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here," answered they, we have got a mouse that we make to dance in order to please us. Do look at him; what a droll sight it is! How he jumps about !" But the man pitied the poor little thing, and said, “Let the mouse go, and I will give you money.” So he gave them money, took the mouse, and let him run; and he soon jumped into a hole that was close by, and was out of their reach.
Then he went on, and came to another village, and there the children had got an ass, that they made to stand on its hind legs and tumble; at which they laughed and shouted, and gave the poor beast no rest. So the good man gave them also some money to let the poor ass alone.
At the next village he came to, the young people had got a bear that had been taught to dance, and they were plaguing the poor thing sadly. Then he gave them, too, some money to let the poor beast go; and the bear was very glad to get on his four feet, and seemed quite happy.
But the man had now given away he had in the world, and had not a shilling in his pocket. Then said he to himself, “The king has heaps of gold in his treasury; I cannot die of hunger. I hope I shall be forgiven if I borrow a little, and when I get rich again, I will repay it all.”
Then he managed to get into the treasury, and took a very little
money; but as he came out, the king's guards saw him. They said he was a thief, and took him to the judge, and he was sentenced
all the money
to be thrown into the water in a box. The lid of the box was full of holes to let in air, and a jug of water and a loaf of bread were given him.
Whilst he was swimming along in the water very sadly, he heard something nibbling away at the lock; and all of a sudden it fell off, the lid flew open, and there stood his old friend, the little mouse, who had done him this service. And then came the ass and the bear, and pulled the box ashore; and all helped him because he had been kind to them.
But now they did not know what to do next and began to consult together; when, on a sudden, a wave threw on the shore a beautiful white stone that looked like an egg. Then the bear said, “That's a lucky thing; this is the wonderful stone, and whoever has it may have everything else that he wishes. So the man went and picked up the stone, and wished for a palace, and garden, and a stud of horses; and his wish was given him as soon as he had made it. And then he lived in his castle and garden with fine stables and horses : and all was so grand and beautiful that he never could gaze at it enough.
After a time, some merchants passed by that way. See," said they, “what a princely palace ! The last time we were here, it was nothing but a desert waste.” They were very curious to know how all this had happened ; so they went in, and asked the master of the palace how it had been so quickly raised. “I have done nothing myself," answered he; “it is the wonderful stone that did
all.” "What a strange stone that must be,” said they. Then he invited them in, and showed it to them. They asked him whether he would sell it, and offered him all their goods for it; and the goods seemed so fine and costly that he quite forgot that the stone would bring him, in moment, a thousand better and richer things, so he agreed to make the bargain.
Scarcely was the stone, however, out of his hands, before all his riches were gone, and he found himself sitting in his box in the water, with his jug of water and loaf of bread by his side. The grateful beasts, the mouse, the ass, and the bear, came at once to help him; but the mouse found she could not nibble off the lock this time, for it was a great deal stronger than before. Then the bear said, “ We must find the wonderful stone again, or all our efforts will be fruitless."
THE GRATEFUL BEASTS.
The merchants, meantime, had taken up their abode in the palace. So away went the three friends, the mouse, the ass, and the bear; and when they came near, the bear said, “Mouse, go in and look through the keyhole, and see where the stone is kept; you are small, nobody will see you." The mouse did as she was told, but soon came back and said, “Bad news! I have looked in, and the stone hangs under the looking-glass by a red silk string, and on each side of it sits a great cat with fiery eyes to watch it.”
Then the others took counsel together, and said, “Go back again, and wait till the master of the palace is in bed asleep; then nip his nose and pull his hair.” Away went the mouse, and did as they told her; and the master jumped up very angry, and rubbed his nose, and cried, “Those rascally cats are good for nothing at all; they let the mice eat my very nose, and pull the hair off my head.” Then he hunted them out of the room; and so the mouse had the best of the game.
On the next night, as soon as the master was asleep, the mouse crept in again, and nibbled at the red silken string to which the stone hung, till down it dropped, and rolled along to the door; but when it got there, the poor little mouse was quite tired; so she said to the ass, “ Put in your foot, and lift it over the threshold.” This was soon done; and they took up the stone, and set off for the water side.
Then the ass said, “How shall we reach the box ?” But the bear replied, “That is easily managed. I can swim very well; and do you, donkey, put your fore feet over my shoulders mind you hold fast—and take the stone in your mouth As for you, mouse, you can sit in my ear.”
It was all settled in this manner, and away they swam. After a time, the bear began to brag and boast. “ We are brave fellows, are we not, ass ?” he said; “what do you think ?" But the ass held his tongue, and said not a word. “Why don't you answer me?" said the bear; "you must have wretched manners not to speak when you're spoken to."
When the ass heard this, he could not remain silent any longer; so he opened his mouth, and dropped the wonderful stone. “I could not speak,
" said he. “Did you not know I had the stone in my mouth? Now it is lost, and it is your fault, and not mine." "Do but hold your tongue, and be quiet," said the bear, “and let us think what is to be done."
Then a council was held, and at last they called together all the frogs, their wives and families, relations and friends, and said, “ A great enemy is coming to eat you all up; but never mind, bring us plenty of stones, and we'll build a strong wall to guard you.” The frogs, hearing this, were filled with fear, and set to work bringing up all the stones they could find. At last came a large fat frog, pulling along the wonderful stone by the silken string; and when the bear saw it, he jumped for joy, and said, “Now we have found what we wanted.” So he lifted the stone from the old frog, and told him to tell his friends they might go about their business as soon as they pleased.
Then the three friends swam off again to the box; and the lid flew open, and they found that they were but just in time, for the bread was all eaten, and the jug almost empty.
But as soon as the good man had the stone in his hand, he wished