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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "The Little Bull-Calf"

The Little Bull-Calf

Centuries of years ago, when almost all this part of the country was wilderness, there was a little boy, who lived in a poor bit of property and his father gave him a little bull-calf, and with it he gave him everything he wanted for it.

But soon after his father died, and his mother got married again to a man that turned out to be a very vicious step-father, who couldn't abide the little boy. So at last the step-father said: "If you bring that bull-calf into this house, I'll kill it." What a villain he was, wasn't he?

Now this little boy used to go out and feed his bull-calf every day with barley bread, and when he did so this time, an old man came up to him—we can guess who that was, eh?—and said to him: "You and your bull-calf had better go away and seek your fortune."

So he went on and he went on and he went on, as far as I could tell you till to-morrow night, and he went up to a farmhouse and begged a crust of bread, and when he got back he broke it in two and gave half of it to the bull-calf. And he went to another house and begged a bit of cheese crud, and when he went back he wanted to give half of it to the bull-calf. "No," says the bull-calf, "I'm going across the field, into the wild-wood wilderness country, where there'll be tigers, leopards, wolves, monkeys, and a fiery dragon, and I'll kill them all except the fiery dragon, and he'll kill me."

The little boy did cry, and said: "Oh, no, my little bull-calf; I hope he won't kill you."

"Yes, he will," said the little bull-calf, "so you climb up that tree, so that no one can come nigh you but the monkeys, and if they come the cheese crud will save you. And when I'm killed, the dragon will go away for a bit, then you must come down the tree and skin me, and take out my bladder and blow it out, and it will kill everything you hit with it. So when the fiery dragon comes back, you hit it with my bladder and cut its tongue out."

(We know there were fiery dragons in those days, like George and his dragon in the legend; but, there!

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