The Hazel-nut Child

: The Yellow Fairy Book

From the Bukowniaer. Van Wliolocki.

There was once upon a time a couple who had no children, and they

prayed Heaven every day to send them a child, though it were no

bigger than a hazel-nut. At last Heaven heard their prayer and

sent them a child exactly the size of a hazel-nut, and it never

grew an inch. The parents were very devoted to the little

creature, and nursed and tended it carefully. Their t
ny son too

was as clever as he could be, and so sharp and sensible that all

the neighbours marvelled over the wise things he said and did.

When the Hazel-nut child was fifteen years old, and was sitting

one day in an egg-shell on the table beside his mother, she

turned to him and said, 'You are now fifteen years old, and

nothing can be done with you. What do you intend to be?'

'A messenger,' answered the Hazel-nut child.

Then his mother burst out laughing and said, 'What an idea! You

a messenger! Why, your little feet would take an hour to go the

distance an ordinary person could do in a minute!'

But the Hazel-nut child replied, 'Nevertheless I mean to be a

messenger! Just send me a message and you'll see that I shall be

back in next to no time.'

So his mother said, 'Very well, go to your aunt in the

neighbouring village, and fetch me a comb.' The Hazel-nut child

jumped quickly out of the egg-shell and ran out into the street.

Here he found a man on horseback who was just setting out for the

neighbouring village. He crept up the horse's leg, sat down

under the saddle, and then began to pinch the horse and to prick

it with a pin. The horse plunged and reared and then set off at

a hard gallop, which it continued in spite of its rider's efforts

to stop it. When they reached the village, the Hazel-nut child

left off pricking the horse, and the poor tired creature pursued

its way at a snail's pace. The Hazel-nut child took advantage of

this, and crept down the horse's leg; then he ran to his aunt and

asked her for a comb. On the way home he met another rider, and

did the return journey in exactly the same way. When he handed

his mother the comb that his aunt had given him, she was much

amazed and asked him, 'But how did you manage to get back so


'Ah! mother,' he replied, 'you see I was quite right when I said

I knew a messenger was the profession for me.'

His father too possessed a horse which he often used to take out

into the fields to graze. One day he took the Hazel-nut child

with him. At midday the father turned to his small son and said,

'Stay here and look after the horse. I must go home and give

your mother a message, but I shall be back soon.'

When his father had gone, a robber passed by and saw the horse

grazing without any one watching it, for of course he could not

see the Hazel-nut child hidden in the grass. So he mounted the

horse and rode away. But the Hazel-nut child, who was the most

active little creature, climbed up the horse's tail and began to

bite it on the back, enraging the creature to such an extent that

it paid no attention to the direction the robber tried to make it

go in, but galloped straight home. The father was much

astonished when he saw a stranger riding his horse, but the

Hazel-nut child climbed down quickly and told him all that had

happened, and his father had the robber arrested at once and put

into prison.

One autumn when the Hazel-nut child was twenty years old he said

to his parents: 'Farewell, my dear father and mother. I am going

to set out into the world, and as soon as I have become rich I

will return home to you.'

The parents laughed at the little man's words, but did not

believe him for a moment. In the evening the Hazel-nut child

crept on to the roof, where some storks had built their nest.

The storks were fast asleep, and he climbed on to the back of the

father-stork and bound a silk cord round the joint of one of its

wings, then he crept among its soft downy feathers and fell


The next morning the storks flew towards the south, for winter

was approaching. The Hazel-nut child flew through the air on the

stork's back, and when he wanted to rest he bound his silk cord

on to the joint of the bird's other wing, so that it could not

fly any farther. In this way he reached the country of the black

people, where the storks took up their abode close to the

capital. When the people saw the Hazel-nut child they were much

astonished, and took him with the stork to the King of the

country. The King was delighted with the little creature and

kept him always beside him, and he soon grew so fond of the

little man that he gave him a diamond four times as big as

himself. The Hazel-nut child fastened the diamond firmly under

the stork's neck with a ribbon, and when he saw that the other

storks were getting ready for their northern flight, he untied

the silk cord from his stork's wings, and away they went, getting

nearer home every minute. At length the Hazel-nut child came to

his native village; then he undid the ribbon from the stork's

neck and the diamond fell to the ground; he covered it first with

sand and stones, and then ran to get his parents, so that they

might carry the treasure home, for he himself was not able to

lift the great diamond.

So the Hazel-nut child and his parents lived in happiness and

prosperity after this till they died.