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The Straw, The Coal, And The Bean

In a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered together a dishof beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fir...

The Straw, The Coal, And The Bean

In a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered together a dishof beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fire on her hearth, andthat it might burn the quicker, she lighted it with a handful ofstraw. When she was emptying the beans into the pan, one droppedwithout her observing it, and lay on the ground beside a straw, andsoon afterwards a burning coal from the fire leapt down to the two.Then the straw began and said: «Dear friends, from whence do youcome here?» The coal replied: «I fortunately sprang out of thefire, and if I had not escaped by sheer force, my death would havebeen certain,—I should have been burnt to ashes.» The bean said: «Itoo have escaped with a whole skin, but if the old woman had got meinto the pan, I should have been made into broth without any mercy,like my comrades.» «And would a better fate have fallen to my lot?» saidthe straw. «The old woman has destroyed all my brethren in fire andsmoke; she seized sixty of them at once, and took their lives. I luckilyslipped through her fingers.»

«But what are we to do now?» said the coal.

«I think,» answered the bean, «that as we have so fortunatelyescaped death, we should keep together like good companions, andlest a new mischance should overtake us here, we should go awaytogether, and repair to a foreign country.»

The proposition pleased the two others, and they set out on theirway together. Soon, however, they came to a little brook, and as therewas no bridge or foot-plank, they did not know how they were to getover it. The straw hit on a good idea, and said: «I will lay myselfstraight across, and then you can walk over on me as on a bridge.’The straw therefore stretched itself from one bank to the other, andthe coal, who was of an impetuous disposition, tripped quite boldly onto the newly-built bridge. But when she had reached the middle, andheard the water rushing beneath her, she was after all, afraid, andstood still, and ventured no farther. The straw, however, began toburn, broke in two pieces, and fell into the stream. The coal slippedafter her, hissed when she got into the water, and breathed her last.The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore, could not butlaugh at the event, was unable to stop, and laughed so heartily thatshe burst. It would have been all over with her, likewise, if, bygood fortune, a tailor who was travelling in search of work, had notsat down to rest by the brook. As he had a compassionate heart hepulled out his needle and thread, and sewed her together. The beanthanked him most prettily, but as the tailor used black thread, allbeans since then have a black seam.

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