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

Mother's darling Jack

What was to be done then? That's the way a person fares when he has no sense! If he had behaved himself, he would have been sitting quietly in the house eating barley-sugar and milk.

Jack walked on and on through the forest, turning to the right and left, forward and backward, hither and thither, on and on he went, poor boy, trying to find some path that led home. He was so hungry and thirsty that he sucked the dew from the leaves and ate the oak-apples and acorns he found on the ground; then he grew tired and cross and frightened. Woe betide any one who loses the way in a forest!

Night came on, and darkness surprised him in the terrible woods. His hair stood on end and he was so terrified that a chill ran through every vein when he heard the wolves, bears, and all sorts of wild beasts howling and panting in the forest. There was no escape now. Then he saw a large tree with a hole in its trunk big enough to shelter him. Nearing it he noticed that this hole had been hollowed out. That was all right. He would hide in it to keep from being devoured by the wild beasts, and was so delighted to find himself safe that he no longer felt sorrowful or hungry. When we have escaped a great danger, we no longer think of small annoyances. Jack fell asleep from fatigue, and was just dreaming that he was at home eating millet and milk, when suddenly, piff, paff, puff, he heard a shot and started up in terror.

What had happened? Only a few paces from him twelve big, horrible robbers, foot-pads, had assembled with their captain, made a fire, roasted an ox, and were just tapping a cask of good wine; they were going to have a carouse. When Jack saw the ox on the spit he began to feel almost famished. Dear me! he was so hungry that he would gladly have turned into a wood-worm and gnawed the tree. The poor lad, in his inexperience, did not know what terrible people robbers are, so he came out of the hole and approached them. This was not wise. Robbers are not to be trifled with.

Jack said he would like something to eat too.

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