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Once upon a time there lived a man who had only one son, a lazy, stupid boy, who would never do anything he was told. When the father was dying, he sent for his son and told him that he would soon be left alone in the world, with no possessions but the small cottage they lived in and a pear tree which grew behind it, and that,  or else he would starve. Then the old man died.

But the boy did not work; instead, he idled about as before, contenting himself with eating the pears off his tree, which, unlike other pear trees before or since, bore fruit the whole year round. Indeed, the pears were so much finer than any you could get even in the autumn, that one day, in the middle of the winter, they attracted the notice of a fox who was creeping by.

‘Dear me; what lovely pears!’ he said to the youth. ‘Do give me a basket of them. It will bring you luck!’

‘Ah, little fox, but if I give you a basketful, what am I to eat?’ asked the boy.

‘Oh, trust me, and do what I tell you,’ said the fox; ‘I know it will bring you luck.’ So the boy got up and picked some of the ripest pears and put them into a rush basket. The fox thanked him, and, taking the basket in his mouth, trotted off to the king’s palace and made his way straight to the king.

‘Your Majesty, my master sends you a few of his best pears, and begs you will graciously accept them,’ he said, laying the basket at the feet of the king.

‘Pears! at this season?’ cried the king, peering down to look at them; ‘and, pray, who is your master?’

‘The Count Piro,’ answered the fox.

‘But how does he manage to get pears in midwinter?’ asked the king.

‘Oh, he has everything he wants,’ replied the fox; ‘he is richer even than you are, your Majesty.’

‘Then what can I send him in return for his pears?’ said the king.

‘Nothing, your Majesty, or you would hurt his feelings,’ answered the fox.

‘Well, tell him how heartily I thank him, and how much I shall enjoy them.’ And the fox went away.

He trotted back to the cottage with his empty basket and told his tale, but the youth did not seem as pleased to hear as the fox was to tell.

‘But, my dear little fox,’ said he, ‘ you have brought me nothing in return, and I am so hungry!’

‘Let me alone,’ replied the fox; ‘I know what I am doing. You will see, it will bring you luck.’

A few days after this the fox came back again.

‘I must have another basket of pears,’ said he.

‘Ah, little fox, what shall I eat if you take away all my pears?’ answered the youth.

‘Be quiet, it will be all right,’ said the fox; and taking a bigger basket than before, he filled it quite full of pears. Then he picked it up in his mouth, and trotted off to the palace.

‘Your Majesty, as you seemed to like the first basket of pears, I have brought you some more,’ said he, ‘with my master, the Count Piro’s humble respects.’

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