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

Mother's darling Jack

Seizing the finest ram, the one which wore the big bell round its neck, he pushed it through the opening into the fold. But lo and behold! The fire was burning in the gap, and the ram was so scorched that not a thread of wool was left on its body.

"Oho, now I understand it," cried Jack, still more pleased. "The sheep must go through the fire to keep them from freezing."

And, as he felt that he was doing right, he thrust all the sheep into the fold one after the other.

Suddenly he noticed that the fence, the thatching, and the roof above the opening had all taken fire and were blazing merrily. Jack stood perfectly still. He had never seen any thing of the sort and rejoiced over carrying out his orders so well, for he perceived that the sheep could not possibly be cold in the midst of the fire. So he contentedly watched the work he had accomplished. One thing he did wish—that his master was there, so that he might have said, "See how well I understand tending sheep."

And the wish was fulfilled. His master was just sitting at the table eating bread and onions, because it was a fast day. He looked out of the window and saw a great fire on the mountains, and gazing more attentively at it, noticed that it was in the direction of his fold. This seemed queer. With his mouth full he left the house, walked faster and faster, broke into a run, and went higher and higher up the hill-side till at last, panting for breath, he reached his fold.

Alas! Alas! What a sight! The fold burned down, the sheep of the imperial breed one and all roasted, so that one might have supposed they were nothing but overripe melons. That was a bad job, really a very bad job! Jack had done a great deal of mischief, and might be thankful to escape with a flogging. And so it happened. The farmer, enraged, nay, fairly furious, seized the cunning shepherd and beat him, beat him so that he would have nearly killed him had not Jack luckily escaped from his hands. But after he got away Jack took to his heels and ran with all his might, so that he did not look round until he was in the woods.

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