FORTUNE AND THE WOOD-CUTTER
Several hundreds of years ago there lived in a forest a wood-cutter and his wife and children. He was very poor, having only his axe to depend upon, and two mules to carry the wood he cut to the neighbouring town ; but he worked hard, and was always out of bed by five o'clock, summer and winter.
This went on for twenty years, and though his sons were now grown up, and went with their father to the forest, everything seemed to go against them, and they remained as poor as ever. In the end the wood-cutter lost heart, and said to himself:
' What is the good of working like this if I never am a penny the richer at the end ? I shall go to the forest no more! And perhaps, if I take to my bed, and do not run after Fortune, one day she may come to me.'
So the next morning he did not get up, and when six o'clock struck, his wife, who had been cleaning the house, went to see what was the matter.
' Are you ill ? ' she asked wonderingly, surprised at not finding him dressed. ' The cock has crowed ever so often. It is high time for you to get up.'
' Why should I get up ?' asked the man, without moving.
' Why ? to go to the forest, of course.'
' Yes ; and when I have toiled all day I hardly earn enough to give us one meal.'
' But what can we do, my poor husband ?' said she. ' It is just a trick of Fortune's, who would never smile upon us.'