↑ Return to Stories

Dunny

Dunny

Once there were three children, three brothers, who played together in
the sunshine about their father’s door. Now the youngest of them all
was not as large and strong as his brothers; and for that reason they
often teased him, saying: “You are not as tall as we. You cannot run
as fast. See! we can jump farther and swing higher than you.” If ever
they wrestled together, the youngest was the first to be thrown to the
ground; and no matter what he tried to do, the others always laughed,
and called out: “Oh! you are so stupid. That is not the way. Let me
show you how, you dunny!” So after a while they called him nothing but
Dunny.

One day a traveler, with a wonderful pony, stopped at the door of the
cottage. His little animal not only could perform all manner of
curious tricks, but he was the most gentle little beast in the whole
world and, withal, as sleek and pretty a creature as one could wish to
see.

The three brothers were wild with delight at the pony’s antics, and
gave their father no peace until at last he consented to buy the little
animal. At first they were very happy with their new play-fellow, but
soon they quarreled.

“He is my pony!” said the eldest.

“He is not!” said Dunny.

“Father bought him for me,”, said the second brother, “and neither of
you shall play with him at all!”

“It is not so! He is all mine!” said the first, as he caught the
little beast by the rein and tried to drag him away.

But his brother snatched the bridle also. “You shall not have him!” he
cried.

“Boys! boys! What does this mean?” said their father. “Why are you
quarreling? The pony belongs to all three.”

But the boys would not have it so; and, at last, the father said: “He
shall be given to the one of you who will bring this basket to me
filled full with the water of yonder pond.” Now the basket was very
old and full of holes, but the three brothers eagerly consented to the
plan.

“You shall be the first to try your luck,” said the father, placing the
basket in the hands of his eldest son. As the boy walked quickly
toward the pond, a little bird hopped along the path in front of him,
and in a sweet voice sang:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,[*]
And carry a basketful away.”

[*]From an old folk tale.

The boy did not know what the bird was saying. “Out of my path, you
stupid creature!” he cried, flinging a stone at it. But the little
bird flew away into the forest, where he was quite safe. When at last
the boy reached the pond, there sat a great green frog who croaked in a
great hoarse voice:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,
And carry a basketful away.”

But the boy did not know what the frog was saying. “Out of my way, you
ugly creature!” he cried, flinging a stone at it. The great frog
jumped back into the water, where he was quite safe. The eldest boy
covered the bottom of the basket with sand, thinking that that would
keep the water from running out; then he filled it to the very brim.
But, though he ran all the way home, not a single drop of water was
left inside the basket when he reached his father.

Then it was the second son’s turn. As he walked quickly toward the
pond, the same little bird hopped along the path in front of him, and
in the same sweet voice sang:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,
And carry a basketful away.”

The boy did not know what the bird was saying. “Out of my path, you
stupid creature!” he cried, flinging a stone at it. But the little
bird flew away into the forest, where he was quite safe. When at last
the boy reached the pond, there sat the same great green frog who
croaked in the same great hoarse voice:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,
And carry a basketful away.”

But the boy did not know what the frog was saying. “Out of my way, you
ugly creature!” he cried, flinging a stone at it. The great frog
jumped back into the water, where he was quite safe. The second boy
covered the bottom of the basket with leaves, thinking that they would
keep the water from running out; then he filled it to the very brim.
But, though he too ran all the way home, not a single drop of water was
left inside the basket when he reached his father.

Now, at last, it was Dunny’s turn; but the two elder brothers teased
him, saying, “Of what use is it for such a stupid as you to try, when
we, who are so much more clever than you, have failed?”

As Dunny walked quickly toward the pond, the same little bird hopped
along the path in front of him, and in the same sweet voice sang:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,
And carry a basketful away.”

Now Dunny was very fond of all the wild creatures of the woods and
fields, and often spent long hours in their company; and he knew what
the little bird was saying. And he was never happier than when playing
with the frogs and fishes in the pond; so when the great green frog, in
his great hoarse voice, croaked:–

“Fill it with moss and fill it with clay,
And carry a basketful away.”

Dunny knew what he was saying, and, gathering moss and clay from the
bank of the pond, he carefully stopped all the holes and cracks in the
basket. Then filling it with water to the very brim, he carried it
safely home to his father and did not lose even a single drop. So the
pony was given to him, and his brothers never called him Dunny again.