A certain woman had a kind of adventure. When she went out into the field to cut grass, or to fetch hemp, and placed food in the stove, then somebody took the victuals out of the stove, and ate them all clean up. She thought, what might such a thing as this signify? Nohow could she guess it. She came, the door was shut, and there was only remaining in the house a baby—maybe half a year old—in the cradle. Well, she betook herself to a wise woman. She entreated her and paid her to come, and she came. She looked about, she snuffed about—I mean the wise woman. All at once she heard something indefinite. ‘Go you,’ she said, ‘into the field, and I’ll hide myself and we’ll see what this is.’
The woman went into the field, and the wise woman hid herself in a corner, and kept a look-out. Then, pop! the baby jumped out of the cradle! She looked, and it was no more a baby, but an old man. He was quite dwarfish, and his beard was long. In a moment he was after the eatables, pulled the victuals out of the stove, then gave a screech, and began to gobble up the food.
When he had devoured all, then he became a baby again; but now he didn’t crawl into the cradle, but lay down, and screeched till the whole house rang. Then the wise woman was after him: she placed him on a block of wood, and began to chop the block under his feet. He screeched and she chopped: he screeched and she chopped. Then she saw how, taking an opportunity, he became an old man again, and said: ‘Old woman, I have transformed myself not once nor twice only: I was first a fish, then I became a bird, an ant, and a quadruped, and now I have once more made trial of being a human being. It isn’t better thus than being among the ants; but among human beings—it isn’t worse!’