In this story a boy works for a year and is given a magic donkey. A man tricks him out of it, so he works for another year and is given a magic table. The same man tricks him out of this. For his next job, the boy gets a magic stick. This helps him get his ass and table back, as well as to marry his true love… but not in a very kind way.
- Original Text with Audio (1192 words)
- Elementary English Version
- General Understanding Quiz
- The Table, the Ass and the Stick
- The Adventures of Juan
English Learner Vocabulary Help
General Comments on the Story
As is often the case, there are several folktales from other countries with similar stories to The Ass, the Table, and the Stick, including one from as far away as the Philippines. For interest, we have also included a translated version of the Philippine story, called The Adventures of Juan, as well as a folktale from Germany recorded by the Brothers Grimm titled Table Be Set, Gold Donkey, and Cudgel out of the Sack, better known today as The Table, the Ass, and the Stick.
Our source for the story was a children’s book called “English Fairy Stories” by Australian folktale collector Joseph Jacobs, first published in 1890. The book can be downloaded in various e-book forms from Project Gutenberg here. An audiobook is available from Librivox here.
(n: apron pl aprons) A piece of cloth worn over the front of the body over clothes to keep them from getting dirty. 5000
(n: ass pl asses) An old fashioned word for a donkey; an animal that is like a small horse with large ears, commonly used for carrying things. 5000
(v: beat, beats, beaten or beat, beating) 1. To hit a person or animal repeatedly to cause pain. 2. To hit something (such as a drum) repeatedly. 3. To make the regular movements needed to do something. 1000
(n: bray pl brays) The loud sound that a donkey makes; hee-haw. 8000
(n: carpenter pl carpenters) A person whose job is to make or fix wooden objects or wooden parts of buildings. 4000
(n: coin pl coins) A small, flat, and usually round piece of metal issued by a government as money. 3000
(adj: delicious) Having a very nice taste or smell. 6000
(n: servant pl servants) Someone who is hired to do household or personal duties [such as cleaning and cooking]. 1000
(n: silver, noncount) A valuable, soft, grayish-white metal that is used to make jewelry, coins, knives, forks, etc. 3000