Long ago in a northern land, a little boy lived with his mother. One day the boy’s mother sent him into town to buy some oats. She wanted to make warm oatmeal for breakfast and good oatmeal bread for the rest of the day.
The boy went to the mill and bought the oats. Then he walked back home, taking care not to spill the oats from his basket. But as the boy walked home, the cold North Wind swept down upon him.
With one great windy puff, the North Wind blew away all of the boy’s oats, scattering them throughout the village.
The boy turned around and walked back to the mill. There he had his basket filled with oats again. As he walked home, the North Wind again swirled around the boy and scattered the oats with one puff.
After this happened a third time, the little boy had no money left to buy oats.
The boy was sad when he got home and told his mother what had happened. He made up his mind that he would visit the North Wind and try to get the oats back.
It was a long, long walk through the northern woods to where the North Wind lived. As he trudged along, it grew colder and colder, and the boy grew very afraid.
By the time he reached the North Wind’s door, his hand was shaking so hard that it knocked on the door all by itself.
The gruff North Wind came to the door. “What is it you want?” he asked in his growly voice.
The boy was afraid of the grumpy North Wind, but he gathered up his courage. “I have come to ask you to give back our oats,” he said. “My mother and I do not have much to eat, and now our money is gone as well.””I can’t give back your oats,” said the North Wind. “They have been scattered to the winds. But you and your mother are poor, and you were brave to come here. For this, I will give you a magic tablecloth.”
The North Wind told the boy to lay the cloth on the table and say “Cloth, cloth! Serve up food!” The cloth would make all the food that he and his mother could eat.
The boy was very pleased with the gift. He thanked the North Wind as he set off for home with the cloth.
When it began to get dark, the boy decided to spend the night at an inn. He laid the cloth on a table in the dining room and said, “Cloth, cloth! Serve up food!” The innkeeper was amazed to see all the delicious food appear. He wanted to keep the tablecloth for himself.
After the boy fell asleep, the innkeeper crept up the stairs carrying an ordinary tablecloth that looked just like the boy’s magical one. He entered the boy’s room and traded the magical cloth for the plain one.
In the morning the boy took the cloth and walked the rest of the way home. When he told his mother the North Wind had given them a magic cloth, she said, “Seeing is believing. Show me what the cloth does.”
Continue to the next page to see what happened next in the story of the north wind. The boy proudly laid the cloth on their little kitchen table and said, “Cloth, cloth! Serve up food!”
Nothing happened. Not even a crust of bread appeared on the table, no matter how many times the boy said the magic words. He and his mother went hungry that day.
The next morning the boy made up his mind to go back to the North Wind and tell him that the cloth didn’t work.
It was a long walk back to the home of the North Wind. By the time the boy knocked on the door, he was very tired and a little bit scared to complain about the magic cloth.
The North Wind opened the door and said, “Hello again. What do you want?”
“I’ve come to tell you that you took our oatmeal, and the cloth you gave us doesn’t serve food.” The boy shivered a little as he spoke.
“I don’t have another magic cloth, and I don’t have any oats,” said the North Wind. “But I do have a piggy bank that I can give you. If you say, ‘Piggy bank, make money!’ it will give you all the money you need.”
The boy thanked the North Wind and started home with a smile. It was already late when he reached the inn, so he decided to stop there again.When the time came to pay for his dinner at the inn, the boy set the piggy bank on the table and said, “Piggy bank, make money!” Then he reached into the piggy bank and pulled out enough coins to pay the innkeeper for dinner and a room for the night.
After dinner the boy went right upstairs to bed. He was sound asleep when the innkeeper crept into the room with an ordinary piggy bank under his arm. He took the boy’s magic piggy bank and left the ordinary one in its place.The next morning when the boy reached home, he happily told his mother that the North Wind had given them a magic piggy bank. “I’ll believe it when I see it work,” said his mother.
When the boy said “Piggy bank, make money!” not one coin came out of the bank.
The boy and his mother had no food left and no money. The boy was afraid to visit the grumpy North Wind again, but he knew he had to get help.
Once more the boy set out on the long walk to the home of the North Wind. This time the North Wind was angrier than ever. He wanted the boy to stop bothering him, and the North Wind opened the door before the boy even knocked.
“Well, what do you want now?” roared the North Wind with his icy breath.
“I must get my oats back,” said the boy. “The piggy bank doesn’t work.”
“I have only one thing left,” said the North Wind.
“It is a magic rope that will tie someone up if you say ‘Rope, rope! Tie him up!’ Because you have come all this way, I will give it to you.”
The boy thanked the North Wind and set out for home again. By now he figured out what had happened to his magic cloth and his piggy bank, so he had an idea what to do with the magic rope.When the boy reached the inn on the way home, he again stopped for the night. Although he didn’t have any money, the innkeeper gave him dinner and a place to sleep.
The innkeeper thought the rope the boy was carrying might be magic, and he planned to steal it. After dinner the boy went right upstairs to bed, but this time he only pretended to go to sleep.
Later the innkeeper crept into the boy’s room to replace the magical rope with ordinary rope. When he came close to the boy’s bed, the boy sprang up and shouted, “Rope, rope! Tie him up!”
The magic rope wrapped itself many times around the innkeeper and tied him up. The innkeeper struggled but could not get loose. The boy said, “I won’t untie you until you give me back my magic cloth and magic piggy bank!”
The innkeeper struggled some more, but at last he said, “Take them back! Just set me free!” The boy kindly let the innkeeper go.
With his magical things in hand, the boy returned home. This time he was able to show his mother the magic items. The cloth provided them with plenty of food, and the piggy bank gave them money to meet their needs. In case they ever needed its help, the rope was nearby to protect them.The boy went to see the North Wind one last time — to thank him for his help. This time he was not afraid at all.