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How long before my pear tree bears fruit

How long before my pear tree bears fruit



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How long before my pear tree bears fruit?" he asked.

The little vole swelled up like an enormous balloon.

"Do you have any sausages?" he asked the next time, when the vole had emptied his bladder.

"Very few," the vole replied. "I am not allowed to eat the regular sausages, which grow on the tree that bears them. I must try to eat the sausages in the corn, or it will go rotten and fall to pieces."

"The corn must be close by," said the boy. "But I do not know what you mean by'regular sausages'. You said just now you had some, and they're certainly not regular."

"We call them fresh-corn sausages," the vole answered. "You will find the corn fields to your right."

The boy knew he had found his way. He swam toward the row of thick trees that the vole had told him about, the banks of the river grow more and more perilous now. However, once he felt the first roots of the tree, his head began to clear. The sausages tasted good and the tree was fresh and filled with sunlight.

But he could not stay in the tree forever, and soon he could not even hold on with his feet, for they had grown numb. So he began to swim in a straight line toward the bank and climbed on the shore. There he quickly found fresh water, and he lay back, letting himself float on his back.

"Dear," he said softly, "I have never had such a delicious meal."

He was only dimly aware of the thunder of the waters rushing past his head and the boat arriving at the bank. He did not hear the shouts, nor the howling of the fat human who climbed out of the boat and ran over to the river's edge.

"Have you seen a young mouse?" he yelled.

"Yes," the boy said in a deep voice. "I did not say anything to you because I was not hungry. You said you wanted a little boy and a little girl, not a young mouse."

The little vole had slipped away again, and the boy felt so comfortable he could have gone back to sleep.

The boatman was furious.

"That is enough of that," he said. "I did not come looking for you. You will have to spend the night with us."

The boy didn't mind. He was warm and safe and didn't care if he had to spend the night with the fat man. Besides, he did not understand much of what the boatman said, and it wasn't any longer necessary for him to concentrate. The little vole had safely climbed up the tree and could now sing all night long. The little vole could sing even if he were wet.

But as it began to grow light, the boatman ordered the boy to help him drag the boat into the nearest woods, and the boy began to be afraid. For one thing, he knew that if he was found in the boat he would be made into soup again, and he did not think the soup would be any better than last time. Also, the boats were becoming smaller and smaller as he went further downriver, and he did not want to be the only one left.

On the bank, they had tied up the boat to a tree, and it was as close to a sauna as the boy had ever seen. While the boy was waiting for the boatman to drink some water from the river, the fat human began to squeeze his lips. Then he shook his head and began to say he could not believe it was his turn to drink, since he'd been with the boat for so long. But the boatman was insistent, and the boy felt a little afraid.

"He's an ugly little devil," the boatman said. "A little mouse, all right. That's what he is, a little mouse. But he mustn't drink of my water."

"I'm sorry," the boy said. "It's no longer safe to drink from the river."

The boatman slammed the boy's head with his hand, and when he released the boy, he was furious again.

"Don't you ever say that!" he roared. "We'll drink together, and then you can go to sleep in my house. We'll have to put up with a lot of nonsense if we don't make some rules. Now get to work. There's some brush down there on the riverbank."

When the boy had finished, the boatman placed the sauna on the riverbank. "Now lie down in the shade of that tree," he said.

"Don't you want me to help you?"

"Don't worry about it. Just lie down. You can go to sleep in the boat, if you want."

The boy shook his head.

"I'd rather sleep under a tree. It's the happiest part of the day, you know."

He lay down and he was asleep in less than half an hour.

The boatman covered him with a small poncho. He was starting to regret having spoken. This made him more angry than ever, and he could think of nothing but how to punish the boy. At last he decided to take off his clothes. It took a little effort, for they were very heavy, but he managed. When he was


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