ChiveGen Demo


No matter what other mistakes you may make in your lifetime, never make the mistake of renting a cottage from an ogre. If you do, the chances are you will bitterly regret it, as did Hak, the aged woodcutter.

Hak, was an old, old man who lived in a forest with his little grandson, Omo, whose father and mother were dead; and who earned his living by cutting down trees and chopping them into firewood. The cottage that Hak and his grandson lived in belonged to an ogre, and the rent the old man paid for it was not very much; and as long as he kept his health and strength, he got along very nicely. But one day, while cutting down a tree he tripped and fell, and before he could get out of the way the falling tree struck him and broke his leg. And after Omo had dragged him back into the cottage all he could do was to lie on his bed and groan, and wait for the leg to get well.

"Goodness gracious!" he said to the boy, "What shall we do? I won't be able to work for days and days, and there will be the rent to pay, to say nothing of the doctor's bill."

"Well," said Omo, "the rent and the doctor's bill will have to wait. So don't worry."

"I have to worry," replied the old man. "The doctor may wait for his bill, but the person who owns this cottage will not wait for his rent; no sir-ee."

Then he told Omo that the cottage belonged to an ogre. "He let me have it very cheap, but only for a certain reason. What do you think that reason was?"

"I don't know," replied Omo. "What was it?"

"That he should be allowed to make you into a dumpling for dessert if I did not pay the rent every month without fail."

"Oh," said Omo, his eyes very big. "I don't wonder you are worried. It—it makes me feel worried, too! Why did you ever make such a bargain?"

"Well," said his grandfather, groaning worse than ever, "I never thought for a minute that I would ever have my leg broken, and I was so very, very poor I simply had to have a cottage cheap. But now, I'll not only lose the cottage, but you also. I guess I might as well die."

"Don't you do it!" responded Omo. "I haven't been made into a dumpling yet, and I'm not going to be, if I can help it. I'll go into the city and get the doctor, and while I'm there I'll try to earn enough money to pay the rent."

But Omo's grandfather only shook his head. "You're a plucky boy, Omo," he said, "but you'll never be able to do it. How can a boy of seven earn anything?"

"Well, I can try, can't I?" said Omo. "You can't do anything if you don't try."

So pulling his cap down over his curls, and tucking some bread and cheese into his pocket, he set off for town. But when he arrived at the doctor's office he found that the waiting room was crowded with people, and that he would have to wait his turn.

"Oh, dear," he sighed, as he sat down next to a little old lady with a frilled bonnet on her head, "this is most unfortunate. My grandfather ought to be attended to right away."

"Well, he won't get attended to right away," said the old lady, "I can tell you that! This doctor charges by the length of time you wait in his office, so he never hurries. I've been here three months."

"Three months!" cried the boy. "Oh, I couldn't possibly wait three months, or even three days. I'm in a hurry! I've got to earn enough money to pay the rent of our cottage, or the ogre who owns it will turn me into a dumpling and eat me."

And when he said that everybody in the waiting room twisted about and looked at him. "He seems to have a fever," they said.

"See here," said the old lady, "are you sure you're not sick instead of your grandfather?"

"I'm perfectly well!" exclaimed Omo, indignantly.

"Then you must be joking," responded the other.

"No, I'm not," said Omo. "I mean every word I said. I'm in great trouble."

"H'm," said the old lady. She got to her feet. "Come on, let's go outside! We'll save money by it anyway!"

Then as they walked along the street Omo told her all about his grandfather's accident, and how important it was that the rent should be paid.

"Ha!" exclaimed the old lady. "I know that ogre! His name is Gub and he lives on the hill on the other side of the city. I often used to help people out of his clutches. I'm a retired fairy godmother—haven't been in business for years and years—but your story interests me. I've a good mind to help you!"

"Oh, if you only would!" said Omo, "I'd be awfully obliged. You see, it's not very pleasant to be made into a dumpling, and have my grandfather put out of his cottage when he has a broken leg. Please, please, help me!"

"Well," said the old lady, as she led the way into a little house with a peaked roof, "I only help people who help themselves. Can you help yourself?"

"Certainly!" said Omo. "Just offer me something and watch me help myself."

"Very well then, I will," responded the fairy godmother. Going to a golden desk in a corner she took from it a silver key. "This is the key that turns on the Fountain of Riches in the City of Ootch. All you have to do is to put the key in the keyhole at the base of the fountain, give three turns to the right, three turns to the left, and one turn in the middle, and instantly the fountain will commence to spout gold pieces enough to bury you. But you must promise me this, be sure and turn the fountain off as soon as you get enough gold pieces to fill your cap; and be sure and bring the key back to me, for I wouldn't want that key to be left in Ootch, or that fountain to be left spouting, for anything."

"Why not?" asked Omo. "What's the use of a fountain if it doesn't spout?"

"Well, you see I presented that fountain to the city of Ootch because they named the city after my great aunt's trained cockatoo, but after the fountain started spouting gold pieces everybody had so much money they all stopped working, and it almost ruined them. The butcher stopped selling meat, and the baker stopped baking bread, and the tailor stopped making clothes. Everybody stopped doing everything, and pretty soon, although everybody had plenty of money, you couldn't buy anything because nobody would take the trouble to keep store when they could get money from the fountain. So I locked the fountain up and took the key with me. And after the people of Ootch had spent some of the money they had, and lost the rest, and could not get any more without working for it, everything got all right again. And that's the reason I don't want the fountain to keep on spouting again, or want you to leave the key behind you."

"I should think not," said Omo. "It seems as bad to be too rich as it is to be too poor. I'll be very careful about shutting the fountain off, and I won't forget to bring back the key. And now how do I get to the city of Ootch?"

"Just open my back door," said the fairy godmother, handing him the key, "step out on the step, and then step off. And I do hope you won't find it raining, for when it rains in Ootch, it rains cats and dogs."

So Omo opened the fairy godmother's back door and stepped out on the step, and as he stood there all he saw before him was a pretty little garden. Then, he stepped off the step, and bing—he was in a queer looking city, and the garden and the back step, and the cottage, and the fairy godmother, had all disappeared. And in addition it was raining cats and dogs; regular, real cats and dogs.

"Ouch!" cried Omo, as a fat maltese fell ker-plunk on his head, yowling like anything. "Whee!" he yelled, as a fox terrier dropped with a thud on his shoulder and barked in his ear. And then, as black, white, brown, yellow cats of every color, and dogs, big, little and medium, began pouring on him and around him, all howling, and barking, and spitting at the same time, he made a rush for a small building, open at the sides but with a dome like roof of metal, where a man was standing.

"Quite a shower, isn't it?" said the man, as Omo reached the shelter.

"A shower," gasped Omo, "why—why, I think it's much more than a shower. And—and look what's coming down—cats and dogs!"

It was raining cats and dogs

"Well," said the other, "why not? That's what always comes down, isn't it? That is why we build these cat and dog proof pavilions for use on rainy days. Now if it rained elephants, that would be an inconvenience."

"I should say so," replied the boy. "But does it always rain like this?"

"Oh, sometimes it's a great deal worse. I remember about two years ago I was caught in a storm and eight cats, all in one lump, and fighting as hard as they could, fell right on top of me as I crossed the street, and I assure you, sir, I almost lost my temper."

"Well," said Omo, "it's lucky they melt as soon as they reach the ground or you'd have more cats and dogs than you knew what to do with."

"Quite true," responded the stranger, "and even as it is, it is quite a nuisance when a storm comes up."

He was an odd looking fellow with a curly beard, a scimitar in his sash, and a spotted turban on his head. As he finished speaking he began twisting at his ear with his finger as though he were winding a clock.

"What's the matter," asked Omo, "is your ear sore?"

"Certainly not! You know as well as I do I'm only winding myself up so I can start home as soon as the storm passes."

"Oh," cried Omo, "is that it? Well, I don't have to wind myself up when I want to go anywhere. I'm always wound up."

"You are!" exclaimed the stranger. "Why, I can hardly believe it! I never heard of anyone being that way! You can't have lived here very long."

"Oh, no," said the boy, "I haven't lived here a half hour. I only just came."

Then he asked his companion if this was the city of Ootch, where the famous Fountain of Riches was located.

"Oh, yes," said the stranger, "this is the city of Ootch all right. And the Fountain of Riches is here, too, but it's turned off; been turned off for years. Gee whiz, don't I remember the good old days when it was turned on. Everybody got so rich we nearly starved to death because nobody would work to provide things for us to live on. And then all of a sudden the fountain stopped, and I had to go to work again. I'm a night watchman. Not that there is much use of watching the night, because no one ever tries to steal it, but that's the trade my father taught me, so I'm it. And now, maybe you'll tell me why you ask about the Fountain of Riches?"

"Well," said Omo, cautiously, "I've heard so much about it I just thought I'd like to see it while I was here." He didn't think it wise to tell anything about the fairy godmother giving him the key to the fountain for fear some one might try to take the key from him.

"Quite so," said the other, "then you'd better come with me. The shower is over now, and if you want to see the fountain you've got to get a permit from the Doodab."

"The Doodab! What's a Doodab?" asked Omo.

"A Doodab," exclaimed the Night Watchman, "is the next swellest person to a Gumshu. Ootch isn't important enough to be governed by a Gumshu so they put a Doodab over us, and he's a right decent chap, and very fond of music. Why I've seen him sit by the hour and push a slate pencil across a slate and go into ecstasies because it made his blood run cold. You'll probably like him if you don't hate him. So come along and see for yourself."

Now the Doodab of Ootch was a very, very fat, and a very, very lazy gentleman. He hated to be bothered about anything at any time. He wore rings on his fingers and bells on his toes, and he had a big hoop of pearls through the end of his nose. And he especially hated to be bothered when he was singing, which is what he was doing as Omo and the Night Watchman entered his apartment. And this is what he was singing in a very quivery voice as he accompanied himself on a slate with an awfully squeaky slate pencil:
The currant cakes were thick upon the bushes;
The pie plants they were swaying in the breeze,
And the river it was made of delicious lemonade.
While the doughnuts all were ripe upon the trees.
We wandered hand in hand about the garden
Where the lollipops were strolling to and fro;
And I always will recall that exciting day in Fall
When we stood and watched the pickled onions grow.

"Well," exclaimed the Doodab, fretfully, "what do you want? It seems strange I can't embark on a sea of melody without being dragged ashore like this. What do you want?"

"This boy wants to get a permit to look at the Fountain of Riches," said the Night Watchman.

"He wants—What does he want that for?"

"Oh, I just want to see what it looks like," said Omo. "I never saw a Fountain of Riches before."

"Hum!" said the Doodab of Ootch. "That remark has a very jarring note in it. And what are you going to do after you've seen the Fountain of Riches?"

"Why," said Omo, "just—just look at it, of—of course."

"And what are you going to do after that?"

"Why—why, just—just keep on looking at it, I guess," responded the boy, hardly knowing what to say.

"Nonsense!" said the Doodab, "it won't do any good to keep on looking at it forever. And besides if you look at it too long the permit will run out. It only lasts three minutes."

"Three minutes!" exclaimed Omo. "Oh, I couldn't turn the fountain on and off, and gather up the gold pieces in three minutes." And then he clapped his hand to his mouth in dismay when he realized what he had said.

"Ah, ha!" said the Doodab of Ootch, rattling the bells on his toes. "So you're going to turn it on, eh?"

"Oh, ho!" said the Night Watchman. "And how in the world did you find out how to turn it on?"

"Oh, I found out!" replied the boy.

"Well," said the Doodab, "I'm mighty glad to hear it, for I'm dreadfully hard up. My purse is just about empty."

Then he clapped his hands and when his servants entered the room, he told them to get several large sacks and some shovels, and follow him. Then having twisted his ear and wound himself up, while the Night Watchman did the same, he took Omo by one hand and the Night Watchman by the other, and led the way to the Fountain of Riches.

"See here," said Omo, as they hurried through the streets, "you two needn't think you're going to have piles of gold pieces again, for you're not. I'm only going to turn that fountain on long enough to get my hat full; and then I'm going to turn it off."

"What!" shrieked the Doodab of Ootch, "you're going to turn it off before I get my sacks full?"

"Can I believe my ears?" said the Night Watchman. "You can't mean to turn it off before I get my pockets full? Why—why if it hadn't been for me you never would have seen the Doodab, or found out where the fountain was. You must be spoofing!"

"No, I'm not," said Omo. "I'm very sorry, but I promised to turn the fountain off the minute I got my hat full."

"The minute you get your hat full, eh?" said the Doodab, looking at Omo slyly. Then he whispered in the Night Watchman's ear, after which they both laughed merrily.

"What are you laughing at?" asked Omo.

"We're laughing," said the Night Watchman, "to think how you're going to turn the fountain off after you get your hat full."

By this time they had reached the Fountain of Riches which was in the center of the public square of the city.

"Are you still determined to turn it off as soon as you get your hat full?" asked the Night Watchman.

"I have to," said Omo. "I promised."

"Well," said the Doodab, snappishly, "if you want to shut it off you've got to turn it on first, haven't you? So go ahead!"

So Omo took out the silver key, fitted it into the keyhole at the base of the fountain, and turned three times to the right, then three times to the left, and then three times in the middle, and bing—with a clink and a chink, and a tinkle, the fountain of riches began to spout. And the minute it did that, the Night Watchman grabbed Omo's cap from his head, and the Doodab snatched the key from his hand.

"There," said the Doodab of Ootch, hurling the key as far as he could, "I guess you won't turn off the fountain until you find that key."

"Yes," said the Night Watchman, hurling Omo's cap as far as he could, "and I guess you won't fill your cap until you find your cap either. And by the time you do I'll have my pockets full of gold pieces."

"And," put in the Doodab, "I'll have my sacks full also."

Well, you may be sure Omo was very angry at the trick played on him, and started after the cap and key as quickly as he could. It did not take him long to find his cap, but he simply could not find the key.

"See here," he cried, running back to where the Doodab was tying up the necks of his sacks, which were now filled to bursting, "you've got to help me find that key. I promised to turn this fountain off and I'm going to do it."

"All right," said the Doodab, "I'll help you. I've got gold enough here to last me the rest of my life so I don't care how soon you turn it off."

"Nor I," said the Night Watchman. "I've got all my pockets full, and my stockings full besides, so stop the old thing whenever you want."

But Omo, and the Doodab, and the Night Watchman, although they searched and searched, could not find the key anywhere, and all the while the fountain was spouting gold pieces in a stream a hundred feet high, and so thick it looked like smoke.

"My sakes!" said the Doodab of Ootch, "I don't know how you'll ever stop it! I'm sorry I threw the key away now! But, anyhow, the worst that can happen if the fountain keeps on spouting, is to give the town a spell of nervous prosperity."

But alas, the Doodab of Ootch did not know what he was talking about, for the fountain kept on spouting and spouting, faster and faster; and presently the streets were knee deep in gold pieces. It was awful.

"Say," said the Night Watchman to Omo, "are you sure you turned the fountain on all right? It never spouted like this before. We've always been able to pick up the gold pieces as fast as they came out."

"Of course I turned it on right," said the boy. "I turned the key three times to the right and three times to the left, and then once in the middle."

"No such thing!" shrieked the Doodab. "No such thing! You turned it three times in the middle! I watched you!"

"Oh," cried Omo, in a horrified tone, "did I? Then—then that's why the gold is coming out so fast. And it's getting deeper all the time."

"It'll soon be up to our necks!" cried the Night Watchman.

"We are lost!" roared the Doodab. He glared at Omo angrily. "How dared you turn it on wrong?"

"Well, what did you throw the key away for?" retorted the boy. "If you hadn't done that, I could turn it off."

And there they stood quarreling, and all the time the gold was getting deeper and deeper about them. And when at last they decided they had better go back to the Doodab's palace before they were buried alive, they found it was too late. The gold pieces were so deep they could not walk.

"Mercy me!" groaned Omo. "I'll never get back to my grandfather now. I wish I had never come here!"

"So do I!" snapped the Doodab of Ootch. "Until you came I was perfectly poor and happy, and now I'm horribly rich and wretched. Oh, what shall we do?"

And then all of a sudden Omo remembered a whistle the fairy godmother had given him when she gave him the key. "If you really need me for anything," she had said, "just blow this whistle; but not unless you really need me." So Omo put the whistle to his lips and blew as hard as he could, for he thought if he ever really needed a fairy godmother he needed one now.

And the minute he blew the whistle there was a flutter and a whirr, and the fairy godmother, frilled bonnet and all, stood before them.

"Well," she said, "you are in a nice mess, aren't you?"

"It isn't my fault," said the boy. And then he told her how he had tried to obey her instructions, but could not because the Doodab of Ootch had thrown the key away. "I did make a mistake turning the fountain on," he said, "but I could have turned it off all right if the key had not been taken from me."

"I see!" said the fairy godmother.

Then she told Omo to fill his cap as well as his pockets with gold pieces. And after he had done it, she gave three clucks like a chicken does, snapped her finger twice; and bing—all the gold pieces in the streets of Ootch, all the gold in the Doodab's money bags, all the gold in the pockets and stockings of the Night Watchman; all the gold everywhere except that which Omo had, disappeared, and the Fountain of Riches also.

"There," she said, "that's the best way to settle the matter. And now, come on, Omo, and get the doctor for your grandfather and pay the ogre his rent."

"But," howled the Doodab of Ootch and the Night Watchman, "what do we do? We haven't a cent!"

"You don't deserve any," replied the fairy godmother, sternly. "And as long as you're howling so about it, I'll just make you and the whole city disappear as well."

And she did, with three clucks and a snap of her fingers; and the next moment Omo found himself in the fairy godmother's cottage.

Well, you can easily guess how after thanking his benefactress for what she had done, he hurried off to the doctor's office. And when the doctor saw Omo's cap and pockets full of gold, he went with him at once; and became so interested in Omo's grandfather's case he took ten years to cure him.

But neither Omo nor his grandfather cared if he did, for they had plenty of money. And when the ogre came stamping in to collect his rent, thinking he would not get it and would then make Omo into a dumpling, Omo just laughed and bought the place from him. And not only that, but he added another wing to the cottage and laid out a pretty garden as well, as much like the fairy godmother's as he could make it. And when he did that the fairy godmother was so pleased she came and kept house for them.

And now if you want to see a really happy family, just stop and make a visit at Omo's place in the middle of the forest where his grandfather used to cut down the trees to make a living, but which he does not have to do any more, thanks to the Fountain of Riches.