Fairy Tales For Kids - The Hundred Cherries

 The Hundred Cherries

A long time ago, in Rumania, there lived a man named Stan Bolovan and his wife. Although they were poor, they were very happy, except for one thing. They had no children and every time his wife thought about it, she wept bitterly. Finally, Stan said, "Do not worry about it anymore, I will go and consult the Wise man." The Wise man listened to Stan's problem. "Pick a cherry from the tree outside my door and eat it on your way home," he said. Then he went into his house and shut the door. Stan thought this a strange idea of a joke, but the cherries looked so delicious that he picked one and ate it. Then he ate another and finally he filled his pockets with cherries and ate them on the way home. When he reached the gate he had eaten exactly one hundred cherries. As he went up the path, he heard the strangest sounds coming from the house, laughing, crying, dancing, singing, shouting and quarrelling and when he opened the door there stood his wife, surrounded by children.

"How many children have we?" Stan asked in amazement. "Exactly one hundred," she beamed. Stan remembered the Wise man's words and the hundred cherries he had eaten on the way home, but he hardly had time to stop and think, for all the children began clamouring for food. It seemed to Stan that they were always hungry and it took all his time providing food for them, so one day, quite exhausted, he said to this wife, "It is more than I can do to provide food for one hundred hungry children. I must go out into the world and make my fortune." His wife agreed. She gave him a lump of bread and a round cheese and he set off. As night drew near, Stan came across a goatherd and he asked if he could spend the night beside his log fire. The goatherd replied that he would be glad of some company, for every night a great dragon appeared and milked his goats. Hardly had the goatherd spoken, than there came the sound of beating wings and a huge, fierce dragon flew down. The goatherd hid at once behind a stone, but Stan Bolovan drew himself up to his full height, although he was quaking with fear. "Dragon, why do you come each night to milk the goats?" he bellowed. "Because my grandmother likes to bathe in the milk," the dragon roared back. "And who are you, little man?" "I am Stan Bolovan, who eats rocks for dinner and drinks a river of milk at one mouthful," boasted Stan. Then he took the round cheese from his pocket and squeezed it until the liquid ran out. "Can you squeeze a stone until water runs out of it?" he asked. The dragon picked up a stone, but hard as he tried, he could not squeeze water out of it. Stan squeezed until all the whey was out of the cheese, then he put the rest in his mouth and ate it. "Who is this, who can eat even stones?" said the dragon to himself. Aloud he said, "Come with me, for my grandmother can find work for you and she will pay you well." 

"Well, I can't back out now," thought Stan, so he agreed to go and the dragon picked him up and flew to where his grandmother waited. She was twice as big and fierce as her grandson and Stan shook with fear. "Here is a man who can squeeze water out of stones and eat the remains," said the dragon. "Then I have plenty of tasks he can perform," replied the grandmother. "If he does not, he shall be our slave forever." Then she picked up a club, bound with iron and studded with spikes. "We will see who can throw this the longest distance," she said. Stan was even more terrified when he saw how far the dragon hurled the huge club, for he could not even lift it. However, he went to where the club was buried in the ground and sat on the handle. "What are you waiting for?" jeered the dragon. "I am waiting for the sun to set, for if I throw it and it hits the sun, it will be burnt to a cinder," replied Stan. The dragon shook with terror at this. "Do not let my grandmother's club be burnt to a cinder," he said. "I will give you two sacks of gold if you agree not to throw it."  Stan pretended to be very reluctant but he finally agreed. When the grandmother heard this, she snorted, "I will set another task, which he will not be able to perform." She pulled out a pile of water bags and told the two of them to go to the river and fill them with water, for wash day. The dragon went to the river laden with water bags, but Stan took none and when the dragon asked why, he replied, "I want to see how much water there is in the river to bring back."

The dragon filled his water bags and staggered home and when he went back to the river, Stan was busy digging a large hole. "What is that for?" he asked. "You asked for water," replied Stan, "So I shall see that you got plenty. I am digging this channel to your front door so that the river will run through your house." "Stop, stop," cried the dragon hastily. "I will give you three sacks of gold to leave the river where it is." Stan agreed and when the dragon told his grandmother what he had been doing, she turned quite pale. "We will beat him yet," she growled and she told them to go into the forest and see who could collect the most wood for the fire. Stan watched while the dragon pulled up six oak trees. Then he climbed up the biggest oak tree of all and tied a thick strand of wild vine around it. "What are you doing up there?" called the dragon. "I am trying this creeper to all the trees in the forest, so that when I pull the first one, all the rest will come, too," said Stan.

But there will be no forest left and we will have no more wood," cried the dragon. "If you will promise to leave the forest where it is I will give you ten sacks of gold." Grumbling loudly, Stan agreed and when they returned to the dragon's home he told his grandmother what had happened. "You were quite right," she said, "but that means we owe him fifteen sacks of gold altogether. That is too much. Tonight, we must get rid of this terrible man." Stan overheard this and that night, he put a log inside the bed, while he himself hid underneath it. At midnight, the dragon entered the bedroom, carrying a huge club. He dealt three great blows at the bed and the third blow shattered the club. The next morning Stan walked jauntily into the room where the dragon and his grandmother were having breakfast. They turned pale when they saw him. "What a comfortable bed," said Stan. "I slept like a log. In fact, I like it here so much that I was thinking of staying for good." "No, no," cried the grandmother in terror. "We will give you another five sacks of gold to go away."

Stan pretended to be reluctant to go, but finally, he said, "I will go if that is what you want, but I am ashamed to return home with so little. If you will bring the sacks of gold home for me, it will save me much embarrassment." Glad to get rid of Stan, the dragon picked up the twenty sacks of gold and set off. When they reached Stan's home, they heard the singing and shouting, the crying and quarrelling, the dancing and laughing of one hundred children and the dragon asked what the noise was. "That is my family," said Stan. "Are they all like you?" asked the dragon and Stan told him they were. At that, the dragon dropped the sacks of gold outside the door and fled in terror, while Stan went into the house to be welcomed by his wife and children and tell them that they need want for nothing for the rest of their lives.   

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