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A Story for children age 4 to 6.
Ass table and stick.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
A lad named Jack was once so unhappy at home through his father's ill-
treatment, that he made up his mind to run away and seek his fortune
in the wide world.
He ran, and he ran, till he could run no longer, and then he ran right
up against a little old woman who was gathering sticks. He was too
much out of breath to beg pardon, but the woman was good-natured, and
she said he seemed to be a likely lad, so she would take him to be her
servant, and would pay him well. He agreed, for he was very hungry,
and she brought him to her house in the wood, where he served her for
a twelvemonths and a day.
When the year had passed, she called him to her, and said she had good
wages for him. So she presented him with an ass out of the stable, and
he had but to pull Neddy's ears to make him begin at once to ee--aw!
And when he brayed there dropped from his mouth silver sixpences, and
half crowns, and golden guineas.
The lad was well pleased with the wage he had received, and away he
rode till he reached an inn. There he ordered the best of everything,
and when the innkeeper refused to serve him without being paid
beforehand, the boy went off to the stable, pulled the ass's ears and
obtained his pocket full of money. The host had watched all this
through a crack in the door, and when night came on he put an ass of
his own for the precious Neddy of the poor youth. So Jack without
knowing that any change had been made, rode away next morning to his
Now, I must tell you that near his home dwelt a poor widow with an
only daughter. The lad and the maiden were fast friends and true
loves; but when Jack asked his father's leave to marry the girl,
"Never till you have the money to keep her," was the reply. "I have
that, father," said the lad, and going to the ass he pulled its long
ears; well, he pulled, and he pulled, till one of them came off in his
hands; but Neddy, though he hee-hawed and he hee-hawed let fall no
half crowns or guineas.
The father picked up a hay-fork and beat his
son out of the house. I promise you he ran. Ah! he ran and ran till he
came bang against the door, and burst it open, and there he was in a
joiner's shop. "You're a likely lad," said the joiner; "serve me for a
twelvemonths and a day and I will pay you well.'" So he agreed, and
served the carpenter for a year and a day. "Now," said the master, "I
will give you your wage;" and he presented him with a table, telling
him he had but to say, "Table, be covered," and at once it would be
spread with lots to eat and drink.
Jack hitched the table on his back, and away he went with it till he
came to the inn. "Well, host," shouted he, "my dinner to-day, and that
of the best."
"Very sorry, but there is nothing in the house but ham and eggs."
"Ham and eggs for me!" exclaimed Jack. "I can do better than that.--
Come, my table, be covered!"
At once the table was spread with turkey and sausages, roast mutton,
potatoes, and greens. The publican opened his eyes, but he said
nothing, not he.
That night he fetched down from his attic a table very like that of
Jack, and exchanged the two. Jack, none the wiser, next morning
hitched the worthless table on to his back and carried it home. "Now,
father, may I marry my lass?" he asked.
"Not unless you can keep her," replied the father. "Look here!"
exclaimed Jack. "Father, I have a table which does all my bidding."
"Let me see it," said the old man.
The lad set it in the middle of the room, and bade it be covered; but
all in vain, the table remained bare. In a rage, the father caught the
warming-pan down from the wall and warmed his son's back with it so
that the boy fled howling from the house, and ran and ran till he came
to a river and tumbled in. A man picked him out and bade him assist
him in making a bridge over the river; and how do you think he was
doing it? Why, by casting a tree across; so Jack climbed up to the top
of the tree and threw his weight on it, so that when the man had
rooted the tree up, Jack and the tree-head dropped on the farther