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Main > Slavic Folktale > Fairy tale "The story of the plentiful tablecloth, the avenging wand, the sash that becomes a lake and the terrible helmet"

The story of the plentiful tablecloth, the avenging wand, the sash that becomes a lake and the terrible helmet

If he obeys my commands you shall never lack bread and salt, and you may rest assured that my royal favour will not fail you in time of need.”

The herdsman gave his youngest son the king’s message.

“The king, I see,” he replied, “is fond of a good bargain; he does not ask, he commands—and insists upon a fool fetching him acorns of solid gold in return for promises made of air. No, I shall not go.”

And neither prayers nor threats were of the slightest avail to make him change his mind. At last his brothers pulled him forcibly off the stove, put his coat on him and a new cap, and dragged him into the yard, where they gave him a good beating and drove him away, saying, “Now, you stupid, lose no time; be off, and be quick. If you return without the golden acorns you shall have neither supper nor bed.”

What was the poor fellow to do? For a long time he wept, then crossing himself he went in the direction of the forest. He soon reached the dead stump, upon which his cap still rested, and going up to the mother oak, said to her:

“O Oak Tree so green, and with acorns of gold,

In my helplessness I to thee cry;

In Heaven’s great name now to beg I make bold,

My pressing needs pray satisfy.”

The oak moved, and shook its branches: but instead of golden acorns, a tablecloth fell into the fool’s hands. And the tree said, “Keep this cloth always in your possession, and for your own use. When you want a benefit by it, you need only say:

“‘O Tablecloth, who for the poor,

The hungry, and thirsty, makes cheer,

May he who begs from door to door

Feed off you without stint or fear.’”

When it had uttered these words the oak ceased to speak, and the fool, thanking her, bowed, and turned towards home. On his way he wondered to himself how he should tell his brothers, and what they would say, but above all he thought how his good mother would rejoice to see the feast-giving tablecloth. When he had walked about half the distance he met an old beggar who said to him, “See what a sick and ragged old man I am: for the love of God give me a little money or some bread.

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