strong, terrible man who had never been known to give a kind word or gentle look even to his dog. But she crept silently to his door and stood listening there. A moan of pain reached her ears, and then the sound of a feeble voice asking over and over again for "Water, water."

In a moment Hidea forgot her fear, forgot that it was the terrible captain who lay there. It was only someone in pain, someone who needed her help, and she swiftly opened the door and went in.

"Water, water," came the cry again from the poor, dry throat. In a few minutes Jatagim's weary head was resting on her strong arm, as Hidea held a goblet of cool fresh water to the parched lips. Then she brought her own blanket and wrapped it round him and placed a pillow under his head.

From the first moment she ceased to feel any fear of this man. She tended and nursed him as she had nursed many a wild animal which she had found caught in some trap on the mountain- side.

And so, instead of dying, Jatagim began daily to grow better. The fever left him before long, and his strength began to return.

It was one day when the joy of life once more stirring in his veins that the robber chief called Hidea to sit by him.

"Tell me, little maid," he said, "why have you done all this for me?"

"Because you were in pain, and needed my help," answered Hidea promptly.

"By Valhalla with its 540 doors, so wide that 800 warriors may walk through side-by-side, you shall have your reward," said the chief. "When those dogs left me to die, you alone had it in your heart to care what should become of me. Tell me what reward shall I give you? Nothing you ask I will deny you, even if it be all the treasure I have heaped together in my hidden hoards."

Hidea did not answer at once. She sat with her chin leaning on her hand as she thoughtfully gazed out of the little barred window where the swallows swooped and twittered as they built their nests beneath the eaves. Those free and happy birds, it was a pleasure even to watch them. Oh, if only all might share their freedom and joy, and all suffering and pain be banished!

"I do not want your gold," she said at last slowly, "for I seek no reward. But if you seek to pleasure me, give me the lives of those poor prisoners who even now are sighing in the dungeons beneath."

Jatagim looked at her in amazement.

"What are they to you?" he asked. "What should it matter to you whether they go free or die in their dungeons? But you shall have your way, for no man has ever said that Jatagim broke his word."

Hidea bent down and gently touched one of the great wasted hands with her lips. She found no words to speak, but her thanks shone out of her eyes.

Jatagim drew back his hand quickly, and muttered almost roughly that a strong man's hand was more fitted for work than foolish child's play. But his eyes watched her as she went to and fro about her work, and her happiness made him feel strangely content.

"Hidea," he began next day, "before long I shall be myself again and take my place as chief. Then my hounds will once more come to heel. You have chosen your reward and have had your way. But I would choose a way as well, and it is this. You, too, shall be at the head of this band, as you alone are worthy. Say, then, little maid, will you accept my choice and be my wife?"

He spoke eagerly, and a flush was on his thin face, so that Hidea feared the fever had returned.

"Yes, yes," she said soothingly, "I will do all that you wish."

Then she stood at the window and began to tell him how beautiful the outside world was looking. How spring had begun to touch the trees with her dainty green finger-tips, how many swallows had returned, how the corn was sprouting and the anemones were beginning to show purple and scarlet under the olive-trees. He scarcely seemed to listen, but her voice soothed him, and presently she knew he had fallen asleep.

"He will soon grow strong now," she said to herself softly, "and when he is well he will quickly forget this idle fancy."

But it was no idle fancy on the part of Jatagim, and although his strength came back and he once more took command of the robber band, he did not forget his promise as Hidea had expected.

"We must wait till we can lay hands on someone that can marry us," he said. "The first suitable one that we can capture shall be brought up to the castle that he may wed us duly and in order."

Time went on, and Hidea almost felt as if it had all been a dream, for the old evil days of riot and plunder returned to the castle. Jatagim was fiercer and more daring than ever, and Hidea seldom saw him. Only the best room in the castle was now set aside for her use, and by Jatagim's orders she was treated with every respect, and no one dared to molest her.

So she lived her old, lonely life apart, and each day she watched from the turret window the band of robbers ride out to rob and plunder, with Jatagim at their head.

"How strong and brave he is!" she would cry proudly; "no one can match him in strength and courage. And yet, I loved him better when he lay so weak and helpless and needed all my care. All wild things grow gentle when they suffer, though one would not have them suffer always."

At nights the noise of feasting and brawling was louder than ever, but Hidea had learned to pay but little heed to it. There came a night, however, when the noise was so great that she thought something unusual must be happening, and she stole downstairs and slipped into the banqueting- hall.

The reason of the noise was not far to seek. A defenceless old man in a long frock stood there, while the savage crew of robbers made sport of him and roughly ill-treated him.

Hidea's eyes blazed with indignation. She sprang forward and placed her hand on the arm of Jatagim's chair.

"Cowards!" her voice rang fearlessly out. "Twenty strong men to one old man. Shame on you! Brave and fearless warriors, to make war on unarmed old men! Next time, perchance, it will be women and little children."

A hoarse growl of rage like distant thunder broke out at her words. Jatagim, with naming eyes, sprang to his feet. Hardly knowing what he did in his anger, he raised his arm and struck Hidea to the ground.

In the noise and confusion that followed Hidea was carried up to her room, and the old man was dragged off and thrust into the deepest dungeon of the castle.

All was quiet when Hidea came to herself. The cool night wind blew through the open window, and the moonlight made bright patches of silver on the stone floor. She sat up and tried to think. Ah, that poor old man! She had not helped him, but had rather done harm by her sudden burst of anger. She must think of some other way, if yet there was time.

At the door she stood and listened awhile, but not a sound broke the silence. The whole castle was in darkness save where the moonlight streamed through the barred windows. Turning back, she gathered up her blanket and pillow in her arms and then crept quietly down the winding stair and along the gloomy passages till she came to the banqueting-hall. Here again she listened, but only the sound of deep breathing was to be heard. She knew the ways of the robbers and their chief. When once they slumbered they were not lightly wakened.

Carefully then she threaded her way between the sleeping forms till she came to the head of the room where Jatagim lay stretched out in his great chair. Yes, here was what she sought. The great bunch of keys hung at his girdle fastened by a thong of leather. With deft fingers Hidea noiselessly unfastened the keys, only stopping once when the robber chief moved uneasily in his sleep. Then she took some food from the table and a pitcher of water, and like a little grey ghost she glided out as noiselessly as she had entered.

Down in the dungeon, meanwhile, the old man knelt. He was sore and aching in every limb, and he could not sleep. The damp air seemed to choke him, and his throat was parched with thirst.

"O Wodan, how long?" he cried, and as he knelt and prayed, suddenly it seemed as if a vision had been sent to comfort him. He thought the door of the dungeon swung slowly open and there stood an angel looking down on him with pitying eyes. A halo of soft, flame-like light shone round her head, and in one hand she held a goblet of cool, crystal water.

"By healthy apples, are you come yourself to help me in this plight," cried the old man in a trembling voice, "or is this but a vision?"

The woman smiled, and a strong human hand was laid on the old man's shoulder. "I am no vision," she said, "I am only a poor maiden who would gladly help you. I have brought you food and drink and covering to keep you warm."

Then she carried in the load of blankets and her own soft pillow, and prepared a bed for him to lie on. Gently raising him from the cold stones, she held the cool water to his lips, and gave him food, till his strength began to return. Not till then did she begin to question him.

"Have you friends without?" she asked anxiously. "And will they offer a ransom for you? It is your only hope. Jatagim, the man into whose power you have fallen, is the strongest man of all, and no one can stand against his will."

"My child," answered the old man, "My lord is Wodan of mystic, ancient origin."

Then in a weak, low voice he began to tell Hidea the very little he knew of the life of Wodan. "Wednesday is named after him, you know," he told her. And as he spoke his voice grew strong and clear, and a light as if from Wodan's abode shone on his suffering, weary face.

Hidea listened as if spell-bound. She had never heard anything like this before.

"Where is this Wodan to be found?" she asked. "Tell me quickly, for I must tell all this to Jatagim. He will surely take service under such a mighty one."

The old man shook his head sadly.

"His service is not what you think, my daughter," he said. "And why do you take such an interest in this robber chief? I myself saw you were struck to the ground."

"I had angered him, and it was but a small matter," said Hidea carelessly. "To you, perhaps, he seems cruel and rough, but I love him, and before long I shall marry him. But see, the dawn is breaking, and I dare stay no longer to talk with you. Tomorrow I will come again."

The sun had risen, and the busy stir of morning sounded in the castle before Jatagim moved uneasily in his seat and stretched himself. He was still half asleep as his hands felt for the keys which always hung at his girdle, but failing to find them he grew alert and wide-awake in a moment. Who had dared to meddle with those keys? He jumped to his feet and looked about him, fiercely seeking for the thief.

But the room was empty, and as he looked around the only thing his eye lighted on was a little white figure lying fast asleep in the broad window-seat, with the huge bunch of keys hanging loosely in her hands.

The anger died out of Jatagim's eyes as he stood looking down on the sleeping face, but even as he looked she awoke and gazed up smiling into his face.

"So, you have been at your tricks again," he said, as he grimly pointed at the keys on her lap.

But Hidea was not in the least ashamed or afraid. She jumped up and laughed with glee as she jingled the great bunch of keys before him in tune with her laughter.

"Come, come," she said, "never heed the keys and don't look so grim. I have a wonderful tale to tell you," and she dragged him down on to the seat next to her, and began eagerly to tell him all that she had done, and all that the old man had told her.

At first Jatagim was impatient and inclined to be angry, but by-and-bye he grew interested and listened intently.

"I will go to the old man myself and hear this wonderful story," he said at last.

Long and silently the robber chief sat and listened as the old man told his tale. It was indeed a wonderful story, but, above all, something in Jatagim's heart seemed to tell him that it was not only wonderful but fit for him personally.

"Old man," he cried at last, "show me a way by which I may take service under this Wodan."

"Wodan's horror role is very complex," answered the old man solemnly. "But at times he rides on a horse with eight legs, hunting noisily across the sky with a band of warriors."

Jatagim knelt on the cold, damp dungeon floor and began to tell of things he had done that resembled those of Wodan. As he did, plain horror crept over the old man. It was so terrible even to listen to the wild, gruesome tales that the hair rose from his head and he could only gaze in terror and dismay at the man who kept telling of such exploits that Wodan would be gladdened.

When Jatagim had finished, the old man buried his face in his hands. "Oh, horrible, horrible!" he cried. "You are indeed fit for Valhalla for crimes as these."

Then a terrible dark cloud seemed to fall on Jatagim and he could neither eat nor drink nor sleep, and all day long. He even groaned in despair. Day followed day and brought no light to the black darkness of his soul, and all the time Hidea never left him. By his side she could find no words, and the sobs choked her as she watched his dumb misery.

At last, when the robber chief was wasted away to a gaunt shadow, and he had scarcely strength even to moan, she heard him say something no one could make sense of, and then it was too late for any word of comfort to reach that soul heading for the other shore while the body of Jatagim lay stretched out dead on the floor.

The old man shook his head that Jatagim did not die in a nasty battle, and gave his orders that a grave should be dug in the courtyard of the castle.

All the robber band gathered round the grave, and Hidea, white and calm, knelt beside the body of the dead chief. The old man talked long and earnestly to that grim company, and pointed out the terrible example of their leader, and bade them one and all take heed.

But as he spoke Hidea did not seem to listen, but lifted her head and looked up into the sky with an eager, wondering expression in her eyes. Her earnest gaze drew other eyes to look upward, too, and a great silence fell on them all.

A spot of light shone in the blue above, which gradually grew whiter and whiter till it took the form of a horse with eight legs. Nearer and nearer it galloped till it hovered above their heads and then descended. The wondering company saw that it held in its mouth a little golden leaf, and this it gently laid on the dead man's lips. Then, with a good kick of its hind legs, up again it flew, up and away till it was lost in the blue haze of the summer sky.

Awe-struck and with trembling hands Hidea lifted the little gold leaf and saw in shining letters the blessed words "He did what rulers often do." Wodan's horse Sleipnir had brought the message to comfort her, for her man had indeed reached Wodan's large hall with 530 doors, each of them over 500 meter wide. There he could battle and then be revived every day, and feast on evenings to his heart's desire. Yes, Jatagim had made it!

The old man knelt in front of the corpse. Never again did he doubt Wodan's enigmatic mercy, and never again was he heard to say that dying on the battle-field was the only way to get to Valhalla. A heap of sins could get a long way too, at least for this one.

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The Talking Tree

ONCE on a time there was a king who fancied he had gathered in his Castle all the rarest things in the world. One day a stranger came and asked permission to see the collection. He looked at everything minutely, and then said: "The best thing of all is wanting."

"What is wanting?" asked the king. "The talking tree," answered the stranger.

Yes, a talking tree was not among all those wonderful things. With this flea in his ear the king had no more peace. He could not even sleep at night. He sent messengers and exploring commissions throughout the whole world in search of the talking tree, but they all returned empty- handed.

The king then thought the stranger must have been making fun of him, and ordered him to be arrested. "Please," said he, "if your messengers and explorers have searched badly, how can it be my fault? Let them search better."

"But have you seen the talking tree with your own eyes?"

"I have seen it with my own eyes, and what is more, I've heard it with my own ears."

"Where?"

"I no longer remember now."

"And what did it say?"

"Well, it said:

"Ever to wait for what never comes,

Is enough to give one the worst doldrums.'"

So the story was really true! The king again sent off his messengers. A whole year passed, and they all returned as before, empty-handed. Then the king was so angry that he ordered the stranger's head to be chopped off.

"But what fault of mine is it if your Majesty's people have searched badly? Let them search better."

His persistence struck the king as singular! So he called together his Ministers and announced to them his intention of going himself in quest of the talking tree. He would not consider himself a king till he had it safe within his castle walls.

So he set out in disguise. He walked and walked. After travelling for many days he spent the night camping in a deep valley, where not one living soul was to be seen. He stretched himself out on the ground, and was just dropping off asleep when he heard a voice, as of someone weeping:

"Ever to wait for what never comes, Is enough to give one the worst doldrums!" He started up and lent an ear. Had he been dreaming? Then he heard it again. He had not been dreaming.

At once he asked, "Who are you?"

Nobody answered, but next morning, as soon as it was dawn, he noticed near at hand a beautiful tree with branches bending down to the earth. This must be the tree he was after. T make sure, he stretched out his hand and plucked two leaves.

"Ahh! why do you tear me?" said a sad voice.

The king was quite terrified in spite of all his daring; yet he asked:

"Who are you?"

"I am the daughter of a king of Spain," said the voice.

"And how did you come here?"

"One day I saw a fountain as clear as crystal and thought I would bathe in it. No sooner did its waters touch me than I fell under this enchantment.

"What can I do to set you free?"

"You must find out the words of the spell and swear to marry me."

"Okay, but tell me first why did not you answer me last night?"

"Ah!" sighed the tree, "the witch was there! Be quiet! Go away now! I hear her coming back. If by misfortune she found you here, she would throw the spell over you too."

The king ran and hid himself behind a sort of low wall that ran near, and saw the witch come riding on her broomstick.

"Who were you talking to?" asked she.

"To the wind that blows," answered the tree.

"But I see footmarks here!"

"They may be your own."

"Ah, they're mine, are they?" cried the enraged witch, and seizing a great iron club she struck the tree, screaming all the while:

"Wait till I get at you! I'll let you know."

"That will do!" shrieked the tree. "I shall do it no more! I shall never do it again!"

But the witch cried, "Ah, they're mine, are they? Wait till I get at you! I'll let you see!"

The king was greatly distressed at this, but as he could do nothing he saw it was useless to remain there any longer. He resolved to go and try to find out the spell. So he began to retrace his steps; but he took the wrong path due to a thick fog that gently surrounded him.

He came to think he had quite lost his way in the fog and could not find any way out of it. And since it was getting late, climbed up into a high tree to pass the night there, to be out of reach of the wild beasts.

But, lo and behold! just at midnight he heard a deafening noise that rang through the whole wood. It was an ogre coming home, with his hundred mastiffs barking and yelping at his heels.

"Oh, what a fine smell of white flesh!" cried the ogre; and he stopped at the foot of the tree our king was on, and began sniffing up in the air. "Oh, what a good smell!"

The poor king felt cold shivers pass all over him, while he heard the mastiffs rooting and growling among the brushwood around, scraping up the earth and snuffing at his footmarks. But, luckily it was as dark as pitch. The ogre looked about in vain for some little time, then at last went away and called off his mastiffs.

When daylight came, the king, still quaking with fear, slid down from the tree, and began going forward very cautiously. After some time he met a beautiful young girl.

"Lovely maiden," said he, "show me how I may get out of this wood. I am a traveller who has lost his way."

"Poor fellow! how on earth did you get here? My father will pass again in a short time, and will most surely eat you up alive!"

And indeed they could hear the barking of the mastiffs not far off, and the voice of the ogre calling them after him.

"I am lost this time!" thought the king.

"Come here!" cried the maiden; "throw yourself flat down on your face; I shall sit on you, and cover you over with my skirts. Don't even breathe!"

When the ogre saw his daughter, he stopped, "What are you sitting there for?"

"I am resting a little."

"Oh, what a good smell of flesh!"

"A little boy went past and I gobbled him up."

"Well done! And his bones?"

"The dogs ate them up."

Yet the ogre went on sniffing at the air.

"Oh, what a good smell!"

"Well, father, if you wish to reach the seashore in time, don't stop on the way." As soon as the ogre had gone off the king came out from his hiding-place and related his story to the kind maiden.

"If you will but promise to marry me, I can give you the spell you need to break the charm."

Now, this girl was a perfect beauty, and the king would have been nothing loath to wed her, but he remembered his former promise.

"Alas, fair maiden, I have already pledged my word!"

"That's unlucky for me. But no matter." She led him to a great mansion, and taking a pot of ointment that belonged to her father, smeared some of it on him, which at once spread a charm over him.

"And now, my pretty maid, you must please lend me an axe."

"Here is one."

"What is this grease on the edge?"

"It is but some oil from the whetstone on which it was sharpened."

With the charm he now had on him, the king was able to get back in a twinkling to the spot where stood the talking tree.

The witch was not there, so the tree said to him, "Take care! My heart is hidden away in the trunk. When you cut me down, don't mind what the witch says. If she tells you to strike high up, you must strike down. If she tells you to strike down, you must strike up; if not, you will kill me. Then you must cut the nasty old witch's head off at one blow, or it will be all over with you. Not even the charm can save you."

The witch came back after some time. "What are you seeking for in these parts?" she asked of the king.

"I am looking for a tree to make charcoal of, and I have just been considering this one."

"Will it suit you? I make you a present of it, on condition that in felling it you strike exactly where I tell you."

"Very well. Thank you!"

"Strike here." But instead, the king smote there.

"Oh, I made a mistake! Let me begin again."

All the while he could not manage to get a stroke at the witch, who was on her guard. At last he cried, "O-o-o-o-oh!"

"What do you see?"

"Such a fine star!"

"By daylight? That's impossible!"

"See, up there! Right over that branch!"

And while the witch turned her back to look right over the branch, the king aimed a mighty blow and cut her head clean off.

No sooner was the enchantment thus broken, than from the trunk of the tree there stepped forth a damsel so lovely one could scarcely look at her. The king, delighted at having saved her, brought her back with him to his castle, and ordered splendid rejoicings and preparations for the celebration of their wedding.

When the day came and the court ladies were dressing the queen in her bridal robes, to their great astonishment they perceived that she was made of wood, though so beautiful. One of them flew to the king.

"Please your Majesty, the queen is not of flesh and blood, but of wood!"

The king and his Ministers went to see this wonder. To the sight she was like a living woman any person would have been deceived but to the touch she was wood. Yet she could talk and move. The Ministers declared that the king could not marry a wooden doll, even though it could talk and move. And they countermanded the feasting and rejoicings.

"There must be still some other spell hanging over her!" thought the king. And then he remembered the grease on the axe. So he took a piece of meat, and cut it up with the axe. He had guessed aright. The bits of meat still seemed to all appearance to be meat anyone would have been deceived but to the touch they were wood. It was the ogre's daughter who had betrayed him through jealousy!

So he said to his ministers, "I am going away, but shall soon return."

And he travelled till he came to the wood where he had met the beautiful maiden.

"Here again? What good wind has brought you back?"

"I am come for you, dear!"

But the ogre's daughter would not believe him. "On your word of honour as a king, did you really come for me?"

"On my royal word!" And he said quite true; only she imagined it was for their wedding he had come. So, taking his arm, they went into the house together.

"See, here is the axe you lent me." And in giving it to her the king contrived to prick her hand with the point.

"Ah! what has your Majesty done to me? I am turning into wood!"

The king made believe to be much grieved at this accident.

"Is there no remedy for it?"

"Yes! Open that cupboard and you will find a pot of ointment in it; rub me all over with the oil it contains and I shall be cured at once."

So the king did as she bade him, and took the pot of ointment.

"Now, wait till I come back!" he cried, and dashed out of the house.

She understood, but too late, and began screaming after him, "Treason! treason!"

Then she unchained her father's great mastiffs to give him chase. But it was all of no use! - the king was already far out of sight.

So the queen was quite freed from the spell that bound her, and returned to her natural state again; and as she was no longer a wooden doll, the ministers agreed to celebrate the wedding.

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The Fool

ONCE on a time there was a mother who had a son with little brains. One morning she said, "We must get up early, for we have to make bread."

So they both rose early and began to make bread. The mother made the loaves, but took no pains to make them the same size. Her son said to her finally, "How small you have made this loaf, mother!"

"Oh!" said she, "it does not matter whether they are big or little; for the proverb says: " Large and small, all must go to mass"."

"Good, good!"

When the bread was made, instead of carrying it to the baker's, the son took it to the church, for it was the hour for mass, saying, "My mother said that, "Large and small, all must go to mass."."

So he threw the loaves down in the middle of the church. Then he went home to his mother and said, "I have done what you told me to do."

"Good! did you take the bread to the baker's?"

"Oh! mother, if you had seen how they all looked at me!"

"You might also have cast an eye on them in return," said his mother.

"Wait, wait, I will cast an eye at them, too," he exclaimed, and went to the stable and cut out the eyes of all the animals, and putting them in a handkerchief, went to the church and when any man or woman looked at him he threw an eye at them.

When his mother learned what he had done she took to her bed and sent her son for a physician. When the doctor came he felt her pulse and said, "Oh! how weak this poor woman is!"

Then he told the son that he must take good care of his mother and make her some very thin broth and give her a bowlful every minute. The son promised to obey him and went to the market and bought a sparrow and put on the fire a pail of water. When it boiled he put in the sparrow and waited till it boiled up two or three times, and then took a bowl of the broth to his mother, and repeated the dose as fast as he could.

The next day the physician found the poor woman weaker than ever, and told her son he must put something heavy on her so as to throw her into a perspiration.

When the doctor had gone the son piled all the heavy furniture in the room on her, and when she could no longer breathe he ran for the doctor again. This time the doctor saw that nothing was to be done, and advised her son to have her confess and prepare for death. So her son dressed her and carried her to church and sat her in the confessional and told the priest that someone was waiting for him and then went home. The priest soon saw that the woman was dead and went to find her son. When the son heard that his mother was dead, he declared that the priest had killed her, and began to beat him.

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