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The Folktale Project

Apr 18, 2018

Jack lived with his parents in a remote part of Canada. He had no brothers or sisters. His parents were very poor, and their only possession was a goat that supplied them with milk. When the boy grew up, he decided to go out into the world and earn something to make his parents more comfortable in their old age. So one day he said, “I am going far away to look for work that you may be able to buy better food.” His parents did not want him to go, for he was their one source of happiness; but he would not listen to their pleading. With no money and something of a heavy heart he went on his way. It was summer in the land, and when he came out of the forest into the open country he saw people in the meadows making hay. Soon he came to a very large farm where a number of men were busy. He asked the man in charge for work. The man said, “How long do you want to work?” Jack answered, “A week.” The man hired him, and he went to work. He was a great worker, and in a week he had done as much as one of the other men could do in a year. The man was pleased with his work.

At the end of the week Jack asked for his wages. The man gave him a little money in part payment, and an old hen for the other part. Jack was very cross. He said, “I don’t want a hen; I want money. Little good an old hen can do me!” But the man would not give him more money. He said, “The hen will lay eggs for you. She will lay two dozen eggs a day—an egg every hour.” So Jack with much disgust took the old hen, for he could do no better, and went home. His parents were glad to see him again, and to get the money he had earned; but they laughed at his old hen. But at the end of a day, when she had laid two dozen eggs, they were well pleased.