Long ago in a northern land, a little boy lived with his mother. One day the boy's mother sent him into town to buy some oats. She wanted to make warm oatmeal for breakfast and good oatmeal bread for the rest of the day.
The boy went to the mill and bought the oats. Then he walked back home, taking care not to spill the oats from his basket. But as the boy walked home, the cold North Wind swept down upon him.
With one great windy puff, the North Wind blew away all of the boy's oats, scattering them throughout the village.
The boy turned around and walked back to the mill. There he had his basket filled with oats again. As he walked home, the North Wind again swirled around the boy and scattered the oats with one puff.
After this happened a third time, the little boy had no money left to buy oats.
The boy was sad when he got home and told his mother what had happened. He made up his mind that he would visit the North Wind and try to get the oats back.
It was a long, long walk through the northern woods to where the North Wind lived. As he trudged along, it grew colder and colder, and the boy grew very afraid.
By the time he reached the North Wind's door, his hand was shaking so hard that it knocked on the door all by itself.
The gruff North Wind came to the door. "What is it you want?" he asked in his growly voice.
The boy was afraid of the grumpy North Wind, but he gathered up his courage. "I have come to ask you to give back our oats," he said. "My mother and I do not have much to eat, and now our money is gone as well."
"I can't give back your oats," said the North Wind. "They have been scattered to the winds. But you and your mother are poor, and you were brave to come here. For this, I will give you a magic tablecloth."
The North Wind told the boy to lay the cloth on the table and say "Cloth, cloth! Serve up food!" The cloth would make all the food that he and his mother could eat.
The boy was very pleased with the gift. He thanked the North Wind as he set off for home with the cloth.
When it began to get dark, the boy decided to spend the night at an inn. He laid the cloth on a table in the dining room and said, "Cloth, cloth! Serve up food!"
The innkeeper was amazed to see all the delicious food appear. He wanted to keep the tablecloth for himself.
After the boy fell asleep, the innkeeper crept up the stairs carrying an ordinary tablecloth that looked just like the boy's magical one. He entered the boy's room and traded the magical cloth for the plain one.
In the morning the boy took the cloth and walked the rest of the way home. When he told his mother the North Wind had given them a magic cloth, she said, "Seeing is believing. Show me what the cloth does."
Continue to the next page to see what happened next in the story of the north wind.
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