The Crimson Fairy Book
Tiidu The Piper
Once upon a time there lived a poor man who had more children than bread to feed them
with. However, they were strong and willing, and soon learned to make themselves of use
to their father and mother, and when they were old enough they went out to service, and
everyone was very glad to get them for servants, for they worked hard and were always
cheerful. Out of all the ten or eleven, there was only one who gave his parents any
trouble, and this was a big lazy boy whose name was Tiidu. Neither scoldings nor
beatings nor kind words had any effect on him, and the older he grew the idler he got. He
spent his winters crouching close to a warm stove, and his summers asleep under a shady
tree; and if he was not doing either of these things he was playing tunes on his flute.
One day he was sitting under a bush playing so sweetly that you might easily have
mistaken the notes for those of a bird, when an old man passed by. 'What trade do you
wish to follow, my son?' he asked in a friendly voice, stopping as he did so in front of the
'If I were only a rich man, and had no need to work,' replied the boy, 'I should not follow
any. I could not bear to be anybody's servant, as all my brothers and sisters are.'
The old man laughed as he heard this answer, and said: 'But I do not exactly see where
your riches are to come from if you do not work for them. Sleeping cats catch no mice.
He who wishes to become rich must use either his hands or his head, and be ready to toil
night and day, or else--'
But here the youth broke in rudely:
'Be silent, old man! I have been told all that a hundred times over; and it runs off me like
water off a duck's back. No one will ever make a worker out of me.'
'You have one gift,' replied the old man, taking no notice of this speech, 'and if you would
only go about and play the pipes, you would easily earn, not only your daily bread, but a
little money into the bargain. Listen to me; get yourself a set of pipes, and learn to play
on them as well as you do on your flute, and wherever there are men to hear you, I
promise you will never lack money.'
'But where am I to get the pipes from?' asked the youth.
'Blow on your flute for a few days,' replied the old man, 'and you will soon be able to buy
your pipes. By-and-by I will come back again and see if you have taken my advice, and
whether you are likely to grow rich.' And so saying he went his way.
Tiidu stayed where he was a little longer, thinking of all the old man had told him, and
the more he thought the surer he felt that the old man was right. He determined to try