The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Mother of a Boy Who Can’t Learn

After my husband died, I was very poor, and I had only one child, my little boy Hassebu. When it was time for him to learn to read, I sent him to school. He did not learn to read in school, and so he was put into a shop to learn how to make clothes. But he did not learn to make clothes, and so he was given silversmith’s work. He did not learn. No matter what he was taught, he did not learn it.

Hassebu was a kind boy and I did not force him him to do anything he did not like. I let him stay at home, but all he did was eat and sleep.

I had begun to wonder if he would ever find a purpose, when one day he asked me,  “What was my father’s business?”

“He was a very learned doctor,” I said.

“Where, then, are his books?”

I had not thought of my husband’s books for a very long time. They were in his room, which I had also not entered for a long time. “Go inside his room and see what you can find,” I said.

Hassebu went in and saw that his father’s books had been eaten by insects, all but one, which he took away. He read it so well I believe he knew every word by heart.

Mother of a By Who Can’t Learn, The Story of Hassebu, Violet Fairy Book. Painting by Harry Roseland.