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What Jack Horner Did

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"What Jack Horner Did" is a short story by L. Frank Baum. It is one of the tales in his 1897 collection Mother Goose in Prose.


Jack Horner is an orphan who is being raised by his grandparents. When his grandfather is injured in an accident and can no longer work, the little family faces dire poverty. The teapot that serves as their bank contains precious few coins. Though his grandmother says he is too young to work, Jack takes his axe and goes into the forest to cut firewood, to provide a minimal income for them.

One day in the forest, Jack hears a dry for help. He follows it to a bog, where a stranger has sunk in and become trapped. Jack cuts down a nearby sapling and extends it to the man, who is eventually able to pull himself out. Jack brings water and food to revive the sufferer, and takes him home to his family cottage.

The saved man explains that he is wealthy, and offers to take Jack to the city, where the boy will be educated and made into "a great man." Jack refuses this offer, however, since he feels he must stay and support his grandparents.

The man leaves, but returns just before Christmas with a wagonload of supplies and provisions for the family. He also fills their teapot with gold coins.


The Jack Horner story is one of the dozen selections in the book furnished with a Maxfield Parrish illustration.

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