There was once a poor widow who had only one daughter, a child who was so good and gentle that everyone who knew her, loved her.
One day the child went into the forest to gather firewood, and she was very sad because there was nothing left in the house to eat, and because she and her mother were so often obliged to go hungry.
She had already gathered a bundle of sticks, and was about to go home, when she saw a poor old woman who had also come to the forest for wood. The woman was so bent and stiff that it was pitiful to see her. The child felt sorry for her and wished to help her.
“Good mother,” said she, “let me gather the wood for you; it must be hard for you to stoop.”
She put down her own load, and gathered for the old woman as much as she was able to carry. “I would take it home for you,” said the little girl, “but my mother is waiting for me, and I must make haste, for I am already late.”
“Child,” said the old woman, “you have a good heart, and you deserve to be rewarded.” She then drew out from under her cloak a little iron pot. “Take this,” she said. “It is a magic pot. Whenever you are hungry you have only to say —
“‘Boil little pot
Till the porridge is hot,’
and it will begin to boil and fill up with sweet porridge. When you have had enough say —
“‘Cease little pot,
The porridge is hot,’
and it will stop boiling.”
She made the child repeat the words after her several times, and she then gave her the pot and hobbled away through the forest.
The child was filled with joy at the thought that now she and her mother need never be hungry again. She ran home as fast as she could, carrying the pot with both hands.
When she came in her mother asked her where the wood was.
“I have brought home something better than wood,” cried the child. “The wood only warms us, but here is something that will feed us as well.” She set the pot upon the table and said:
“Boil little pot
Till the porridge is hot.”
The pot at once began to bubble and boil, and soon it was full and brimming over with sweet porridge. The widow caught up a spoon and dipped some of the porridge out into a bowl, but the more she dipped out the more there was in it. When all the bowls in the house were full, the child said: