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Thu, 14 Oct 2010
Sweet Porridge from Book 3 of Readings by Walter-de-la-Mare and Thomas Quayle

Is there a difference between oatmeal and porridge? 

Yes. Porridge is what they eat in fairy tales.


Once upon a time there was a good little girl who lived alone with her mother at the far end of a village on the edge of a great forest.
They were happy together in their small wooden house with its thick warm thatch, although there was very little to eat. And one day her mother looked in at the larder; and there was not even as much as a dry crust of bread or a cheese rind on the shelf.
  And she said to her daughter, "Esmeralda, my dear there is nothing to eat what so ever. Not a crumb. See if you can find just a handful or two of the late blackberries in the forest; or maybe a few nuts."
So Esmeralda went into the forest, and she had not picked more than six or seven late berries, and they over ripe, when there came an old woman along the glade of the forest, and she approached and said to the child:
"Sometimes when I have been sitting looking down at the village I have heard you singing at your work, my dear. And as it will soon be your birthday, I have brought you a little gift. It is this little pot. When you are hungry and you say 'Cook, little pot, cook!' it will give you as much porridge as ever you want. And when, having had enough, you say, 'Stay, littlle pot, stay!' it will stay. All you need do is to keep in cleaned and burnished and keep it safe."
Almost to happy to contain herself, Esmeralda ran home with the pot to her mother. And there and then, her mother put the pot on the table; and Esmeralda whispered, "Cook, little pot, cook!"
Instantly smoke began to rise out of the pot, and a gentle bubbling was heard, and and what was within rose to view, sweet as milk, rich as cream, and steaming hot! And presently Esmeralda and her mother were enjoying as fine a feast of as toothsome a porridge as they had ever tasted in their lives. And so it went on, day after day. But they were careful of the little pot, kept it sweet and burnished on a shelf all by itself, and never set it cooking unless they were hungry.
     Once on a time however, Esmeralda went off to see her Aunt Joram who lived on the other side of the forest. And in the evening, her mother, finding the house empty and comfortless in her absence fancied a mouthfull of porridge for supper. And she put the pot on the table, and she said, "Cook, little pot, cook," and at once it began to steam and rise as usual, and the pot began to cook, and the4 porridge to come.
But then, poor creature, when she wanted the pot to stop cooking, she could not remember the magic words. The more she tried to think, the more confused she became.
"Stop, little pot! Cease little pot ! No more little pot ! Hold little pot ! .  .  . " Nothing had the slightest effect. The pot went on cooking, until the porridge came tumbling over the edge, and still it kept on, and ran over the table and down onto the floor, and over the bed - everywhere, everywhere, until at last the whole house was full, and then the next house, and the street - it was just as if that small pot's one desire was to satisfy the hunger of the whole world. And still the porridge came, and no one knew how to stop it. At last only a single house remained - one outside the village, standing up on its little hill like an island in one immense Sea of Porridge. And that evening Esmiralda came home.
"Oh, oh, oh !" she cried seeing the strange scene; "Oh, oh, oh !" and she ran to her mother's a mile round through the trees. "Stay, little pot, stay !" she cried and the pot stayed.
And you'll never guess what happened then.... Anyone whosoever wished to visist the village after that had to eat his way in, and then - unless he went back by the way he had come -- to eat his way out again.

Now Seligor doesn't know who wrote this story  for it is just called An Old Tale, though I seem to remember a Indian story that Dadadzi sent me over from India, being very similar. I like it though, all that porridge, golly they must have been eating it for moths, maybe years.
I just popped over to wiki to ask about Sweet Porridge and it seems this could be one of their small tales.
                                                Books and Candle                                   
Posted 16:07

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