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The Sheep And Pig Who Set Up Housekeeping

from Boys And Girls Bookshelf - STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA





Once upon a time a Sheep stood in a pen to be fattened for the winter's
feast. He lived well, for he was given the best of everything, and he
soon became so fat that one day the maid who came to bring his food
said: "Eat full to-day, little Sheep, for to-morrow will come the
killing and we shall eat you." And she shut the gate and went away.

"Oh," said the Sheep, "I have heard that, Women's words are worth
heeding, and that, There is a cure and a physic for everything except
death. There being no cure for that, it is best to find a way out of
it."

So he ate up all the food that the maid had left for him, and then he
butted hard against the gate of the pen, and it flew open, and the Sheep
went out of the pen and out on the big road.

He followed the road to a neighboring farm, and made his way to a pigsty
where was fastened a Pig that he had known on the common.

"Good day, and thanks for our last merry meeting!" said the Sheep. "Do
you know why you are fed so well while you stay in this sty?"

"No, that I do not," said the Pig. "But I am very glad to get the good
food and plenty of it, which they have been bringing to me since I was
shut up."

"Ho, there is reason for that," said the Sheep. "Many a flask empties
the cask. They want to make you very fat, for their purpose is to eat
you at the winter's feasting."

"May they not forget to say grace after meat," said the Pig. "I can do
naught to hinder their eating."

"If you will do as I do we will go off together into the woods and build
a house and set up housekeeping," said the Sheep. "A home is a home, be
it ever so homely."

So the Sheep and the Pig together butted down the pigsty, and started
off on the big road together. "Good company is good comfort," said the
Pig, as they trotted along.

As they entered the big woods they met a Goose, who had come out on the
common.

"Good day, and thanks for our last merry meeting," said the Goose,
"where are you going so fast?"

"You must know that we were too well off at home, and so we have set
off into the woods to build a house and set up housekeeping," said the
Sheep, "for, Every man's house is his castle, if he build it but big and
strong enough."

"As for that," said the Goose, "all places are alike to me, but I should
like to build a house; so if you like I will go with you, for, It's but
child's play when three share the day."

"With gossip and gabble is built neither house nor stable!" said the
Pig. "What can you do to help build the house?"

"By cunning and skill a cripple can do what he will," said the Goose. "I
can gather moss to put into the crevices and cracks, and so make the
house warm and comfortable."

Now, Piggy wanted above everything else to be warm and comfortable, so
he said that the Goose might come along.

As the three journeyed on they met a Hare.

"Good day, and thanks for our last merry meeting," said the Hare; "where
are you hurrying to so fast?"

Then the Sheep explained how they were too well off at home, and were
going into the woods to build a house and set up housekeeping, "For," he
said, "You may travel the world around, but there is no place like
home."

"Oh," said the Hare, "for the matter of that, I have a home in every
bush. But I have always thought that some day I would build a house, and
I will go with you if you like."

"We could use you to scare away the dogs," said the Pig, "but you would
be no good for anything else."

"He who lives long enough will always find work to do," said the Hare.
"I have sharp teeth to gnaw the boards, and paws to hammer them fast. I
can set up at any time for a carpenter, for, Good tools make good work,
as the man said."

So he got leave to go, and there was no more said about it.

As they went deeper into the woods they met a Cock, who gave them
greeting and asked where they were going.

Then the Sheep explained how they were too well off at home, and were
going into the woods to build a house and set up housekeeping, "For,"
said the Sheep, "He who out of doors shall bake, loses at last both coal
and cake."

"Well," said the Cock, "that is just my case, for, It's far better to
sit on one's own perch, for then one can never be left in the lurch;
besides, All cocks crow loudest at home. If I may have your leave, I
will come with you."

But the Pig protested. "Flapping and crowing sets tongues a-going!" he
exclaimed, "but, A jaw on a stick never yet laid a brick. How can you
help us or make yourself useful?"

"Oh," said the Cock, "That house will never have a clock where there is
neither dog nor cock. I will wake you up every morning, and will cry the
alarm when the dawn arises."

"Very good," said the Pig, who was very like to oversleep. "Sleep is a
greedy thief, and thinks nothing of robbing you of half your life. You
may come with us."

So they all set off together into the woods, and at last they came to a
good place and built the house. The Pig hewed the timber, and the Sheep
drew it home; the Hare was the carpenter, and the Goose gathered moss
and filled all of the cracks and crevices, and the Cock wakened them
every morning early.

At last the house was done, and it was snug, and warm, and comfortable.
"'Tis good to travel east and west, but, after all, a home is best,"
said the Sheep.

And they lived together until cold weather came, when they put up a
stove to keep warm, and they planned to enjoy the long winter.

Now, not far off from the house lived the Wolf and his family, and his
brother and his brother's family.

And the Wolf and his brother saw the house which the Sheep and the Pig
and the Goose and the Hare and the Cock had builded, and they talked
together of how warm and comfortable it was, and the Wolf decided that
they must get acquainted with their new neighbors.

So he made up an errand and went to the door and said he had come to ask
for a light to his pipe; and while the door was held open he pushed
himself inside.

Then all at once he found himself in a great confusion, for the Sheep
butted him so hard that he fell against the stove; and the Pig gored and
bit him; and the Goose nipped and pecked him; and the Hare ran about
over the house, now on the floor and now aloft, so that the Wolf did not
know who or what he was, and was scared out of his wits, and all the
time the Cock perched on a top beam and flapped his wings and crowed and
crowed.

By-and-by the Wolf managed to get near the door and to dash through it.

"Neighborhood makes for brotherhood," said the Wolf's brother. "You must
have made good friends, since you remained so long. But what became of
your errand, for you have neither pipe nor smoke?"

"Nice life makes pleasant company," said the Wolf. "Such manners I never
saw. For no sooner was I inside than the shoemaker flew at me with his
last, and two smiths blew bellows and made the sparks fly, and beat
and punched me with red-hot pincers, and tore great pieces out of my
body, the hunter kept running about trying to find his gun, and it is
well for me that he did not, for I should never have come out alive; and
all the while a butcher sat up on a beam and flapped his arms and sang
out to the others: 'Put a hook into him! Put a hook into him and drag
him thither!' so it was all I could do to get out alive!"

"Well," said his brother, "we can't choose in this wicked world, and an
unbidden guest sometimes gets bad treatment. But I think that we will be
very well advised to let these new neighbors alone."

So the Wolf, and the Wolf's family, and the Wolf's brother and his
brother's family, let the Sheep and the Pig and the Goose and the Hare
and the Cock alone, and they lived very happily in their house in the
woods.





Next: Doll-in-the-grass

Previous: The Wonderful Iron Pot



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