The Violet Fairy Book
The Story Of Hassebu
Once upon a time there lived a poor woman who had only one child, and he was a little
boy called Hassebu. When he ceased to be a baby, and his mother thought it was time for
him to learn to read, she sent him to school. And, after he had done with school, he was
put into a shop to learn how to make clothes, and did not learn; and he was put to do
silversmith's work, and did not learn; and whatsoever he was taught, he did not learn it.
His mother never wished him to do anything he did not like, so she said: 'Well, stay at
home, my son.' And he stayed at home, eating and sleeping.
One day the boy said to his mother: 'What was my father's business?'
'He was a very learned doctor,' answered she.
'Where, then, are his books?' asked Hassebu.
'Many days have passed, and I have thought nothing of them. But look inside and see if
they are there.' So Hassebu looked, and saw they were eaten by insects, all but one book,
which he took away and read.
He was sitting at home one morning poring over the medicine book, when some
neighbours came by and said to his mother: 'Give us this boy, that we may go together to
cut wood.' For wood-cutting was their trade, and they loaded several donkeys with the
wood, and sold it in the town.
And his mother answered, 'Very well; to-morrow I will buy him a donkey, and you can
all go together.'
So the donkey was bought, and the neighbours came, and they worked hard all day, and
in the evening they brought the wood back into the town, and sold it for a good sum of
money. And for six days they went and did the like, but on the seventh it rained, and the
wood-cutters ran and hid in the rocks, all but Hassebu, who did not mind wetting, and
stayed where he was.
While he was sitting in the place where the wood-cutters had left him, he took up a stone
that lay near him, and idly dropped it on the ground. It rang with a hollow sound, and he
called to his companions, and said, 'Come here and listen; the ground seems hollow!'
'Knock again!' cried they. And he knocked and listened.
'Let us dig,' said the boy. And they dug, and found a large pit like a well, filled with
honey up to the brim.
'This is better than firewood,' said they; 'it will bring us more money. And as you have
found it, Hassebu, it is you who must go inside and dip out the honey and give to us, and
we will take it to the town and sell it, and will divide the money with you.'
The following day each man brought every bowl and vessel he could find at home, and
Hassebu filled them all with honey. And this he did every day for three months.