i6a THE TAILOR'S THREE SONS.
About noon he reached home, and the old tailor welcomed him back with great joy. " Well, my son," he asked, "and what have you been learning all this long time ?"
" Father," he replied, "I am a cabinet-maker, and can work well at my trade."
" It is a good business," said the tailor, " but how much have you gained by it?"
" The best thing I have gained," he said, " is that little table."
The tailor examined it on all sides, and then said, "That cannot certainly be of much value; why, it is old, and nearly worn out."
" Ah," said the son, " its value is not in its looks. It has such a wonderful power that when I stand it up and say, " Table, cover thyself,1 it will instantly prepare a splendid dinner, with plates, knives, forks, glasses, and dishes of various kinds, and such rich wines that will rejoice your heart You go and invite all our friends and relations to dinner, and you will soon discover what my table can do."
The tailor hastened to follow his son's advice, and when the company were all assembled, expecting a splendid feast, the young man placed his table in the centre of the room, and said, "Table, prepare thyself." But the table did not move ; it stood there as empty as any other table, for, of course, it had no magic power, and did not understand what was said to it
When the poor young man discovered that he had been deceived, and his table changed for another, he stood before the company covered with shame, for he felt sure they would look upon him as a liar. His relations, however, only laughed at him, although they did grumble a little, for they had all to go home again to get something to eat and drink. After this disgrace and disappointment, the father went back to his needle and thimble, and the son was obliged to seek for work with a master joiner.
We will now return to the second son. He had apprentice himself to a miller, and when his time was up his master said,
" You have worked so well while you have been with me, that I mean to make you a present of a wonderful donkey; but I must tell you that he can neither draw a cart nor carry a sack."
"Then he will be of no use to me," said the youth, "if he " ever so wonderful."
" Stay," replied his master, " I would not give him to you if he were not useful."