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Hans The Innocent

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - STORIES for LITTLE BOYS





WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY M. I. WOOD

Once upon a time there was a woman called Mrs. Stockchen and she had a
son named Hans. They lived together in a little cottage and they had a
hen and a cow.

One morning Mrs. Stockchen said to her son: "Hans, my dear, will you
take Cowslip, the cow, to pasture, and remember not to be late for
supper." "Very well," said Hans, and he took up his stick and started
for the field.

The sun was very hot when he got there, and seeing a row of five shady
trees, he lay down underneath them and fell asleep in two seconds. He
snored with his mouth open. Cowslip had been watching him and when she
saw his eyes close, she said, "Now! here's my chance!" and, jumping over
the fence, she ran away.

Hans stopped snoring and awoke at supper-time. He looked for Cowslip,
but she had disappeared; he ran about calling for her, but she did not
come; and at last he went home to his mother with a very sad face and
said: "Oh, mother, Cowslip ran away while I was asleep. I have looked
for her and cannot find her anywhere."

"You lazy, careless, naughty, careless, naughty, lazy Boy!" cried Mrs.
Stockchen. "You have left my poor cow wandering all alone. She will lose
her way in the dark. Just you go and find her this instant. You will get
no supper till you bring her back, or my name is not Matilda Maria!"

Mrs. Stockchen had grown quite scarlet with rage and she shook the
soup-ladle at her son to make him go faster. It was getting quite dark
by the time Hans reached the field again and nowhere did he see any
trace of the cow. He did not know in what direction she had gone, so he
walked round and round the field, feeling very miserable.

Just as 10 o'clock was striking, Cowslip stepped out from behind a tree,
and kneeling at Hans's feet, said in a choking voice, "I am really very
sorry, Hans." "Well," said Hans, "I am sorry too, but let us get home
now." So they set out, tired and rather cross.

But when they came within sight of the light in their own cottage
window, they met two soldiers who stopped them, and asked what they were
doing out so late. "We're just going home," said Hans. "Why," said the
soldiers "you ought to have been there two hours ago."

"Well, I couldn't help it," said Hans, "this cow ran away and I had to
fetch her before going home to supper."

"Boy!" said the soldiers, "you are not speaking the truth, you have
stolen the cow, and you are very impertinent as well. We will take you
to prison."

They tied a rope round Hans's neck and another round the cow's, and took
them to prison. They put Hans into a dungeon full of horrid creatures,
but they let poor Cowslip wander about in the fields outside.

One morning when Hans was crying because the door was locked and because
the window bars looked so strong, Cowslip heard him. She came up beside
the window, and standing on her hind-legs she peeped in and said, "Hans,
my dear master, do you think that if I tried to knock down the wall with
my horns, you could get out?" "I will try," said Hans. It was rather
hard work for Cowslip, but at last she made a big enough hole and Hans
leaped out.

He knocked off his hat in doing so, but then Hans didn't care about a
little thing like that.

He jumped on her back, and away they went, over fallen trees, stones,
ditches, hedges, everything. They came in sight of the cottage at last,
and the sound of their approach caused Mrs. Stockchen to look out of the
window. When she saw who it was she fairly jumped for joy and she rushed
out at once to meet them.

Hans fell into his mother's arms. And they all lived happily ever
afterward.





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