The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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304
THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
JACK MY HEDGEHOG.
There was once a farmer who lived in great comfort. He had both lands and money, but though he was so well off, one thing was wanting to complete his happiness—he had no children. Many and many a time, when he met other- farmers at the nearest market town, they would tease him, asking how it came about that he was childless. At leugth he grew so angry that he exclaimed: "I must and will have a child of some sort or kind, even should it only be a hedgehog!"
Not long after this his wife gave birth to a child, but though the lower half of the little creature was a fine boy, from the waist upward it was a hedgehog, so that when his mother first saw him she was quite frightened and said to her husband: "There, now, you have cursed the child yourself." The farmer said: "What's the use of making a fuss? I suppose the creature must be christened, but I don't see how we are to ask any one to be sponsor to him, and what are we to call him?"
"There is nothing we can possibly call him but Jack my Hedgehog," replied the wife.
So they took him to be christened and the parson said: "You'll never be able to put that child in a decent bed on account of his prickles." Which was true, but they shook down some straw for him behind the stove, and there he lay for eight years. His father grew very tired of him and often wished him dead, but he did not die, but lay on there year after year.
Now, one day there was a big fair at the market town to which the farmer meant to go, so he asked his wife what he should bring her from it. "Some meat and a couple of big loaves for the house," said she. Then he asked the maid what she wanted, and she said a pair of slippers and some stockings. Lastly he said: "Well, Jack my Hedgehog, and what shall I bring you?"
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