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Main > Romanian folktales > Fairy tale "Mother's darling Jack"

Mother's darling Jack

"How do you do, good sir!"

"Thank you kindly, may you grow tall, my son."

One word led to another, and Jack briefly told the man his whole story, from beginning to end, and the peasant was pleased, because, just at that time, he needed a shepherd-boy to drive the little flock to pasture, lead them to water, and watch them that they might not mingle with others. They were a particular breed of sheep, and he would not have had them injured on any account. Such sheep, it was reported, were owned only by one emperor, from whom the peasant had obtained the single lamb. So they were sheep, well—we can imagine how beautiful they were, since they had descended from a lamb that belonged to an emperor!

Jack was glad, too, because he found himself in luck again. So they made a bargain, and Jack became a shepherd boy.

"You must watch the sheep the whole livelong day, drive them down into the valley to drink, and when it grows dark bring them back to the fold. If it seems cold, make a fire at the entrance of the pen, and that the sheep may not freeze, drive them into the fold." These were the peasant's orders, and Jack said he would do exactly as he was told.

During the day Jack watched the sheep; when he was thirsty he led them down to drink, and as it grew dark drove them to the fold. This fold was a strange contrivance. Jack had never seen one before. It was inclosed by a fence of woven willow branches, roofed with rushes that the rain might not injure it, but in one place an opening had been left, over which was a roof made of reeds, supported by posts. "That's the entrance to the fold," said Jack to himself, delighted with his penetration.

As he was cold he made a fire in the opening, just under the reed-roof. A fire is a fine thing, and Jack warmed himself by it. Then he remembered that his master had told him he must drive the sheep into the fold, to keep them from freezing. True, he did not understand why they should be any warmer inside the fold than outside, but he did as he was ordered.

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