Lazy Jack – Elementary Level

Once upon a time there was a boy whose name was Jack. He lived with his mother in her old house. They were very poor. The old woman made a little money by making clothes, but Jack was very lazy. He did nothing but sleep under a big tree outside on warm days, and sit at home in front of the fire on cold days. His mother could not get him to do anything for her. At last she told him that he must go out every day to look for work. “If you do not work for your food,” she said, “you will have to leave home and live as best you can.”

Jack did not want to leave home, so early the next morning he set off looking for work. He met a farmer who gave him a day of work helping in his field. At the end of the day, the farmer gave Jack a penny for his work. Jack was not used to having money, and happily carried it in his hand as he walked home. To get home, he had to walk across a bridge over a small river. When Jack was half-way across the bridge, he dropped the penny and it fell into the brown water below.

“You stupid boy!” said his mother. “You should have put the money in your pocket.”

“Next time I will,” answered Jack.

The next day Jack went out again. He found a job for a day with another farmer who had many cows. At the end of the day, this farmer gave Jack a container of milk for his work. Jack took the container and put it into the large pocket of his jacket. But as he walked, most of the milk fell over the side of the container and was lost long before he got home.

“You stupid boy!” said his mother. “You should have carried the container on your head.”

“Next time I will,” answered Jack.

The following day Jack went into the village and found a job for a day in a shop that made cheese. At the end of the day, the owner gave gave Jack a big piece of cheese for his work. Jack put this on his head and carefully walked home. As he walked, the big piece of cheese started to break up into smaller pieces. Many of these fell by the side of the road before Jack got home, and the cheese that was left was all caught up in his long hair.

“You stupid boy!” said his mother. “You should have carried the cheese in your hands.”

“Next time I will,” answered Jack.

The day after this Jack again went to the village. He found a job for a day with a man who made bread. At the end of the day, this man gave him a large cat for his work. Jack took the cat, and began carrying it home in his hands. But in a short time the cat had scratched Jack so badly that he let it go.

“You stupid boy!” said his mother. “You should have tied the cat with a rope and pulled it along after you.”

“Next time I will,” answered Jack.

The next day Jack went to work for a day with a man who sold meat. At the end of the day, he gave Jack a large piece of meat to take home. Jack tied this with a rope and pulled it along after him. By the time he got home the meat was no good to eat.

“You stupid boy!” said his mother, “you should have carried the meat on your shoulder.”

“Next time I will,” answered Jack.

Jack went out once more the following day. He found a job for a day with another farmer, who gave him an old donkey for his work. Although Jack was very strong, he found it very hard to lift the donkey onto his shoulders. But at last he managed it, and began walking slowly home.

Now it happened that in a house along his way there lived a rich man with his only daughter, a beautiful girl. Sadly, the girl could not hear or speak. The doctors told her father that this was because she had never laughed in her life. “No child can hear or speak,” they said, “until it has learned to laugh.” The rich man had tried many things to make his daughter laugh. But nothing worked. At last he told people all around that any man who could make her laugh could marry her. Many men tried, but no-one could do it.

The girl happened to be looking out of the window when she saw Jack walking home with the donkey on his shoulders. Jack was carrying the donkey on its back, with its legs up in the air. This looked so unusual and funny that the girl started to laugh long and loudly. And as soon as she did this, she could hear and speak just as the doctors had said. Her father was so happy that he kept his promise by marrying her to Jack.

The rich man gave Jack and his daughter a lot of money and a big house. And Jack’s mother lived with them in great happiness until the day she died.