Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her mother in a small cabin next to a large forest. They were quite well off if they hadn't been so terribly poor. There were many who were at this time.
Every day the mother walked the long way into town to look for work. Sometimes she had to help someone wash, sometimes it was someone who needed help with the cleaning, but often she had to go home without having earned a penny and then she couldn't buy any food.
Every morning the little girl took her bucket and went into the forest to pick some blueberries so they would at least have something to eat. One morning the girl didn't want to pick blueberries. She told her mother that she wanted porridge, the kind that the neighbors ate almost every day.
- Little friend, they are rich and can buy rice groats, I can't, said the mother.
- I'll go to the forest and pick berries then said the girl.
When she came out into the forest, she heard someone shouting:
She looked around, but could see no one. After a while, someone called again. Now she saw a little gray old man sitting on a rock.
- Who are you picking blueberries here in my forest? said the old man.
- My name is Anna and I usually pick berries here. I didn't know it was your forest, said the girl.
- Okay, you can pick berries here then, said the old man.
- Actually, I don't want to pick blueberries because I'm tired of eating berries every single day. I want porridge, but we have no money to buy rice with, said the girl.
- Easily arranged, said the old man.
- You take a pot with you and come here tomorrow, but it must be a really nice pot. Do you have a nice pot?
- Yes, we have, but I'm probably not allowed to take it with me for mom, said the girl.
Anna thought all day about what the little old man had said, but she didn't tell her mother. The next day she went into the forest and she had the nice pot with her and the old man was sitting on the same rock as the day before.
- Do you have the pot with you? said the old man.
The girl nodded and showed him the pot.
- It will do, said the old man.
Then he picked out a horribly ugly and dented pot.
- Do you mean that we should switch and that I should get the ugly pot instead? It doesn't work. Mother, you're going to be very angry and sad, said the girl.
- You forget that this is an enchanted pot, said the old man.
- Yes, but how do you do it? the girl wondered.
- Now listen very carefully!
First, you fill the pot with water. Then you light the fire in the stove, put the pot on and say:
- Please pot cook porridge
When the pot is full, you say:
- Please pot stop cooking porridge.
You have to say exactly that, understand? said the old man.
The girl nodded and thanked him.
When the girl came home, the mother was not at home, so the girl poured water into the pot and put it on the stove, but she did not dare to make a fire in the stove because the mother had forbidden her to do so. When the mother came home and saw the ugly dented pot, she wondered where it came from.
- Have you found it in the forest? Then you collect all kinds of rubbish, said the mother.
- It's an enchanted pot, which can cook porridge with just water, said the girl.
- Dear little child, there are no enchanted pots, said the mother.
- Yes, it is certainly an enchanted pot. I had it exchanged for me by a little old man who lives in the forest. I exchanged it for your new pot, said the girl.
- Please, little child, you haven't!
- Please, mother, light the stove and you'll see, said the girl.
The mother sighed, but did as the girl said.
- Please pot cook porridge, said the girl.
Then something strange happened. The pot began to boil. It became more and more porridge until the girl said:
- Please pot stop cooking porridge.
Then it stopped boiling.
- Oh, it really is an enchanted pot. How happy I am. Now we never have to be hungry again. Thank you dear child, said the mother.
- It was lucky that I met the little old man, said the girl.
- Yes, it really was.
From that day on, the girl and her mother could eat porridge as often as they wanted