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(2011-01-31 14:19:16)




Mary Howitt was born in 1804, at Coleford, England. She wrote many charming stories for children in prose and verse, and also translated many from Swedish, Danish, and German authors. This story is arranged from one in a collection named "Peter Drake's Dream, and Other Stories." She died in 1888.
Mary Howitt1804出生于英格兰Coleford。他用散文或诗歌的形式写了很多动人的故事,也翻译了很多瑞士、丹麦和德国作家的作品。这个故事出自她的作品集"Peter Drake's Dream, and Other Stories."。她于1888年去世。
1. There were, in very ancient times, two brothers, one of whom was rich, and the other poor. Christmas was approaching, but the poor man had nothing in the house for a Christmas dinner; so he went to his brother and asked him for a trifling gift.
2. The rich man was ill-natured, and when he heard his brother's request he looked very surly. But as Christmas is a time when even the worst people give gifts, he took a fine ham down from the chimney, where it was hanging to smoke, threw it at his brother, and bade him begone and never to let him see his face again.
3. The poor man thanked his brother for the ham, put it under his arm, and went his way. He had to pass through a great forest on his way home. When he had reached the thickest part of it, he saw an old man, with a long, white beard, hewing timber. "Good evening," said he to him.
4. "Good evening," returned the old man, raising himself up from his work, and looking at him. "That is a fine ham you are carrying." On this, the poor man told him all about it.
5. "It is lucky for you," said the old man, "that you have met with me. If you will take that ham into the land of the dwarfs, the entrance to which lies just under the roots of this tree, you can make a cap¬ital bargain with it; for the dwarfs are very fond of ham, and rarely get any. But mind what I say: you must not sell it for money, but demand for it the 'old hand mill which stands behind the door.' When you come back, I'll show you how to use it."
6. The poor man thanked his new friend, who showed him the door under a stone below the roots of the tree, and by this door he entered into the land of the dwarfs. No sooner had he set his foot in it, than the dwarfs swarmed about him, attracted by the smell of the ham. They offered him queer, old-fashioned money and gold and silver ore for it; but he refused all their tempting offers, and said that he would sell it only for the old hand mill behind the door.
7. At this, the dwarfs held up their little old hands, and looked quite perplexed. "We can not make a bargain, it seems," said the poor man, "so I'll bid you all a good day."
8. The fragrance of the ham had by this time reached the remote parts of dwarf land. The dwarfs came flocking around in little troops, leaving their work of digging out precious ores, eager for the ham.
9. "Let him have the old mill," said some of the newcomers; "it is quite out of order, and he don't know how to use it. Let him have it, and we will have the ham."
10. So the bargain was made. The poor man took the old hand mill, which was a little thing not half so large as the ham, and went back to the woods. Here the old man showed him how to use it. All this had taken up a great deal of time, and it was midnight before he reached home.
11. "Where in the world have you been?" said his wife. "Here I have been waiting and waiting, and we have no wood to make a fire, nor anything to put into the porridge pot for our Christmas supper."
12. The house was dark and cold; but the poor man bade his wife wait and see what would happen. He placed the little hand mill on the table, and began to turn the crank. First, out there came some grand, lighted wax candles, and a fire on the hearth, and a porridge pot boiling over it, because in his mind he said they should come first. Then he ground out a table¬cloth, and dishes, and spoons, and knives and forks.
13. He was himself astonished at his good luck, as you may believe; and his wife was almost beside her¬self with joy and astonishment. Well, they had a capital supper; and after it was eaten, they ground out of the mill every possible thing to make their house and themselves warm and comfortable. So they had a merry Christmas eve and morning.


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