Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

How To Tell Stories To Children And Some Stories To Tell by Sara Cone Bryant

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Standing there, he looked longingly up at
the invisible bunch of grapes. "My gracious,"
he said, "what fine grapes! I will have

Then he jumped for them.

"Didn't get them," he muttered, "I'll try
again," and he jumped higher.

"Didn't get them this time," he said
disgustedly, and hopped up once more. Then he
stood still, looked up, shrugged his shoulders,
and remarked in an absurdly worldly-wise tone,
"Those grapes are sour!" After which he
walked away.

Of course the whole thing was infantile, and
without a touch of grace; but it is no
exaggeration to say that the child did what many
grown-up actors fail to do,--he preserved the

It was in still another room that I saw the
lion and mouse fable played.

The lion lay flat on the floor for his nap,
but started up when he found his paw laid on
the little mouse, who crouched as small as she
could beside him. (The mouse was by nature
rather larger than the lion, but she called
what art she might to her assistance) The
mouse persuaded the lion to lift his paw, and
ran away.

Presently a most horrific groaning emanated
from the lion. The mouse ran up, looked him
over, and soliloquised in precise language,--
evidently remembered, "What is the matter
with the lion? Oh, I see; he is caught in a
trap." And then she gnawed with her teeth
at the imaginary rope which bound him.

"What makes you so kind to me, little Mouse?"
said the rescued lion.

"You let me go, when I asked you," said the
mouse demurely.

"Thank you, little Mouse," answered the
lion; and therewith, finis.

It is not impossible that all this play
atmosphere may seem incongruous and unnecessary
to teachers used to more conventional methods,
but I feel sure that an actual experience of it
would modify that point of view conclusively.
The children of the schools where story-telling
and "dramatising" were practised were startlingly
better in reading, in attentiveness, and
in general power of expression, than the pupils
of like social conditions in the same grades of
other cities which I visited soon after, and in
which the more conventional methods were
exclusively used. The teachers, also, were
stronger in power of expression.

But the most noticeable, though the least
tangible, difference was in the moral atmosphere
of the schoolroom. There had been a great
gain in vitality in all the rooms where stories
were a part of the work. It had acted and
reacted on pupils and teachers alike. The telling
of a story well so depends on being thoroughly
vitalised that, naturally, habitual telling had
resulted in habitual vitalisation.

This result was not, of course, wholly due to
the practice of story-telling, but it was in some
measure due to that. And it was a result worth
the effort.

I beg to urge these specific uses of stories, as
both recreative and developing, and as especially
tending toward enlarged power of expression:
retelling the story; illustrating the story in seat-
work; dramatisation.



Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
"Are the children in their beds, for now it's eight o'clock?"

There was a crooked man, and he went a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

Cushy cow bonny, let down thy milk,
And I will give thee a gown of silk;
A gown of silk and a silver tee,
If thou wilt let down thy milk to me.

"Little girl, little girl, where have you been?"
"Gathering roses to give to the queen."
"Little girl, little girl, what gave she you?"
"She gave me a diamond as big as my shoe."

Little Bo-peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
And bring their tails behind them.
Little Bo peep fell fast asleep,
And dreamt she heard them bleating;
But when she awoke, she found it a joke,
For still they all were fleeting.

Then up she took her little crook,
Determin'd for to find them;
She found them indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left their tails behind them.



[1] From Mother-Song and Child-Song, Charlotte Brewster

Five little white heads peeped out of the mould,
When the dew was damp and the night was cold;
And they crowded their way through the soil with pride;
"Hurrah! We are going to be mushrooms!" they cried

But the sun came up, and the sun shone down,
And the little white heads were withered and brown;
Long were their faces, their pride had a fall--
They were nothing but toadstools, after all.


[2] Ibid.

I lived first in a little house,
And lived there very well;
I thought the world was small and round,
And made of pale blue shell.
I lived next in a little nest,

Nor needed any other;
I thought the world was made of straw,
And brooded by my mother.

One day I fluttered from the nest
To see what I could find.
I said, "The world is made of leaves;
I have been very blind."

At length I flew beyond the tree,
Quite fit for grown-up labours.
I don't know how the world IS made,
And neither do my neighbours!


[1] Told me by Miss Elizabeth McCracken.

Once, ever and ever so long ago, we didn't have
any pink roses. All the roses in the world were
white. There weren't any red ones at all, any
yellow ones, or any pink ones,--only white roses.

And one morning, very early, a little white
rosebud woke up, and saw the sun looking at
her. He stared so hard that the little white
rosebud did not know what to do; so she looked
up at him and said, "Why are you looking at me
so hard?"

"Because you are so pretty!" said the big
round sun. And the little white rosebud
blushed! She blushed pink. And all her
children after her were little pink roses!


[2] Adapted from Mr Ernest Thompson Seton's Wild Animals
I have known. (David Nutt, 57-59 Long Acre, W.C. 6s. net.)

Once there was a little furry rabbit, who lived
with his mother deep down in a nest under the
long grass. His name was Raggylug, and his
mother's name was Molly Cottontail. Every
morning, when Molly Cottontail went out to hunt
for food, she said to Raggylug, "Now, Raggylug,
lie still, and make no noise. No matter what you
hear, no matter what you see, don't you move.
Remember you are only a baby rabbit, and lie
low." And Raggylug always said he would.

One day, after his mother had gone, he was
lying very still in the nest, looking up through
the feathery grass. By just cocking his eye,
so, he could see what was going on up in the
world. Once a big bluejay perched on a twig
above him, and scolded someone very loudly;
he kept saying, "Thief! thief!" But Raggylug
never moved his nose, nor his paws; he lay still.
Once a lady-bird took a walk down a blade of
grass, over his head; she was so top-heavy that
pretty soon she tumbled off and fell to the bottom,
and had to begin all over again. But Raggylug
never moved his nose nor his paws; he lay still.

The sun was warm, and it was very still.

Suddenly Raggylug heard a little sound, far
off. It sounded like "Swish, swish," very soft
and far away. He listened. It was a queer
little sound, low down in the grass, "rustle--
rustle--rustle"; Raggylug was interested. But
he never moved his nose or his paws; he lay
still. Then the sound came nearer, "rustle--
rustle--rustle"; then grew fainter, then came
nearer; in and out, nearer and nearer, like
something coming; only, when Raggylug heard
anything coming he always heard its feet, stepping
ever so softly. What could it be that came
so smoothly,--rustle--rustle without any feet?

He forgot his mother's warning, and sat up
on his hind paws; the sound stopped then.
"Pooh," thought Raggylug, "I'm not a baby
rabbit, I am three weeks old; I'll find out what
this is." He stuck his head over the top of the
nest, and looked--straight into the wicked eyes
of a great big snake. "Mammy, Mammy!"
screamed Raggylug. "Oh, Mammy, Mam----"
But he couldn't scream any more, for the big
snake had his ear in his mouth and was
winding about the soft little body, squeezing
Raggylug's life out. He tried to call "Mammy!"
again, but he could not breathe.

Ah, but Mammy had heard the first cry.
Straight over the fields she flew, leaping the
stones and hummocks, fast as the wind, to save
her baby. She wasn't a timid little cottontail
rabbit then; she was a mother whose child was
in danger. And when she came to Raggylug
and the big snake, she took one look, and then
hop! hop! she went over the snake's back; and
as she jumped she struck at the snake with her
strong hind claws so that they tore his skin.
He hissed with rage, but he did not let go.

Hop! hop! she went again, and this time she
hurt him so that he twisted and turned; but he
held on to Raggylug.

Once more the mother rabbit hopped, and
once more she struck and tore the snake's back
with her sharp claws. Zzz! How she hurt!
The snake dropped Raggy to strike at her, and
Raggy rolled on to his feet and ran.

"Run, Raggylug, run!" said his mother,
keeping the snake busy with her jumps; and
you may believe Raggylug ran! Just as soon
as he was out of the way his mother came too,
and showed him where to go. When she ran,
there was a little white patch that showed
under her tail; that was for Raggy to follow,
--he followed it now.

Far, far away she led him, through the long
grass, to a place where the big snake could not
find him, and there she made a new nest. And
this time, when she told Raggylug to lie low
you'd better believe he minded!



[1] This story was told me in the mother-tongue of a German
friend, at the kindly instance of a common friend of both;
the narrator had heard it at home from the lips of a father
of story-loving children for whom ho often invented such
little tales. The present adaptation has passed by hearsay
through so many minds that it is perhaps little like the
original, but I venture to hope it has a touch of the original
fancy, at least.

I am going to tell you a story about something
wonderful that happened to a Christmas
Tree like this, ever and ever so long ago, when
it was once upon a time.

It was before Christmas, and the tree was
trimmed with bright spangled threads and
many-coloured candles and (name the trimmings
of the tree before you), and it stood
safely out of sight in a room where the doors
were locked, so that the children should not
see it before the proper time. But ever so
many other little house-people had seen it.
The big black pussy saw it with her great
green eyes; the little grey kitty saw it with
her little blue eyes; the kind house-dog saw
it with his steady brown eyes; the yellow
canary saw it with his wise, bright eyes. Even
the wee, wee mice that were so afraid of the
cat had peeped one peep when no one was by.

But there was someone who hadn't seen the
Christmas tree. It was the little grey spider!

You see, the spiders lived in the corners,--
the warm corners of the sunny attic and the
dark corners of the nice cellar. And they were
expecting to see the Christmas Tree as much
as anybody. But just before Christmas a great
cleaning-up began in the house. The house-
mother came sweeping and dusting and wiping
and scrubbing, to make everything grand and
clean for the Christ-child's birthday. Her broom
went into all the corners, poke, poke,--and of
course the spiders had to run. Dear, dear, HOW
the spiders had to run! Not one could stay
in the house while the Christmas cleanness
lasted. So, you see, they couldn't see the
Christmas Tree.

Spiders like to know all about everything,
and see all there is to see, and these were very
sad. So at last they went to the Christ-child
and told him about it.

"All the others see the Christmas Tree, dear
Christ-child," they said; "but we, who are so
domestic and so fond of beautiful things, we are
CLEANED UP! We cannot see it, at all."

The Christ-child was sorry for the little
spiders when he heard this, and he said they
should see the Christmas Tree.

The day before Christmas, when nobody was
noticing, he let them all go in, to look as long
as ever they liked.

They came creepy, creepy, down the attic
stairs, creepy, creepy, up the cellar stairs,
creepy, creepy, along the halls,--and into the
beautiful room. The fat mother spiders and
the old papa spiders were there, and all the
little teeny, tiny, curly spiders, the baby ones.
And then they looked! Round and round the
tree they crawled, and looked and looked and
looked. Oh, what a good time they had! They
thought it was perfectly beautiful. And when
they had looked at everything they could see
from the floor, they started up the tree to see
more. All over the tree they ran, creepy,
crawly, looking at every single thing. Up and
down, in and out, over every branch and twig,
the little spiders ran, and saw every one of the
pretty things right up close.

They stayed till they had seen all there was
to see, you may be sure, and then they went
away at last, QUITE happy.

Then, in the still, dark night before Christmas
Day, the dear Christ-child came, to bless the
tree for the children. But when he looked at
it--WHAT do you suppose?--it was covered with
cobwebs! Everywhere the little spiders had
been they had left a spider-web; and you know
they had been everywhere. So the tree was
covered from its trunk to its tip with spider-
webs, all hanging from the branches and looped
round the twigs; it was a strange sight.

What could the Christ-child do? He knew
that house-mothers do not like cobwebs; it
would never, never do to have a Christmas
Tree covered with those. No, indeed.

So the dear Christ-child touched the spider's
webs, and turned them all to gold! Wasn't
that a lovely trimming? They shone and shone,
all over the beautiful tree. And that is the way
the Christmas Tree came to have golden cob-
webs on it.


[1] This story was given me by Miss Elisabeth McCracken,
who wrote it some years ago in a larger form, and who told
it to me in the way she had told it to many children of her

Once the Morning-Glory was flat on the
ground. She grew that way, and she had
never climbed at all. Up in the top of a tree
near her lived Mrs Jennie Wren and her little
baby Wren. The little Wren was lame; he
had a broken wing and couldn't fly. He stayed
in the nest all day. But the mother Wren told
him all about what she saw in the world, when
she came flying home at night. She used to
tell him about the beautiful Morning-Glory she
saw on the ground. She told him about the
Morning-Glory every day, until the little Wren
was filled with a desire to see her for himself.

"How I wish I could see the Morning-
Glory!" he said.

The Morning-Glory heard this, and she
longed to let the little Wren see her face.
She pulled herself along the ground, a little at
a time, until she was at the foot of the tree
where the little Wren lived. But she could
not get any farther, because she did not know
how to climb. At last she wanted to go up so
much, that she caught hold of the bark of the
tree, and pulled herself up a little. And little
by little, before she knew it, she was climbing.

And she climbed right up the tree to the
little Wren's nest, and put her sweet face over
the edge of the nest, where the little Wren
could see.

That was how the Morning-Glory came to climb.


[1] Adapted from The Basket Woman, by Mary Austin.

This is the story an Indian woman told a
little white boy who lived with his father and
mother near the Indians' country; and Tavwots
is the name of the little rabbit.

But once, long ago, Tavwots was not little,
--he was the largest of all four-footed things,
and a mighty hunter. He used to hunt every
day; as soon as it was day, and light enough
to see, he used to get up, and go to his hunting.
But every day he saw the track of a great foot
on the trail, before him. This troubled him, for
his pride was as big as his body.

"Who is this," he cried, "that goes before
me to the hunting, and makes so great a stride?
Does he think to put me to shame?"

"T'-sst!" said his mother, "there is none
greater than thou."

"Still, there are the footprints in the trail,"
said Tavwots.

And the next morning he got up earlier; but
still the great footprints and the mighty stride
were before him. The next morning he got up
still earlier; but there were the mighty foot-
tracks and the long, long stride.

"Now I will set me a trap for this impudent
fellow," said Tavwots, for he was very cunning.
So he made a snare of his bowstring and set it
in the trail overnight.

And when in the morning he went to look,
behold, he had caught the sun in his snare!
All that part of the earth was beginning to
smoke with the heat of it.

"Is it you who made the tracks in my trail?"
cried Tavwots.

"It is I," said the sun; "come and set me
free, before the whole earth is afire."

Then Tavwots saw what he had to do,
and he drew his sharp hunting-knife and ran
to cut the bowstring. But the heat was so
great that he ran back before he had done
it; and when he ran back he was melted
down to half his size! Then the earth began
to burn, and the smoke curled up against the

"Come again, Tavwots," cried the sun.

And Tavwots ran again to cut the bowstring.
But the heat was so great that he ran back
before he had done it, and he was melted down
to a quarter of his size!

"Come again, Tavwots, and quickly," cried
the sun, "or all the world will be burnt up."

And Tavwots ran again; this time he cut the
bowstring and set the sun free. But when he
got back he was melted down to the size he is
now! Only one thing is left of all his greatness:
you may still see by the print of his feet as he
leaps in the trail, how great his stride was when
he caught the sun in his snare.


[1] From The Golden Windows, by Laura E. Richards. (H. R.
Allenson Ltd. 2s. 6d, net.)

There was once a child who was untidy. He
left his books on the floor, and his muddy shoes
on the table; he put his fingers in the jam pots,
and spilled ink on his best pinafore; there was
really no end to his untidiness.

One day the Tidy Angel came into his

"This will never do!" said the Angel. "This
is really shocking. You must go out and stay
with your brother while I set things to rights

"I have no brother!" said the child.

"Yes, you have," said the Angel. "You may
not know him, but he will know you. Go out
in the garden and watch for him, and he will
soon come."

"I don't know what you mean!" said the
child; but he went out into the garden and

Presently a squirrel came along, whisking his

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

The squirrel looked him over carefully.

"Well, I should hope not!" he said. "My
fur is neat and smooth, my nest is handsomely
made, and in perfect order, and my young ones
are properly brought up. Why do you insult
me by asking such a question?"

He whisked off, and the child waited.

Presently a wren came hopping by.

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

"No, indeed!" said the wren. "What
impertinence! You will find no tidier person than
I in the whole garden. Not a feather is out of
place, and my eggs are the wonder of all for
smoothness and beauty. Brother, indeed!"
He hopped off, ruffling his feathers, and the
child waited.

By-and-by a large Tommy Cat came along.

"Are you my brother?" asked the child.

"Go and look at yourself in the glass," said
the Tommy Cat haughtily, "and you will have
your answer. I have been washing myself in
the sun all the morning, while it is clear that no
water has come near you for a long time. There
are no such creatures as you in my family, I am
humbly thankful to say."

He walked on, waving his tail, and the child

Presently a pig came trotting along.

The child did not wish to ask the pig if he were
his brother, but the pig did not wait to be asked.

"Hallo, brother!" he grunted.

"I am not your brother!" said the child.

"Oh yes, you are!" said the pig. "I confess
I am not proud of you, but there is no mistaking
the members of our family. Come along, and
have a good roll in the barnyard! There is
some lovely black mud there."

"I don't like to roll in mud!" said the child.

"Tell that to the hens!" said the Pig Brother.
"Look at your hands and your shoes, and your
pinafore! Come along, I say! You may have
some of the pig-wash for supper, if there is more
than I want."

"I don't want pig-wash!" said the child; and
he began to cry.

Just then the Tidy Angel came out.

"I have set everything to rights," she said,
"and so it must stay. Now, will you go with
the Pig Brother, or will you come back with me,
and be a tidy child?"

"With you, with you!" cried the child; and
he clung to the Angel's dress.

The Pig Brother grunted.

"Small loss!" he said. "There will be all
the more wash for me!" And he trotted off.


[1] From The Golden Windows, by Laura E Richards. (H. R.
Allenson Ltd. 2s 6d. net.)

A child quarrelled with his brother one day
about a cake.

"It is my cake!" said the child.

"No, it is mine!" said his brother.

"You shall not have it!" said the child.
"Give it to me this minute!" And he fell upon
his brother and beat him.

Just then came by an Angel who knew the

"Who is this that you are beating?" asked
the Angel.

"It is my brother," said the child.

"No, but truly," said the Angel, "who is

"It is my brother, I tell you!" said the child.

"Oh no," said the Angel, "that cannot be;
and it seems a pity for you to tell an untruth,
because that makes spots on your soul. If it
were your brother, you would not beat him."

"But he has my cake!" said the child.

"Oh," said the Angel, "now I see my
mistake. You mean that the cake is your brother;
and that seems a pity, too, for it does not look
like a very good cake,--and, besides, it is all
crumbled to pieces."


[1] From traditions, with rhymes from Browning's The Pied
Piper of Hamelin.

Once I made a pleasure trip to a country
called Germany; and I went to a funny little
town, where all the streets ran uphill. At the
top there was a big mountain, steep like the
roof of a house, and at the bottom there was a
big river, broad and slow. And the funniest
thing about the little town was that all the shops
had the same thing in them; bakers' shops,
grocers' shops, everywhere we went we saw the
same thing,--big chocolate rats, rats and mice,
made out of chocolate. We were so surprised
that after a while, "Why do you have rats in
your shops?" we asked.

"Don't you know this is Hamelin town?"
they said. "What of that?" said we. "Why,
Hamelin town is where the Pied Piper came,"
they told us; "surely you know about the Pied
Piper?" "WHAT about the Pied Piper?" we
said. And this is what they told us about

It seems that once, long, long ago, that little
town was dreadfully troubled with rats. The
houses were full of them, the shops were full of
them, the churches were full of them, they were
EVERYWHERE. The people were all but eaten out
of house and home. Those rats,

They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats!

At last it got so bad that the people simply
couldn't stand it any longer. So they all came
together and went to the town hall, and they
said to the Mayor (you know what a mayor is?),
"See here, what do we pay you your salary for?
What are you good for, if you can't do a little
thing like getting rid of these rats? You must
go to work and clear the town of them; find
the remedy that's lacking, or--we'll send you

Well, the poor Mayor was in a terrible way.
What to do he didn't know. He sat with his
head in his hands, and thought and thought and

Suddenly there came a little rat-tat at the
door. Oh! how the Mayor jumped! His poor
old heart went pit-a-pat at anything like the
sound of a rat. But it was only the scraping of
shoes on the mat. So the Mayor sat up, and
said, "Come in!"

And in came the strangest figure! It was a
man, very tall and very thin, with a sharp chin
and a mouth where the smiles went out and in,
and two blue eyes, each like a pin; and he was
dressed half in red and half in yellow--he really
was the strangest fellow!--and round his neck
he had a long red and yellow ribbon, and on it
was hung a thing something like a flute, and
his fingers went straying up and down it as if
he wanted to be playing.

He came up to the Mayor and said, "I hear
you are troubled with rats in this town."

"I should say we were," groaned the Mayor.

"Would you like to get rid of them? I can
do it for you."

"You can?" cried the Mayor. "How? Who
are you?"

"Men call me the Pied Piper," said the man,
"and I know a way to draw after me everything
that walks, or flies, or swims. What
will you give me if I rid your town of rats?"

"Anything, anything," said the Mayor. "I
don't believe you can do it, but if you can, I'll
give you a thousand guineas."

"All right," said the Piper, "it is a bargain."

And then he went to the door and stepped
out into the street and stood, and put the long
flute-like thing to his lips, and began to play a
little tune. A strange, high, little tune. And

three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling I
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives--
Followed the Piper for their lives!

From street to street he piped, advancing,
from street to street they followed, dancing.
Up one street and down another, till they came
to the edge of the big river, and there the piper
turned sharply about and stepped aside, and all
those rats tumbled hurry skurry, head over heels,
down the bank into the river AND--WERE--
DROWNED. Every single one. No, there was
one big old fat rat; he was so fat he didn't
sink, and he swam across, and ran away to tell
the tale.

Then the Piper came back to the town hall.
And all the people were waving their hats and
shouting for joy. The Mayor said they would
have a big celebration, and build a tremendous
bonfire in the middle of the town. He asked
the Piper to stay and see the bonfire,--very

"Yes," said the Piper, "that will be very
nice; but first, if you please, I should like my
thousand guineas."

"H'm,--er--ahem!" said the Mayor. "You
mean that little joke of mine; of course that
was a joke." (You see it is always harder to
pay for a thing when you no longer need it.)

"I do not joke," said the Piper very quietly;
"my thousand guineas, if you please."

"Oh, come, now," said the Mayor, "you
know very well it wasn't worth sixpence to
play a little tune like that; call it one guinea,
and let it go at that."

"A bargain is a bargain," said the Piper;
"for the last time,--will you give me my
thousand guineas?"

"I'll give you a pipe of tobacco, something
good to eat, and call you lucky at that!" said
the Mayor, tossing his head.

Then the Piper's mouth grew strange and
thin, and sharp blue and green lights began
dancing in his eyes, and he said to the Mayor
very softly, "I know another tune than that I
played; I play it to those who play me false."

"Play what you please! You can't frighten
me! Do your worst!" said the Mayor, making
himself big.

Then the Piper stood high up on the steps
of the town hall, and put the pipe to his lips,
and began to play a little tune. It was quite
a different little tune, this time, very soft and
sweet, and very, very strange. And before he
had played three notes, you heard

a rustling, that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling;
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering,
And like fowls in a farmyard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

"Stop, stop!" cried the people. "He is taking
our children! Stop him, Mr Mayor!"

"I will give you your money, I will!" cried
the Mayor, and tried to run after the Piper.

But the very same music that made the
children dance made the grown-up people stand
stock-still; it was as if their feet had been tied
to the ground; they could not move a muscle.
There they stood and saw the Piper move slowly
down the street, playing his little tune, with the
children at his heels. On and on he went; on
and on the children danced; till he came to the
bank of the river.

"Oh, oh! He will drown our children in the
river!" cried the people. But the Piper turned
and went along by the bank, and all the children
followed after. Up, and up, and up the
hill they went, straight toward the mountain
which is like the roof of a house. And just
as they got to it, the mountain OPENED,--like two
great doors, and the Piper went in through the
opening, playing the little tune, and the children
danced after him--and--just as they got through
--the great doors slid together again and shut
them all in! Every single one. No, there was
one little lame child, who couldn't keep up with
the rest and didn't get there in time. But none
of his little companions ever came back any
more, not one.

But years and years afterward, when the
fat old rat who swam across the river was a
grandfather, his children used to ask him,
"What made you follow the music, Grandfather?"
and he used to tell them, "My dears,
when I heard that tune I thought I heard the
moving aside of pickle-tub boards, and the leaving
ajar of preserve cupboards, and I smelled the
most delicious old cheese in the world, and I saw
sugar barrels ahead of me; and then, just as a
great yellow cheese seemed to be saying, `Come,
bore me'--I felt the river rolling o'er me!"

And in the same way the people asked
the little lame child, "What made you follow
the music?" "I do not know what the others
heard," he said, "but I, when the Piper began
to play, I heard a voice that told of a wonderful
country hard by, where the bees had no
stings and the horses had wings, and the trees
bore wonderful fruits, where no one was tired
or lame, and children played all day; and just
as the beautiful country was but one step away
--the mountain closed on my playmates, and
I was left alone."

That was all the people ever knew. The
children never came back. All that was left
of the Piper and the rats was just the big street
that led to the river; so they called it the
Street of the Pied Piper.

And that is the end of the story.


[1] Adapted from Florence Holbrook's A Book of Nature
Myths. (Harrap & Co. 9d.)

One day, a long, long time ago, it was very
cold; winter was coming. And all the birds flew
away to the warm south, to wait for the
spring. But one little bird had a broken
wing and could not fly. He did not know
what to do. He looked all round, to see if
there was any place where he could keep warm.
And he saw the trees of the great forest.

"Perhaps the trees will keep me warm
through the winter," he said.

So he went to the edge of the forest, hopping
and fluttering with his broken wing. The first
tree he came to was a slim silver birch.

"Beautiful birch-tree," he said, "will you let
me live in your warm branches until the springtime

"Dear me!" said the birch-tree, "what a thing
to ask! I have to take care of my own leaves
through the winter; that is enough for me. Go

The little bird hopped and fluttered with his
broken wing until he came to the next tree. It
was a great, big oak-tree.

"O big oak-tree," said the little bird, "will
you let me live in your warm branches until the
springtime comes?"

"Dear me," said the oak-tree, "what a thing
to ask! If you stay in my branches all winter
you will be eating my acorns. Go away."

So the little bird hopped and fluttered with
his broken wing till he came to the willow-tree
by the edge of the brook.

"O beautiful willow-tree," said the little bird,
"will you let me live in your warm branches
until the springtime comes?"

"No, indeed," said the willow-tree; "I never
speak to strangers. Go away."

The poor little bird did not know where to
go; but he hopped and fluttered along with his
broken wing. Presently the spruce-tree saw
him, and said, "Where are you going, little bird?"

"I do not know," said the bird; "the trees
will not let me live with them, and my wing
is broken so that I cannot fly."

"You may live on one of my branches," said
the spruce; "here is the warmest one of all."

"But may I stay all winter?"

"Yes," said the spruce; "I shall like to have

The pine-tree stood beside the spruce, and
when he saw the little bird hopping and fluttering
with his broken wing, he said, "My branches
are not very warm, but I can keep the wind off
because I am big and strong."

So the little bird fluttered up into the warm
branch of the spruce, and the pine-tree kept the
wind off his house; then the juniper-tree saw
what was going on, and said that she would
give the little bird his dinner all the winter,
from her branches. Juniper berries are very
good for little birds.

The little bird was very comfortable in his
warm nest sheltered from the wind, with juniper
berries to eat.

The trees at the edge of the forest remarked
upon it to each other:

"I wouldn't take care of a strange bird," said
the birch.

"I wouldn't risk my acorns," said the oak.

"I would not speak to strangers," said the
willow. And the three trees stood up very tall
and proud.

That night the North Wind came to the
woods to play. He puffed at the leaves with
his icy breath, and every leaf he touched fell
to the ground. He wanted to touch every leaf
in the forest, for he loved to see the trees

"May I touch every leaf?" he said to his
father, the Frost King.

"No," said the Frost King, "the trees which
were kind to the bird with the broken wing may
keep their leaves."

So North Wind had to leave them alone, and
the spruce, the pine, and the juniper-tree kept
their leaves through all the winter. And they
have done so ever since.


[1] Adapted from Grimms' Fairy Tales.

There was once a little girl who was very,
very poor. Her father and mother had died,
and at last she had no little room to stay in,
and no little bed to sleep in, and nothing more
to eat except one piece of bread. So she said
a prayer, put on her little jacket and her hood,
and took her piece of bread in her hand, and
went out into the world.

When she had walked a little way, she met
an old man, bent and thin. He looked at the
piece of bread in her hand, and said, "Will you
give me your bread, little girl? I am very
hungry." The little girl said, "Yes," and gave
him her piece of bread.

When she had walked a little farther she
came upon a child, sitting by the path, crying.
"I am so cold!" said the child. "Won't you
give me your little hood, to keep my head
warm?" The little girl took off her hood and
tied it on the child's head. Then she went on
her way.

After a time, as she went, she met another
child. This one shivered with the cold, and she
said to the little girl, "Won't you give me your
jacket, little girl?" And the little girl gave her
her jacket. Then she went on again.

By-and-by she saw another child, crouching
almost naked by the wayside. "O little girl,"
said the child, "won't you give me your dress?
I have nothing to keep me warm." So the little
girl took off her dress and gave it to the other
child. And now she had nothing left but her
little shirt. It grew dark, and the wind was
cold, and the little girl crept into the woods, to
sleep for the night. But in the woods a child
stood, weeping and naked. "I am cold," she
said, "give me your little shirt!" And the
little girl thought, "It is dark, and the woods
will shelter me; I will give her my little shirt";
so she did, and now she had nothing left in all
the world.

She stood looking up at the sky, to say her
night-time prayer. As she looked up, the whole
skyful of stars fell in a shower round her feet.
There they were, on the ground, shining bright,
and round. The little girl saw that they were
silver dollars. And in the midst of them was
the finest little shirt, all woven out of silk! The
little girl put on the little silk shirt, and gathered
the star dollars; and she was rich, all the days
of her life.


[1] This story has been told by the Rev. Albert E. Sims to
children in many parts of England. On one occasion it was
told to an audience of over three thousand children in the
Great Assembly Hall, Mile End, London.

Far away in Central Africa, that vast land
where dense forests and wild beasts abound,
the shades of night were once more descending,
warning all creatures that it was time to seek

All day long the sun had been like a great
burning eye, but now, after painting the western
sky with crimson and scarlet and gold, he had
disappeared into his fleecy bed; the various
creatures of the forest had sought their holes
and resting-places; the last sound had rumbled
its rumble, the last bee had mumbled his mumble,
and the last bear had grumbled his grumble;
even the grasshoppers that had been chirruping,
chirruping, through all the long hours without
a pause, at length had ceased their shrill music,
tucked up their long legs, and given themselves
to slumber.

There on a nodding grass-blade, a tiny Gnat
had made a swinging couch, and he too had folded
his wings, closed his tiny eyes, and was fast asleep.
Darker, darker, darker became the night until
the darkness could almost be felt, and over all
was a solemn stillness as though some powerful
finger had been raised, and some potent voice
had whispered, "HU--SH!"

Just when all was perfectly still, there came
suddenly from the far away depths of the
forest, like the roll of thunder, a mighty

In a moment all the beasts and birds were
wide awake, and the poor little Gnat was nearly
frightened out of his little senses, and his little
heart went pit-a-pat. He rubbed his little eyes
with his feelers, and then peered all around
trying to penetrate the deep gloom as he
whispered in terror--"WHAT--WAS--THAT?"

What do YOU think it was? . . . Yes, a
LION! A great, big lion who, while most other
denizens of the forest slept, was out hunting for
prey. He came rushing and crashing through
the thick undergrowth of the forest, swirling
his long tail and opening wide his great jaws,
and as he rushed he RO-AR-R-R-ED!

Presently he reached the spot where the little
Gnat hung panting at the tip of the waving
grass-blade. Now the little Gnat was not afraid
of lions, so when he saw it was only a lion, he
cried out--

"Hi, stop, stop! What are you making that
horrible noise about?"

The Lion stopped short, then backed slowly
and regarded the Gnat with scorn.

"Why, you tiny, little, mean, insignificant
creature you, how DARE you speak to ME?" he

"How dare I speak to you?" repeated the
Gnat quietly. "By the virtue of RIGHT, which
is always greater than MIGHT. Why don't you
keep to your own part of the forest? What
right have you to be here, disturbing folks at
this time of night?"

By a mighty effort the Lion restrained his
anger--he knew that to obtain mastery over
others one must be master over oneself.

"What RIGHT?" he repeated in dignified tones.
I can do no wrong, for all the other creatures of
the forest are afraid of me. I DO what I please,
I SAY what I please, I EAT whom I please, I GO
where I please--simply because I'm King of the

"But who told you you were King?" demanded
the Gnat. "Just answer me that!"

"Who told ME?" roared the Lion. "Why,
everyone acknowledges it--don't I tell you that
everyone is afraid of me?"

"Indeed!" cried the Gnat disdainfully.
"Pray don't say ALL, for I'm not afraid of you.
And further, I deny your right to be King."

This was too much for the Lion. He now
worked himself into a perfect fury.

"You--you--YOU deny my right as King?"

"I DO, and, what is more, you shall never be
King until you have fought and conquered me."

The Lion laughed a great lion laugh, and a
lion laugh cannot be laughed at like a cat laugh,
as everyone ought to know.

"Fight--did you say fight?" he asked.
"Who ever heard of a lion fighting a gnat?
Here, out of my way, you atom of nothing!
I'll blow you to the other end of the world."

But though the Lion puffed his cheeks until
they were like great bellows, and then blew
with all his might, he could not disturb the
little Gnat's hold on the swaying grass-blade.

"You'll blow all your whiskers away if you
are not careful," he said, with a laugh--"but
you won't move me. And if you dare leave this
spot without fighting me, I'll tell all the beasts
of the forest that you are afraid of me, and
they'll make ME King."

"Ho, ho!" roared the Lion. "Very well,
since you will fight, let it be so."

"You agree to the conditions, then? The
one who conquers shall be King?"

"Oh, certainly," laughed the Lion, for he
expected an easy victory. "Are you ready?"

"Quite ready."

"Then--GO!" roared the Lion.

And with that he sprang forward with open
jaws, thinking he could easily swallow a million
gnats. But just as the great jaws were about
to close upon the blade of grass whereto the
Gnat clung, what should happen but that the
Gnat suddenly spread his wings and nimbly
flew--where do you think?--right into one of
the Lion's nostrils! And there he began to
sting, sting, sting. The Lion wondered, and
thundered, and blundered--but the Gnat went
on stinging; he foamed, and he moaned, and he
groaned--still the Gnat went on stinging; he
rubbed his head on the ground in agony,
he swirled his tail in furious passion, he roared,
he spluttered, he sniffed, he snuffed--and still
the Gnat went on stinging.

"O my poor nose, my nose, my nose!" the
Lion began to moan. "Come down, come
DOWN, come DOWN! My nose, my NOSE, my
NOSE!! You're King of the Forest, you're
King, you're King--only come down. My nose,
my NOSE, my NOSE!"

So at last the Gnat flew out from the Lion's
nostril and went back to his waving grass-
blade, while the Lion slunk away into the
depths of the forest with his tail between his
legs--BEATEN, and by a tiny Gnat!

"What a fine fellow am I, to be sure!"
exclaimed the Gnat, aa he proudly plumed his
wings. "I've beaten a lion--a LION! Dear
me, I ought to have been King long ago, I'm so
clever, so big, so strong--OH!"

The Gnat's frightened cry was caused by
finding himself entangled in some silky sort of
threads. While gloating over his victory, the
wind had risen, and his grass-blade had swayed
violently to and fro unnoticed by him. A
stronger gust than usual had bent the blade
downward close to the ground, and then something
caught it and held it fast and with it the
victorious Gnat. Oh, the desperate struggles
he made to get free! Alas! he became more
entangled than ever. You can guess what it
was--a spider's web, hung out from the over-
hanging branch of a tree. Then--flipperty-
flopperty, flipperty--flopperty, flop, flip, flop--
down his stairs came cunning Father Spider
and quickly gobbled up the little Gnat for his
supper, and that was the end of him.

A strong Lion--and what overcame him? A

A clever Gnat--and what overcame him? A
SPIDER'S WEB! He who had beaten the strong
lion had been overcome by the subtle snare of
a spider's thread.



Once there was a cat, and a parrot. And they
had agreed to ask each other to dinner, turn
and turn about: first the cat should ask the
parrot, then the parrot should invite the cat,
and so on. It was the cat's turn first.

Now the cat was very mean. He provided
nothing at all for dinner except a pint of milk,
a little slice of fish, and a biscuit. The parrot
was too polite to complain, but he did not have
a very good time.

When it was his turn to invite the cat, he
cooked a fine dinner. He had a roast of meat,
a pot of tea, a basket of fruit, and, best of all,
he baked a whole clothes-basketful of little
cakes!--little, brown, crispy, spicy cakes! Oh,
I should say as many as five hundred. And he
put four hundred and ninety-eight of the cakes
before the cat, keeping only two for himself.

Well, the cat ate the roast, and drank the
tea, and sucked the fruit, and then he began
on the pile of cakes. He ate all the four
hundred and ninety-eight cakes, and then he
looked round and said:--

"I'm hungry; haven't you anything to eat?"

"Why," said the parrot, "here are my two
cakes, if you want them?"

The cat ate up the two cakes, and then he
licked his chops and said, "I am beginning
to get an appetite; have you anything to

"Well, really," said the parrot, who was now
rather angry, "I don't see anything more, unless
you wish to eat me!" He thought the cat
would be ashamed when he heard that--but
the cat just looked at him and licked his
chops again,--and slip! slop! gobble! down
his throat went the parrot!

Then the cat started down the street. An
old woman was standing by, and she had seen
the whole thing, and she was shocked that the
cat should eat his friend. "Why, cat!" she
said, "how dreadful of you to eat your friend
the parrot!"

"Parrot, indeed!" said the cat. "What's a
parrot to me?--I've a great mind to eat you,
too." And--before you could say "Jack
Robinson"--slip! slop! gobble! down went
the old woman!

Then the cat started down the road again,
walking like this, because he felt so fine.
Pretty soon he met a man driving a donkey.
The man was beating the donkey, to hurry him
up, and when he saw the cat he said, "Get out
of my way, cat; I'm in a hurry and my donkey
might tread on you."

"Donkey, indeed!" said the cat, "much I
care for a donkey! I have eaten five hundred
cakes, I've eaten my friend the parrot, I've
eaten an old woman,--what's to hinder my
eating a miserable man and a donkey?"

And slip! slop! gobble! down went the old
man and the donkey.

Then the cat walked on down the road,
jauntily, like this. After a little, he met a
procession, coming that way. The king was
at the head, walking proudly with his newly
married bride, and behind him were his soldiers,
marching, and behind them were ever and ever
so many elephants, walking two by two. The
king felt very kind to everybody, because he
had just been married, and he said to the cat,
"Get out of my way, pussy, get out of my way,
--my elephants might hurt you."

"Hurt me!" said the cat, shaking his fat
sides. "Ho, ho! I've eaten five hundred cakes,
I've eaten my friend the parrot, I've eaten an
old woman, I've eaten a man and a donkey;
what's to hinder my eating a beggarly king?"

And slip! slop! gobble! down went the
king; down went the queen; down went the
soldiers,--and down went all the elephants!

Then the cat went on, more slowly; he had
really had enough to eat, now. But a little
farther on he met two land-crabs, scuttling
along in the dust. "Get out of our way,
pussy," they squeaked.

"Ho, ho ho!" cried the cat in a terrible
voice. "I've eaten five hundred cakes, I've
eaten my friend the parrot, I've eaten an old
woman, a man with a donkey, a king, a queen,
his men-at-arms, and all his elephants; and
now I'll eat you too."

And slip! slop! gobble! down went the two

When the land-crabs got down inside, they
began to look around. It was very dark, but
they could see the poor king sitting in a corner
with his bride on his arm; she had fainted.
Near them were the men-at-arms, treading on
one another's toes, and the elephants, still
trying to form in twos,--but they couldn't,
because there was not room. In the opposite
corner sat the old woman, and near her stood
the man and his donkey. But in the other
corner was a great pile of cakes, and by them
perched the parrot, his feathers all drooping.

Let's get to work!" said the land-crabs.
And, snip, snap, they began to make a little
hole in the side, with their sharp claws. Snip,
snap, snip, snap,--till it was big enough to get
through. Then out they scuttled.

Then out walked the king, carrying his bride;
out marched the men-at-arms; out tramped the
elephants, two by two; out came the old man,
beating his donkey; out walked the old woman,
scolding the cat; and last of all, out hopped the
parrot, holding a cake in each claw. (you
remember, two cakes were all he wanted?)

But the poor cat had to spend the whole day
sewing up the hole in his coat!


[1] Adapted from Frank Rinder's Old World Japan. In
telling this story the voice should be changed for the Sun
Cloud, Wind, and Wall, as is always done in the old story of
The Three Bears.

Once upon a time, there was a Rat Princess,
who lived with her father, the Rat King, and
her mother, the Rat Queen, in a ricefield in
far away Japan. The Rat Princess was so
pretty that her father and mother were quite
foolishly proud of her, and thought no one good
enough to play with her. When she grew up,
they would not let any of the rat princes come
to visit her, and they decided at last that no
one should marry her till they had found the
most powerful person in the whole world; no
one else was good enough. And the Father Rat
started out to find the most powerful person
in the whole world. The wisest and oldest rat
in the ricefield said that the Sun must be the
most powerful person, because he made the rice
grow and ripen; so the Rat King went to find
the Sun. He climbed up the highest mountain,
ran up the path of a rainbow, and travelled
and travelled across the sky till he came to
the Sun's house.

"What do you want, little brother?" the Sun
said, when he saw him.

"I come," said the Rat King, very importantly,
"to offer you the hand of my daughter, the
princess, because you are the most powerful
person in the world; no one else is good

"Ha, ha!" laughed the jolly round Sun, and
winked with his eye. "You are very kind,
little brother, but if that is the case the princess
is not for me; the Cloud is more powerful than
I am; when he passes over me I cannot shine."

"Oh, indeed," said the Rat King, "then
you are not my man at all"; and he left the
Sun without more words. The Sun laughed
and winked to himself. And the Rat King
travelled and travelled across the sky till he
came to the Cloud's house.

"What do you want, little brother?" sighed
the Cloud when he saw him.

"I come to offer you the hand of my
daughter, the princess," said the Rat King,
"because you are the most powerful person in
the world; the Sun said so, and no one else
is good enough."

The Cloud sighed again. "I am not the
most powerful person," he said; "the Wind
is stronger than I,--when he blows, I have to
go wherever he sends me."

"Then you are not the person for my
daughter," said the Rat King proudly; and
he started at once to find the Wind. He
travelled and travelled across the sky, till he
came at last to the Wind's house, at the very
edge of the world.

When the Wind saw him coming he laughed
a big, gusty laugh, "Ho, ho!" and asked him
what he wanted; and when the Rat King told
him that he had come to offer him the Rat
Princess's hand because he was the most powerful
person in the world, the Wind shouted a
great gusty shout, and said, "No, no, I am
not the strongest; the Wall that man has
made is stronger than I; I cannot make him
move, with all my blowing; go to the Wall,
little brother!"

And the Rat King climbed down the sky-
path again, and travelled and travelled across
the earth till he came to the Wall. It was
quite near his own ricefield.

"What do you want, little brother?"
grumbled the Wall when he saw him.

"I come to offer you the hand of the
princess, my daughter, because you are the most
powerful person in the world, and no one else
is good enough."

"Ugh, ugh," grumbled the Wall, "I am not
the strongest; the big grey Rat who lives in
the cellar is stronger than I. When he gnaws
and gnaws at me I crumble and crumble, and
at last I fall; go to the Rat, little brother."

And so, after going all over the world to
find the strongest person, the Rat King had
to marry his daughter to a rat, after all; but
the princess was very glad of it, for she wanted
to marry the grey Rat, all the time.


Once a little Frog sat by a big Frog, by the
side of a pool. "Oh, father," said he, "I
have just seen the biggest animal in the world;
it was as big as a mountain, and it had horns
on its head, and it had hoofs divided in two."

"Pooh, child," said the old Frog, "that was
only Farmer White's Ox. He is not so very
big. I could easily make myself as big as he."
And he blew, and he blew, and he blew, and
swelled himself out.

"Was he as big as that?" he asked the
little Frog.

"Oh, much bigger," said the little Frog.

The old Frog blew, and blew, and blew again,
and swelled himself out, more than ever.

"Was he bigger than that?" he said.

"Much, much bigger," said the little Frog.

"I can make myself as big," said the old
Frog. And once more he blew, and blew, and
blew, and swelled himself out,--and he burst!

Self-conceit leads to self-destruction.


[1] Adapted from The Basket Woman, by Mary Austin.

This is the Indian story of how fire was
brought to the tribes. It was long, long ago,
when men and beasts talked together with
understanding, and the grey Coyote was friend
and counsellor of man.

There was a Boy of the tribe who was swift
of foot and keen of eye, and he and the Coyote
ranged the wood together. They saw the men
catching fish in the creeks with their hands,
and the women digging roots with sharp stones.
This was in summer. But when winter came
on, they saw the people running naked in the
snow, or huddled in caves of the rocks, and
most miserable. The Boy noticed this, and was
very unhappy for the misery of his people.

"I do not feel it," said the Coyote.

"You have a coat of good fur," said the
Boy, "and my people have not."

"Come to the hunt," said the Coyote.

"I will hunt no more, till I have found a
way to help my people against the cold," said
the Boy. "Help me, O Counsellor!"

Then the Coyote ran away, and came back
after a long time; he said he had found a
way, but it was a hard way.

"No way is too hard," said the Boy. So the
Coyote told him that they must go to the Burning
Mountain and bring fire to the people.

"What is fire?" said the Boy. And the
Coyote told him that fire was red like a flower,
yet not a flower; swift to run in the grass and
to destroy, like a beast, yet no beast; fierce
and hurtful, yet a good servant to keep one
warm, if kept among stones and fed with small

"We will get this fire," said the Boy.

First the Boy had to persuade the people to
give him one hundred swift runners. Then he
and they and the Coyote started at a good pace
for the far away Burning Mountain. At the
end of the first day's trail they left the weakest
of the runners, to wait; at the end of the second,
the next stronger; at the end of the third, the
next; and so for each of the hundred days of
the journey; and the Boy was the strongest
runner, and went to the last trail with the
Counsellor. High mountains they crossed, and
great plains, and giant woods, and at last they
came to the Big Water, quaking along the sand
at the foot of the Burning Mountain.

It stood up in a high peaked cone, and smoke
rolled out from it endlessly along the sky. At
night, the Fire Spirits danced, and the glare
reddened the Big Water far out.

There the Counsellor said to the Boy, "Stay
thou here till I bring thee a brand from the
burning; be ready and right for running, for I
shall be far spent when I come again, and the
Fire Spirits will pursue me."

Then he went up to the mountain; and the
Fire Spirits only laughed when they saw him,
for he looked so slinking, inconsiderable, and
mean, that none of them thought harm from
him. And in the night, when they were at
their dance about the mountain, the Coyote
stole the fire, and ran with it down the slope of
the burning mountain. When the Fire Spirits
saw what he had done they streamed out after
him, red and angry, with a humming sound like
a swarm of bees. But the Coyote was still
ahead; the sparks of the brand streamed out
along his flanks, as he carried it in his mouth;
and he stretched his body to the trail.

The Boy saw him coming, like a failing star
against the mountain; he heard the singing
sound of the Fire Spirits close behind, and the
labouring breath of the Counsellor. And when
the good beast panted down beside him, the
Boy caught the brand from his jaws and was off,
like an arrow from a bent bow. Out he shot on
the homeward path, and the Fire Spirits snapped
and sang behind him. But fast as they pursued
he fled faster, till he saw the next runner standing
in his place, his body bent for the running.
To him he passed it, and it was off and away,
with the Fire Spirits raging in chase.

So it passed from hand to hand, and the Fire
Spirits tore after it through the scrub, till they
came to the mountains of the snows; these they
could not pass. Then the dark, sleek runners
with the backward streaming brand bore it forward,
shining starlike in the night, glowing red
in sultry noons, violet pale in twilight glooms,
until they came in safety to their own land.

And there they kept it among stones and fed
it with small sticks, as the Counsellor advised;
and it kept the people warm.

Ever after the Boy was called the Fire-Bringer;
and ever after the Coyote bore the sign of the
bringing, for the fur along his flanks was singed
and yellow from the flames that streamed backward
from the brand.


[1] Adapted from Gleanings in Buddha-Fields, by Lafeadio
Hearn. (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co, Ltd. 5s. net.)

Once there was a good old man who lived up
on a mountain, far away in Japan. All round
his little house the mountain was flat, and the
ground was rich; and there were the ricefields
of all the people who lived in the village at the
mountain's foot. Mornings and evenings, the
old man and his little grandson, who lived with
him, used to look far down on the people at
work in the village, and watch the blue sea
which lay all round the land, so close that there
was no room for fields below, only for houses.
The little boy loved the ricefields, dearly, for he
knew that all the good food for all the people
came from them; and he often helped his grandfather
to watch over them.

One day, the grandfather was standing alone,
before his house, looking far down at the people,
and out at the sea, when, suddenly, he saw
something very strange far off where the sea
and sky meet. Something like a great cloud
was rising there, as if the sea were lifting itself
high into the sky. The old man put his hands
to his eyes and looked again, hard as his old
sight could. Then he turned and ran to the
house. "Yone, Yone!" he cried, "bring a
brand from the hearth!"

The little grandson could not imagine what
his grandfather wanted with fire, but he always
obeyed, so he ran quickly and brought the brand.
The old man already had one, and was running
for the ricefields. Yone ran after. But what was
his horror to see his grandfather thrust his burning
brand into the ripe dry rice, where it stood.

"Oh, Grandfather, Grandfather!" screamed
the little boy, "what are you doing?"

"Quick, set fire! thrust your brand in!" said
the grandfather.

Yone thought his dear grandfather had lost
his mind, and he began to sob; but a little
Japanese boy always obeys, so though he sobbed,
he thrust his torch in, and the sharp flame ran
up the dry stalks, red and yellow. In an
instant, the field was ablaze, and thick black
smoke began to pour up, on the mountain side.
It rose like a cloud, black and fierce, and in no
time the people below saw that their precious
ricefields were on fire. Ah, how they ran!
Men, women, and children climbed the mountain,
running as fast as they could to save the
rice; not one soul stayed behind.

And when they came to the mountain top, and
saw the beautiful rice-crop all in flames, beyond
help, they cried bitterly, "Who has done this
thing? How did it happen?"

"I set fire," said the old man, very solemnly;
and the little grandson sobbed, "Grandfather
set fire."

But when they came fiercely round the old
man, with "Why? Why?" he only turned and
pointed to the sea. "Look!" he said.

They all turned and looked. And there,
where the blue sea had lain, so calm, a mighty
wall of water, reaching from earth to sky, was
rolling in. No one could scream, so terrible
was the sight. The wall of water rolled in on
the land, passed quite over the place where the
village had been, and broke, with an awful
sound, on the mountain side. One wave more,
and still one more, came; and then all was
water, as far as they could look, below; the
village where they had been was under the sea.

But the people were all safe. And when they
saw what the old man had done, they honoured
him above all men for the quick wit which had
saved them all from the tidal wave.


[1] Adapted from Rab and his Friends, by Dr John Brown.

This is a story about a dog,--not the kind of
dog you often see in the street here; not a fat,
wrinkly pugdog, nor a smooth-skinned bulldog,
nor even a big shaggy fellow, but a slim, silky-
haired, sharp-eared little dog, the prettiest thing
you can imagine. Her name was Wylie, and she
lived in Scotland, far up on the hills, and helped
her master take care of his sheep.

You can't think how clever she was! She
watched over the sheep and the little lambs like
a soldier, and never let anything hurt them.
She drove them out to pasture when it was
time, and brought them safely home when it was
time for that. When the silly sheep got frightened
and ran this way and that, hurting themselves
and getting lost, Wylie knew exactly what to
do,--round on one side she would run, barking
and scolding, driving them back; then round
on the other, barking and scolding, driving them
back, till they were all bunched together in front
of the right gate. Then she drove them through
as neatly as any person. She loved her work,
and was a wonderfully fine sheepdog.

At last her master grew too old to stay alone
on the hills, and so he went away to live. Before
he went, he gave Wylie to two kind young men
who lived in the nearest town; he knew they
would be good to her. They grew very fond of
her, and so did their old grandmother and the
little children: she was so gentle and handsome
and well behaved.

So now Wylie lived in the city where there
were no sheep farms, only streets and houses,
and she did not have to do any work at all,--
she was just a pet dog. She seemed very happy
and she was always good.

But after a while, the family noticed something
odd, something very strange indeed, about their
pet. Every single Tuesday night, about nine
o'clock, Wylie DISAPPEARED. They would look
for her, call her,--no, she was gone. And she
would be gone all night. But every Wednesday
morning, there she was at the door, waiting to
be let in. Her silky coat was all sweaty and
muddy and her feet heavy with weariness, but
her bright eyes looked up at her masters as
if she were trying to explain where she had

Week after week the same thing happened.
Nobody could imagine where Wylie went every
Tuesday night. They tried to follow her to find
out, but she always slipped away; they tried to
shut her in, but she always found a way out.
It grew to be a real mystery. Where in the
world did Wylie go?

You never could guess, so I am going to tell

In the city near the town where the kind
young men lived was a big market like (naming
one in the neighbourhood). Every sort of thing
was sold there, even live cows and sheep and
hens. On Tuesday nights, the farmers used to
come down from the hills with their sheep to sell,
and drive them through the city streets into the
pens, ready to sell on Wednesday morning; that
was the day they sold them.

The sheep weren't used to the city noises and
sights, and they always grew afraid and wild,
and gave the farmers and the sheepdogs a great
deal of trouble. They broke away and ran about,
in everybody's way.

But just as the trouble was worst, about
sunrise, the farmers would see a little silky, sharp-
eared dog come trotting all alone down the road,
into the midst of them.

And then!

In and out the little dog ran like the wind,
round and about, always in the right place,
driving--coaxing--pushing--making the sheep
mind like a good school-teacher, and never
frightening them, till they were all safely in!
All the other dogs together could not do as
much as the little strange dog. She was a perfect
wonder. And no one knew whose dog she
was or where she came from. The farmers grew
to watch for her, every week, and they called
her "the wee fell yin" which is Scots for "the
little terror"; they used to say when they saw
her coming, "There's the wee fell yin! Now
we'll get them in."

Every farmer would have liked to keep her,
but she let no one catch her. As soon as her
work was done she was off and away like a fairy
dog, no one knew where. Week after week this
happened, and nobody knew who the little
strange dog was.

But one day Wylie went to walk with her two
masters, and they happened to meet some sheep
farmers. The sheep farmers stopped short and

Book of the day: