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the Gingerbread Man


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The Gingerbread Man

A retelling by J. Kearns

Trickster fox meets a trickster man made out of gingerbread. An extremely popular story, it seems. Perhaps because of its simplicity. No surprises here, I have kept the tale close to its home.

here was an old woman and an old man. They were very nice people; just the kind of people you would want to have as your grandparents. But, even though they had always wanted children, they had never had any. What were they to do?
One day, the old woman went to the bakery to buy some bread. At the bakery, she saw a tray of gingerbread cookies made in the shape of men. When she got home, she had an idea. She thought, why not make a little boy of her own out of gingerbread? Now, this may not seem very practical, but she was a simple woman with simple ideas and it made complete sense to her.
The little old woman mixed up a batch of gingerbread dough. She made a little head out of the dough, and it was a fine-shaped head with a very handsome face. She made a little body out of the gingerbread dough, and lovingly attached the head to it.
"My little boy must have very strong arms and legs, so that he will be able to play all kinds of games,"the old woman thought, and so she gave the Gingerbread Man two nice arms and two nice legs. She put hands on his arms so that he could wear gloves in the winter. She put feet on his legs so that her little boy could walk around and wear shoes.
"My little boy must not be cold,"she thought, and so she made the Gingerbread Man a handsome chocolate jacket with bright red cinnamon candies for buttons, and gave him a happy little cap of orange sugar-candy to keep his head warm.
"My little boy must have eyes so that he can look at me and know I am his mother," she thought, and made for him eyes out of raisins. "My little boy must have a mouth so that he can talk to me and tell me his dreams," the old woman thought, and made for him a pretty mouth out of rose-colored icing.
"My little boy must have ears so he can hear me say how much I love him,"she thought, and made little ears to go on his head.
The little old woman put the Gingerbread Man in the baking pan, but before putting him in the oven to bake, she examined him closely to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything. No, he seemed to her to be just perfect. And she put the pan in the oven and shut the door and thought, "Now I shall have a little boy all of my own."

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While the Gingerbread Man was baking, the old woman sat at the table and thought about her little boy made of gingerbread. "We will have to get him all kinds of toys and books,"she thought to herself, and smiled as she pictured her little boy made of gingerbread playing happily with his toys. She pictured herself getting him up in the morning, and sending him off to school. She pictured the little boy made of gingerbread running home from school laughing, because he would be the happiest boy in the world, she'd make sure of that. "And every night when I put him to bed, I will hug him and kiss him and tell him how much I love him,"she thought, "and my little boy made of gingerbread will hug and kiss me in return, and say he couldn't have a better mother."
Finally, it was time for the Gingerbread Man to be done baking.
There is something very foolish about an old woman and an old man who would make themselves a little boy out of gingerbread. It just seems a little silly, doesn't it?
Anyway, it was time to take the Gingerbread Man out of the oven. At last, the old woman and the old man would have a child. The old woman cleaned the table so that she could place the Gingerbread Man on it to cool; then, her heart pounding with happiness, she opened the oven door and pulled out the pan.
Out jumped the little Gingerbread Man on to the floor, and away he ran, out of the door and down the street! The little old woman and the little old man ran after him as fast as they could, calling to him, "Come back! Come back!", but he just laughed, and shouted,

"Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"


Which meant, on the one hand, the little Gingerbread Man was a stupendous accomplishment and amazing feat of imagination. Not only was he alive and healthy, he was quick as could be. On the other hand, he was a little too quick, because the old man and old woman couldn't catch him.
The little Gingerbread Man ran on and on, until he attracted the attention of a bird in a tree.
"Stop, little Gingerbread Man," said the bird; "I want to eat you."
The little Gingerbread Boy laughed, and said, "I have run away from a little old woman, and a little old man, and I can run away from you, I can!"
And, as the bird chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,

""Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

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And the bird couldn't catch him.
The little Gingerbread Man ran on, and on, and on, until he passed by a calico cat.
"Please stop, little Gingerbread Man," said the cat, "you look very good to eat."
But the little Gingerbread Man laughed out loud. "Oho! Oho!" he said, "I have run away from a little old woman, a little old man, a bird, and I can run away from you, I can!"
And, as the cat chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,

""Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"


And the cat couldn't catch him.
The little Gingerbread Man came to a dog by the roadside.
When the dog smelled the Gingerbread Man, he tried to snap him up, and said, "Don't run so fast, little Gingerbread Man; you look very good to eat."
But the little Gingerbread Man ran harder than ever, and as he ran he cried out, "I have run away from a little old woman, a little old man, a bird, a cat, and I can run away from you, I can!"
And, as the dog chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,

""Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"


And the dog couldn't catch him.
Then the little Gingerbread Man ran faster than ever. He ran and ran until he came to a playground full of children.
When the children saw how fine he looked, they ran after him, calling out, "Wait a bit! wait a bit, little Gingerbread Man, we wish to eat you!"
But the little Gingerbread Man laughed harder than ever. He didn't know how fast the wind could run but he felt he must be even faster than it.
"Oho! Oho!" he said, "I have run away from a little old woman, a little old man, a bird, a cat, a dog, and I can run away from you, I can!"
And when he found that he was ahead of the children, he turned and shouted back to them,

""Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

3




And the children couldn't catch him.
By this time the little Gingerbread Man was so confident in his fast little legs and his cunning that he didn't think anybody could catch him. He was quite proud of himself, too. He was certain he was the best runner there ever was. Pretty soon, he had left the town behind and was running through the countryside, when what should he see in some bushes but a fox. The fox looked at him and began to run. But the little Gingerbread Man shouted to him, "You can't catch me!"
The fox began to run faster, and the little Gingerbread Man ran faster, and as he ran he taunted, "I have run away from a little old woman, a little old man, a bird, a cat, a dog, a playground full of children, and I can run away from you, I can.

Run! run! as fast as you can!
You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"


"Why,'"said the fox, "I wouldn't catch you if I could. You see, I'm also running from the little old woman, the little old man, the bird, the cat, the dog, and the playground full of children. I don't want them to catch me either."
Just then, the little Gingerbread Man came to a river.
"Gingerbread Men can't swim, I've never known one who could. Now, me, I'm a fox, not a Gingerbread Man, and I happen to be a very good swimmer," the fox said.
What was the Gingerbread Man to do? He couldn't swim across as he was made of gingerbread, and he wanted to keep running away the little old woman, the old man, the animals and the children.
"Here. Jump on my tail, and I will take you across," said the fox, "but hurry up or I'll leave you behind. I don't want the dog to get me."
So the little Gingerbread Man jumped on the fox's tail, and the fox swam into the river.
When the fox was a little way from shore he turned his head, and said, "You are too heavy on my tail, little Gingerbread Man, I fear I shall let you get wet; jump on my back."
A little farther out, the fox said, "I am afraid the water will cover you on my back. Jump on my shoulder."
The little Gingerbread Man jumped on his shoulder, for he wasn't sure what would happen if he got wet, but he feared at the least it might harm his pretty chocolate jacket with the red cinnamon candy buttons. He was quite proud of that jacket the little old woman had made for him and thought it handsome as could be.
In the middle of the stream the fox said, "Oh, dear! little Gingerbread Man, my shoulder is getting wet. Jump on my nose, and I can hold you out of water. "So the little Gingerbread Man jumped on his nose.

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The fox was within three strokes of the other bank of the river, and the little Gingerbread Man thought eagerly of how as soon as he reached the bank he would be able to run and run and run again. He was so far ahead now of the little old woman, the little old man, the bird, the cat, the dog, and the playground full of children that he knew they would have a near impossible time catching him. No, he exulted, they would never be able to catch him! How awfully clever and fast he was.
Now, the fox was climbing out of the river onto its bank, and the little Gingerbread Man got ready to jump off the fox's snout and begin running again.
The fox threw back his head and gave a snap! He had the little Gingerbread Man in his mouth!
"Dear me!" said the little Gingerbread Man, "I am a quarter gone!"
Almost immediately, the Gingerbread Man cried out, "Why, I am half gone!"
Not a second later, he cried out, "My goodness, I am three quarters gone!"
And then, the little Gingerbread Man never said anything more at all.

Retelling by j. m. Kearns.

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