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The Chase

from Old French Fairy Tales - Good Little Henry





Henry was within a half-hour's walk of the summit of the mountain when
he reached a pit so wide that he could not possibly jump to the other
side and so deep that it seemed bottomless. Henry did not lose courage,
however. He followed the borders of the pit till he found himself where
he started from and knew that this yawning pit surrounded the mountain.

"Alas! what shall I do?" said poor Henry; "I scarcely overcome one
obstacle when another more difficult seems to rise up before me. How
shall I ever pass this pit?"

The poor child felt for the first time that his eyes were filled with
tears. He looked around for some means of passing over but saw no
possible chance and seated himself sadly on the brink of the precipice.
Suddenly he heard a terrible growl. He turned and saw within ten steps
of him an enormous Wolf gazing at him with flaming eyes.

"What are you seeking in my kingdom?" said the Wolf, in a threatening
voice.

"Master Wolf, I am seeking the plant of life which alone can save my
dear mother who is about to die. If you will assist me to cross this
pit, I will be your devoted servant and will obey any command you may
give me."

"Well, my boy, if you will catch all the game which is in my forests,
birds and beasts, and make them up into pies and nice roasts, by the
faith of the genius of the mountain, I will pass you over to the other
side. You will find near this tree all the instruments necessary to
catch the game and to cook it. When your work is done, call me."

Saying these words, he disappeared.

Henry took courage. He lifted a bow and arrow which he saw on the
ground, and began to shoot at the partridges, woodcocks, pheasants and
game of all kinds which abounded there. But, alas! he did not understand
it and killed nothing.

During eight days he was shooting right and left in vain and was at last
wearied and despairing, when he saw near him the Crow whose life he had
saved in the commencement of his journey.

"You rescued me from mortal danger," said the Crow, "and I told you I
should see you again. I have come to redeem my promise. If you do not
fulfil your promise to the Wolf, he will change you into some terrible
wild beast. Follow me. I am going a-hunting and you have only to gather
the game and cook it."

Saying these words, the Crow flew above the trees of the forest and with
his beak and his claws killed all the game to be found. In fact, during
one hundred and fifty days he caught one million eight hundred and sixty
thousand seven hundred and twenty-six animals and birds, squirrels,
moor-cocks, pheasants, and quails. As the Crow killed them, Henry
plucked the feathers, skinned them, cut them up and cooked them in
roasts or pies. When all was cooked he arranged them neatly and then the
Crow said to him:

"Adieu, Henry. There remains one obstacle yet to overcome but in that
difficulty I cannot aid you. But do not be discouraged. The good fairies
protect filial love."

Before Henry had time to thank the Crow, he had disappeared. He then
called the Wolf and said to him:

"Master Wolf, here is all the game of your forest. I have prepared it as
you ordered and now will you assist me to pass this precipice?"

The Wolf examined a pheasant, crunched a roast squirrel and a pie,
licked his lips and said to Henry:

"You are a brave and good boy. I will pay you for your trouble. It shall
not be said that you have worked for the Wolf of the mountain without
receiving your reward."

Saying these words, he gave Henry a staff which he cut in the forest and
said to him:



"When you have gathered the plant of life and wish yourself transported
to any part of the world, mount the stick and it will be your horse."

Henry was on the point of throwing this useless stick into the woods but
he wished to be polite, and receiving it smilingly, he thanked the Wolf
cordially.

"Get on my back, Henry," said the Wolf.

Henry sprang upon the Wolf's back and he made a bound so prodigious
that they landed immediately on the other side of the precipice.

Henry dismounted, thanked the Wolf and walked on vigorously.





Next: The Fishing

Previous: The Vintage



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