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The Three Wishes

One, two, three... then they're gone; you thought you had some then now you've none!

Hadithi Afrika · The Three Wishes

Long, long ago, in a village not far from here, a poor man took his ax and went out into the forest to cut wood. He was a lazy fellow, so as soon as he was in the forest he began to look about to see which tree would be the easiest to cut down. At last he found one that was hollow inside, as he could tell by knocking upon it with his ax. “This should be a quick job,” he said to himself. He raised his ax and struck the tree with such a blow that splinters flew everywhere. At once the bark opened and a little old fairy with a long beard came clambering out of the tree. “What do you mean by chopping into my house?” he cried; and his eyes shone like red hot sparks. He was very angry. “I did not know it was your house,” said the man. “Well, it is my house, and I’d appreciate it if you left me in peace,” cried the fairy. “Very well,” said the man. “I'm very sorry to bother you. I’ll chop down the one over there.” “That is well,” said the fairy. “I see that you are an obliging fellow, after all. I have it in my mind to reward you for sparing my house, so the next three wishes you and your wife make shall come true, whatever they are; and that is your reward.” Then the fairy went back into the tree again and pulled the bark together behind him. The man stood looking at the tree and scratching his head. “Now that is a curious thing,” he said. Then he sat down and began to wonder what he should wish for. He thought and he thought, but he could decide on nothing. “I’ll just go home and talk it over with my wife.” So he shouldered his ax, and set off for home. As soon as he came in at the door he began to bawl for his wife, and she came in a hurry, for she did not know what had happened to him. He told his story and his wife listened. “This is a fine thing to have happened to us,” she said. “Now we must be very careful what we wish for.” They sat down beside the fire to talk it over. They thought of so many things they would like to have—a bag of gold, a brand new car to travel afar, a fine house to live in, fine clothes to wear, but nothing seemed just the right thing to choose. They talked so long that they grew hungry. “Well, here we sit,” said the man, “and not a thing cooked for dinner. I wish we had a great big bowl of the most tender roasted chicken drumsticks coated with spicy herbs.” No sooner had he spoken than there was a great thumping and bumping in the kitchen and---whoosh---a great big bowl came whizzing into the lounge and set itself steadily at their feet. “What is this?” cried the man, as he slurped his lips and blinked his eyes to the sumptuous aroma. “Oh, you silly goat!” shrieked his wife. “It’s the dish you wished for. There’s one of our wishes wasted. I wish the bowl was stuck on your forehead! It would serve you right!” The moment she said this the bowl picked itself up, flew straight to his forehead and stuck fast, and he couldn’t get it off; the man pulled and tugged, and his wife pulled and tugged, but it was all of no use. “Well, there’s no help for it,” said the husband; “we’ll have to wish it off again.” His wife began to bawl and cry. “No, no,” she cried. “We only have one wish left, and we can’t waste it that way. Let’s wish ourselves the richest people in the world.” But to this the man would not agree. He wanted the bowl off his forehead whatever it cost. So at last the wife was obliged to let him have his own way. “I wish the bowl was off my forehead again,” said the man, and that was the third of their wishes. So all the good they had of the fairy’s gift was a bowl of the most tender roasted chicken drumsticks coated with spicy herbs for dinner; but then they were the best drumsticks they had ever eaten. “And after all,” said the man, as he licked his lips and fingers, “there’s nothing better in the world to wish for than a full stomach.”

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