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Main > Ukrainian folktales > Fairy tale "The Ungrateful Children and the Old Father Who Went to School Again"

The Ungrateful Children and the Old Father Who Went to School Again

Once upon a time there was an old man. He lived to a great age, and God gave him children whom he brought up to man’s estate, and he divided all his goods amongst them. “I will pass my remaining days among my children,” thought he.

So the old man went to live with his eldest son, and at first the eldest son treated him properly, and did reverence to his old father. “’Tis but meet and right that we should give our father to eat and drink, and see that he has wherewithal to clothe him, and take care to patch up his things from time to time, and let him have clean new shirts on festivals,” said the eldest son. So they did so, and at festivals also the old father had his own glass beside him. Thus the eldest son was a good son to his old father. But when the eldest son had been keeping his father for some time he began to regret his hospitality, and was rough to his father, and sometimes even shouted at him. The old man no longer had his own set place in the house as heretofore, and there was none to cut up his food for him. So the eldest son repented him that he had said he would keep his father, and he began to grudge him every morsel of bread that he put in his mouth. The old man had nothing for it but to go to his second son. It might be better for him there or worse, but stay with his eldest son any longer he could not. So the father went to his second son. But here the old man soon discovered that he had only exchanged wheat for straw. Whenever he began to eat, his second son and his daughter-in-law looked sour and murmured something between their teeth. The woman scolded the old man. “We had as much as we could do before to make both ends meet,” cried she, “and now we have old men to keep into the bargain.” The old man soon had enough of it there also, and went on to his next son. So one after another all four sons took their father to live with them, and he was glad to leave them all. Each of the four sons, one after the other, cast the burden of supporting him on one of the other brothers.

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