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For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

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THE GINGERBREAD BOY

C. S. B. Adapted from two old folk-tales.

[64] THERE were once a little old woman and a little old man, who lived in a little old house in the woods. They had a cook-stove, with a little black kettle always singing away on it. They should have been a happy old couple but for one thing—they wanted a little child of their own, and they had none.

One morning when the little old woman was making gingerbread, she cut a cake in the shape of a little boy; she dropped it into the pan, and put the pan in the oven. Presently she opened the oven door to see if he were baked, but out jumped the gingerbread boy, and away he ran as fast as his legs could carry him.

The little old woman called her husband, and they both ran after him, but they could not catch him. And the gingerbread boy ran on until he came to a barn full of threshers. As he went by the door, he called to them:

"I've run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A little old kettle,

A little old pan,

And I can run away from you, I can."

Then the barnful of threshers set out to run after him. Though they ran very fast, they could not catch him. And he hurried on until he came to a field full of mowers. He called out to them:

"I've run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A little old kettle,

[65]

A little old pan,

A barn full of threshers,

And I can run away from you, I can."

Then the fieldful of mowers set out to run after him, but they could not catch him. And the gingerbread boy ran on and on, until he came to a cow. He called out to the cow:

"I've run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A little old kettle,

A little old pan,

A barn full of threshers,

A field full of mowers,

And I can run away from you, I can."

So the cow ran, but she couldn't catch the gingerbread boy who ran on and on, until he met a fox; and to the fox he called out:

"I've run away from a little old woman,

A little old man,

A little old kettle,

A little old pan,

A barn full of threshers,

A field full of mowers,

A cow,

And I can run away from you, I can."

Now, a fox can run very fast. On and on ran the fox after the gingerbread boy until they came to a river and the fox was close behind.

"Should you like to go across?" asked the sly old fox. "Jump on my tail."

So the gingerbread boy jumped on the fox's tail, and the fox began swimming across the river. But he [66] had gone only a few strokes when he called back to the gingerbread boy: "The water is deep, and we may drown! Jump on my back!"

So the gingerbread boy jumped up on the fox's back. The fox swam a few more strokes, and then he called out: "The water grows deeper still. Jump on my nose!"

So the gingerbread boy jumped up on the fox's nose. But just then they reached the other bank. The sly old fox opened his mouth wide, and in went the gingerbread boy!

"Dear me!" he said, after a minute. "Here I am a quarter gone." And then he said: "Now, I'm half gone!" And then, "I'm three-quarters gone!" But at last he said: "Oh, dear; I'm all gone!" and he never spoke again.


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