英语小故事

懒汉海利

Harry was so lazy that although he had nothing else to do but drive his goat out to graze every day, he still heaved many a sigh when he got back home in the evening after completing his day's labors. "What a weary job it is," he would say, "what a terrible burden, year after year, driving that goat out into the fields every day till Michaelmas! If I could even lie down and take a nap while she feeds! But no, I've got to keep my eyes open or she'll damage the young trees, or squeeze through a hedge into someone's garden, or even run away altogether. What sort of a life is that? No peace of mind, no relaxation. " He sat down and collected his thoughts and tried to work out some way of getting this burden off his back. For a long time all his ponderings were in vain, then suddenly the scales seemed to fall from his eyes. "I know what I'll do!" he exclaimed. "I'll marry Fat Katie; she's got a goat as well, so she can take mine out with hers and I won't have to go on wearing myself to a shadow like this."

So Harry got up, set his weary limbs in motion and walked right across the street, for it was no further than that to where Fat Katie's parents lived; and there he asked for the hand of their hard-working, virtuous daughter. Her parents didn't stop to think twice, "Like to like makes a good match," they remarked, and gave their consent. So now Fat Katie became Harry's wife and drove both the goats out to graze. Harry spent his days very pleasantly, with nothing more strenuous to recover from than his own idleness. He only went out with her now and then, saying, "I'm just doing this so that I'll enjoy my bit of a rest afterwards all the more; you lose all your appreciation of it otherwise."

But Fat Katie was no less idle than Harry. "Harry dear," she said one day, "Why should we needlessly make our lives a misery like this and spoil the best years of our youth? Those two goats wake us out of our best morning sleep anyway with their bleating: wouldn't it be better to give them both to our neighbor and get a beehive from him in exchange? We'll put up the beehive in a sunny place behind the house and just leave it to look after itself. Bees don't need to be minded and taken out to graze: they'll fly out and find their own way home and make honey, without our having to raise a finger." "You're a very sensible girl," answered Harry, "and we'll do as you suggest right away. What's more, honey's tastier than goat's milk and it does you more good and you can store it for longer."

The neighbor willingly gave them a beehive in exchange for their two goats. The bees flew in and out tirelessly from early in the morning till late in the evening and filled the hive with the finest honey, so that in the autumn Harry was able to collect a whole jar of it.

They stood the jar on a shelf that was fixed to the wall above their bed; and fearing that someone might steal it or the mice mighty get at it, Katie fetched in a sturdy hazel rod and put it at the bedside, so that she wouldn't have to bestir herself unnecessarily but just reach for it and drive away any unwelcome visitors without having to get up.

Lazy Harry didn't like to rise before midday: "Too soon out of bed and you'll soon be dead," he would remark. So there he was one morning, still lolling among the feathers in broad daylight, having a good rest after his long sleep, and he said to his wife: "Women have a sweet tooth, and you've been at that honey again; I think our best plan, before it all gets eaten up by you, would be to give it in exchange for a goose and a young gander." "But not till we have a child to mind them!" replied Fat Katie. "You don't suppose I'd want to be bothered with young goslings, needlessly wearing out my strength?" "And do you suppose," said Harry, "that the boy will look after geese? Nowadays children don't do what they're told any more, they do just as they please, because they think they're cleverer than their parents, just like that farmhand who was sent to fetch a cow and started chasing three blackbirds." "Well then," answered Katie, "this one had better look out if he doesn't do as I tell him. I'll take a stick to him and give his hide a real good tanning. Watch me, Harry!" she exclaimed in her excitement, seizing the stick she kept to drive away the mice, "watch me beat the backside off him!" She lifted the stick, but unfortunately struck the honey jar above the bed. The jar was knocked against the wall and fell to smithereens, and all that fine honey went trickling over the floor. "Well, so much for the goose and the young gander," said Harry, "we shan't have to mind them now. But it's a bit of luck that the jar didn't fall on my head; we've every cause to be content with our lot." And seeing that some honey was still left in one of the fragments, he reached out and picked it up and said cheerfully: "Wife, let's enjoy the little that's left over here, and then take a bit of a rest after the fright we've had. What does it matter if we get up a little later than usual, the day's still long enough." "Oh yes," answered Katie, "better late than never. You know the one about the snail that was invited to the wedding? It set out and got there in time for the christening. And just outside the house it fell from the top of a fence, and said to itself: 'More haste, less speed.'"

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