Foolish Jack


from “The Bed Time Story Book”

 By Mark Binder… after Hans Christian Andersen

There are many “Jack” tales. This is one of the sillier.

In a land far far from here lived a merchant with three sons, Bob, Hank, and Jack. The two oldest, Bob and Hank, were known as the smartest lads in the whole county. They could add and subtract, multiply and divide, read and write. Now, Jack could do all those things, too, but he wasn’t quite as quick as his brothers to brag about his accomplishments. In fact, he was known throughout the county as Foolish Jack, because he did nothing but lounge about all day, read piles and piles of books and look at the sky.

One day, word came that the King’s daughter was looking for a husband. She declared a contest, that the smartest man in the entire country would be her husband. Whoever could talk sweetly and convince her that he was the brightest would be her Prince.

Well, Bob and Hank were excited by the challenge. They asked their father for horses to ride to the city, and Father gave them each a tall black horse. They packed books and plays and poems up in their saddlebags, because each one wanted to prove to the Princess that he was the smartest.

“Hi there,” said Foolish Jack, “Where are you two going?”

“We are going to win the Princess’s hearts with our fine words,” said Bob.

“At least I am,” said Hank.

“So you think,” said Bob. “But I will prevail.”

“Hey, I think I’ll give it a try myself,” said Foolish Jack.

“You?” laughed the two older brothers. “Why you’re just a fool. You don’t even have a horse to ride.”

Foolish Jack from "The Bed TIme Story Book"

Foolish Jack from “The Bed TIme Story Book”

“No,” said Foolish Jack, “but I have my old donkey. Wait for me. He’ll do quite well.”

Off rode the two brothers, laughing at their foolish brother’s ideas.

Well, Foolish Jack wasn’t much of one to hang about and sulk. He found an old saddle and put it on his old donkey. The donkey bucked and kicked, but when Foolish Jack hopped on, it took off like a shot.

“Yahoo!” Jack shouted. “This is some ride!”

Soon he passed his two brothers as if they were standing still.

A little later, Bob and Hank caught up with Foolish Jack.

“Hi, Foolish Jack,” said Bob. “What have you there?”

“I’ve found a dead turkey in the road,” said Foolish Jack.

“Ahh, a dead turkey,” said Hank. “What will you do with it?”

“I will give it to the Princess and win her heart,” said Jack. He put the dead turkey in his pack.

“What a fool,” laughed the brothers, and off they rode.

A little while later, Jack’s angry old donkey passed them at full tilt, and then a time after that, they found Jack again standing in the road.

“Hi, Foolish Jack,” said Bob. “What have you there?”

“I’ve found an old pie plate in the road,” said Foolish Jack.

“An old pie plate,” said Hank. “It’s battered and has a hole in the middle. What will you do with it?”

“I will give it to the Princess and win her heart,” said Jack. He put the old pie plate in his pack.

“What a fool,” laughed the brothers, and off they rode.

A little while later, Jack’s angry old donkey passed them at full tilt, and then a time after that, they found Jack again standing in the road.

“Hi, Foolish Jack,” said Bob. “What have you this time?”

“Look at this mud,” said Foolish Jack. “It’s so slippery and pretty.”

“Mud,” said Hank. “Think of that. What will you do with it?”

“I will give it to the Princess and win her heart,” said Jack. He picked up a few handfuls of mud and put it into his pocket.

“What a fool,” laughed the brothers, and off they rode.

At last the three brothers arrived at the city. There they found that more than two hundred men had arrived to show their intelligence to the beautiful princess. They were all given numbers and told to wait their turn.

While they waited, Hank and Bob studied their books and prepared their speeches.

While he waited, Foolish Jack watched the other contestants. Every single one of them rose, walked toward the princess, and bowed very low. Then, they looked up and saw the King’s face frowning down at them. Then they turned and saw the television cameras and the newspaper reporters waiting to write down every word they said. Then the wisest and smartest and wittiest men in the entire country sputtered and stuttered and found themselves completely tongue-tied.

The King looked angry. Every so often he poked at the stove with a stick, and the fire flared up brightly. The Princess looked bored. Only the reporters seemed interested at so many young men making fools of themselves.

At last it was Bob’s turn. He rose, walked toward the Princess, and bowed. Then he saw the King. Then he saw the reporters. Then his face turned bright red and he said, “Hot in here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” the Princess said.

“Hmm, hum,” said Bob. And then he ran from the room in tears.

Next it was Hank’s turn. Hank rose, walked toward the Princess, and bowed. Then he saw the King. Then he saw the reporters. Then his face turned bright red and Hank said, “It’s really hot in here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is,” the Princess said, politely.

“Hmm, hum,” said Hank. And then he too ran from the room in tears.

At last it was Foolish Jack’s turn.

He rose, and walked toward the Princess. Along the way, he tripped, and he heard her giggle softly. Then he stood up and looked the King right in the eye. The King glared back, and Foolish Jack winked slyly. The Princess giggled again. Then Jack turned and looked at the reporters. He stuck his tongue out, and even the King smirked a little.

“Well, what have you to say?” the King asked at last.

“It sure is hot in here,” Foolish Jack said.

“Yes, yes,” said the Princess, the little hope she’d felt began to die.

“Would you mind if I cooked my dead turkey on the stove?” Foolish Jack said. He pulled the turkey from his pack.

“No,” said the Princess, delighted. “You’re welcome to, but we don’t have any pots or pans handy.”

“That’s all right,” said Foolish Jack. “I have this old pie plate.” He brought out the old pie plate, held it up to his face, and winked through the hole at the Princess.

She smiled broadly. “What about sauce? You can’t have a turkey without gravy.”

“Hmm,” said Foolish Jack. “I’ve got some gravy in my pockets.” He reached into his pockets and began smearing the turkey with the mud.

By now the Princess was laughing quite merrily, as was the King.

“Aren’t you afraid of the reporters?” asked the King. “They’re writing down every word you say.”

“Well,” said Jack, “I’ve got enough gravy for them too.”

And he threw handfuls of mud at the reporters and television crews until they all ran away.

The turkey went onto the stove, and cooked until it was quite tasty. That evening Foolish Jack and the Princess were married. And they lived happily ever after. Although I must admit that the reports from television and the newspapers were quite muddy on the details.

The End

—————-

Copyright 2012 by Mark Binder
All Rights Reserved

 

The Bed Time Story Book

Favorite Stories for Parents and Children PK-2

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