The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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In the small village of Saint Jean, near Carcassonne, there dwelt a young man named Mathurin, who made his living by selling milk. This he always carried on his shoulder when he went his rounds, in a large earthen jar, but one unlucky day when he was going over a piece of rough rocky ground, overgrown with gorse and heather, his foot slipped, and his jar fell on a stone, and was broken to atoms.
Close to where the accident happened the rocks formed a little hollow, into which the milk flowed, and soon formed a small white lake. There was no use trying to pour it back again, for the jar was too badly broken for that, so the young man returned as fast as he could to Saint Jean to get some more milk for his customers.
This time he took care to get a stronger pot, and to hold it more firmly on his shoulder ; and then he made haste back along the path he had come, for it was getting late, and everybody would be thinking about breakfast.
On reaching the place where he had slipped and fallen, he found that a splendid adder had taken advan­tage of his misfortunes and was lapping up the pool of milk with the utmost enjoyment. As he came near, the adder turned and hissed, and showed quite plainly that she did not intend to allow anybody to interfere with the piece of good luck which had fallen in her way. The young milkman understood the hint, and was, besides, in a hurry, so he passed on quickly, and left the adder to finish her breakfast.
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