Sunday, May 11, 2014

Europa: A Visitor from Paradise

This story is part of the Europa unit. Story source: Europa's Fairy Book by Joseph Jacobs and illustrated by John Batten (1916).

A Visitor from Paradise





There was once a woman, good but simple, who had been twice married. One day when her husband was in the field — of course that was her second husband, you know — a weary tramp came trudging by her door and asked for a drink of water. When she gave it to him, being rather a gossip, she asked where he came from.

"From Paris," said the man.

The woman was a little bit deaf and thought the man said from Paradise.

"From Paradise! Did you meet there my poor dear husband, Lord rest his soul?"

"What was his name?" asked the man.

"Why, John Goody, of course," said the woman. "Did you know him in Paradise?"

"What, John Goody!" said the man. "Him and me was as thick as thieves."

"Does he want for anything?" said the woman. "I suppose up in Paradise you get all you want."

"All we want! Why, look at me," said the man pointing to his rags and tatters. "They treat some of us right shabby up there."

"Dear me, that's bad. Are you likely to go back?"

"Go back to Paradise, marm; I should say! We have to be in every night at ten."

"Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind taking back some things for my poor old John," said the woman.

"In course, marm, delighted to help my old chum John."

So the woman went indoors and got a big pile of clothes, and a long pipe, and three bottles of beer, and a beer jug, and gave them to the man.

"But," he said, "please marm, I can't carry all these by my own self. Ain't you got a horse or a donkey that I can take along with me to carry them? I'll bring them back to-morrow."

Then the woman said, "There's our old Dobbin in the stable; I can't lend you mare Juniper cos my husband's ploughing with her just now."

"Ah, well, Dobbin'll do as its only till tomorrow."

So the woman got out Dobbin and saddled him, and the man took the clothes and the beer and the pipe and rode off with them.

Shortly afterwards her husband came home and said, "What's become of Dobbin? He's not in the stable."

So his wife told him all that had happened. And he said, "I don't like that. How do we know that he is going to Paradise? And how do we know that he'll bring Dobbin back to-morrow? I'll saddle Juniper and get the things back. Which way did he go?"

So he saddled Juniper and rode after the man, who saw him coming afar off and guessed what had happened. So he got off from Dobbin and drove him into a clump of trees near the roadside, and then went and laid down on his back and looked up to the sky.

When the farmer came up to him, he got down from Juniper and said, "What are you doing there?"

"Oh, such a funny thing," said the man; "a fellow came along here on a horse with some clothes and things, and when he got to the top of the hill here, he simply gave a shout, and the horse went right up into the sky, and I was watching him when you came up."

"Oh, it's all right then," said the farmer. "He's gone to Paradise, sure enough," and went back to his wife.

Next day they waited and they waited for the man to bring back Dobbin, but he didn't come that day, nor the next day, nor the next. So the farmer said to his wife, "My dear, we've been done. But I'll find that man if I have to trudge through the whole kingdom. And you must come with me, as you know him."

"But what shall we do with the house?" said the wife. "You know there have been robbers around here, and while we are away they'll come and take my best chiny."

"Oh, that's all right," said the farmer. "He who minds the door, minds the house. So we'll take the door with us, and then they can't get in."

So he took the door off its hinges and put it on his back, and they went along to find the man from Paradise.

So they went along, and they went along, and they went along till night came, and they didn't know what to do for shelter. So the man said, "That's a comfortable tree there; let us roost in the branches like the birds." So they took the door up with them and laid down to sleep on it as comfortable, as comfortable can be.


Now it happened that a band of robbers had just broken into a castle near by and taken out a great lot of plunder, and they came under the very tree to divide it. And when they began to settle how much each should have, they began to quarrel and woke up the farmer and his wife. They were so frightened when they heard the robbers underneath them that they tried to get up farther into the tree and, in doing so, let the door fall down right on the robbers' heads.

"The heavens are falling," cried the robbers, who were so frightened that they all rushed away. And the farmer and his wife came down from the tree and collected all the booty and went home and lived happy ever afterwards.

It was and it was not.



(900 words)









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