Once upon a time there was a little boy named Smolicheck. He lived in a little house in the woods with a deer whose name was Golden Antlers.
Every day when Golden Antlers went out he told Smolicheck to lock the door after him and on no account to open it no matter who knocked.
"If you disobey me," Golden Antlers said, "something awful may happen."
"I won't open the door," Smolicheck always promised. "I won't open it until you come home."
Now one day there was a knock on the door.
"Oh!" Smolicheck thought to himself, "I wonder who that is!" and he called out:
From the outside sweet voices answered:
But Smolicheck didn't think he ought to open the door because he remembered what Golden Antlers had told him. Golden Antlers was very kind but he spanked Smolicheck when Smolicheck was disobedient. And Smolicheck didn't want to get a spanking. So he put his hands over his ears to shut out the sound of the sweet voices and that time he didn't open the door.
"You're a good boy," Golden Antlers said in the evening when he came home. "Those must have been the wicked little wood maidens. If you had opened the door they would have carried you off to their cave and then what would you have done!"
So Smolicheck was very happy to think he had obeyed Golden Antlers and he said he would never open the door to strangers, no, never!
The next day after Golden Antlers had gone out and Smolicheck was left alone, again there came a knocking on the door, and when Smolicheck called out: "Who's there?" voices sweeter than before answered:
Smolicheck said, no, he couldn't open the door. He thought to himself that he would like to have one peep at the wood maidens just to see what they looked like. But he mustn't open the door even a crack, no, he mustn't!
The little wood maidens kept on begging him and shivering and shaking and telling him how cold they were, until Smolicheck felt very sorry for them.
"I don't think it would matter," he said to himself, "if I opened the door just a weeny teeny bit."
So he opened the door just a tiny crack. Instantly two little white fingers popped in, and then two more and two more and two more, and then little white hands, and then little white arms, and then, before Smolicheck knew what was happening, a whole bevy of little wood maidens were in the room! They danced around Smolicheck and they howled and they yelled and they took hold of him and dragged him out of the house and away towards the woods!
Smolicheck was dreadfully frightened and he screamed out with all his might:
This time by good luck the deer was not far away. When he heard Smolicheck's cry, he bounded up, drove the little wood maidens off, and carried Smolicheck home on his antlers.
When they got home he put Smolicheck across his knee and gave him something—you know what!—to make him remember not to disobey next time. Smolicheck cried and he said he never, never, never would open the door again no matter how sweetly the wood maidens begged.
For some days no one came to the door. Then again one afternoon there was a knocking and sweet voices called out:
But Smolicheck pretended he didn't hear. Then when the little wood maidens began to shake and to shiver and to cry with the cold and to beg him to open the door just a little crack so that they could warm their hands, he said to them:
"No, I won't open the door, not even a teeny weeny crack, because if I do you'll push in as you did before and catch me and drag me off!"
The wicked little wood maidens said:
"Oh no, Smolicheck, we wouldn't do that! We'd never think of such a thing! And besides, if we did take you with us, you'd have a much better time with us than you have here, shut up in a little house all alone, while Golden Antlers is off having a good time by himself. We'd give you pretty toys and we'd play with you and you'd be very happy."
Just think: Smolicheck listened to them until he believed what they said! Then he opened the door a little crack and instantly all those naughty little wood maidens pushed into the room, seized Smolicheck, and dragged him off.
They told him they would kill him if he cried for help, but nevertheless Smolicheck called out with all his might:
But this time Golden Antlers was far away and didn't hear him. So no one came to help Smolicheck and the wood maidens carried him off to their cave.
There, instead of playing with him, they tormented him and teased him and made faces at him. But they did give him all he wanted to eat. In fact they stuffed him with food, especially sweets. Then every day they would pinch him and say to each other:
"Sister, do you think he's fat enough yet to roast?"
Imagine poor Smolicheck's feelings when he found they were fattening him on sweets because they expected to roast him and eat him!
Finally one day after they had been stuffing him for a long time they cut his little finger with a knife to see how fat it was.
"Yum, yum!" the wicked little wood maidens cried. "He's fat enough! Today we can roast him!"
So they took off his clothes and laid him in a kneading trough and prepared him for the oven.
Smolicheck was so frightened that he just screamed and screamed, but the louder he screamed the more the little wood maidens laughed and clapped their hands.
Suddenly there was the sound of crashing branches and, before the wood maidens knew what was happening, Golden Antlers came bounding into the cave. He tossed Smolicheck upon his antlers and off he sped as swift as the wind.
When they got home, he laid Smolicheck across his knee and gave him something—you know what! And Smolicheck cried and said he was sorry he had been disobedient. And he said he would never, never, never again open the door.
And this time he never did!
Notes: Contains 20 Czechoslovak folktales.
Author: Parker Fillmore
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace and Company, New York