“Honest Gregory,” he said “how much do you earn in a year?”
“How much a year?” replied the cobbler, scratching his head. “I never reckon my money in that way. It goes as fast as it comes, but I am glad to be able to earn it. I cobble on from day to day and earn a living.”
“Well then, Gregory, how much do you earn each day?” asked the rich man.
“Why, sometimes more and sometimes less,” answered the cobbler. “On many days—the holidays—I earn nothing. I wish there were fewer of these; but then we manage to live.”
“You are a happy man now,” said the rich man, “but I will make you happier,” and he handed the cobbler five hundred dollars. “Go spend this money carefully. It will supply your needs for many days,” he said.
The cobbler had never dreamed of so much money before. He thought it was enough to keep him in food and clothes all his life.
He took the money home and hid it, but he hid his joy with it. He stopped singing and became sad. He could not sleep for fear of robbers. He thought that everyone who came into his shop was trying to find out his secret, or wished a gift. When a cat ran over the floor, he thought a thief had slipped through the door.
At last, poor man, he could bear it no longer. He took the money, hurried to the rich man, and cried, “Oh, give me back my songs and my sweet sleep! Here is your money, every cent of it. I made a poor trade.”
The rich man looked at him and said, “I thought I had made you happy. I have not missed your songs, for, strange as it may seem, I have been sleeping soundly ever since I talked with you.”
THE ICE KING
A tribe of Indians lived near a river. One winter the weather was very cold, and many of them died.
But spring came at last. The snow melted from the tops of the mountains and ran in torrents down their steep sides and into the river.
The ice in the swollen river broke up into large cakes which floated down the stream.
The weather grew warmer. All the ice melted except one big cake which the flood had left on the bank of the river.
The sun had been shining on this piece of ice for many days, but it would not melt. There were signs of spring everywhere except in this one spot.
A brave warrior had been watching this piece of ice. He said to himself, “That is the Ice King, I am sure. I must conquer him.”
He raised his big war club and struck the Ice King, crying, “Come on, Ice King! Do your best. Freeze me if you can. I will show you that I am as strong as you are.”
He struck again and again, and the Ice King began to shrink. Pieces of ice floated down the river. At last he became so small that the Indian picked him up and tossed him into the river.
“There!” cried the Indian, “off with you! Never dare to come back here again.”