The Orange Fairy Book
The Foolish Weaver
Once a weaver, who was in want of work, took service with a certain farmer as a
The farmer, knowing that the man was very slow-witted, gave him most careful
instructions as to everything that he was to do.
Finally he said: 'If a wolf or any wild animal attempts to hurt the flock you should
pick up a big stone like this' (suiting the action to the word) 'and throw a few such
at him, and he will be afraid and go away.' The weaver said that he understood,
and started with the flocks to the hillsides where they grazed all day.
By chance in the afternoon a leopard appeared, and the weaver instantly ran
home as fast as he could to get the stones which the farmer had shown him, to
throw at the creature. When he came back all the flock were scattered or killed,
and when the farmer heard the tale he beat him soundly. 'Were there no stones
on the hillside that you should run back to get them, you senseless one?' he
cried; 'you are not fit to herd sheep. To-day you shall stay at home and mind my
old mother who is sick, perhaps you will be able to drive flies off her face, if you
can't drive beasts away from sheep!'
So, the next day, the weaver was left at home to take care of the farmer's old sick
mother. Now as she lay outside on a bed, it turned out that the flies became very
troublesome, and the weaver looked round for something to drive them away
with; and as he had been told to pick up the nearest stone to drive the beasts
away from the flock, he thought he would this time show how cleverly he could
obey orders. Accordingly he seized the nearest stone, which was a big, heavy
one, and dashed it at the flies; but, unhappily, he slew the poor old woman also;
and then, being afraid of the wrath of the farmer, he fled and was not seen again
in that neighbourhood.
All that day and all the next night he walked, and at length he came to a village
where a great many weavers lived together.
'You are welcome,' said they. 'Eat and sleep, for to-morrow six of us start in
search of fresh wool to weave, and we pray you to give us your company.'
'Willingly,' answered the weaver. So the next morning the seven weavers set out
to go to the village where they could buy what they wanted. On the way they had
to cross a ravine which lately had been full of water, but now was quite dry. The
weavers, however, were accustomed to swim over this ravine; therefore,
regardless of the fact that this time it was dry, they stripped, and, tying their
clothes on their heads, they proceeded to swim across the dry sand and rocks
that formed the bed of the ravine. Thus they got to the other side without further
damage than bruised knees and elbows, and as soon as they were over, one of
them began to count the party to make sure that all were safe there. He counted
all except himself, and then cried out that somebody was missing! This set each