Simple Winter Puppet Show

Puppet shows can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. If there are some peg dolls around you can use them as the characters. Even your children little wooden, plastic or stuffed animals. Simple pieces of cloth or scarves work for sky and scenery. I like to check the thrift stores for real silk scarves, I have even found some beautifully handprinted ones for under a dollar.

This video is a wonderful example of a truly simple and lovely puppet show by Starfuldolls.

Snowdrop aka Snow White

Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 Year Olds)
*Audio file at the end


It was the middle of winter, and the snowflakes were falling from the
sky like feathers. Now, a Queen sat sewing at a window framed in black
ebony, and as she sewed she looked out upon the snow. Suddenly she
pricked her finger and three drops of blood fell on to the snow. And
the red looked so lovely on the white that she thought to herself: “If
only I had a child as white as snow and as red as blood, and as black
as the wood of the window frame!”

Soon after, she had a daughter,whose hair was black as ebony, while her cheeks were red as blood, and her skin as white as snow; so she was called Snowdrop. But when the child was born the Queen died. A year after the King took another wife. She was a handsome woman, but proud and overbearing, and could not endure that any one should surpass her in beauty. She had a magic looking-glass, and when she stood before it and looked at herself she used to say, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who is fairest of us all?”

Then the Glass answered, “Queen, thou’rt fairest of them all.”

Then she was content, for she knew that the Looking-glass spoke the truth.

But Snowdrop grew up and became more and more beautiful, so that when she was seven years old she was as beautiful as the day, and far surpassed the Queen. Once, when she asked her Glass, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

It answered, “Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, but Snowdrop is fairer a thousandfold.”

Then the Queen was horror-struck, and turned green and yellow with jealousy. From the hour that she saw Snowdrop her heart sank, and she hated the little girl.

The pride and envy of her heart grew like a weed, so that she had no rest day nor night. At last she called a Huntsman, and said: “Take the child out into the wood; I will not set eyes on her again; you must kill her and bring me her lungs and liver as tokens.”

The Huntsman obeyed, and took Snowdrop out into the forest, but when he drew his hunting-knife and was preparing to plunge it into her innocent heart, she began to cry, “Alas! dear Huntsman, spare my life, and I will run away into the wild forest and never come back again.”

And because of her beauty the Huntsman had pity on her and said, “Well, run away, poor child.” Wild beasts will soon devour you, he thought, but still he felt as though a weight were lifted from his heart because he had not been obliged to kill her. And as just at that moment a young fawn came leaping by, he pierced it and took the lungs and liver as tokens to the Queen. The Cook was ordered to serve them up in pickle, and the wicked Queen ate them thinking that they were Snowdrop’s.

Now the poor child was alone in the great wood, with no living soul near, and she was so frightened that she knew not what to do. Then she began to run, and ran over the sharp stones and through the brambles, while the animals passed her by without harming her. She ran as far as her feet could carry her till it was nearly evening, when she saw a little house and went in to rest. Inside, everything was small, but as neat and clean as could be. A small table covered with a white cloth stood ready with seven small plates, and by every plate was a spoon, knife, fork, and cup. Seven little beds were ranged against the walls, covered with snow-white coverlets. As Snowdrop was very hungry and thirsty she ate a little bread and vegetable from each plate, and drank a little wine from each cup, for she did not want to eat up the whole of one portion. Then, being very tired, she lay down in one of the beds. She tried them all but none suited her; one was too short, another too long, all except the seventh, which was just right. She remained in it, said her prayers, and fell asleep.

When it was quite dark the masters of the house came in. They were seven Dwarfs, who used to dig in the mountains for ore. They kindled their lights, and as soon as they could see they noticed that some one had been there, for everything was not in the order in which they had left it.

The first said, “Who has been sitting in my chair?”

The second said, “Who has been eating off my plate?”

The third said, “Who has been nibbling my bread?”

The fourth said, “Who has been eating my vegetables?”

The fifth said, “Who has been using my fork?”

The sixth said, “Who has been cutting with my knife?”

The seventh said, “Who has been drinking out of my cup?”

Then the first looked and saw a slight impression on his bed, and said, “Who has been treading on my bed?” The others came running up and said, “And mine, and mine.” But the seventh, when he looked into his bed, saw Snowdrop, who lay there asleep. He called the others, who came up and cried out with astonishment, as they held their lights and gazed at Snowdrop. “Heavens! what a beautiful child,” they said, and they were so delighted that they did not wake her up but left her asleep in bed. And the seventh Dwarf slept with his comrades, an hour with each all through the night.

When morning came Snowdrop woke up, and when she saw the seven Dwarfs she was frightened. But they were very kind and asked her name.

“I am called Snowdrop,” she answered.

“How did you get into our house?” they asked.

Then she told them how her stepmother had wished to get rid of her, how the Huntsman had spared her life, and how she had run all day till she had found the house.

Then the Dwarfs said, “Will you look after our household, cook, make the beds, wash, sew and knit, and keep everything neat and clean? If so you shall stay with us and want for nothing.”

“Yes,” said Snowdrop, “with all my heart”; and she stayed with them and kept the house in order.

In the morning they went to the mountain and searched for copper and gold, and in the evening they came back and then their meal had to be ready. All day the maiden was alone, and the good Dwarfs warned her and said, “Beware of your stepmother, who will soon learn that you are here. Don’t let any one in.”

But the Queen, having, as she imagined, eaten Snowdrop’s liver and lungs, and feeling certain that she was the fairest of all, stepped in front of her Glass, and asked, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

the Glass answered as usual, “Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, but Snowdrop over the fells, who with the seven Dwarfs dwells, is fairer still a thousandfold.”

She was dismayed, for she knew that the Glass told no lies, and she saw that the Hunter had deceived her and that Snowdrop still lived. Accordingly she began to wonder afresh how she might compass her death; for as long as she was not the fairest in the land her jealous heart left her no rest. At last she thought of a plan. She dyed her face and dressed up like an old Pedlar, so that she was quite unrecognizable. In this guise she crossed over the seven mountains to the home of the seven Dwarfs and called out, “Wares for sale.”

Snowdrop peeped out of the window and said, “Good-day, mother, what have you got to sell?”

“Good wares, fine wares,” she answered, “laces of every color”; and she held out one which was made of gay plaited silk.

“I may let the honest woman in,” thought Snowdrop, and she unbolted the door and bought the pretty lace.

“Child,” said the Old Woman, “what a sight you are, I will lace you properly for once.”

Snowdrop made no objection, and placed herself before the Old Woman to let her lace her with the new lace. But the Old Woman laced so quickly and tightly that she took away Snowdrop’s breath and she fell down as though dead.

“Now I am the fairest,” she said to herself, and hurried away.

Not long after the seven Dwarfs came home, and were horror-struck when they saw their dear little Snowdrop lying on the floor without stirring, like one dead. When they saw she was laced too tight they cut the lace, whereupon she began to breathe and soon came back to life again. When the Dwarfs heard what had happened, they said that the old Pedlar was no other than the wicked Queen. “Take care not to let any one in when we are not here,” they said.

Now the wicked Queen, as soon as she got home, went to the Glass and asked, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

and it answered as usual, “Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold,
but Snowdrop over the fells, who with the seven Dwarfs dwells, is fairer still a thousandfold.”

When she heard it all her blood flew to her heart, so enraged was she, for she knew that Snowdrop had come back to life again. Then she thought to herself, “I must plan something which will put an end to her.” By means of witchcraft, in which she was skilled, she made a poisoned comb. Next she disguised herself and took the form of a different Old Woman. She crossed the mountains and came to the home of the seven Dwarfs, and knocked at the door calling out, “Good wares to sell.”

Snowdrop looked out of the window and said, “Go away, I must not let any one in.”

“At least you may look,” answered the Old Woman, and she took the poisoned comb and held it up.

The child was so pleased with it that she let herself be beguiled, and opened the door.

When she had made a bargain the Old Woman said, “Now I will comb your hair properly for once.”

Poor Snowdrop, suspecting no evil, let the Old Woman have her way, but scarcely was the poisoned comb fixed in her hair than the poison took effect, and the maiden fell down unconscious.

“You paragon of beauty,” said the wicked woman, “now it is all over with you,” and she went away.

Happily it was near the time when the seven Dwarfs came home. When they saw Snowdrop lying on the ground as though dead, they immediately suspected her stepmother, and searched till they found the poisoned comb. No sooner had they removed it than Snowdrop came to herself again and related what had happened. They warned her again to be on her guard, and to open the door to no one.

When she got home the Queen stood before her Glass and said, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

and it answered as usual, “Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold,
but Snowdrop over the fells, who with the seven Dwarfs dwells, is fairer still a thousandfold.”

When she heard the Glass speak these words she trembled and quivered with rage. “Snowdrop shall die,” she said, “even if it cost me my own life.” Thereupon she went into a secret room, which no one ever entered but herself, and made a poisonous apple. Outwardly it was beautiful to look upon, with rosy cheeks, and every one who saw it longed for it, but whoever ate of it was certain to die. When the apple was ready she dyed her face and dressed herself like an old Peasant Woman and so crossed the seven hills to the Dwarfs’ home. There she knocked.

Snowdrop put her head out of the window and said, “I must not let any one in, the seven Dwarfs have forbidden me.”

“It is all the same to me,” said the Peasant Woman. “I shall soon get rid of my apples. There, I will give you one.”

“No; I must not take anything.”

“Are you afraid of poison?” said the woman. “See, I will cut the apple in half: you eat the red side and I will keep the other.”

Now the apple was so cunningly painted that the red half alone was poisoned. Snowdrop longed for the apple, and when she saw the Peasant Woman eating she could hold out no longer, stretched out her hand and took the poisoned half. Scarcely had she put a bit into her mouth than she fell dead to the ground.

The Queen looked with a fiendish glance, and laughed aloud and said, “White as snow, red as blood, and black as ebony, this time the Dwarfs cannot wake you up again.” And when she got home and asked the Looking-glass, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

it answered at last, “Queen, thou’rt fairest of them all.”

Then her jealous heart was at rest, as much at rest as a jealous heart can be. The Dwarfs, when they came at evening, found Snowdrop lying on the ground and not a breath escaped her lips, and she was quite dead. They lifted her up and looked to see whether any poison was to be found, unlaced her dress, combed her hair, washed her with wine and water, but it was no use; their dear child was dead. They laid her on a bier, and all seven sat down and bewailed her and lamented over her for three whole days. Then they prepared to bury her, but she looked so fresh and living, and still had such beautiful rosy cheeks, that they said, “We cannot bury her in the dark earth.” And so they had a transparent glass coffin made, so that she could be seen from every side, laid her inside and wrote on it in letters of gold her name and how she was a King’s daughter. Then they set the coffin out on the mountain, and one of them always stayed by and watched it. And the birds came too and mourned for Snowdrop, first an owl, then a raven, and lastly a dove.

Now Snowdrop lay a long, long time in her coffin, looking as though she were asleep. It happened that a Prince was wandering in the wood, and came to the home of the seven Dwarfs to pass the night. He saw the coffin on the mountain and lovely Snowdrop inside, and read what was written in golden letters. Then he said to the Dwarfs, “Let me have the coffin; I will give you whatever you like for it.”

But they said, “We will not give it up for all the gold of the world.”

Then he said, “Then give it to me as a gift, for I cannot live without Snowdrop to gaze upon; and I will honor and reverence it as my dearest treasure.”

When he had said these words the good Dwarfs pitied him and gave him the coffin.

The Prince bade his servants carry it on their shoulders. Now it happened that they stumbled over some brushwood, and the shock dislodged the piece of apple from Snowdrop’s throat. In a short time she opened her eyes, lifted the lid of the coffin, sat up and came back to life again completely.

“O Heaven! where am I?” she asked.

The Prince, full of joy, said, “You are with me,” and he related what had happened, and then said, “I love you better than all the world; come with me to my father’s castle and be my wife.”

Snowdrop agreed and went with him, and their wedding was celebrated with great magnificence.

Snowdrop’s wicked stepmother was invited to the feast; and when she had put on her fine clothes she stepped to her Glass and asked, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of us all?”

The Glass answered, “Queen, thou art fairest here, I hold, the young Queen fairer a thousandfold.”

Then the wicked woman uttered a curse, and was so terribly frightened that she didn’t know what to do. Yet she had no rest: she felt obliged to go and see the young Queen. And when she came in she recognized Snowdrop, and stood stock still with fear and terror. But iron slippers were heated over the fire, and were soon brought in with tongs and put before her. And she had to step into the red-hot shoes and dance till she fell down dead.

Listen to the audio from LibriVox here:

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
*Audio file at the end


Here was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking, nuts and oranges and a toy engine, and chocolate almonds and a clockwork mouse, but the Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him. The mechanical toys were very superior, and looked down upon every one else; they were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real. The model boat, who had lived through two seasons and lost most of his paint, caught the tone from them and never missed an opportunity of referring to his rigging in technical terms. The Rabbit could not claim to be a model of anything, for he didn’t know that real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself, and he understood that sawdust was quite out-of-date and should never be mentioned in modern circles. Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, who was made by the disabled soldiers, and should have had broader views, put on airs and pretended he was connected with Government. Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

There was a person called Nana who ruled the nursery. Sometimes she took no notice of the playthings lying about, and sometimes, for no reason whatever, she went swooping about like a great wind and hustled them away in cupboards. She called this “tidying up,” and the playthings all hated it, especially the tin ones. The Rabbit didn’t mind it so much, for wherever he was thrown he came down soft.

One evening, when the Boy was going to bed, he couldn’t find the china dog that always slept with him. Nana was in a hurry, and it was too much trouble to hunt for china dogs at bedtime, so she simply looked about her, and seeing that the toy cupboard door stood open, she made a swoop.

“Here,” she said, “take your old Bunny! He’ll do to sleep with you!” And she dragged the Rabbit out by one ear, and put him into the Boy’s arms.

That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy’s bed. At first he found it rather uncomfortable, for the Boy hugged him very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on him, and sometimes he pushed him so far under the pillow that the Rabbit could scarcely breathe. And he missed, too, those long moonlight hours in the nursery, when all the house was silent, and his talks with the Skin Horse. But very soon he grew to like it, for the Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under the bedclothes that he said were like the burrows the real rabbits lived in. And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when Nana had gone away to her supper and left the night-light burning on the mantelpiece. And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy’s hands clasped close round him all night long.

And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy–so happy that he never noticed how his beautiful velveteen fur was getting shabbier and shabbier, and his tail becoming unsewn, and all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him.

Spring came, and they had long days in the garden, for wherever the Boy went the Rabbit went too. He had rides in the wheelbarrow, and picnics on the grass, and lovely fairy huts built for him under the raspberry canes behind the flower border. And once, when the Boy was called away suddenly to go out to tea, the Rabbit was left out on the lawn until long after dusk, and Nana had to come and look for him with the candle because the Boy couldn’t go to sleep unless he was there. He was wet through with the dew and quite earthy from diving into the burrows the Boy had made for him in the flower bed, and Nana grumbled as she rubbed him off with a corner of her apron.

“You must have your old Bunny!” she said. “Fancy all that fuss for a toy!”

The Boy sat up in bed and stretched out his hands.

“Give me my Bunny!” he said. “You mustn’t say that. He isn’t a toy. He’s REAL!”

When the little Rabbit heard that he was happy, for he knew that what the Skin Horse had said was true at last. The nursery magic had happened to him, and he was a toy no longer. He was Real. The Boy himself had said it.

That night he was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in his little sawdust heart that it almost burst. And into his boot-button eyes, that had long ago lost their polish, there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even Nana noticed it next morning when she picked him up, and said, “I declare if that old Bunny hasn’t got quite a knowing expression!”

That was a wonderful Summer!

Near the house where they lived there was a wood, and in the long June evenings the Boy liked to go there after tea to play. He took the Velveteen Rabbit with him, and before he wandered off to pick flowers, or play at brigands among the trees, he always made the Rabbit a little nest somewhere among the bracken, where he would be quite cosy, for he was a kind-hearted little boy and he liked Bunny to be comfortable. One evening, while the Rabbit was lying there alone, watching the ants that ran to and fro between his velvet paws in the grass, he saw two strange beings creep out of the tall bracken near him.

They were rabbits like himself, but quite furry and brand-new. They must have been very well made, for their seams didn’t show at all, and they changed shape in a queer way when they moved; one minute they were long and thin and the next minute fat and bunchy, instead of always staying the same like he did. Their feet padded softly on the ground, and they crept quite close to him, twitching their noses, while the Rabbit stared hard to see which side the clockwork stuck out, for he knew that people who jump generally have something to wind them up. But he couldn’t see it. They were evidently a new kind of rabbit altogether.

They stared at him, and the little Rabbit stared back. And all the time their noses twitched.

“Why don’t you get up and play with us?” one of them asked.

“I don’t feel like it,” said the Rabbit, for he didn’t want to explain that he had no clockwork.

“Ho!” said the furry rabbit. “It’s as easy as anything,” And he gave a big hop sideways and stood on his hind legs.

“I don’t believe you can!” he said.

“I can!” said the little Rabbit. “I can jump higher than anything!” He meant when the Boy threw him, but of course he didn’t want to say so.

“Can you hop on your hind legs?” asked the furry rabbit.

That was a dreadful question, for the Velveteen Rabbit had no hind legs at all! The back of him was made all in one piece, like a pincushion. He sat still in the bracken, and hoped that the other rabbits wouldn’t notice.

“I don’t want to!” he said again.

But the wild rabbits have very sharp eyes. And this one stretched out his neck and looked.

“He hasn’t got any hind legs!” he called out. “Fancy a rabbit without any hind legs!” And he began to laugh.

“I have!” cried the little Rabbit. “I have got hind legs! I am sitting on them!”

“Then stretch them out and show me, like this!” said the wild rabbit. And he began to whirl round and dance, till the little Rabbit got quite dizzy.

“I don’t like dancing,” he said. “I’d rather sit still!”

But all the while he was longing to dance, for a funny new tickly feeling ran through him, and he felt he would give anything in the world to be able to jump about like these rabbits did.

The strange rabbit stopped dancing, and came quite close. He came so close this time that his long whiskers brushed the Velveteen Rabbit’s ear, and then he wrinkled his nose suddenly and flattened his ears and jumped backwards.

“He doesn’t smell right!” he exclaimed. “He isn’t a rabbit at all! He isn’t real!”

“I am Real!” said the little Rabbit. “I am Real! The Boy said so!” And he nearly began to cry.

Just then there was a sound of footsteps, and the Boy ran past near them, and with a stamp of feet and a flash of white tails the two strange rabbits disappeared.

“Come back and play with me!” called the little Rabbit. “Oh, do come back! I know I am Real!”

But there was no answer, only the little ants ran to and fro, and the bracken swayed gently where the two strangers had passed. The Velveteen Rabbit was all alone.

“Oh, dear!” he thought. “Why did they run away like that? Why couldn’t they stop and talk to me?”

For a long time he lay very still, watching the bracken, and hoping that they would come back. But they never returned, and presently the sun sank lower and the little white moths fluttered out, and the Boy came and carried him home.

Weeks passed, and the little Rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned grey, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful, and that was all that the little Rabbit cared about. He didn’t mind how he looked to other people, because the nursery magic had made him Real, and when you are Real shabbiness doesn’t matter.

And then, one day, the Boy was ill.

His face grew very flushed, and he talked in his sleep, and his little body was so hot that it burned the Rabbit when he held him close. Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned all night and through it all the little Velveteen Rabbit lay there, hidden from sight under the bedclothes, and he never stirred, for he was afraid that if they found him some one might take him away, and he knew that the Boy needed him.

It was a long weary time, for the Boy was too ill to play, and the little Rabbit found it rather dull with nothing to do all day long. But he snuggled down patiently, and looked forward to the time when the Boy should be well again, and they would go out in the garden amongst the flowers and the butterflies and play splendid games in the raspberry thicket like they used to. All sorts of delightful things he planned, and while the Boy lay half asleep he crept up close to the pillow and whispered them in his ear. And presently the fever turned, and the Boy got better. He was able to sit up in bed and look at picture-books, while the little Rabbit cuddled close at his side. And one day, they let him get up and dress.

It was a bright, sunny morning, and the windows stood wide open. They had carried the Boy out on to the balcony, wrapped in a shawl, and the little Rabbit lay tangled up among the bedclothes, thinking.

The Boy was going to the seaside to-morrow. Everything was arranged, and now it only remained to carry out the doctor’s orders. They talked about it all, while the little Rabbit lay under the bedclothes, with just his head peeping out, and listened. The room was to be disinfected, and all the books and toys that the Boy had played with in bed must be burnt.

“Hurrah!” thought the little Rabbit. “To-morrow we shall go to the seaside!” For the boy had often talked of the seaside, and he wanted very much to see the big waves coming in, and the tiny crabs, and the sand castles.

Just then Nana caught sight of him.

“How about his old Bunny?” she asked.

“That?” said the doctor. “Why, it’s a mass of scarlet fever germs!–Burn it at once. What? Nonsense! Get him a new one. He mustn’t have that any more!”

And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old picture-books and a lot of rubbish, and carried out to the end of the garden behind the fowl-house. That was a fine place to make a bonfire, only the gardener was too busy just then to attend to it. He had the potatoes to dig and the green peas to gather, but next morning he promised to come quite early and burn the whole lot.

That night the Boy slept in a different bedroom, and he had a new bunny to sleep with him. It was a splendid bunny, all white plush with real glass eyes, but the Boy was too excited to care very much about it. For to-morrow he was going to the seaside, and that in itself was such a wonderful thing that he could think of nothing else.

And while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the fowl-house, and he felt very lonely. The sack had been left untied, and so by wriggling a bit he was able to get his head through the opening and look out. He was shivering a little, for he had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any protection to him. Near by he could see the thicket of raspberry canes, growing tall and close like a tropical jungle, in whose shadow he had played with the Boy on bygone mornings. He thought of those long sunlit hours in the garden–how happy they were–and a great sadness came over him. He seemed to see them all pass before him, each more beautiful than the other, the fairy huts in the flower-bed, the quiet evenings in the wood when he lay in the bracken and the little ants ran over his paws; the wonderful day when he first knew that he was Real. He thought of the Skin Horse, so wise and gentle, and all that he had told him. Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground.

And then a strange thing happened. For where the tear had fallen a flower grew out of the ground, a mysterious flower, not at all like any that grew in the garden. It had slender green leaves the colour of emeralds, and in the centre of the leaves a blossom like a golden cup. It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it. And presently the blossom opened, and out of it there stepped a fairy.

She was quite the loveliest fairy in the whole world. Her dress was of pearl and dew-drops, and there were flowers round her neck and in her hair, and her face was like the most perfect flower of all. And she came close to the little Rabbit and gathered him up in her arms and kissed him on his velveteen nose that was all damp from crying.

“Little Rabbit,” she said, “don’t you know who I am?”

The Rabbit looked up at her, and it seemed to him that he had seen her face before, but he couldn’t think where.

“I am the nursery magic Fairy,” she said. “I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don’t need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real.”

“Wasn’t I Real before?” asked the little Rabbit.

“You were Real to the Boy,” the Fairy said, “because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one.”

And she held the little Rabbit close in her arms and flew with him into the wood.

It was light now, for the moon had risen. All the forest was beautiful, and the fronds of the bracken shone like frosted silver. In the open glade between the tree-trunks the wild rabbits danced with their shadows on the velvet grass, but when they saw the Fairy they all stopped dancing and stood round in a ring to stare at her.

“I’ve brought you a new playfellow,” the Fairy said. “You must be very kind to him and teach him all he needs to know in Rabbit-land, for he is going to live with you for ever and ever!”

And she kissed the little Rabbit again and put him down on the grass.

“Run and play, little Rabbit!” she said.

But the little Rabbit sat quite still for a moment and never moved. For when he saw all the wild rabbits dancing around him he suddenly remembered about his hind legs, and he didn’t want them to see that he was made all in one piece. He did not know that when the Fairy kissed him that last time she had changed him altogether. And he might have sat there a long time, too shy to move, if just then something hadn’t tickled his nose, and before he thought what he was doing he lifted his hind toe to scratch it.

And he found that he actually had hind legs! Instead of dingy velveteen he had brown fur, soft and shiny, his ears twitched by themselves, and his whiskers were so long that they brushed the grass. He gave one leap and the joy of using those hind legs was so great that he went springing about the turf on them, jumping sideways and whirling round as the others did, and he grew so excited that when at last he did stop to look for the Fairy she had gone.

He was a Real Rabbit at last, at home with the other rabbits.

Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny, the Boy went out to play in the wood behind the house. And while he was playing, two rabbits crept out from the bracken and peeped at him. One of them was brown all over, but the other had strange markings under his fur, as though long ago he had been spotted, and the spots still showed through. And about his little soft nose and his round black eyes there was something familiar, so that the Boy thought to himself:

“Why, he looks just like my old Bunny that was lost when I had scarlet fever!”

But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped him to be Real.

Listen to the audio from LibriVox here:

The Fir Tree

The Fir Tree
~Hans Christian Andersen


Far down in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting-place, grew a pretty little fir-tree; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to be tall like its companions— the pines and firs which grew around it. The sun shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children passed by, prattling merrily, but the fir-tree heeded them not. Sometimes the children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little tree?” which made it feel more unhappy than before. And yet all this while the tree grew a notch or joint taller every year; for by the number of joints in the stem of a fir-tree we can discover its age. Still, as it grew, it complained, “Oh! how I wish I were as tall as the other trees, then I would spread out my branches on every side, and my top would over-look the wide world. I should have the birds building their nests on my boughs, and when the wind blew, I should bow with stately dignity like my tall companions.” The tree was so discontented, that it took no pleasure in the warm sunshine, the birds, or the rosy clouds that floated over it morning and evening. Sometimes, in winter, when the snow lay white and glittering on the ground, a hare would come springing along, and jump right over the little tree; and then how mortified it would feel! Two winters passed, and when the third arrived, the tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged to run round it. Yet it remained unsatisfied, and would exclaim, “Oh, if I could but keep on growing tall and old! There is nothing else worth caring for in the world!” In the autumn, as usual, the wood-cutters came and cut down several of the tallest trees, and the young fir-tree, which was now grown to its full height, shuddered as the noble trees fell to the earth with a crash.

After the branches were lopped off, the trunks looked so slender and bare, that they could scarcely be recognized. Then they were placed upon wagons, and drawn by horses out of the forest. “Where were they going? What would become of them?” The young fir-tree wished very much to know; so in the spring, when the swallows and the storks came, it asked, “Do you know where those trees were taken? Did you meet them?”
The swallows knew nothing, but the stork, after a little reflection, nodded his head, and said, “Yes, I think I do. I met several new ships when I flew from Egypt, and they had fine masts that smelt like fir. I think these must have been the trees; I assure you they were stately, very stately.”

“Oh, how I wish I were tall enough to go on the sea,” said the fir-tree. “What is the sea, and what does it look like?”

“It would take too much time to explain,” said the stork, flying quickly away.

“Rejoice in thy youth,” said the sunbeam; “rejoice in thy fresh growth, and the young life that is in thee.”
And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew watered it with tears; but the fir-tree regarded them not.
Christmas-time drew near, and many young trees were cut down, some even smaller and younger than the fir-tree who enjoyed neither rest nor peace with longing to leave its forest home. These young trees, which were chosen for their beauty, kept their branches, and were also laid on wagons and drawn by horses out of the forest.

“Where are they going?” asked the fir-tree. “They are not taller than I am: indeed, one is much less; and why are the branches not cut off? Where are they going?”

“We know, we know,” sang the sparrows; “we have looked in at the windows of the houses in the town, and we know what is done with them. They are dressed up in the most splendid manner. We have seen them standing in the middle of a warm room, and adorned with all sorts of beautiful things,—honey cakes, gilded apples, playthings, and many hundreds of wax tapers.”

“And then,” asked the fir-tree, trembling through all its branches, “and then what happens?”

“We did not see any more,” said the sparrows; “but this was enough for us.”

“I wonder whether anything so brilliant will ever happen to me,” thought the fir-tree. “It would be much better than crossing the sea. I long for it almost with pain. Oh! when will Christmas be here? I am now as tall and well grown as those which were taken away last year. Oh! that I were now laid on the wagon, or standing in the warm room, with all that brightness and splendor around me! Something better and more beautiful is to come after, or the trees would not be so decked out. Yes, what follows will be grander and more splendid. What can it be? I am weary with longing. I scarcely know how I feel.”

“Rejoice with us,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life in the fresh air.”
But the tree would not rejoice, though it grew taller every day; and, winter and summer, its dark-green foliage might be seen in the forest, while passers by would say, “What a beautiful tree!”

A short time before Christmas, the discontented fir-tree was the first to fall. As the axe cut through the stem, and divided the pith, the tree fell with a groan to the earth, conscious of pain and faintness, and forgetting all its anticipations of happiness, in sorrow at leaving its home in the forest. It knew that it should never again see its dear old companions, the trees, nor the little bushes and many-colored flowers that had grown by its side; perhaps not even the birds. Neither was the journey at all pleasant. The tree first recovered itself while being unpacked in the courtyard of a house, with several other trees; and it heard a man say, “We only want one, and this is the prettiest.”

Then came two servants in grand livery, and carried the fir-tree into a large and beautiful apartment. On the walls hung pictures, and near the great stove stood great china vases, with lions on the lids. There were rocking chairs, silken sofas, large tables, covered with pictures, books, and playthings, worth a great deal of money,—at least, the children said so. Then the fir-tree was placed in a large tub, full of sand; but green baize hung all around it, so that no one could see it was a tub, and it stood on a very handsome carpet. How the fir-tree trembled! “What was going to happen to him now?” Some young ladies came, and the servants helped them to adorn the tree. On one branch they hung little bags cut out of colored paper, and each bag was filled with sweetmeats; from other branches hung gilded apples and walnuts, as if they had grown there; and above, and all round, were hundreds of red, blue, and white tapers, which were fastened on the branches. Dolls, exactly like real babies, were placed under the green leaves,—the tree had never seen such things before,—and at the very top was fastened a glittering star, made of tinsel. Oh, it was very beautiful!

“This evening,” they all exclaimed, “how bright it will be!” “Oh, that the evening were come,” thought the tree, “and the tapers lighted! then I shall know what else is going to happen. Will the trees of the forest come to see me? I wonder if the sparrows will peep in at the windows as they fly? shall I grow faster here, and keep on all these ornaments summer and winter?” But guessing was of very little use; it made his bark ache, and this pain is as bad for a slender fir-tree, as headache is for us. At last the tapers were lighted, and then what a glistening blaze of light the tree presented! It trembled so with joy in all its branches, that one of the candles fell among the green leaves and burnt some of them. “Help! help!” exclaimed the young ladies, but there was no danger, for they quickly extinguished the fire. After this, the tree tried not to tremble at all, though the fire frightened him; he was so anxious not to hurt any of the beautiful ornaments, even while their brilliancy dazzled him. And now the folding doors were thrown open, and a troop of children rushed in as if they intended to upset the tree; they were followed more silently by their elders. For a moment the little ones stood silent with astonishment, and then they shouted for joy, till the room rang, and they danced merrily round the tree, while one present after another was taken from it.

“What are they doing? What will happen next?” thought the fir. At last the candles burnt down to the branches and were put out. Then the children received permission to plunder the tree.
Oh, how they rushed upon it, till the branches cracked, and had it not been fastened with the glistening star to the ceiling, it must have been thrown down. The children then danced about with their pretty toys, and no one noticed the tree, except the children’s maid who came and peeped among the branches to see if an apple or a fig had been forgotten.

“A story, a story,” cried the children, pulling a little fat man towards the tree.
“Now we shall be in the green shade,” said the man, as he seated himself under it, “and the tree will have the pleasure of hearing also, but I shall only relate one story; what shall it be? Ivede-Avede, or Humpty Dumpty, who fell down stairs, but soon got up again, and at last married a princess.”

“Ivede-Avede,” cried some. “Humpty Dumpty,” cried others, and there was a fine shouting and crying out. But the fir-tree remained quite still, and thought to himself, “Shall I have anything to do with all this?” but he had already amused them as much as they wished. Then the old man told them the story of Humpty Dumpty, how he fell down stairs, and was raised up again, and married a princess. And the children clapped their hands and cried, “Tell another, tell another,” for they wanted to hear the story of “Ivede-Avede;” but they only had “Humpty Dumpty.” After this the fir-tree became quite silent and thoughtful; never had the birds in the forest told such tales as “Humpty Dumpty,” who fell down stairs, and yet married a princess.

“Ah! yes, so it happens in the world,” thought the fir-tree; he believed it all, because it was related by such a nice man. “Ah! well,” he thought, “who knows? perhaps I may fall down too, and marry a princess;” and he looked forward joyfully to the next evening, expecting to be again decked out with lights and playthings, gold and fruit. “To-morrow I will not tremble,” thought he; “I will enjoy all my splendor, and I shall hear the story of Humpty Dumpty again, and perhaps Ivede-Avede.” And the tree remained quiet and thoughtful all night. In the morning the servants and the housemaid came in. “Now,” thought the fir, “all my splendor is going to begin again.” But they dragged him out of the room and up stairs to the garret, and threw him on the floor, in a dark corner, where no daylight shone, and there they left him. “What does this mean?” thought the tree, “what am I to do here? I can hear nothing in a place like this,” and he had time enough to think, for days and nights passed and no one came near him, and when at last somebody did come, it was only to put away large boxes in a corner. So the tree was completely hidden from sight as if it had never existed. “It is winter now,” thought the tree, “the ground is hard and covered with snow, so that people cannot plant me. I shall be sheltered here, I dare say, until spring comes. How thoughtful and kind everybody is to me! Still I wish this place were not so dark, as well as lonely, with not even a little hare to look at. How pleasant it was out in the forest while the snow lay on the ground, when the hare would run by, yes, and jump over me too, although I did not like it then. Oh! it is terrible lonely here.”

“Squeak, squeak,” said a little mouse, creeping cautiously towards the tree; then came another; and they both sniffed at the fir-tree and crept between the branches.

“Oh, it is very cold,” said the little mouse, “or else we should be so comfortable here, shouldn’t we, you old fir-tree?”

“I am not old,” said the fir-tree, “there are many who are older than I am.”

“Where do you come from? and what do you know?” asked the mice, who were full of curiosity. “Have you seen the most beautiful places in the world, and can you tell us all about them? and have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses lie on the shelf, and hams hang from the ceiling? One can run about on tallow candles there, and go in thin and come out fat.”

“I know nothing of that place,” said the fir-tree, “but I know the wood where the sun shines and the birds sing.” And then the tree told the little mice all about its youth. They had never heard such an account in their lives; and after they had listened to it attentively, they said, “What a number of things you have seen? you must have been very happy.”

“Happy!” exclaimed the fir-tree, and then as he reflected upon what he had been telling them, he said, “Ah, yes! after all those were happy days.” But when he went on and related all about Christmas-eve, and how he had been dressed up with cakes and lights, the mice said, “How happy you must have been, you old fir-tree.”

“I am not old at all,” replied the tree, “I only came from the forest this winter, I am now checked in my growth.”

“What splendid stories you can relate,” said the little mice. And the next night four other mice came with them to hear what the tree had to tell. The more he talked the more he remembered, and then he thought to himself, “Those were happy days, but they may come again. Humpty Dumpty fell down stairs, and yet he married the princess; perhaps I may marry a princess too.” And the fir-tree thought of the pretty little birch-tree that grew in the forest, which was to him a real beautiful princess.

“Who is Humpty Dumpty?” asked the little mice. And then the tree related the whole story; he could remember every single word, and the little mice was so delighted with it, that they were ready to jump to the top of the tree. The next night a great many more mice made their appearance, and on Sunday two rats came with them; but they said, it was not a pretty story at all, and the little mice were very sorry, for it made them also think less of it.

“Do you know only one story?” asked the rats.

“Only one,” replied the fir-tree; “I heard it on the happiest evening of my life; but I did not know I was so happy at the time.”

“We think it is a very miserable story,” said the rats. “Don’t you know any story about bacon, or tallow in the storeroom.”

“No,” replied the tree.

“Many thanks to you then,” replied the rats, and they marched off.

The little mice also kept away after this, and the tree sighed, and said, “It was very pleasant when the merry little mice sat round me and listened while I talked. Now that is all passed too. However, I shall consider myself happy when some one comes to take me out of this place.” But would this ever happen? Yes; one morning people came to clear out the garret, the boxes were packed away, and the tree was pulled out of the corner, and thrown roughly on the garret floor; then the servant dragged it out upon the staircase where the daylight shone. “Now life is beginning again,” said the tree, rejoicing in the sunshine and fresh air.

Then it was carried down stairs and taken into the courtyard so quickly, that it forgot to think of itself, and could only look about, there was so much to be seen. The court was close to a garden, where everything looked blooming. Fresh and fragrant roses hung over the little palings. The linden-trees were in blossom; while the swallows flew here and there, crying, “Twit, twit, twit, my mate is coming,”—but it was not the fir-tree they meant. “Now I shall live,” cried the tree, joyfully spreading out its branches; but alas! they were all withered and yellow, and it lay in a corner amongst weeds and nettles. The star of gold paper still stuck in the top of the tree and glittered in the sunshine. In the same courtyard two of the merry children were playing who had danced round the tree at Christmas, and had been so happy. The youngest saw the gilded star, and ran and pulled it off the tree. “Look what is sticking to the ugly old fir-tree,” said the child, treading on the branches till they crackled under his boots. And the tree saw all the fresh bright flowers in the garden, and then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the dark corner of the garret. It thought of its fresh youth in the forest, of the merry Christmas evening, and of the little mice who had listened to the story of “Humpty Dumpty.” “Past! past!” said the old tree; “Oh, had I but enjoyed myself while I could have done so! but now it is too late.” Then a lad came and chopped the tree into small pieces, till a large bundle lay in a heap on the ground. The pieces were placed in a fire under the copper, and they quickly blazed up brightly, while the tree sighed so deeply that each sigh was like a pistol-shot. Then the children, who were at play, came and seated themselves in front of the fire, and looked at it and cried,

“Pop, pop.” But at each “pop,” which was a deep sigh, the tree was thinking of a summer day in the forest; and of Christmas evening, and of “Humpty Dumpty,” the only story it had ever heard or knew how to relate, till at last it was consumed. The boys still played in the garden, and the youngest wore the golden star on his breast, with which the tree had been adorned during the happiest evening of its existence. Now all was past; the tree’s life was past, and the story also,—for all stories must come to an end at last.

The Story of the Lightning and the Thunder

The Story of the Lightning and the Thunder
Southern Nigeria
by Elphinstone Darrell (1910)

IN the olden days the thunder and lightning lived on the earth amongst all the other people, but the king made them live at the far end of the town, as far as possible from other people’s houses.

The thunder was an old mother sheep, and the lightning was her son, a ram. Whenever the ram got angry he used to go about and burn houses and knock down trees; he even did damage on the farms, and sometimes killed people. Whenever the lightning did these things, his mother used to call out to him in a very loud voice to stop and not to do any more damage; but the lightning did not care in the least for what his mother said, and when he was in a bad temper used to do a very large amount of damage. At last the people could not stand it any longer, and complained to the king.

So the king made a special order that the sheep (Thunder) and her son, the ram (Lightning), should leave the town and live in the far bush. This did not do much good, as when the ram got angry he still burnt the forest, and the flames sometimes spread to the farms and consumed them.

So the people complained again, and the king banished both the lightning and the thunder from the earth and made them live in the sky, where they could not cause so much destruction. Ever since, when the lightning is angry, he commits damage as before, but you can hear his mother, the thunder, rebuking him and telling him to stop. Sometimes, however, when the mother has gone away some distance from her naughty son, you can still see that he is angry and is doing damage, but his mother’s voice cannot be heard.

He who sows Evil, it comes forth in his own Garden

A story about an orphan, showing that
‘he who sows evil, it comes forth in his own garden’
Hausa Folk-Lore
by Maalam Shaihua, tr. by R. Sutherland Rattray (1913)

He who Sows Evil, it comes forth in his own Garden
He who Sows Evil, it comes forth in his own Garden

This is the story about orphans. A story, a story. Let it go, let it come.

A certain man had wives, two in number. He died and left them. One among the wives fell ill. She saw she was near to death, so she said to the second wife, ‘Now you have seen this illness will not leave me. There is my daughter, I have left her as a trust to you; for the sake of Allah and the prophets look after her well for me.’

So the woman died and was buried, and they were left with the maid (her child). Now always they were showing her cruelty, until one day a sickness took hold of the maiden. She was lying down. Her stepmother said, ‘Get up, (and) go to the stream.’

The maid got up, she was groaning, she lifted a small calabash, (and) took the road. She went to the stream (and) drew water; she took it back (and) said, ‘Mother, lift the calabash down for me.’ But her step-mother said, ‘Do you not see I am pounding? Not now, when I have finished.’

She finished husking the grain, she was winnowing, the maiden was standing by. The maiden said, ‘Mother, lift down the calabash for me.’ But her step-mother said, ‘Do you not see I am winnowing? (Not now), when I have finished.’

The maiden stood by till she had finished, until she had washed; she paid no attention to the maiden. The maiden said, ‘Mother, help me down (with the water-pot).’ She said, ‘Do you not see I am pouring grain into the mortar? (Not now), but when I have finished pounding.’ The maiden kept standing by till she finished pounding; she re-pounded, she winnowed, she finished, the maiden was still standing.

The maiden said, ‘Mother, help me down,’ but she said, ‘Do you not see I am putting porridge in the pot? When I have finished.’ The maiden kept standing by till she (the step-mother) had finished putting the porridge (in the pot). The maiden said, ‘Mother, help me down,’ but she said, ‘If (I) come to help you down the porridge will get burned; (wait) till the porridge boils.’ The porridge boiled, she took it out of the water, till (then) she pounded it, squeezed it, and finished.

She did not say anything to the maid, till the wind came like a whirlwind; it lifted the maiden and went off with her (and) she was not seen. The wind took her to the forest (bush), there was no one but she alone. She was roaming in the forest till she saw a grass hut. Then she went (up to it). She peeped in, (and) met a thigh-bone and a dog inside.

Then she drew back, but the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said, ‘He says you are to come back.’ The maiden came back, and the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said, ‘He says you a , to enter.’ The maiden entered the hut, and bowed down and prostrated herself, and the thighbone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said, ‘He says, Can you cook food?’ And the maiden said, ‘Yes.’

So they gave her rice, one grain, and said she was to cook it. She picked up the single grain of rice. She did not grumble, she put it in the mortar and pounded, and when she had finished pounding, the rice filled the mortar. She dry pounded the rice and finished, and poured it from a height to let the wind blow away the chaff (sheke).

She went to the stream and washed (it) ; she brought (it) back home, she set (the pot) on the fire, she poured in the rice and in a short time the rice filled the pot. Then the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said, He says are you able (to make) soup?’ The maiden said, Yes, I can.’ The thighbone said, ‘Us! us!’, so the dog got up and went to a small refuse heap, (and) scraped up an old bone, and gave it to the maiden. She received it and put it in the pot.

When a little while had passed, the meat filled the pot. When the meat was ready, she poured in salt and (daudawa) spice, (and) she put in all kinds of soup spices. When the soup was ready she took the pot off the fire, she served out the food and divided it up. Ten helpings she set aside for the thigh-bone, for the dog she set aside nine helpings, (and) she set out for herself two.

They ate (and) were filled. So it is, because of this, if a stranger has come to you, honour him, give him food to eat. Meanwhile you study his nature, you see if (it) is bad or good. To return to the story. They went to sleep. At dawn the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said to the maiden, ‘He says, Can you make “fura” cakes?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ The thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’ Then the dog got up (and) came (and) lifted one grain of corn; he brought it and gave her. She received it (and) put it in the mortar; she poured in water, she lifted the pestle, she was pounding; as she (wet) pounded, the corn became much.

She took it out, she winnowed, she took it to the water, she washed it, she returned, she pounded, she took it out, she winnowed, she returned, (and) poured (it in again). She pounded it very finely, she took it out, rolled it into cakes, and put it in the pot until it boiled. She took it off (the fire), set it down, poured it into the mortar, pounded, took it out, rolled it up into balls, and gave to the thigh-bone three balls, to the dog she gave two.

When it was dawn the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’, and the dog said, ‘He says, Are you going home?’ She said, ‘I will go, but I do not know the way.’ Then the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us! ‘, and the dog rose up; he went and brought (servants), he brought cattle and sheep, horses and fowls, camels and war-horses, and ostriches, and robes, everything in the world, the dog brought and gave to the maiden.

He said, ‘There they are, the thigh-bone says I must give you (them); you will make them the provision for your journey. And he says he gives you leave to set out, and go to your home.’ But the maiden said, ‘I do not know the way.’ So the dog told the thigh-bone, and the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’ And the dog said, ‘He says let us set out, (and) I must show you the way.’ So the dog passed on in front, the maiden mounted a camel, the camel was led.

They were going along. The dog brought them till (they reached) close to (her) home. The dog turned back, but she herself sent into the town; she said, let the chief be told it was she who was come. The chief said, ‘Let them go and meet her.’ They went and met her. They drew up at the chief’s doorway, the chief gave them permission to alight, they alighted, She took out one tenth and gave the chief. She stayed there until the chief said he wished her in marriage. They were married. She also, that step-mother of hers, (her late father’s second wife) was envious, so she told her own daughter to go to the stream to draw water for her. But the little girl said, ‘Mother, I am not going.’

But she (the mother) lifted a reed and drove her, (and) she went to the stream by compulsion. Now the girl went to the stream, drew water, and took (it) home. She came across her mother as she was pounding; she said, ‘Mother, help me down (with the pot).’ But her mother said, ‘I am pounding, (wait) till I have finished.’ She finished pounding, and the girl said, ‘Mother, help me down.’ But she answered, ‘I am about to winnow, (wait) till I have finished.’ She finished winnowing (and) the girl said, ‘Mother, help me down (with the pot).’ She replied, I am just going to pound-when I have finished.’ When she had finished pounding then she sought the girl low and high; she did not see her, the wind has (had) lifted her (and) taken her to the bush.

It cast her there, she was roaming in the forest, when she saw a grass hut. She went and peeped in the hut, and she saw a thigh-bone and a dog. Then she drew back, and the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! Us!’ The dog said, ‘He says you are to come.’ So she came and said, ‘Here I am.’ The thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’ The dog said, ‘He says you are to sit down.’ So she sat down, (and) said, ‘Mercy on us, a thighbone that talks. What sort of a thing is Us! us?’ But they gave no answer.

A short time after the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’ Then the dog said, ‘He says, Can you (cook) food?’ And she said, ‘Ah, it’s a bad year when the partridge has seen them planting out the young trees (instead of sowing, when it could eat the seed). A thigh-bone, too, even it has an interpreter. I am able, you, I suppose, have the grain, when you are asking if people can cook food.’

They gave no answer, (but) the dog got up; he lifted one single grain of rice (and) gave her. ‘What’s this?’ she said, ‘to-day I am about to see how one single grain of rice makes food.’ The dog replied, ‘As for you, make it thus.’ She lifted the rice and put it in the mortar, she was pounding, and after a little while the rice became much. She dry pounded it, took it out, poured it out so as to blow away the chaff, poured on water, cooked it.

By the time she had finished cooking it the rice filled the pot. She was amazed. The dog lifted up a year-old bone, brought it, and gave her. Then she said, ‘What am I to do with it, this is a year-old bone?’ The dog replied, ‘As for you, make it thus.’ She said, ‘Are you supposed to be conjurers? I warn you; it is not my business that wizards should eat me.’The dog remained silent; not a thing did he say.

She washed the bone and put it in the pot, and in a short time the pot was full of meat. The girl was amazed, but she stirred the food, she took it out (and) set the soup down. She put aside for the thigh-bone three helpings, for the dog two. But the dog was angry because he saw her share was large, theirs very small, and he said, ‘What’s this?’ When he would have said, ‘Haba,’ he could only say, ‘Hab hab,’ because he had not told the thigh-bone first before he spoke.

Formerly the dog was a minister at court and used to talk like a person, when (on this day) he got in a temper in front of the king, he condemned him to say ‘Hab! hab!’ if he rose up to quarrel. And the moral of this is, a youth must not lose his temper in the presence of an elder.

Now they had eaten their food and slept. At dawn the thigh-bone said, ‘Us! us!’ Then the dog was not able to speak, but he went and brought blind men, and lepers, and blind horses, and lame asses, and sheep, robes and trousers were brought to her, (and) the dog showed her the way. He brought her to near (her) home and turned back.

But the thigh-bone drove him away, so he came back very quickly and joined them, and followed them until they reached the house. That is the first time the dog came to the house, formerly he was in the bush. Well, to continue, when they had got near the house, then she (the girl) sent one leper from among her retinue. He sat on a blind horse and his message was to tell the chief she has come. The chief allowed her to be met.

The chief made the galadima and many people to go and meet them. When they reached the open space in front of the chief’s house, then a stink filled the town. Then the chief said they were to be taken far back to a distance behind the town. They were led behind the town, far away they were to make their houses. When the mother of this maiden saw all this, then she became black of heart, (and) died.

That was the first appearance of wickedness, (which) is not a beautiful thing. Whoever commits a sin against another it comes back on himself, as a certain learned man sung, may Allah dispense mercy on him, he says, ‘Whosoever sows evil it comes forth in his own garden. That is true without a doubt, have you heard?’

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 3-4 Year Olds)

public-domain-vintage-childrens-book-illustration-arthur-rackham-three-bears Illustration -Arthur Rackham

Once upon a time there were Three Bears, who lived together in a house of their own, in a wood. One of them was a Little, Small Wee Bear; and one was a Middle-sized Bear, and the other was a Great, Huge Bear. They had each a pot for their porridge, a little pot for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized pot for the Middle Bear, and a great pot for the Great, Huge Bear. And they had each a chair to sit in; a little chair for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized chair for the Middle Bear; and a great chair for the Great, Huge Bear. And they had each a bed to sleep in; a little bed for the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and a middle-sized bed for the Middle Bear; and a great bed for the Great, Huge Bear.

One day, after they had made the porridge for their breakfast, and poured it into their porridge-pots, they walked out into the wood while the porridge was cooling, that they might not burn their mouths, by beginning too soon to eat it. And while they were walking, a little old Woman came to the house. She could not have been a good, honest old Woman; for first she looked in at the window, and then she peeped in at the keyhole; and seeing nobody in the house, she lifted the latch. The door was not fastened, because the Bears were good Bears, who did nobody any harm, and never suspected that anybody would harm them. So the little old Woman opened the door, and went in; and well pleased she was when she saw the porridge on the table. If she had been a good little old Woman, she would have waited till the Bears came home, and then, perhaps, they would have asked her to breakfast; for they were good Bears–a little rough or so, as the manner of Bears is, but for all that very good-natured and hospitable. But she was an impudent, bad old Woman, and set about helping herself.

So first she tasted the porridge of the Great, Huge Bear, and that was too hot for her; and she said a bad word about that. And then she tasted the porridge of the Middle Bear, and that was too cold for her; and she said a bad word about that too. And then she went to the porridge of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and tasted that; and that was neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right; and she liked it so well, that she ate it all up: but the naughty old Woman said a bad word about the little porridge-pot, because it did not hold enough for her.

Then the little old Woman sate down in the chair of the Great, Huge Bear, and that was too hard for her. And then she sate down in the chair of the Middle Bear, and that was too soft for her. And then she sate down in the chair of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, and that was neither too hard, nor too soft, but just right. So she seated herself in it, and there she sate till the bottom of the chair came out, and down she came, plump upon the ground. And the naughty old Woman said a wicked word about that too.
Then the little old Woman went upstairs into the bed-chamber in which the three Bears slept. And first she lay down upon the bed of the Great, Huge Bear; but that was too high at the head for her. And next she lay down upon the bed of the Middle Bear; and that was too high at the foot for her. And then she lay down upon the bed of the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and that was neither too high at the head, nor at the foot, but just right. So she covered herself up comfortably, and lay there till she fell fast asleep.
By this time the Three Bears thought their porridge would be cool enough; so they came home to breakfast. Now the little old Woman had left the spoon of the Great, Huge Bear, standing in his porridge.

“Somebody has been at my porridge!”
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice. And when the Middle Bear looked at his, he saw that the spoon was standing in it too. They were wooden spoons; if they had been silver ones, the naughty old Woman would have put them in her pocket.
“Somebody has been at my porridge!”
said the Middle Bear in his middle voice.
Then the Little, Small, Wee Bear looked at his, and there was the spoon in the porridge-pot, but the porridge was all gone.
“Somebody has been at my porridge, and has eaten it all up!”
said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.
Upon this the Three Bears, seeing that some one had entered their house, and eaten up the Little, Small, Wee Bear’s breakfast, began to look about them. Now the little old Woman had not put the hard cushion straight when she rose from the chair of the Great, Huge Bear.

“Somebody has been sitting in my chair!”
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.
And the little old Woman had squatted down the soft cushion of the Middle Bear.
“Somebody has been sitting in my chair!”
said the Middle Bear, in his middle voice.

And you know what the little old Woman had done to the third chair.
“Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has sate the bottom out of it!”
said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.
Then the Three Bears thought it necessary that they should make farther search; so they went upstairs into their bedchamber. Now the little old Woman had pulled the pillow of the Great, Huge Bear, out of its place.

“Somebody has been lying in my bed!”
said the Great, Huge Bear, in his great, rough, gruff voice.
And the little old Woman had pulled the bolster of the Middle Bear out of its place.

“Somebody has been lying in my bed!”
said the Middle Bear, in his middle voice.

And when the Little, Small, Wee Bear came to look at his bed, there was the bolster in its place; and the pillow in its place upon the bolster; and upon the pillow was the little old Woman’s ugly, dirty head,–which was not in its place, for she had no business there.

“Somebody has been lying in my bed,–and here she is!”
said the Little, Small, Wee Bear, in his little, small, wee voice.

The little old Woman had heard in her sleep the great, rough, gruff voice of the Great, Huge Bear; but she was so fast asleep that it was no more to her than the roaring of wind, or the rumbling of thunder. And she had heard the middle voice, of the Middle Bear, but it was only as if she had heard some one speaking in a dream. But when she heard the little, small, wee voice of the Little, Small, Wee Bear, it was so sharp, and so shrill, that it awakened her at once. Up she started; and when she saw the Three Bears on one side of the bed, she tumbled herself out at the other, and ran to the window. Now the window was open, because the Bears, like good, tidy Bears, as they were, always opened their bedchamber window when they got up in the morning. Out the little old Woman jumped. The Three Bears never saw anything more of her.

Star Money

Star Money
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 Year Olds)


There was once upon a time a little girl whose father and mother
were dead, and she was so poor that she no longer had a room to
live in, or bed to sleep in, and at last she had nothing else but
the clothes she was wearing and a little bit of bread in her
hand which some charitable soul had given her. She was good and
pious, however. And as she was thus forsaken by all the world,
she went forth into the open country, trusting in the good God.
Then a poor man met her, who said, ah, give me something to eat,
I am so hungry. She handed him the whole of her piece of bread,
and said, may God bless you, and went onwards. Then came a child
who moaned and said, my head is so cold, give me something to
cover it with. So she took off her hood and gave it to him. And
when she had walked a little farther, she met another child who
had no jacket and was frozen with cold. Then she gave it her
own, and a little farther on one begged for a frock,
and she gave away that also. At length she got into a forest
and it had already become dark, and there came yet another child,
and asked for a shirt, and the good little girl thought
to herself, it is a dark night and no one sees you, you can very
well give your shirt away, and took it off, and gave away that
also. And as she so stood, and had not one single thing left,
suddenly some stars from heaven fell down, and they were nothing
else but hard smooth pieces of money, and although she had just
given her shirt away, she had a new one which was of the very
finest linen. Then she put the money into it, and was rich all
the days of her life.

Hut in the Forest

Hut in the Forest
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 Year Olds)


A poor wood-cutter lived with his wife and three daughters in
a little hut on the edge of a lonely forest. One morning as he
was about to go to his work, he said to his wife, let our
eldest daughter bring me my dinner into the forest, or I shall
never get my work done, and in order that she may not miss
her way, he added, I will take a bag of millet with me and strew
the seeds on the path. When, therefore, the sun was just above
the centre of the forest, the girl set out on her way with a
bowl of soup, but the field-sparrows, and wood-sparrows,
larks and finches, blackbirds and siskins had picked up the
millet long before, and the girl could not find the track.
Trusting to chance, she went on and on, until the sun sank and
night began to fall. The trees rustled in the darkness, the
owls hooted, and she began to be afraid. Then in the distance she
perceived a light which glimmered between the trees. There
ought to be some people living there, who can take me in for the
night, thought she, and went up to the light. It was not long before
she came to a house the windows of which were all lighted up. She
knocked, and a rough voice from inside cried, come in. The
girl stepped into the dark entrance, and knocked at the door of
the room. Just come in, cried the voice, and when she opened the
door, an old gray-haired man was sitting at the table, supporting
his face with both hands, and his white beard fell down over
the table almost as far as the ground. By the stove lay three
animals, a hen, a cock, and a brindled cow. The girl told her
story to the old man, and begged for shelter for the night. The
man said,
my pretty hen,
my pretty cock,
my pretty brindled cow,
what are you saying now.

Duks, answered the animals, and that must have meant, we are
willing, for the old man said, here you shall have shelter
and food, go to the fire, and cook us our supper. The girl
found in the kitchen abundance of everything, and cooked a
good supper, but had no thought of the animals. She carried
the full bowl to the table, seated herself by the gray-haired man,
ate and satisfied her hunger. When she had had enough, she said,
but now I am tired, where is there a bed in which I can lie down,
and sleep. The animals replied,
thou hast eaten with him,
thou hast drunk with him,
thou hast had no thought for us,
so find out for thyself where thou canst pass the

Then said the old man, just go upstairs, and you will find a
room with two beds, shake them up, and put white linen on them,
and then I, too, will come and lie down to sleep. The girl
went up, and when she had shaken the beds and put clean sheets
on, she lay down in one of them without waiting any longer for
the old man. After some time the gray-haired man came, held his
candle over the girl and shook his head. When he saw that she
had fallen into a sound sleep, he opened a trap-door, and let her
down into the cellar.

Late at night, the wood-cutter came home, and reproached his
wife for leaving him to hunger all day. It is not my fault,
she replied, the girl went out with your dinner, and must have
lost herself, but surely she will come back to-morrow. The
wood-cutter, however, arose before dawn to go into the forest, and
requested that the second daughter should take him his dinner
that day. I will take a bag with lentils, said he, the seeds
are larger than millet, the girl will see them better, and
can’t lose her way. At dinner-time, therefore, the girl took
out the food, but the lentils had disappeared. The birds of the
forest had picked them up as they had done the day before,
and had left none. The girl wandered about in the forest
until night, and then she too reached the house of the old man,
was told to go in, and begged for food and a bed. The man with
the white beard again asked the animals,
my pretty hen,
my pretty cock,
my pretty brindled cow,
what are you saying now.

The animals again replied ‘duks, and everything happened just
as it had happened the day before. The girl cooked a good meal,
ate and drank with the old man, and did not concern herself about
the animals, and when she inquired about her bed they answered,
thou hast eaten with him,
thou hast drunk with him,
thou hast had no thought for us,
so find out for thyself where thou canst pass
the night.

When she was asleep the old man came, looked at her, shook his
head, and let her down into the cellar.

On the third morning the wood-cutter said to his wife, send our
youngest child out with my dinner to-day, she has always been good
and obedient, and will stay in the right path, and not rove about
like her sisters, the wild bumble-bees. The mother did not
want to do it, and said, am I to lose my dearest child, as well.
Have no fear, he replied, the girl will not go astray. She is
too prudent and sensible. Besides I will take some peas with me,
strew them about. They are still larger than lentils, and will
show her the way. But when the girl went out with her basket on
her arm, the wood-pigeons had already got all the peas in their
crops, and she did not know which way she was to turn. She was
full of sorrow and never ceased to think how hungry her father
would be, and how her good mother would grieve, if she did
not go home. At length when it grew dark, she saw the light and
came to the house in the forest. She begged quite prettily to
be allowed to spend the night there, and the man with the white
beard again asked his animals,
my pretty hen,
my pretty cock,
my pretty brindled cow,
what are you saying now.

Duks, said they. Then the girl went to the stove where the
animals were lying, and petted the cock and hen, and stroked
their smooth feathers with her hand, and caressed the brindled
cow between her horns, and when, in obedience to the old man’s
orders, she had made ready some good soup, and the bowl was
placed upon the table, she said, am I to eat as much as I want,
and the good animals to have nothing. Outside is food in plenty,
I will look after them first. So she went and brought some
barley and stewed it for the cock and hen, and a whole armful
of sweet-smelling hay for the cow. I hope you will like it,
dear animals, said she, and you shall have a refreshing draught
in case you are thirsty. Then she fetched a bucketful of water,
and the cock and hen jumped on to the edge of it and dipped
their beaks in, and then held up their heads as the birds do when
they drink, and the brindled cow also took a hearty draught. When
the animals were fed, the girl seated herself at the table by
the old man, and ate what he had left. It was not long before
the cock and the hen began to thrust their heads beneath
their wings, and the eyes of the cow likewise began to blink.
Then said the girl, ought we not to go to bed.
My pretty hen,
my pretty cock,
my pretty brindled cow,
what are you saying now.

The animals answered, duks,
thou hast eaten with us,
thou hast drunk with us,
thou hast had kind thought for all of us,
we wish thee good-night.

Then the maiden went upstairs, shook the feather-beds, and laid
clean sheets on them, and when she had done it the old man came
and lay down in one of the beds, and his white beard reached down
to his feet. The girl lay down on the other, said her prayers,
and fell asleep.

She slept quietly till midnight, and then there was such a noise
in the house that she awoke. There was a sound of cracking and
splitting in every corner, and the doors sprang open, and beat
against the walls. The beams groaned as if they were being torn
out of their joints, it seemed as if the staircase were falling
down, and at length there was a crash as if the entire roof had
fallen in. When, however, all grew quiet once more, and the girl
was not hurt, she stayed quietly lying where she was, and fell
asleep again. But when she woke up in the morning with the
brilliancy of the sunshine, what did her eyes behold. She was
lying in a vast hall, and everything around her shone with royal
splendor. On the walls, golden flowers grew up on a ground of
green silk, the bed was of ivory, and the canopy of red velvet,
and on a chair close by, was a pair of slippers embroidered
with pearls. The girl believed that she was in a dream, but
three richly clad attendants came in, and asked what orders she
would like to give. If you will go, she replied, I will get up
at once and make ready some soup for the old man, and then I
will feed the pretty hen, and the pretty cock, and the pretty
brindled cow. She thought the old man was up already, and looked
round at his bed. He, however, was not lying in it, but a

And while she was looking at him, and becoming aware that he was
young and handsome, he awoke, sat up in bed, and said, I am
a king’s son, and was bewitched by a wicked witch, and made to
live in this forest, as an old gray-haired man. No one was
allowed to be with me but my three attendants in the form
of a cock, a hen, and a brindled cow. The spell was not to be
broken until a girl came to us whose heart was so good that she
showed herself full of love, not only towards mankind, but towards
animals – and that you have done, and by you at midnight we were
set free, and the old hut in the forest was changed back again
into my royal palace. And when they had arisen, the king’s son
ordered the three attendants to set out and fetch the father and
mother of the girl to the marriage feast. But where are my two
sisters, inquired the maiden. I have locked them in the cellar,
and to-morrow they shall be led into the forest, and shall live
as servants to a charcoal-burner, until they have grown kinder,
and do not leave poor animals to suffer hunger.

The Little Gingerbread Man

The Little Gingerbread Man
(Ideal for 3 Year Olds)

One day, the cook went into the kitchen to make some gingerbread.
She took some flour and water, and treacle and ginger, and mixed
them all well together, and she put in some more water to make it
thin, and then some more flour to make it thick, and a little salt
and some spice, and then she rolled it out into a beautiful,
smooth, dark-yellow dough.

Then she took the square tins and cut out some square cakes for the
little boys, and with some round tins she cut out some round cakes
for the little girls, and then she said, “I’m going to make a
little gingerbread man for little Bobby.” So she took a nice round
lump of dough for his body, and a smaller lump for his head, which
she pulled out a little for the neck. Two other lumps were stuck on
beneath for the legs, and were pulled out into proper shape, with
feet and toes all complete, and two still smaller pieces were made
into arms, with dear little hands and fingers.

But the nicest work was done on the head, for the top was frizzed
up into a pretty sugary hat; on either side was made a dear little
ear, and in front, after the nose had been carefully moulded, a
beautiful mouth was made out of a big raisin, and two bright little
eyes with burnt almonds and caraway seeds.

Then the gingerbread man was finished ready for baking, and a very
jolly little man he was. In fact, he looked so sly that the cook
was afraid he was plotting some mischief, and when the batter was
ready for the oven, she put in the square cakes and she put in the
round cakes; and then she put in the little gingerbread man in a
far back corner, where he couldn’t get away in a hurry.

Then she went up to sweep the parlor, and she swept and she swept
till the clock struck twelve, when she dropped her broom in a
hurry, and exclaiming, “Lawks! the gingerbread will be all baked to
a cinder,” she ran down into the kitchen, and threw open the oven
door. And the square cakes were all done, nice and hard and brown,
and the round cakes were all done, nice and hard and brown, and the
gingerbread man was all done too, nice and hard and brown; and he
was standing up in his corner, with his little caraway-seed eyes
sparkling, and his raisin mouth bubbling over with mischief, while
he waited for the oven door to be opened. The instant the door was
opened, with a hop, skip, and a jump, he went right over the square
cakes and the round cakes, and over the cook’s arm, and before she
could say “Jack Robinson” he was running across the kitchen floor,
as fast as his little legs would carry him, towards the back door,
which was standing wide open, and through which he could see the
garden path.

The old cook turned round as fast as she could, which wasn’t very
fast, for she was rather a heavy woman and she had been quite taken
by surprise, and she saw lying right across the door-way, fast
asleep in the sun, old Mouser, the cat.

“Mouser, Mouser,” she cried, “stop the gingerbread man! I want him
for little Bobby.” When the cook first called, Mouser thought it
was only some one calling in her dreams, and simply rolled over
lazily; and the cook called again, “Mouser, Mouser!” The old cat
sprang up with a jump, but just as she turned round to ask the cook
what all the noise was about, the little gingerbread man cleverly
jumped under her tail, and in an instant was trotting down the
garden walk. Mouser turned in a hurry and ran after, although she
was still rather too sleepy to know what it was she was trying to
catch, and after the cat came the cook, lumbering along rather
heavily, but also making pretty good speed.

Now at the bottom of the walk, lying fast asleep in the sun against
the warm stones of the garden wall, was Towser, the dog.

And the cook called out: “Towser, Towser, stop the gingerbread man!
I want him for little Bobby.”

And when Towser first heard her calling he thought it was some one
speaking in his dreams, and he only turned over on his side, with
another snore, and then the cook called again, “Towser, Towser,
stop him, stop him!”

Then the dog woke up in good earnest, and jumped up on his feet to
see what it was that he should stop. But just as the dog jumped up,
the little gingerbread man, who had been watching for the chance,
quietly slipped between his legs, and climbed up on the top of the
stone wall, so that Towser saw nothing but the cat running towards
him down the walk, and behind the cat the cook, now quite out of

He thought at once that the cat must have stolen something, and
that it was the cat the cook wanted him to stop. Now, if there was
anything that Towser liked, it was going after the cat, and he
jumped up the walk so fiercely that the poor cat did not have time
to stop herself or to get out of his way, and they came together
with a great fizzing, and barking, and meowing, and howling, and
scratching, and biting, as if a couple of Catherine-wheels had gone
off in the wrong way and had got mixed up with one another.

But the old cook had been running so hard that she was not able to
stop herself any better than the cat had done, and she fell right
on top of the mixed up dog and cat, so that all three rolled over
on the walk in a heap together.

And the cat scratched whichever came nearest, whether it was a
piece of the dog or of the cook, and the dog bit at whatever came
nearest, whether it was a piece of the cat or of the cook, so that
the poor cook was badly pummelled on both sides.

Meanwhile, the gingerbread man had climbed up on the garden wall,
and stood on the top with his hands in his pockets, looking at the
scrimmage, and laughing till the tears ran down from his little
caraway-seed eyes and his raisin mouth was bubbling all over with

After a little while, the cat managed to pull herself out
from under the cook and the dog, and a very cast-down and
crumpled-up-looking cat she was. She had had enough of hunting
gingerbread men, and she crept back to the kitchen to repair

The dog, who was very cross because his face had been badly
scratched, let go of the cook, and at last, catching sight of the
gingerbread man, made a bolt for the garden wall. The cook picked
herself up, and although her face was also badly scratched and her
dress was torn, she was determined to see the end of the chase, and
she followed after the dog, though this time more slowly.

When the gingerbread man saw the dog coming, he jumped down on the
farther side of the wall, and began running across the field. Now
in the middle of the field was a tree, and at the foot of the tree
was lying Jocko, the monkey. He wasn’t asleep–monkeys never
are–and when he saw the little man running across the field and
heard the cook calling, “Jocko, Jocko, stop the gingerbread man,”
he at once gave one big jump. But he jumped so fast and so far that
he went right over the gingerbread man, and as luck would have it,
he came down on the back of Towser, the dog, who had just scrambled
over the wall, and whom he had not before noticed. Towser was
naturally taken by surprise, but he turned his head around and
promptly bit off the end of the monkey’s tail, and Jocko quickly
jumped off again, chattering his indignation.

Meanwhile, the gingerbread man had got to the bottom of the tree,
and was saying to himself: “Now, I know the dog can’t climb a tree,
and I don’t believe the old cook can climb a tree; and as for the
monkey I’m not sure, for I’ve never seen a monkey before, but I am
going up.”

So he pulled himself up hand over hand until he had got to the
topmost branch.

But the monkey had jumped with one spring onto the lowest branch,
and in an instant he also was at the top of the tree.

The gingerbread man crawled out to the furthermost end of the
branch, and hung by one hand, but the monkey swung himself under
the branch, and stretching out his long arm, he pulled the
gingerbread man in. Then he held him up and looked at him so
hungrily that the little raisin mouth began to pucker down at the
corners, and the caraway-seed eyes filled with tears.

And then what do you think happened? Why, little Bobby himself came
running up. He had been taking his noon-day nap upstairs, and in
his dreams it seemed as if he kept hearing people call “Little
Bobby, little Bobby!” until finally he jumped up with a start, and
was so sure that some one was calling him that he ran down-stairs,
without even waiting to put on his shoes.

[Illustration: Bobby thought he heard someone calling.]

As he came down, he could see through the window in the field
beyond the garden the cook, and the dog, and the monkey, and could
even hear the barking of Towser and the chattering of Jocko. He
scampered down the walk, with his little bare feet pattering
against the warm gravel, climbed over the wall, and in a few
seconds arrived under the tree, just as Jocko was holding up the
poor little gingerbread man.

“Drop it, Jocko!” cried Bobby, and drop it Jocko did, for he always
had to mind Bobby. He dropped it so straight that the gingerbread
man fell right into Bobby’s uplifted pinafore.

Then Bobby held him up and looked at him, and the little raisin
mouth puckered down lower than ever, and the tears ran right out of
the caraway-seed eyes.

But Bobby was too hungry to mind gingerbread tears, and he gave one
big bite, and swallowed down both legs and a piece of the body.

“OH!” said the gingerbread man, “I’M ONE-THIRD GONE!”

Bobby gave a second bite, and swallowed the rest of the body and
the arms.

“OH!” said the gingerbread man, “I’M TWO-THIRDS GONE!”

Bobby gave a third bite, and gulped down the head.

“_Oh!_” said the gingerbread man, “_I’m all gone!_”

And so he was–and that is the end of the story.

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 5-6 year old)

Hard by a great forest dwelt a poor wood-cutter with his wife
and his two children. The boy was called Hansel and the
girl Gretel. He had little to bite and to break, and once when
great dearth fell on the land, he could no longer procure even daily
bread. Now when he thought over this by night in his bed, and
tossed about in his anxiety, he groaned and said to his wife, what
is to become of us. How are we to feed our poor children, when
we no longer have anything even for ourselves. I’ll tell you what,
husband, answered the woman, early to-morrow morning we
will take the children out into the forest to where it is the
thickest. There we will light a fire for them, and give each of
them one more piece of bread, and then we will go to our work and
leave them alone. They will not find the way home again, and we
shall be rid of them. No, wife, said the man, I will not do that.
How can I bear to leave my children alone in the forest. The wild
animals would soon come and tear them to pieces. O’ you fool, said
she, then we must all four die of hunger, you may as well plane the
planks for our coffins, and she left him no peace until he
consented. But I feel very sorry for the poor children, all the
same, said the man.

The two children had also not been able to sleep for hunger, and
had heard what their step-mother had said to their father. Gretel
wept bitter tears, and said to Hansel, now all is over with us.
Be quiet, Gretel, said Hansel, do not distress yourself, I will soon
find a way to help us. And when the old folks had fallen asleep,
he got up, put on his little coat, opened the door below, and crept
outside. The moon shone brightly, and the white pebbles which lay
in front of the house glittered like real silver pennies. Hansel
stooped and stuffed the little pocket of his coat with as many as he
could get in. Then he went back and said to Gretel, be comforted,
dear little sister, and sleep in peace, God will not forsake us, and
he lay down again in his bed. When day dawned, but before the
sun had risen, the woman came and awoke the two children, saying
get up, you sluggards. We are going into the forest to fetch
wood. She gave each a little piece of bread, and said, there is
something for your dinner, but do not eat it up before then, for you
will get nothing else. Gretel took the bread under her apron, as
Hansel had the pebbles in his pocket. Then they all set out
together on the way to the forest. When they had walked a short
time, Hansel stood still and peeped back at the house, and did so
again and again. His father said, Hansel, what are you looking at
there and staying behind for. Pay attention, and do not forget how
to use your legs. Ah, father, said Hansel, I am looking at my
little white cat, which is sitting up on the roof, and wants to say
good-bye to me. The wife said, fool, that is not your little cat,
that is the morning sun which is shining on the chimneys. Hansel,
however, had not been looking back at the cat, but had been
constantly throwing one of the white pebble-stones out of his pocket
on the road.

When they had reached the middle of the forest, the father said,
now, children, pile up some wood, and I will light a fire that you
may not be cold. Hansel and Gretel gathered brushwood together,
as high as a little hill. The brushwood was lighted, and when the
flames were burning very high, the woman said, now, children,
lay yourselves down by the fire and rest, we will go into the forest
and cut some wood. When we have done, we will come back and
fetch you away.

Hansel and Gretel sat by the fire, and when noon came, each ate
a little piece of bread, and as they heard the strokes of the
wood-axe they believed that their father was near. It was not the
axe, however, but a branch which he had fastened to a withered tree
which the wind was blowing backwards and forwards. And as they had
been sitting such a long time, their eyes closed with fatigue, and
they fell fast asleep. When at last they awoke, it was already dark
night. Gretel began to cry and said, how are we to get out of the
forest now. But Hansel comforted her and said, just wait a little,
until the moon has risen, and then we will soon find the way. And
when the full moon had risen, Hansel took his little sister by the
hand, and followed the pebbles which shone like newly-coined silver
pieces, and showed them the way.

They walked the whole night long, and by break of day came
once more to their father’s house. They knocked at the door, and
when the woman opened it and saw that it was Hansel and Gretel,
she said, you naughty children, why have you slept so long in the
forest. We thought you were never coming back at all. The father,
however, rejoiced, for it had cut him to the heart to leave them
behind alone.

Not long afterwards, there was once more great dearth throughout
the land, and the children heard their mother saying at night to
their father, everything is eaten again, we have one half loaf left,
and that is the end. The children must go, we will take them
farther into the wood, so that they will not find their way out
again. There is no other means of saving ourselves. The man’s
heart was heavy, and he thought, it would be better for you to share
the last mouthful with your children. The woman, however, would
listen to nothing that he had to say, but scolded and reproached
him. He who says a must say b, likewise, and as he had yielded the
first time, he had to do so a second time also.

The children, however, were still awake and had heard the
conversation. When the old folks were asleep, Hansel again got up,
and wanted to go out and pick up pebbles as he had done before, but
the woman had locked the door, and Hansel could not get out.
Nevertheless he comforted his little sister, and said, do not cry,
Gretel, go to sleep quietly, the good God will help us.
Early in the morning came the woman, and took the children out of
their beds. Their piece of bread was given to them, but it was
still smaller than the time before. On the way into the forest
Hansel crumbled his in his pocket, and often stood still and threw a
morsel on the ground. Hansel, why do you stop and look round.
Said the father, go on. I am looking back at my little pigeon
which is sitting on the roof, and wants to say good-bye to me,
answered Hansel. Fool. Said the woman, that is not your little
pigeon, that is the morning sun that is shining on the chimney.
Hansel, however, little by little, threw all the crumbs on the path.
The woman led the children still deeper into the forest, where they
had never in their lives been before. Then a great fire was again
made, and the mother said, just sit there, you children, and when
you are tired you may sleep a little. We are going into the forest
to cut wood, and in the evening when we are done, we will come and
fetch you away. When it was noon, Gretel shared her piece of
bread with Hansel, who had scattered his by the way. Then they
fell asleep and evening passed, but no one came to the poor
children. They did not awake until it was dark night, and Hansel
comforted his little sister and said, just wait, Gretel, until the
moon rises, and then we shall see the crumbs of bread which I have
strewn about, they will show us our way home again. When the moon
came they set out, but they found no crumbs, for the many thousands
of birds which fly about in the woods and fields had picked them all
up. Hansel said to Gretel, we shall soon find the way, but they did
not find it. They walked the whole night and all the next day too
from morning till evening, but they did not get out of the forest,
and were very hungry, for they had nothing to eat but two or three
berries, which grew on the ground. And as they were so weary that
their legs would carry them no longer, they lay down beneath a tree
and fell asleep.

It was now three mornings since they had left their father’s house.
They began to walk again, but they always came deeper into the
forest, and if help did not come soon, they must die of hunger and
weariness. When it was mid-day, they saw a beautiful snow-white
bird sitting on a bough, which sang so delightfully that they stood
still and listened to it. And when its song was over, it spread its
wings and flew away before them, and they followed it until they
reached a little house, on the roof of which it alighted. And when
they approached the little house they saw that it was built of
bread and covered with cakes, but that the windows were of clear
sugar. We will set to work on that, said Hansel, and have a good
meal. I will eat a bit of the roof, and you Gretel, can eat some
of the window, it will taste sweet. Hansel reached up above, and
broke off a little of the roof to try how it tasted, and Gretel
leant against the window and nibbled at the panes. Then a soft
voice cried from the parlor –
nibble, nibble, gnaw
who is nibbling at my little house.

The children answered –
the wind, the wind,
the heaven-born wind,
and went on eating without disturbing themselves. Hansel, who
liked the taste of the roof, tore down a great piece of it, and
Gretel pushed out the whole of one round window-pane, sat down, and
enjoyed herself with it. Suddenly the door opened, and a woman
as old as the hills, who supported herself on crutches, came
creeping out. Hansel and Gretel were so terribly frightened that
they let fall what they had in their hands. The old woman, however,
nodded her head, and said, oh, you dear children, who has brought
you here. Do come in, and stay with me. No harm shall happen to
you. She took them both by the hand, and led them into her little
house. Then good food was set before them, milk and pancakes,
with sugar, apples, and nuts. Afterwards two pretty little beds
were covered with clean white linen, and Hansel and Gretel lay down
in them, and thought they were in heaven.

The old woman had only pretended to be so kind. She was in reality
a wicked witch, who lay in wait for children, and had only built the
little house of bread in order to entice them there. When a child
fell into her power, she killed it, cooked and ate it, and that
was a feast day with her. Witches have red eyes, and cannot see
far, but they have a keen scent like the beasts, and are aware when
human beings draw near. When Hansel and Gretel came into her
neighborhood, she laughed with malice, and said mockingly, I have
them, they shall not escape me again. Early in the morning before
the children were awake, she was already up, and when she saw both
of them sleeping and looking so pretty, with their plump and rosy
cheeks, she muttered to herself, that will be a dainty mouthful.

Then she seized Hansel with her shrivelled hand, carried
him into a little stable, and locked him in behind a grated door.
Scream as he might, it would not help him. Then she went to
Gretel, shook her till she awoke, and cried, get up, lazy thing,
fetch some water, and cook something good for your brother, he is
in the stable outside, and is to be made fat. When he is fat, I
will eat him. Gretel began to weep bitterly, but it was all in
vain, for she was forced to do what the wicked witch commanded.
And now the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, but Gretel
got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the woman crept to the
little stable, and cried, Hansel, stretch out your finger that I may
feel if you will soon be fat. Hansel, however, stretched out a
little bone to her, and the old woman, who had dim eyes, could not
see it, and thought it was Hansel’s finger, and was astonished that
there was no way of fattening him. When four weeks had gone by,
and Hansel still remained thin, she was seized with impatience and
would not wait any longer. Now, then, Gretel, she cried to the
girl, stir yourself, and bring some water. Let Hansel be fat or
lean, to-morrow I will kill him, and cook him. Ah, how the poor
little sister did lament when she had to fetch the water, and how
her tears did flow down her cheeks. Dear God, do help us, she
cried. If the wild beasts in the forest had but devoured us, we
should at any rate have died together. Just keep your noise to
yourself, said the old woman, it won’t help you at all.

Early in the morning, Gretel had to go out and hang up the
cauldron with the water, and light the fire. We will bake first,
said the old woman, I have already heated the oven, and kneaded
the dough. She pushed poor Gretel out to the oven, from which
flames of fire were already darting. Creep in, said the witch,
and see if it properly heated, so that we can put the bread in.
And once Gretel was inside, she intended to shut the oven and let
her bake in it, and then she would eat her, too. But Gretel saw
what she had in mind, and said, I do not know how I am to do it.
How do I get in. Silly goose, said the old woman, the door is big
enough. Just look, I can get in myself, and she crept up and
thrust her head into the oven. Then Gretel gave her a push that
drove her far into it, and shut the iron door, and fastened the
bolt. Oh. Then she began to howl quite horribly, but Gretel ran
away, and the godless witch was miserably burnt to death.
Gretel, however, ran like lightning to Hansel, opened his little
stable, and cried, Hansel, we are saved. The old witch is dead.
Then Hansel sprang like a bird from its cage when the door is
opened. How they did rejoice and embrace each other, and dance
about and kiss each other. And as they had no longer any need to
fear her, they went into the witch’s house, and in every corner
there stood chests full of pearls and jewels. These are far better
than pebbles. Said Hansel, and thrust into his pockets whatever
could be got in, and Gretel said, I, too, will take something home
with me, and filled her pinafore full. But now we must be off, said
Hansel, that we may get out of the witch’s forest.

When they had walked for two hours, they came to a great
stretch of water. We cannot cross, said Hansel, I see no
foot-plank, and no bridge. And there is also no ferry, answered
Gretel, but a white duck is swimming there. If I ask her, she
will help us over. Then she cried –
little duck, little duck, dost thou see,
Hansel and Gretel are waiting for thee.
There’s never a plank, or bridge in sight,
take us across on thy back so white.

The duck came to them, and Hansel seated himself on its back,
and told his sister to sit by him. No, replied Gretel, that will be
too heavy for the little duck. She shall take us across, one after
the other. The good little duck did so, and when they were once
safely across and had walked for a short time, the forest seemed to
be more and more familiar to them, and at length they saw from
afar their father’s house. Then they began to run, rushed into the
parlor, and threw themselves round their father’s neck. The man
had not known one happy hour since he had left the children in the
forest. The woman, however, was dead. Gretel emptied her
pinafore until pearls and precious stones ran about the room, and
Hansel threw one handful after another out of his pocket to add to
them. Then all anxiety was at an end, and they lived together in
perfect happiness. My tale is done, there runs a mouse, whosoever
catches it, may make himself a big fur cap out of it.

Jorinda and Joringel

Jorinda and Joringel
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 1st Grade)
*Audio file at the end


There was once an old castle in the midst of a large and dense
forest, and in it an old woman who was a witch dwelt all
alone. In the day-time she changed herself into a car or a
screech-owl, but in the evening she took her proper shape
again as a human being. She could lure wild beasts and birds
to her, and then she killed and boiled and roasted them. If
anyone came within one hundred paces of the castle he was
obliged to stand still, and could not stir from the place until
she bade him be free. But whenever an innocent maiden came
within this circle, she changed her into a bird, and shut her
up in a wicker-work cage, and carried the cage into a room in the
castle. She had about seven thousand cages of rare birds in
the castle.

Now, there was once a maiden who was called jorinda, who was
fairer than all other girls. She and a handsome youth named
joringel had promised to marry each other. They were still in
the days of betrothal, and their greatest happiness was being
together. One day in order that they might be able to talk
together in peace they went for a walk in the forest. Take
care, said joringel, that you do not go too near the castle.
It was a beautiful evening. The sun shone brightly between
the trunks of the trees into the dark green of the forest, and
the turtle-doves sang mournfully upon the beech trees.

Jorinda wept now and then. She sat down in the sunshine and
was sorrowful. Joringel was sorrowful too. They were as
sad as if they were about to die. Then they looked around them,
and were quite at a loss, for they did not know by which way
they should go home. The sun was still half above the
mountain and half under.

Joringel looked through the bushes, and saw the old walls of the
castle close at hand. He was horror-stricken and filled with
deadly fear. Jorinda was singing,

my little bird, with the necklace red,
sings sorrow, sorrow, sorrow,
he sings that the dove must soon be dead,
sings sorrow, sor – jug, jug, jug.

Joringel looked for jorinda. She was changed into a nightingale,
and sang, jug, jug, jug. A screech-owl with glowing eyes
flew three times round about her, and three times cried, to-whoo,
to-whoo, to-whoo.

Joringel could not move. He stood there like a stone, and
could neither weep nor speak, nor move hand or foot.
The sun had now set. The owl flew into the thicket, and directly
afterwards there came out of it a crooked old woman, yellow
and lean, with large red eyes and a hooked nose, the point of
which reached to her chin. She muttered to herself, caught the
nightingale, and took it away in her hand.

Joringel could neither speak nor move from the spot. The
nightingale was gone. At last the woman came back, and said
in a hollow voice, greet you, zachiel. If the moon shines on
the cage, zachiel, let him loose at once. Then joringel was
freed. He fell on his knees before the woman and begged that
she would give him back his jorinda, but she said that he
should never have her again, and went away. He called, he wept,
he lamented, but all in vain, hooh, what is to become of me.

Joringel went away, and at last came to a strange village, where
he kept sheep for a long time. He often walked round and round
the castle, but not too near to it. At last he dreamt one
night that he found a blood-red flower, in the middle of
which was a beautiful large pearl. That he picked the flower
and went with it to the castle, and that everything he touched
with the flower was freed from enchantment. He also dreamt
that by means of it he recovered his jorinda.

In the morning, when he awoke, he began to seek over hill and
dale for such a flower. He sought until the ninth day, and then,
early in the morning, he found the blood-red flower. In the
middle of it there was a large dew-drop, as big as the finest

Day and night he journeyed with this flower to the castle. When
he was within a hundred paces of it he was not held fast, but
walked on to the door. Joringel was full of joy. He touched the
door with the flower, and it sprang open. He walked in through
the courtyard, and listened for the sound of the birds. At
last he heard it. He went on and found the room from whence it
came, and there the witch was feeding the birds in the seven
thousand cages.

When she saw joringel she was angry, very angry, and scolded
and spat poison and gall at him, but she could not come within
two paces of him. He did not take any notice of her, but went
and looked at the cages with the birds. But there were many
hundred nightingales, how was he to find his jorinda again.
Just then he saw the old woman quietly take away a cage with
a bird in it, and go towards the door.

Swiftly he sprang towards her, touched the cage with the flower,
and also the old woman. She could now no longer bewitch anyone.
And jorinda was standing there, clasping him round the neck,
and she was as beautiful as ever. Then all the other birds
were turned into maidens again, and he went home with his jorinda,
and they lived happily together for a long time.

Listen to the audio from LibriVox here:


Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(Ideal for 1st Grade)
*Audio file at the end

tumblr_mofma8vSIX1rz5qxqo1_500 Art by Emma Florence Harrison

There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain
wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God
was about to grant her desire. These people had a little
window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden
could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and
herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one
dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had
great power and was dreaded by all the world. One day the woman
was standing by this window and looking down into the garden,
when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful
rampion – rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she
longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire
increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any
of it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable.

Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, what ails you, dear
wife. Ah, she replied, if I can’t eat some of the rampion, which
is in the garden behind our house, I shall die. The man, who loved
her, thought, sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of
the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will. At twilight, he
clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress,
hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She
at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted
so good to her – so very good, that the next day she longed for it
three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her
husband must once more descend into the garden. In the gloom of
evening, therefore, he let himself down again. But when he had
clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the
enchantress standing before him. How can you dare, said she with
angry look, descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a
thief. You shall suffer for it. Ah, answered he, let mercy take
the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of
necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such
a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some
to eat. Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and
said to him, if the case be as you say, I will allow you to take
away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one
condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring
into the world. It shall be well treated, and I will care for it
like a mother. The man in his terror consented to everything, and
when the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once,
gave the child the name of rapunzel, and took it away with her.

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun.
When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a
tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but
quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress
wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried,
rapunzel, rapunzel,
let down your hair to me.

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when
she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided
tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above,
and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed
up by it.

After a year or two, it came to pass that the king’s son rode
through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song,
which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was
rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet
voice resound. The king’s son wanted to climb up to her, and
looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He
rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that
every day he went out into the forest and listened to it. Once when
he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress
came there, and he heard how she cried,
rapunzel, rapunzel,
let down your hair.

Then rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the
enchantress climbed up to her. If that is the ladder by which one
mounts, I too will try my fortune, said he, and the next day when
it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried,
rapunzel, rapunzel,
let down your hair.

Immediately the hair fell down and the king’s son climbed up.
At first rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as
her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her. But the king’s son
began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his
heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he
had been forced to see her. Then rapunzel lost her fear, and when
he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that
he was young and handsome, she thought, he will love me more than
old dame gothel does. And she said yes, and laid her hand in his.

She said, I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know
how to get down. Bring with you a skein of silk every time that
you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready
I will descend, and you will take me on your horse. They agreed
that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the
old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of
this, until once rapunzel said to her, tell me, dame gothel, how
it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than
the young king’s son – he is with me in a moment. Ah. You
wicked child, cried the enchantress. What do I hear you say. I
thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have
deceived me. In her anger she clutched rapunzel’s beautiful
tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of
scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the
lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she
took poor rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great
grief and misery.

On the same day that she cast out rapunzel, however, the
enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to
the hook of the window, and when the king’s son came and cried,
rapunzel, rapunzel,
let down your hair,
she let the hair down.

The king’s son ascended, but instead of
finding his dearest rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed
at him with wicked and venomous looks. Aha, she cried mockingly,
you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits
no longer singing in the nest. The cat has got it, and will scratch
out your eyes as well. Rapunzel is lost to you. You will never see
her again. The king’s son was beside himself with pain, and in
his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life,
but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he
wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and
berries, and did naught but lament and weep over the loss of his
dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at
length came to the desert where rapunzel, with the twins to which
she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. He
heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards
it, and when he approached, rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck
and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear
again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his
kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long
time afterwards, happy and contented.

Listen to the audio from LibriVox here: