Once upon a time there was a time when there was no one but


There was a goat who had four children, one was Alil, one was Balil, one was Ginger Stick, and the fourth was Black Eyes.

One day she said: "Sit quietly here, children; I'm going off to bring grass for you. If the wolf should come and knock, don't open the door for him. And if he says: 'I am your mother,' say: 'Put your hand in at the crack of the door,' and if you see that the hand is black, don't open the door, but if you see a red hand you'll know that it's your mother back again."

Now the wolf had all the time been listening, and as soon as the goat was gone he dyed his hand with henna to make it red, and came and knocked at the door. They called out: "Who's that?"

"Open the door, I've brought grass for you," said he. "Show us your hand." The wolf shoved his hand in at the crack of the door, and when they saw that it was red they opened the door and let him in. So he carried off Alil and Balil and Ginger Stick, but Black Eyes ran away and hid.

When the mother goat came back she saw there was no one in the house and she began to call. Then Black Eyes came out of his hiding-place and told his mother how the wolf had carried off his brothers. So they went together and climbed on to the roof of the wolf's house. They saw that he was just cooking some ash, and they threw down a handful of earth into it.

The wolf cried:

"Who are you on my roof up there?

You dare to throw earth in my ash, you dare?

My ash all salty and bad you've made,

My eyes all blind and sad you've made."

Then answered the goat:

"The goat, the goat so fleet am I, The goat with bells on her feet am I. I can dance with my feet so fleet, Leaping about on my hinder-feet. You have stolen Alil of mine, You have stolen Balil of mine, You have stolen my Ginger Stick."

And the wolf said: "Yes, I've stolen them"; and the goat said: "Come, let's go and fight."

The goat went and got a skin and filled it full of curds and butter to make a nice present, and carried it off to the knife-grinder and said: "Come along and sharpen my horns."

The wolf went and got a skin too, but he was too stingy to put in butter or anything nice, so he blew it up with wind till it looked very full indeed, and took it for a gift to a man who was a tooth-puller, and he said: "Come along and sharpen my teeth." The dentist wondered what his present was, and opened the top of the skin a little to peep in and see, but behold, there was only wind inside! And the air ran out puff, puff, puff.

He said nothing at all, but instead of sharpening the wolf's teeth he pulled them all out, and in the holes he put little pointed twists of cotton-wool that looked like nice sharp, white teeth.

Then up came the goat and they went off to fight. First they came to a little stream of water. The goat said: "Come, let's first drink our fill," and she put her head down over the water, but she took care to drink none herself. The wolf drank and drank till he could drink no more.

Then the goat said: "Come along, let's jump across the stream," and with that she leaped over neatly. The wolf went to jump over too, but he was so swollen up with water that he fell in. Then the goat smote him in the stomach with one of her sharp horns and tore it right open, and so he died.

And off she carried Alil and Balil and Ginger Stick, and brought them home again to Black Eyes.

And now my story has come to an end, but the sparrow never got home.