Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Johnny Cake

O NCE upon a time, when it was long ago, there lived an old man and an old woman and a little boy.

One day the old woman was making bread, and she stirred up a johnny cake and put it in the oven to bake. Then she went off to the fields to work with the old man, and the little boy was left to watch the oven. Well, the little boy did watch the oven for a little while, and then he grew very sleepy. His head nid, nodded, and soon he was asleep on the kitchen floor.

Now this was just what the johnny cake wanted. He opened the oven door a crack, and down he hopped to the hearth, and out through the kitchen door he ran.

"Hip, hip, hurrah!" called Johnny Cake, as he ran along. "Here I go off by myself to see the world."

But as he ran he passed the field where the little old man and the little old woman were working, and they saw him. Down they dropped their rakes and after Johnny Cake they ran as fast as ever they could go, but they were not quick enough for him.

Johnny Cake skipped along the road, and after a while he came to two ditch diggers. The ditch diggers dropped their shovels, and they ran after Johnny Cake, too, but they were not quick enough for him. Johnny Cake called out to them as he skipped along:—

"I have outrun an old woman, and an old man, and a little boy. I can outrun you-ooo."

So Johnny Cake skipped along the road, and after a while he came to a bear sitting beside a tree. The bear got up, and started after Johnny Cake, but he was not quick enough for him. Johnny Cake called back to him:—

"I have outrun an old woman, and an old man, and a little boy, and two ditch diggers. I can outrun you-ooo."

Then Johnny Cake skipped on down the road, and by and by he came to a fox. "Where are you going, Johnny Cake?" asked the fox.

"Oh," said Johnny Cake, "I have outrun an old man, and an old woman, and a little boy, and two ditch diggers, and a bear. I can outrun you-ooo."

"What did you say, Johnny Cake?" asked the fox, putting his paw to his ear. "I am a little hard of hearing."

"I have outrun an old woman, and an old man, and a little boy, and two ditch diggers, and a bear,"  said Johnny Cake, "I can outrun you-ooo,"  and he stepped a little closer so that the fox could hear him.

"What is that you are saying?" said the fox. "I am very hard of hearing, you know. Step up closer, please." So Johnny Cake went up close to the fox's ear, and shouted very loudly:—

"I HAVE OUTRUN AN OLD WOMAN, AND AN OLD MAN, AND A LITTLE BOY, AND TWO DITCH DIGGERS, AND A BEAR. I CAN OUTRUN YOU-OOO."

"I don't think you can, Johnny Cake," said the fox, as he opened his mouth wide, and ate him up.


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