The Stolen Turnips, the Magic Tablecloth, the Sneezing Goat, and the Wooden Whistle
My old father used to say that those gold pieces are lying about still for anybody to pick up; but I doubt if he knew just where to look for them, or he would have had better clothes on his back and a little more food on the table. But who knows? Some day we may come upon that little hut somewhere in the forest, and then we shall know what to look for.
The children laughed and chattered and kicked the gold pieces this way and that into the green bushes. Then they brought the old man into the hut and gave him a bowl of kasha to eat, because he had had no dinner. There was no magic about the kasha; but it was good enough kasha for all that, and hunger made it better. When the old man had finished the kasha and drunk a glass of tea and smoked a little pipe, he got up and made a low bow and thanked the children. And the children tied a rope to the goat and sent the old man home with it. He hobbled away through the forest, and as he went he looked back, and there were the little queer children all dancing together, and he heard them chattering and shouting: "Who stole the turnips? We stole the turnips. Who paid for the turnips? We paid for the turnips. Who stole the tablecloth? Who will pay for the tablecloth? Who will steal turnips again? We will steal turnips again."
But the old man was too pleased with the goat to give much heed to what they said; and he hobbled home through the green forest as fast as he could, with the goat trotting and walking behind him, pulling leaves off the bushes to chew as they hurried along.
The old woman was waiting in the doorway of the house. She was still as angry as ever.
"Have you beaten the children?" she screamed. "Have you beaten the children for stealing my good turnips?"
"No," said the old man; "they paid for the turnips."
"What did they pay?"
"They gave me this goat."
"That skinny old goat! I have three already, and the worst of them is better than that."
"It has a cold in the head," says the old man.
"Worse than ever!