THE HAZEL-NUT CHILD1
T HERE 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 tiny 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 yon 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 Hazelnut child took advantage of this, and crept down the horse's leg;
1 From the Bukvwniaer. Yon Wliolocki.