Once upon a time there lived an old man and an old woman.
The old man, who had a kind heart, kept a young sparrow, which
he tenderly nurtured. But the dame was a cross-grained old
thing; and one day, when the sparrow had pecked at some paste
with which she was going to starch her linen, she flew into a
great rage, and cut the sparrow's tongue and let it loose. When
the old man came home from the hills and found that the bird
had flown, he asked what had become of it; so the old woman
answered that she had cut its tongue and let it go, because it
had stolen her starching-paste. Now the old man, hearing this
cruel tale, was sorely grieved, and thought to himself, "Alas!
where can my bird be gone? Poor thing! Poor little tongue-cut
sparrow! where is your home now?" and he wandered far and wide,
seeking for his pet, and crying, "Mr. Sparrow! Mr. Sparrow!
where are you living?"
One day, at the foot of a certain mountain, the old man fell
in with the lost bird; and when they had congratulated one
another on their mutual safety, the sparrow led the old man to
his home, and, having introduced him to his wife and chicks,
set before him all sorts of dainties, and entertained him
"Please partake of our humble fare," said the sparrow; "poor
as it is, you are very welcome."
"What a polite sparrow!" answered the old man, who remained
for a long time as the sparrow's guest, and was daily feasted
right royally. At last the old man said that he must take his
leave and return home; and the bird, offering him two wicker
baskets, begged him to carry them with him as a parting
present. One of the baskets was heavy, and the other was light;
so the old man, saying that as he was feeble and stricken in
years he would only accept the light one, shouldered it, and
trudged off home, leaving the sparrow-family disconsolate at
parting from him.
When the old man got home, the dame grew very angry, and
began to scold him, saying, "Well, and pray where have you been
this many a day? A pretty thing, indeed, to be gadding about at
your time of life!"
"Oh!" replied he, "I have been on a visit to the sparrows;
and when I came away, they gave me this wicker basket as a
parting gift." Then they opened the basket to see what was
inside, and, lo and behold! it was full of gold and silver and
precious things. When the old woman, who was as greedy as she
was cross, saw all the
riches displayed before her, she changed her scolding
strain, and could not contain herself for joy.
"I'll go and call upon the sparrows, too," said she, "and
get a pretty present." So she asked the old man the way to the
sparrows' house, and set forth on her journey. Following his
directions, she at last met the tongue-cut sparrow, and
"Well met! well met! Mr. Sparrow. I have been looking
forward to the pleasure of seeing you." So she tried to flatter
and cajole the sparrow by soft
The bird could not but invite the dame to its home; but it
took no pains to feast her, and said nothing about a parting
gift. She, however, was not to be put off; so she asked for
something to carry away with her in remembrance of her visit.
The sparrow accordingly produced two baskets, as before, and
the greedy old woman, choosing the heavier of the two, carried
it off with her. But when she opened the basket to see what was
inside, all sorts of hobgoblins and elves sprang out of it, and
began to torment her.
TONGUE-CUT SPARROW. (2)
But the old man adopted a son, and his family grew rich and
prosperous. What a happy old