Gateway to the Classics: Canadian Wonder Tales by Cyrus MacMillan
Canadian Wonder Tales by  Cyrus MacMillan

The Stupid Boy and the Wand

T HREE brothers lived with their mother in the forest. They had no sisters; their father was dead, and their mother was an invalid. The youngest boy was very stupid and silly; he was always doing foolish things, and he could never be trusted to do anything in the right way. His two brothers provided for the home, and worked to get food and clothing for themselves and their mother. While they were away, the youngest boy was left in charge of the house and his sick mother. But each night when the two older boys came home, they found that their brother had made many mistakes during the day. Sometimes he gave all the food in the house away to beggars. So they often beat him. But his mother always said, "He will do better yet." His brothers were more cruel to him each day. One day when they were away, an old woman came to the door and asked for food and clothing. The boy worked hard to give her what she asked for, but when his brothers came home they only beat him for his pains.

That night the boy ran away from home. He decided that he would endure his brothers' cruelty no longer. So he went into the forest with a sad heart and slept under the trees. In the morning the old woman to whom he had given food the day before came along. He was crying bitterly, for he was hungry and cold. She asked him why he cried, and he told her of his brothers' cruelty. "Never mind," she said, "we will bring happiness out of your sorrow." She gave him a little wand, and told him to carry it with him always and that it would bring him good fortune. Then she told him to go back home and that all would be well. So he put the magic stick under his coat and went home. He reached home early, and his brothers and mother did not know he had been away.

Before they went away to work, his brothers told him to look after the pigs all day. Soon after they had gone, a rich drover came along wanting to buy pigs. The boy said he would sell all he had for a good sum. He first cut off the pigs' tails and placed them in a heap. He sold the pigs to the man and gave the money to his mother. Then he took the tails and went to the swamp near the river and stuck them in the mud. When his brothers came home they asked about the pigs. The boy said they had run to the swamp and had sunk into the mud. The brothers went to the swamp, and there were the tails sticking up from the mire. They pulled each one, and each tail came up. The brothers thought the tails had broken off and that the pigs were sunk in the mud. And they were very angry at the boy.

The next day they decided to drown him and thus get rid of him. So they placed him in a bag and brought him to the river when the tide was out and the beach was bare. They dug a hole far out in the sand and buried him. They thought the tide would come in over the hole and drown him. When they had gone away, the boy waved his wand and at once the pigs he had sold to the drover came grunting over the sand. He called to them to root up the mud where he lay, and he promised them good food if they would obey him. So they rooted in the sand until the bag was uncovered. Then he kicked a hole in the bag and crawled out. He killed a pig, placed it in the bag and buried it. Soon the tide came in and covered the hole, and the boy hid near his home all night.


the pigs came grunting over the sand.

The next day when the tide was out and the beach was bare again, the brothers went down to the spot where they had buried the boy. They wanted to dig him up and bury him in a better place. But when they dug up the bag and opened it, they found only a dead pig. They went home in great wonder, but when they reached the house, the boy was sitting on the doorstep laughing at them. Then they decided to try again to kill him. They placed him in a strong bag and set out with him to a high waterfall; they planned to throw the bag into the river above the falls, and he would be dashed to pieces on the rocks as he was carried over. As they went along, they were hungry, and at noon they left the bag on the side of the road and went into a place to eat. While they were eating, the rich drover who had bought the pigs came along driving a herd of cattle and a flock of sheep. He gave the bag a kick as he passed. The boy called to him, and he stopped and asked what he was doing in the bag. The boy said, "My brothers and I are going on a robbing tour. They hide me in the bag and leave me where much money can be taken. No one else knows that I am in the bag, and it will never be found out where the money has gone." The drover said he would like to go along too. But the boy said, "My brothers will not let you. But you and I can work together unknown to them. You take my place in the bag and I will follow at a distance. My cruel brothers will not know, and when you have taken the money, I will let you out and we will run away together." So the drover took the boy's place in the bag. The boy told him not to utter a sound. Then he ran away and found the drover's cattle and took charge of them.

Soon his brothers came out of the eating-place. They gave the bag a kick and thought that the boy was still in it. Then they went on their way. When they came to a spot above the waterfall, they tossed the bag far out into the stream. It was carried over the falls, and the poor drover was never seen again. Meanwhile the boy had sold all the drover's cattle and sheep. He went home with a large sum of money and gave it to his mother. When his brothers arrived home, he met them at the door and laughed at them. Then his brothers decided to make no further attempt to kill him, for they saw that it would be of no use. They asked him to let them join him, for they knew that in some way he had received strange power. So the three set out one morning together. As they went along through the forest, a band of robbers fell upon them, and killed the two brothers. But because of his wand, the boy escaped. That night he came upon the robbers' house. The robbers were sitting inside counting out their money. The boy went in with his wand and killed them all. He took their money and went home to his mother. Then he went back to the forest and roused his two brothers from their death sleep. And they all went home and lived happily and comfortably ever afterwards.

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