The Stolen Turnips, the Magic Tablecloth, the Sneezing Goat, and the Wooden Whistle
And though he was old and tired, it was all the same to her how much work she put on his shoulders. The garden was full. There was no room in it at all, not even for a single pea. And all of a sudden the old woman sets her heart on growing turnips.
"But there is no room in the garden," says the old man.
"Sow them on the top of the dovecot," says the old woman.
"But there is no earth there."
"Carry earth up and put it there," says she.
So the old man laboured up and down with his tired old bones, and covered the top of the dovecot with good black earth. He could only take up a very little at a time, because he was old and weak, and because the stairs were so narrow and dangerous that he had to hold on with both hands and carry the earth in a bag which he held in his teeth. His teeth were strong enough, because he had been biting crusts all his life. The old woman left him nothing else, for she took all the crumb for herself. The old man did his best, and by evening the top of the dovecot was covered with earth, and he had sown it with turnip seed.
Next day, and the day after that and every day, the old woman scolded the old man till he went up to the dovecot to see how those turnip seeds were getting on.
"Are they ready to eat yet?"
"They are not ready to eat."
"Is the green sprouting?"
"The green is sprouting."
And at last there came a day when the old man came down from the dovecot and said: "The turnips are doing finely—quite big they are getting; but all the best ones have been stolen away."
"Stolen away?" cried the old woman, shaking with rage. "And have you lived all these years and not learned how to keep thieves from a turnip bed, on the top of a dovecot, on the top of a tower, on the top of a house? Out with you, and don't you dare to come back till you have caught the thieves."
The old man did not dare to tell her that the door had been bolted, although he knew it had, because he had bolted it himself. He hurried away out of the house, more because he wanted to get out of earshot of her scolding than because he had any hope of finding the thieves.