THERE was once a little boy who had caught cold; he had gone out and got wet feet. Nobody had the least idea how it had happened; the weather was quite dry. His mother undressed him, put him to bed, and ordered the teapot to be brought in, that she might make him a good cup of tea from the elder-tree blossoms, which is so warming. At the same time, the kind-hearted old man who lived by himself in the upper storey of the house came in; he led a lonely life, for he had no wife and children; but he loved the children of others very much, and he could tell so many fairy tales and stories, that it was a pleasure to hear him.
“Now, drink your tea,” said the mother; “perhaps you will hear a story.”
“Yes, if I only knew a fresh one,” said the old man, and nodded smilingly. “But how did the little fellow get his wet feet?” he then asked.
“That,” replied the mother, “nobody can understand.”
“Will you tell me a story?” asked the boy.
“Yes, if you can tell me as nearly as possible how deep is the gutter in the little street where you go to school.”
“Just half as high as my top-boots,” replied the boy; “but then I must stand in the deepest holes.”
“There, now we know where you got your wet feet,” said the old man. “I ought to tell you a story, but the worst of it is, I do not know any more.”
“You can make one up,” said the little boy. “Mother says you can tell a fairy tale about anything you look at or touch.”