Johnnie And Grizzle





There was once a poor farmer who had two children named Johnnie and

Grizzle. Now things grew worse and worse for the farmer till he could

scarcely earn enough to eat and drink. All his crops went to pay rent

and taxes. So one night he said to his wife,



"Betty, my dear, I really do not know what to do; there is scarcely

anything in the house to eat, and in a few days we shall all be

starving. What I think of doing is to take the poor lad and lassie

into the forest and leave them there; if somebody finds them they will

surely keep them alive, and if nobody finds them they might as well

die there as here; I cannot see any other way; it is their lives or

ours; and if we die what can become of them?"



"No, no, father," said the farmer's wife; "wait but a few days and

perhaps something will turn up."



"We have waited and have waited and things are getting worse every

day; if we wait much longer we shall all be dead. No, I am determined

on it; to-morrow the children to the forest."



Now it happened that Johnnie was awake in the next room and heard his

father and his mother talking. He said nothing but thought and thought

and thought; and early next morning he went out and picked a large

number of bright-coloured pebbles and put them in his pocket. After

breakfast, which consisted of bread and water, the farmer said to

Johnnie and Grizzle,



"Come, my dears, I am going to take you for a walk," and with that he

went with them into the forest near-by.



Johnnie said nothing, but dropped one of his pebbles at every turning,

which would show him the way back. When they got far into the forest

the farmer said to the children,



"My dears, I have to go and get something. Stay here and don't go

away, and I'll soon come back. Give me a kiss, children," and with

that he hurried away and went back home by another road.



After a time Grizzle began to cry and said,



"Where's father? Where's father? We can't get home. We can't get

home."



But Johnnie said, "Never mind, Grizzle, I can take you home; you just

follow me."



So Johnnie looked out for the pebbles he had dropped, and found them

at each turn of the road, and a little after midday got home and asked

their mother for their dinner.



"There's nothing in the house, children, but you can go and get some

water from the well and, please God, we'll have bread in the morning."



When the farmer came home he was astonished to find that the children

had found their way home, and could not imagine how they had done so.

But at night he said to his wife,



"Betty, my dear, I do not know how the children came home; but that

does not make any difference; I cannot bear to see them starve before

my eyes, better that they should starve in the forest. I will take

them there again to-morrow."



Johnnie heard all this and crept downstairs and put some more pebbles

into his pocket; and though the farmer took them this time further

into the forest the same thing occurred as the day before. But this

time Grizzle said to her mother and father,



"Johnnie did such a funny thing; whenever we turned a new road he

dropped pebbles. Wasn't that funny? And when we came back he looked

for the pebbles, and there they were; they had not moved."



Then the farmer knew how he had been done, and as evening came on he

locked all the doors so that Johnnie could not get out to get any

pebbles. In the morning he gave them a hunk of bread as before for

their breakfast and told them he was going to take them into the nice

forest again. Grizzle ate her bread, but Johnnie put his into his

pocket, and when they got inside the forest at every turning he

dropped a few crumbs of his bread. When his father left them he tried

to trace his way back by means of these crumbs. But, alas, and

alackaday! The little birds had seen the crumbs and eaten them all up,

and when Johnnie went to search for them they had all disappeared.



So they wandered and they wandered, more and more hungry all the time,

till they came to a glade in which there was a funny little house; and

what do you think it was made of? The door was made of butter-scotch,

the windows of sugar candy, the bricks were all chocolate creams, the

pillars of lollypops, and the roof of gingerbread.



No sooner had the children seen this funny little house than they

rushed up to it and commenced to pick pieces off the door, and take



out some of the bricks, while Johnnie climbed on Grizzle's back, and

tore off some of the roof (what was that made of?). Just as they were

eating all this the door opened and a little old woman, with red eyes,

came out and said,



"Naughty, naughty children to break up my house like that. Why didn't

you knock at the door and ask to have something, and I would gladly

give it to you?"



"Please ma'am," said Johnnie, "I will ask for something; I am so, so

hungry, or else I wouldn't have hurt your pretty roof."



"Come inside my house," said the old woman, and let them come into her

parlour. And that was made all of candies, the chairs and table of

maple-sugar, and the couch of cocoanut. But as soon as the old woman

got them inside her door she seized hold of Johnnie and took him

through the kitchen and put him in a dark cubby-hole, and left him

there with the door locked.



Now this old woman was a witch, who looked out for little children,

whom she fattened up and ate. So she went back to Grizzle, and said,



"You shall be my little servant and do my work for me, and, as for

that brother of yours, he'll make a fine meal when he's fattened up."



So this witch kept Johnnie and Grizzle with her, making Grizzle do all

the housework, and every morning she went to the cubby-hole in which

she kept Johnnie and gave him a good breakfast, and later in the day a

good dinner, and at night a good supper; but after she gave him his

supper she would say to him,



"Put out your forefinger," and when he put it out the old witch, who

was nearly blind, felt it and muttered,



"Not fat enough yet!"



After a while Johnnie felt he was getting real fat and was afraid the

witch would eat him up. So he searched about till he found a stick

about the size of his finger, and when the old witch asked him to put

out his finger he put out the stick, and she said,



"Goodness gracious me, the boy is as thin as a lath! I must feed him

up more."



So she gave him more and more food, and every day he put out the stick

till at last one day he got careless, and when she took the stick it

fell out of his hand, and she felt what it was. So she flew into a

terrible rage and called out,



"Grizzle, Grizzle, make the oven hot. This lad is fat enough for

Christmas."



Poor Grizzle did not know what to do, but she had to obey the witch.

So she piled the wood on under the oven and set it alight. And after a

while the old witch said to her,



"Grizzle, Grizzle, is the oven hot?"



And Grizzle said, "I don't know, mum."



And when the witch asked her again whether it was hot enough, Grizzle

said,



"I do not know how hot an oven ought to be."



"Get away, get away," said the old witch; "I know, let me see." And

she poked her old head into the oven. Then Grizzle pushed her right

into the oven and closed the door and rushed out into the back yard

and let Johnnie out of the cubby-hole.



Then Johnnie and Grizzle ran away towards the setting sun where they

knew their own house was, till at last they came to a broad stream too

deep for them to wade. But just at that moment they looked back, and

what do you think they saw? The old witch, by some means or other, had

got out of the oven and was rushing after them. What were they to do?

What were they to do?



Suddenly Grizzle saw a fine big duck swimming towards them, and she

called out:



"Duck, duck, come to me,

Johnnie and Grizzle depend upon thee;

Take Johnnie and Grizzle on thy back,

Or else they'll be eaten--"



And the duck said,



"Quack! Quack!"



Then the duck came up to the bank, and Johnnie and Grizzle went into

the water and, by resting their hands on the duck's back, swam across

the stream just as the old witch came up.



At first she tried to make the duck come over and carry her, but the

duck said, "Quack! Quack!" and shook its head.



Then she lay down and commenced swallowing up the stream, so that it

should run dry and she could get across. She drank, and she drank, and

she drank, and she drank, till she drank so much that she burst!



So Johnnie and Grizzle ran back home, and when they got there they

found that their father the farmer had earned a lot of money and had

been searching and searching for them over the forest, and was mighty

glad to get back Johnnie and Grizzle again.





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