Ricardo

Once upon a time there was a woodman who lived with his wife near a great wood. He used to go off to his work early in the morning with his dinner in a basin tied up in a handkerchief, and worked hard – chop, chop,chop, chop, till it was time for dinner, which he ate sitting under a tree – then he started again till it was time to go home, chop, chop, chop, chop.

One day, just as he was leaving off work he heard a voice calling “Ricaaardo, Ricaaardo.” He looked all about but could see no one, but again came the voice “Ri-ca-a-a-rdo, Ri-ca-a-a-rdo,” and still he could not see anyone; but suddenly he saw at the foot of the tree where he had left his coat and dinner basin a large bundle. He went and looked at it, and found there was a baby inside wrapped up in a scarlet cloak – so he picked it up and carried it home to his wife, who was delighted with it, as they had no children.

But she said “We have not got a cradle. What shall I do?” Then she said “Oh! I know what I can do,” and she pulled out one of the drawers, and made a comfortable bed and laid the baby boy in it. So they kept the baby and it grew into a little boy, and they loved it very much. It was a very pretty boy, but it never spoke. It was quite dumb.

When the boy was about twelve years old, one day as the woodman was cutting down a tree, and the little boy playing about near him, the voice came again “Ri-caaardo, Ricardo” and instantly the little boy said “That’s my Daddy.” The woodman said, “Is it your Daddy? Then to your Daddy you shall go;” and when they got home he told his wife, who cried and was very miserable.

The next day the old man took the boy with him to the wood, and made him sit down under the tree where he had found him. While he worked he kept looking round to see if the boy was there, and still he was sitting under the tree. Just before it was time to go home, he looked round and the boy was gone! So he picked up his things and went home, and said to his wife, “He’s gone to his Daddy, wife,” and they were both very miserable, and missed the boy dreadfully.

Next year on the same day, as they were sitting outside their door in the evening, they heard the sound of a pony cantering up the lane, “Clackity, clackity, clackity, clack,” and a pony stopped at their door, and their little boy, beautifully dressed, jumped off and ran to them and threw his arms around them. He could not tell them anything about himself, but he brought a bag with 20 golden sovereigns in it and said, “I shall come again every year and bring you this, but you must not never ask who I am.”