Many years ago deep in Gnibblenook Forest lived a gnome by the name of Gunnar. Gunnar's family lived beneath an old ash tree for many generations. They always had plenty of food. But something was taking all the mushrooms and food in the forest, and leaving nothing behind except a few hickory nuts. There was very little to eat.
Gunnar set out one morning to see if he could find some mushrooms A few big mushrooms would be a feast for his whole family and the neighbors.
Gunnar had been walking a little over an hour when he came to the giant's castle.
"I've eaten all of your mushrooms," roared the giant, "and if you are not careful, I'll eat you and your whole family, too! There is not enough food in the forest for me to share." As the giant spoke he picked up a big rock and squeezed it to bits.
"You and your family better start looking for somewhere else to live."
Gunnar thought quickly, "Can you wring water out of a stone?"
Gunnar took a piece of cheese out of his pocket and squeezed it until water began to drip from it.
The giant was awe stricken and asked Gunnar to help him get some firewood. He found a great oak, and bent it down and told the gnome to hold it while he cut it. But when Gunnar tried to do so, the tree sprang up and sent him flying through the air.
"That's a favorite trick of mine," said Gunnar. "Can you leap as high as that?"
The giant would not try and went to work cutting down the big tree.
Gunnar offered to help the giant carry the tree back to the castle. He told the giant, "The root end is heavier, so I will take that end. You take the top end."
When the tree was balanced on the giant's shoulder, Gunnar jumped up and hid in the branches. The giant groaned under the burden, and staggering into the castle yard, threw down the tree. He moaned from exhaustion. Gunnar leaped off and pretended that he had just let the root end fall.
"Surely you are not tired," said Gunnar. "I am as fresh as when we started!"
The giant grew very angry and thought, "If I don't kill this mighty creature, he will become the master of my castle!"
It was now dark and the giant suggested that Gunnar spend the night in his castle. The giant had a plan. Once Gunnar fell asleep he would throw Gunnar off the cliff.
The giant showed Gunnar to a guest room in the castle. The bed was rather large and too high for Gunnar to crawl into, so the giant suggested Gunnar sleep on a pillow on the floor.
"Hm-m-m," thought the giant, "As soon as he begins to snore, I will snatch him from the bed!"
But Gunnar was not tired like the giant. He listened until he heard the giant snoring. Then Gunnar got a pitcher of water and soaked the pillow. He hid under the bed and waited.
"Bong, bong, bong, bong..." the old clock rang through the castle It was midnight. The giant woke up and went to Gunnar's room. Quietly he walked over to the pillow that was Gunnar's bed and struck a hard blow to the soaked pillow. Water spurted in his face and he went away saying, "Ha! That knocked all the blood out of him! I will throw him over the cliff in the morning."
Satisfied that he no longer would have to put up with Gunnar, the giant went back to bed.
The next morning when the giant was eating breakfast Gunnar slid down the banister. He briskly walked over to the giant. Scratching his left side, Gunnar told the giant. " I think that a flea bit me last night while I was sleeping."
The giant was no longer just amazed at Gunnar's power and strength, but now he looked at Gunnar with fear.
And that was not all.
The giant asked Gunnar, "How does someone as small as you get so powerful and strong?"
Gunnar told the giant, "We eat a lot!"
Now the giant thought he finally had Gunnar. "I bet you can't eat as much as I can!"
Gunnar had already tied a pillowcase around his neck. He was going to pour his porridge into it and take it home to his family and neighbors who had not eaten in a few days.
The giant became even more fearful when he saw how much Gunnar could eat and how quickly he grew.
"How do you manage to eat so much?" asked the giant.
"Well," Gunnar told him, "I was very hungry. After all, you took all the food from the forest. Tell me, did you eat all of it?"
The giant grumbled, "Of course not!"
Gunnar made sure there was not a crumb left on the table.
"I am still hungry," Gunnar told the giant.
"There is no more food! You ate all of my food!"
"Then I guess it is time for me to leave and go back to my family. If I leave now, I will make it home in time for lunch."
Now the giant had a good night's sleep and was contentedly full so he was a bit more mellow. In fact, he was beginning to like the little gnome and enjoy his company. No one ever visited the grumpy old giant.
But Gunnar had other plans and did not want to stay as he knew as soon as the giant got hungry and tired he would again become ruthless.
"If I leave now, I will make it home in time for lunch," Gunnar chuckled under his breath, knowing that lunch was still in the pillowcase tucked under his shirt!
The giant sat back in his big chair and began to think about Gunar's strength and power; He wondered how he was able to make water come out of the rock or how he could pick up the tree at its biggest end. Gunnar was so small. The giant thought about how Gunnar survived the fatal blow, and it didn't even hurt! And he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw Gunnar eat more than he had ever seen anyone, including himself, ever eat! He saw Gunnar was getting a little restless.
"What next!" thought the giant, "How can I get him to stay just a little longer and maybe he will tell me his secrets."
"Wait before you go, how about an arm wrestle?"
"No'" replied Gunnar quickly, "I can't fight when my stomach is full."
The giant was quick to answer, "Oh, you are weaker when you eat? Ahah! Let's fight!"
Gunnar stepped up to the giant and looked him straight in the eye.
"It is not good for you to waste your energy on such a trite thing! Remember you don't know when you will eat again, now that you have wasted all the food in the forest! Your greed has made us all hungry! Now even you will be hungry."
"Taking food and eating it would be one thing," continued Gunnar, " but taking all the food and just wasting it so there was nothing for any one else was a very foolish thing."
"You know that too?" the giant whimpered.
"Gnomes know everything! Now I am leaving and going home for lunch!"
"Lunch?" asked the giant. The giant began to think of the empty plate that would be sitting front of him at lunchtime.
"No one was ever stronger or more powerful than me. And no one ate more food than me, until I met you!"
As Gunnar walked out the door he looked back at the very sad giant and said, "And no one will be hungrier than you!"
And with the pillowcase full of food, Gunnar quickly ran back to his hungry family and had a feast. They watched it rain in the forest as they ate. Then they watched a rainbow appear at the edge of Gnibblenook Forest and knew all would be well again. And it was. The rain made the mushrooms grow very quickly.
The giant got very hungry. He couldn't sleep at night because the loud growling of his empty stomach made so much noise it kept him awake. He got so hungry and tired, one day he decided to look for another kingdom where he could build a new castle far away from the gnomes where he would not have to share nature's bounty.
It has been said of late he is still wandering and looking.
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