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A Child's Book of Stories by  Penrhyn W. Coussens


 

 

LAZY JACK

[429] ONCE upon a time there was a boy whose name was Jack, and he lived with his mother upon a dreary common. They were very poor, and the old woman made her living by spinning; but Jack was so lazy that he would do nothing but bask in the sun in hot weather, and sit by the fire in the winter time. His mother could not persuade him to do anything for her, and was obliged at last to tell him that if he did n't begin to work for his food, she would turn him out to get his living as he could.

This threat at length roused Jack, and he went out and hired himself to a farmer for a penny; but as he was coming home, never having had any money in his pocket before, he lost it in passing over a brook. "You foolish boy," said his mother, "you should have put it in your pocket."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The next day Jack went out again, and hired himself to a cow keeper, who gave him a jar of milk for his day's pay. Jack took the jar and put it into the large pocket of his coat, spilling it all long before he reached home. "Dear me!" said the old woman, "you should have carried it on your head."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The following day Jack hired himself again to a farmer, who agreed to give him a cream cheese for his services. In the evening Jack took the cheese, and went home with it on his head. By the time he got home the cheese was completely spoiled, [430] part of it being lost and part of it being matted with his hair. "You foolish boy," said his mother, "you should have carried it very carefully in your hands."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The day after this Jack went out and hired himself to a baker, who would give him nothing for his work but a large black cat. Jack took the cat, and began carrying it very carefully in his hands, but in a short time pussy scratched him so that he had to let it go. When he got home his mother said to him, "You foolish boy, you should have tied it with a string, and dragged it along after you."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

The next day JAck hired himself to a butcher, who rewarded him with a shoulder of mutton. Jack took the mutton, tied it to a string and trailed it along after him in the dirt, so that by the time he got home it was completely spoiled. His mother was by this time quite out of patience with him, for the next day was Sunday, and she was obliged to content herself with cabbage for her dinner. "You foolish boy," said she, "you should have carried it on your shoulder."

"I'll do so another time," said Jack.

On the Monday Jack went and hired himself once more to a cattle keeper, who gave him a donkey for his trouble. Although Jack was very strong, he found some difficulty in hoisting the donkey on his shoulders, but at last accomplished it and began walking home with his prize. Now, it happened that in the course of his journey there lived a rich man with his only daughter, a beautiful girl, but unfortunately deaf and dumb: she had never laughed in her life, and the doctor said she would never recover till some one made her laugh. Many had tried without success, and at last the father, in despair, offered her in marriage to the first man who could make her laugh. This young lady happened to be looking out of the window when Jack was passing with [431] the donkey on his shoulders, with its legs sticking up in the air, and the sight was so comical and strange that she burst into laughter, and immediately recovered her speech and hearing. Her father was overjoyed, and fulfilled his promise by marrying her to Jack, who was thus made a rich man. They lived in a large house, and Jack's mother lived happily with them until she died.


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