A poor old woman who lived with her one little
grand-daughter in a wood was out gathering sticks for fuel, and found a
green stalk of sugar-cane, which she added to her bundle. She presently
met an elf in the form of a wild Boar, that asked her for the cane, but
she declined giving it to him,saying that, at her age, to stoop and to
rise again was to earn what she picked up, and that she was going to take
the cane home, and let her little granddaughter suck its sap: The Boar,
angry at her refusal, said that he would, during the coming night, eat her
granddaughter instead of the cane, and went off into the wood.
When the old woman reached her cabin she sat down
by the door and wailed, for she knew she had no means of defending herself
against the Boar. While she sat crying, a vender of needles came along and
asked her what was the matter. She told him, and he said that all he could
do for her was to give her a box of needles. This he did, and went on his
way. The old woman stuck the needles thickly over the lower half of her
door, on its outer side, and then she went on crying. Just then a man came
along with a basket of crabs, heard her lamentations, and stopped to
inquire what ailed her. She told him, and he said he knew no help for her,
but he would do the best he could for her by giving her half his crabs.
The old woman put the crabs in her water-jar, behind her door, and again
sat down and cried. A farmer soon came along from the fields, leading his
ox, and he also asked the cause of her distress and heard her sad story.
He said he was sorry he could not think of any way of preventing the evil
she expected, but that he would leave his ox to stay all night with her,
as it might be a sort of company for her in her loneliness. She led the ox
into her cabin, tied it to the head of her bedstead, gave it some straw,
and then cried again.
A courier, returning on horseback from a
neighboring town, next passed her door, and dismounted to inquire what
troubled her. Having heard her tale, he said he would leave his horse to
stay with her, and make the ox more contented. So she tied the horse to
the foot of her bed, and, thinking how surely evil was coming upon her
with the night, she burst out crying anew. A boy just then came along with
a snapping-turtle that he had caught, and stopped to ask what had happened
to her. On learning the cause of her weeping, he said it was of no use to
contend against sprites, but that he would give her his snapping-turtle as
a proof of his sympathy. She took the turtle, tied it in front of her
bedstead, and continued to cry.
Some men who were carrying mill-stones then came
along, inquired into her trouble, and expressed their compassion by giving
her a mill-stone, which they rolled into her back yard. A little later a
man arrived carrying hoes and pickax, and asked her why she was crying so
hard. She told him her grief, and he said he would gladly help her if he
could, but he was only a well-digger, and could do nothing for her other
than to dig her a well. She pointed out a place in the middle of her back
yard, and he went to work and quickly dug a well.
On his departure the old woman cried again, until a
paper-seller came and inquired what was the matter. When she had told him,
he gave her a large sheet of white paper, as a token of pity, and she laid
it smoothly over the mouth of the well.
Nightfall came; the old woman shut and barred her
door, put her granddaughter snugly on the wall-side of the bed, and then
lay down beside her, to await the foe.
At midnight the Boar came, and threw himself
against the door to break it in. The needles wounded him sorely, so that
when he had gained an entrance he was heated and thirsty, and wentto the
water-jar to drink. When he thrust in his snout the crabs attacked him,
clung to his bristles and pinched his ears, till he rolled over and over
to disencumber himself. Then in a rage he approached the front of the bed,
but the snapping-turtle nipped his tail, and made him retreat under the
feet of the horse, who kicked him over to the ox, who tossed him back to
the horse; and thus beset he was glad to escape to the back yard to take a
rest, and to consider the situation. Seeing a clean paper spread on the
ground, he went to,lie upon it, and fell into the well. The old woman
heard the fall, rushed out, rolled the mill-stone down on him, and crushed