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English tales

The Little Man

I once knew a little man who every day grew twenty-four hours older without becoming any larger. This vexed him a great deal, for he wished very much to be tall and large like other men, and he could not bear to hear people say,
"Good morning, my little man !"
One day a bright idea came into his mind. He would go to the shoemaker's and have high heels put on his boots- that would make him taller, at least.
The shoemaker was very glad to see him. "Good morning, my little man" he said; "what can I do for you ?"
"Master Crispin," he answered--for that was what he called the shoemaker --" Master Crispin, I wish you would put a new pair of heels on my boots, and make them so high that people will stop calling me a little man. I am tired of such nonsense."
The shoemaker very kindly set to work, and when he had finished the boots and been paid for his work, he said: "I hope that I have pleased you so well you will call again another day. Good-bye, my little man!"
The little gentleman took his leave, greatly vexed that the shoemaker had no more respect for his feelings. "It will be different with the innkeeper," he thought; "he will open his eyes, and greet me by another name." So he went at once to the inn, and walked boldly through the front door into the hall, keeping himself all the time as straight as a young soldier on guard before the general's tent.
"Good morning, my little man," said the innkeeper; "what can I do for you to-day?"
Just think how the little man must have been vexed to find that his high heels had done him so little good. He turned about and hurried away, trying to think what further he might do in order to have people treat him with due respect.
Seeing a hat shop, he made up his' mind to go in and buy the tallest hat that could be found. He was hardly inside the door when the hatter greeted him with, "Good morning my little man! What can I do for you to-day?"
"I want to buy a hat," he said, "that will make me so tall that people will stop calling me a little man. It vexes me."
The hatter gave him a hat tall enough for a grenadier; and when he had gotten his money, he thanked his customer. "I hope you will like it. Good day, my little man!"
The little gentleman was very angry, but he said nothing. "Now it will be different at the inn," he thought; and he hurried back, wearing his hat on the side of his head like an Englishman.
"Good morning, my little man,?" said the inn-keeper, smiling in a very friendly way. "What can I do for you now?"
You may imagine how the little man felt ! What was the use of having such high heels and so tall a hat, when nobody seemed to notice that they had made him any larger ? Up and down the street he went, asking all he met why it was that, in spite of his heels and his hat, he was still called little man. No one could or would tell him, and that vexed him all the more.
"What a dumb fellow I am !" thought he at last. "Who would expect common people like these to know anything? I will go up to the city and ask the governor. He knows everything."
And so, without loss of time, he packed his valise, and set out for the city.
On his way he stopped at a country tavern to pass the night. "A fine day to you, my little man," said the host; "where are you going at this pace?"
"I am going up to the city to talk with the governor," answered the little man, feeling very much out of humor. "I want to ask him why it is that, in spite of my high heels and my tall hat, everybody has the ill manners to call me a little man. It makes me furious!"
"Good! good !" cried the host. "I have a mind to go along with you. I want to ask the governor why it is that everybody calls me the poor tavern keeper." Then, calling to the hostler, he said, "Here, John, you lazybones ! stir yourself quickly, and pack my valise. I am going up to the city to see the governor."
"Master," said the hostler, "I should like to go too. I want to ask the governor why everybody calls me lazybones."
On reaching the city, the three friends went at once to the governor's house and asked to see the governor. The servant led them into the parlor, where there was a very large mirror.
The governor listened to them very kindly, and then said to the tavern keeper:" Turn your back to this mirror; then look over your left shoulder, and tell me what you see."
"What do I see!" cried the tavern keeper. "Why, I see a dozen women sitting round a table, and drinking tea, and talking. And there is my wife, as sure as you live!"
"Well, my friend," said the governor, "as long as your wife spends her time in this way, you will not only be called a poor tavern keeper, but you will be a poor tavern keeper."
The hostler's turn came next. He stood up before the mirror, and looked over his left shoulder.
"Ha, ha!" he cried, "I see two dogs chasing a hare. They think to catch him, but they'll have to get up earlier in the morning if they do."
"Well, my friend," said the governor, "when you run as fast as this hare every time an order is given to you, people will stop calling you lazybones."
And now the little gentleman came forward.
"What do you see ?" asked the governor.
"I see nothing but myself," he answered.
"Do you see yourself larger than you are?"
"No, I see myself just as I am." "Well," said the governor, "I have no doubt but that other people see you the same way. The only advice that I can give you is to have yourself measured till you have really grown larger, then people will stop calling you little. Good-bye, my little man!"
The little gentleman went away not so well pleased as he wanted to be. But there are a good many people who are no wiser than he. Did you never hear of any one who thought to become great by wearing fine clothes?

Unknown 1842


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