The Brown Fairy Book
Fortune and the Wood-Cutter
Several hundreds of years ago there lived in a forest a wood- cutter and his wife and
children. He was very poor, having only his axe to depend upon, and two mules to carry
the wood he cut to the neighbouring town; but he worked hard, and was always out of
bed by five o'clock, summer and winter.
This went on for twenty years, and though his sons were now grown up, and went with
their father to the forest, everything seemed to go against them, and they remained as
poor as ever. In the end the wood-cutter lost heart, and said to himself:
'What is the good of working like this if I never am a penny the richer at the end? I shall
go to the forest no more! And perhaps, if I take to my bed, and do not run after Fortune,
one day she may come to me.'
So the next morning he did not get up, and when six o'clock struck, his wife, who had
been cleaning the house, went to see what was the matter.
'Are you ill?' she asked wonderingly, surprised at not finding him dressed. 'The cock has
crowed ever so often. It is high time for you to get up.'
'Why should I get up?' asked the man, without moving.
'Why? to go to the forest, of course.'
'Yes; and when I have toiled all day I hardly earn enough to give us one meal.'
'But what can we do, my poor husband?' said she. 'It is just a trick of Fortune's, who
would never smile upon us.'
'Well, I have had my fill of Fortune's tricks,' cried he. 'If she wants me she can find me
here. But I have done with the wood for ever.'
'My dear husband, grief has driven you mad! Do you think Fortune will come to anybody
who does not go after her? Dress yourself, and saddle the mules, and begin your work.
Do you know that there is not a morsel of bread in the house?'
'I don't care if there isn't, and I am not going to the forest. It is no use your talking;
nothing will make me change my mind.'
The distracted wife begged and implored in vain; her husband persisted in staying in bed,
and at last, in despair, she left him and went back to her work.