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

The Wonderful Pot

O NCE upon a time there lived a little boy and his mother, and they were very, very poor because a rich man had stolen all their money. They lived in a tiny hut, and all they owned in the world was a cow.

At last, one day, they had not a bite left to eat.

"You must sell the cow," the mother said to the little boy. So the little boy took the cow's halter and started down the road to sell her.

On the way he met a stranger, and the stranger took from under his cloak a little black iron pot with three legs.

"Will you give me your cow if I give you this wonderful pot?" asked the stranger.

"Not I," said the little boy; but just then he heard a wee voice. It was the little iron pot talking.

"Take me, do," said the pot. So the little boy gave the cow to the stranger. He took the pot home and he put it in the barn in the cow's stall.

"Ah, me, what a bad bargain you have made, son," said the mother when she saw no money, only a three-legged pot in the barn. But the pot began dancing about in the cow's stall.

"Clean me, and put me over the fire," said the wonderful pot. So the mother washed the pot and set it over the fire, but, ah, she had naught with which to fill it.

"I skip, I skip," said the pot, jumping down from the fire and running across the floor.

"How far do you skip?" asked the mother.

"To the rich man's house," said the pot, skipping out of the door and up the road as fast as its three legs would carry it.

Now the rich man's wife was making a pudding.

"Ah," she cried, when she saw the pot skip up to her door, "you are just what I needed to boil my pudding in."

She filled the pot with good things, flour and butter and sugar and fruit and spices.

"Now boil," she said, setting the pudding over the fire. So the pudding boiled and boiled and boiled, but when it was done, tap, tap, went the three little legs. The pot jumped from the fire and skipped out of the door and down the road.

"Where are you going with my pudding?" called the rich man's wife, running after the pot.

"Home again," called the pot, and the rich man's wife could not stop it. So the poor little boy and his mother had all the pudding they could eat.

Next morning the wonderful pot said again, "I skip, I skip."

"How far do you skip?" asked the mother.

"To the rich man's barn," said the pot, skipping down the road as fast as its three little legs could take it. It stopped at the barn door. Inside, the threshers were threshing grain.

"See the fine little pot," cried the threshers; "how much wheat will it hold?"

Then the threshers poured a peck of wheat into the pot, but there was room for more. They poured in a bushel of wheat. There was still room for more. They poured and poured until the pot held all of the rich man's wheat.

Tap, tap, went the three little legs, and out of the door skipped the pot, and down the road.

"Where are you going?" called the threshers, running after it.

"Home again," called back the wonderful pot, and the threshers could not catch it.

So the poor little boy and his mother had all the wheat bread that they could eat.

Next morning, the wonderful pot said again:—

"I skip, I skip."

"How far do you skip?" asked the mother.

"To the rich man's counting house," said the pot, skipping down the road as fast as its three legs could take it.

It was a beautiful day, and the rich man sat in his counting house spreading his gold out in the sunlight to keep it from growing mouldy.

The wonderful pot skipped up to the window, and jumped up on the table.

"Just what I need to measure my gold," said the rich man, and he filled the pot full to the rim with gold dollars.

Tap, tap, went the three little legs. Out of the window jumped the pot, and down the road it hastened.

"Where are you going?" called the rich man.

"Home again," called back the pot, and the rich man could not catch it. So the poor little boy and his mother had all the gold which the rich man had stolen from them.

The fourth day the wonderful pot said as before:—

"I skip, I skip."

"Why do you skip, little pot?" asked the mother, for they needed nothing, having pudding, and bread, and gold.

"To fetch the rich man," said the little pot, and off it skipped. But as soon as the rich man spied it skipping gayly along the road on its three little legs, he cried:—

"Ah, you wicked little pot. You took my pudding, and my wheat, and my gold. I will break you to bits."

So he laid hold of the little pot's handle, but there he stuck, and he could not let go no matter how he pulled. He became smaller, and smaller, until he found himself inside the pot.

"I skip, I skip," said the wonderful pot for the last time. Tap, tap, went the three little legs, and the pot skipped gayly off with the rich man inside, and nobody knew where they went, for they never came back again.


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