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A Story for children age 4 to 6.

Huntsman the unlucky.By John T. Naaké.

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ONCE upon a time there lived a huntsman. He would go every day in search of game, but it often happened that he killed nothing, and so was obliged to return home with his bag empty. On that account he was nicknamed "Huntsman the Unlucky." At last he was reduced by his ill fortune to such extremities that he had not a piece of bread nor a kopek left. The wretched man wandered about the forest, cold and hungry; he had eaten nothing for three days, and was nearly dying of starvation. He lay down on the grass determined to put an end to his existence; happily better thoughts came into his mind; he crossed himself, and threw away the gun. Suddenly he heard a rustling noise near him. It seemed to issue from some thick grass close at hand. The hunter got up and approached the spot. He then observed that the grass partly hid a gloomy abyss, from the bottom of which there rose a stone, and on it lay a small jar. As he looked and listened the hunter heard a small voice crying- "Dear, kind traveler, release me!"

The voice seemed to proceed from the little jar. The courageous hunter, walking carefully from one stone to another, approached the spot where the jar lay, took it up gently, and heard a voice crying from within like the chirping of a grasshopper- "Release me, and I will be of service to you." "Who are you, my little friend?" asked Huntsman the Unlucky. "I have no name, and cannot be seen by human eyes," answered a soft voice. "If you want me, call 'Murza!' A wicked magician put me in this jar, sealed it with the seal of King Solomon, and then threw me into this fearful place, where I have lain for seventy years." "Very good," said Huntsman the Unlucky; "I will give you your liberty, and then we shall see how you will keep your word." He broke the seal and opened the little jar-there was nothing in it! "Halloa! where are you, my friend?" cried the hunter. "By your side," a voice answered. The hunter looked about him, but could see no one. "Murza!" "Ready! I await your orders. I am your servant for the next three days, and will do whatever you desire. You have only to say, 'Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what.'"

"Very well," said the hunter. "'You will doubtless know best what is wanted: Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what." As soon as the hunter had uttered these words there appeared before him a table covered with dishes, each filled with the most delicious viands, as if they had come direct from a banquet of the czar. The hunter sat down at the table, and ate and drank till he was satisfied. He then rose, crossed himself, and, bowing on all sides, exclaimed- "Thank you! thank you!" Instantly the table, and everything else with it, disappeared, and the hunter continued his journey. After walking some distance he sat down by the roadside to rest. It so happened that while the hunter was resting himself, there passed through the forest a gypsy thief, leading a horse which he wanted to sell. "I wish I had the money to buy the horse with," thought the hunter; "what a pity my pockets are empty! However, I will ask my invisible friend. Murza!" "Ready!" "Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what." In less than a minute the hunter heard the money chinking in his pocket; gold poured into them, he knew not how nor whence. "Thanks! you have kept your word," said the hunter.

He then began to bargain with the gypsy for the horse. Having agreed upon the price, he paid the man in gold, who, staring at the hunter with his mouth wide open, wondered where Huntsman the Unlucky had got so much money from. Parting from the hunter, the gypsy thief ran with all his speed to the farther end of the forest, and whistled. There was no answer. "They are asleep," thought the gypsy, and entered a cavern where some robbers, lying on the skins of animals, were resting themselves. "Halloa, comrades! Are you asleep?" cried the gypsy. "Get up, quick! or you will lose a fine bird. He is alone in the forest, and his pockets are full of gold. Make haste!" The robbers sprang up, mounted their horses, and galloped after the hunter. The hunter heard the clatter, and seeing himself suddenly surrounded by robbers, cried out- "Murza!" "Ready!" answered a voice near him. "Go there, I know not where; bring something, I know not what."


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