ONE TIME Jack and his folks lived in an old rickety house on top of a hill, and this time I'm tellin' you about, Jack and his mother were the only ones at home. Jack's daddy was off somewhere on He public works abuildin' road, and Jack's two brothers, Will and Tom, they'd gone off to another settlement huntin' 'em a fob of work.
Well, winter came and directly the weather got awful bad It turned off real cold and set in to snowin' and then the North West Wind commenced to blow, and one day hit got to whistlin' in through the cracks of that old house, and Jack and his mother nearly froze.
Jack's mother told him he ought to get some boards and fix up the house a little. Jack studied awhile over that, and he recollected that Will had broke the hammer crackin' walnuts, and Tom had used up all the nails mendin' the fence, and that there wasn't any boards except a few old rotten pieces at the barn. So Jack told his mother, No, said what he'd do, if it was him, he'd go ant stop that North West Wind so it wouldn't blow.
His mother asked him how in the world he could do that, and Jack told her he'd go find the place where the wind came out, take his old hat and plug it right in the hole.
Jack's mother told him, says, "Why, Jack, you know that can't be done." But Jack said that was the very thing he aimed to do said he could try it anyhow.
So Jack spent pretty near all one day splittin' his mother a big enough pile of firewood to do her till he got back. Then real early the next morning he got his old raggedy hat and pulled out.
He traveled on, traveled on, traveled on, till he got a right far ways from home, and just 'fore dark he met up with an old man with a long gray beard. He was standin' there one side the road, and when Jack got up to him, seemed like he knowed Jack, says, "Hello, Jack! What you up to this cold winter day?"
"I've started out to stop that North West Wind," says Jack.
"We're just about to freeze to death back home."
"Why, Jack, you can't stop the North West Wind."
"Oh, yes, I can!" says Jack. "I'll stop it all right jut as soon as I find the hole where it comes out at."
"That might be an awful long way off, Jack," says the old man.
"You just better come on up and stay the night with me."
"Much obliged," says Jack, "but I reckon I better keep gain'. Just come and go with me."
"Why, I can't let you stay out on the road, Jack. There ain't another house between here and the state line. You come on home with me and we'll have us a snack to eat and talk this thing over 'fore ye go any further."
Well, Jack was pretty hungry, so he went on home with the old man, and they fixed up a good dinner, and Jack didn't have to be begged to sit down at the table. They got done eatin' directly and Jack helped get the dishes washed up. Then the old man says to Jack, says, "Now, Jack, you ought to go on back home tonight and look after your mother. If you do that, I'll give ye a nice present. I've got a tablecloth here and all you have to do is lay it out and say,
'Spread, tablecloth/ Spread/'
and ever'thing'll come on it that anybody'd want to eat."
"All right," says Jack. "That would be a mighty nice thing to have. We ain't got much to eat just now, anyway."
So the old man wrapped up that tablecloth ready for Jack to start, says,
"Now, Jack, you be sure and house back down the road. There's some there,
and if you hang around 'em much, your tablecloth."