Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Fairy's Gift....a New Years tale

Here's a wonderful New Years tale........

The Fairy's Gift
by Emilie Poulsson

Two little boys were at play one day when a Fairy suddenly appeared before them and said: "I have been sent to give you New Year presents."

She handed to each child a package, and in an instant was gone.

Carl and Philip opened the packages and found in them two beautiful books, with pages as pure and white as the snow when it first falls.

Many months passed and the Fairy came again to the boys. "I have brought you each another book," said she, "and will take the first ones back to Father Time who sent them to you."

"May I not keep mine a little longer?" asked Philip. "I have hardly thought about it lately. I'd like to paint something on the last leaf that lies open."

"No," said the Fairy; "I must take it just as it is."

"I wish that I could look through mine just once," said Carl; "I have only seen one page at a [4] time, for when the leaf turns over it sticks fast, and I can never open the book at more than one place each day."
"You shall look at your book," said the Fairy, "and Philip, at his." And she lit for them two little silver lamps, by the light of which they saw the pages as she turned them.

The boys looked in wonder. Could it be that these were the same fair books she had given them a year ago? Where were the clean, white pages, as pure and beautiful as the snow when it first falls? Here was a page with ugly, black spots and scratches upon it; while the very next page showed a lovely little picture. Some pages were decorated with gold and silver and gorgeous colors, others with beautiful flowers, and still others with a rainbow of softest, most delicate brightness. Yet even on the most beautiful of the pages there were ugly blots and scratches.


Carl and Philip looked up at the Fairy at last.

"Who did this?" they asked. "Every page was white and fair as we opened to it; yet now there is not a single blank place in the whole book!"

"Shall I explain some of the pictures to you?" said the Fairy, smiling at the two little boys. "See, Philip, the spray of roses blossomed on this page when you let the baby have your playthings; and this pretty bird, that looks as if it were singing with all its might, would never have been on this page if you had not tried to be kind and pleasant the other day, instead of quarreling."

"But what makes this blot?" asked Philip.

"That," said the Fairy sadly; "that came when you told an untruth one day, and this when you did not mind mamma. All these blots and scratches that look so ugly, both in your book and in Carl's, were made when you were naughty. Each pretty thing in your books came on its page when you were good."
"Oh, if we could only have the books again!" said Carl and Philip.

"That cannot be," said the Fairy. "See! they are dated for this year, and they must now go back into Father Time's bookcase, but I have brought you each a new one. Perhaps you can make these more beautiful than the others."

So saying, she vanished, and the boys were left alone, but each held in his hand a new book open at the first page.

And on the back of this book was written in letters of gold, "For the New Year."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Once a long time ago there was a hunter walking through the woods. Far off in the forest he heard the faint sound of a bird singing a very strange song:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."
(**we all know this song, it's the universal children's taunt**)

The hunter walked and walked until at last he came to a tree with a beautiful golden bird sitting in the top.

He said, "Why does such a beautiful bird like you have such an ugly song?"

The bird looked down at the hunter and sang:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

The hunter said, "If you don't stop singing, I'm going to shoot you with my bow and arrow!"
The bird just looked down and sang again in a mocking voice:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

The hunter put an arrow in his bow and shot.....and he missed. The golden bird sang again:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

The hunter put another arrow in his bow and shot again. The arrow went right through the bird's heart. As the bird began to fall, the hunter rushed under the tree and caught it in his sack. He pulled the sack tight and started to walk home. But from down inside the bag, he heard the muffled singing of the bird:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

The hunter took the bird home, pulled it out of the sack, put it on the chopping block and plucked all the feathers from it. When he turned around to get a knife to cut the bird up, he heard over on the chopping block:

"Brr, brr, brr, brr, brr, brr."

The hunter took the knife and cut the bird up into a hundred small pieces, and then scraped them into a large pot full of water and put it on the stove to boil. When the water began to boil, he heard from down inside the pot, the bird singing:

"Gurgh, Gurgh, Gurgh, Gurgh, Gurgh, Gurgh."

Now the hunter was starting to get mad. He took the pot outside and put it on the ground and found himself a shovel and started to dig a deep, deep hole.
When the hole was way over his head, he climbed out and poured all the parts of the bird into the hole and covered it with dirt. And as he turned to go back into the house, he heard from deep down in the ground the bird singing:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

Now the hunter was furious. He grabbed his shovel and dug up every piece of the bird and put them in a little wooden box, and tied a large rock across the box with some rope.

He went down to the river and threw the box as far as he could out into the water. It splashed and went straight to the bottom. He stood on the bank waiting to hear the sound of the bird. He heard nothing, so he went home.

At the bottom of the river, the water loosened the rope around the box. The rock fell off and the box floated to the top of the water. It drifted along the river for three days. On the third day, the box floated by some children who were playing on the banks of the river. They saw this beautiful wooden box passing by and they wanted to know what was in it. They waded into the water and brought the box to shore.

When they opened it, out flew a hundred golden birds all singing in a full voice:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

About a year later, the very same hunter was walking through the woods. And far off in the distance, he heard the strange sound of the bird singing. He walked and walked until at last he came to the same tree where he had first seen the strange bird. But this time when he looked up in the tree, instead of seeing one bird, he saw a hundred golden birds.

He raised his hands and hollered out, "I know who you are now. You're the Freedom Bird, for you cannot be killed."

And all the birds looked down and sang to him at the same time:

"Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah."

This version of "The Freedom Bird" is by David Holt published in Ready-To-Tell Tales

similar tales can be found at

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Soldiers Tale.....a repost for Memorial Day

I have tried to leave this story as I found it in Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm published in 1886. Only a very few changes have been made in language or description.

There was once a soldier who for many years had served the king faithfully. But when the war came to an end, it was decided that he could serve no longer because of the many wounds which he had received.

The king said to him, "You may return to your home, I need you no longer, and you will not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me service for them."
Then the soldier, who knew no other way to earn a living, went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the evening he entered a forest.

When darkness came on, he saw a light, which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch.
"Do give me one night's lodging, and a little to eat and drink," said he to her, "or I shall starve."

"Oho!'" she answered, "who gives anything to a cast-away soldier? Yet I will be compassionate, and take you in, if you will do what I wish."

"What do you wish?" said the soldier.

"That you should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow."

The soldier consented, and next day labored with all his strength, but could not finish it by the evening.

"I see well enough," said the witch, "that you can do no more today, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must tomorrow chop me a load of wood, and chop it small."

The soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch proposed that he should stay one night more.

"Tomorrow, you shall only do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes out, and you shall bring it up again."

Next day the old woman took him to the well, and let him down in a basket.
He found the blue light, and made her a signal to draw him up again.
She did draw him up, but when he came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the blue light away from him.

"No," said he, perceiving her evil intention, "I will not give you the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground."

The witch fell into a passion, let him fall again into the well, and went away.
The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue light went on burning, but of what use was that to him?
He saw very well that he could not escape death.
He sat for a while very sorrowfully, then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full.

"This shall be my last pleasure," thought he, pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little man stood before him, and said,"Lord, what are your commands?"

"What are my commands?" replied the soldier, quite astonished.

"I must do everything you bid me," said the little man.

"Good," said the soldier, "then in the first place help me out of this well."

The little man took him by the hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget to take the blue light with him. On the way the little man showed him the treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry.

When he was above, he said to the little man, "Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before the judge."
In a short time she came by like the wind, riding on a wild tom-cat and screaming frightfully.
Nor was it long before the little man reappeared.
"It is all done," said he, "and the witch is already hanging on the gallows."
"What further commands has my lord?" inquired the little man.

"At this moment, none," answered the soldier, "You can return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon you."

"Nothing more is needed than that you should light your pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before you at once."
Thereupon the little man vanished from the soldier's sight.

The soldier returned to the town from which he had come.
He went to the best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord furnish him a room as handsome as possible.
When it was ready and the soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the little man and said, "I have served the king faithfully, but he has dismissed me, and left me to hunger, and now I want to take my revenge."

"What am I to do?" asked the little man.

"Late at night, when the king's daughter is in bed, bring her here in her sleep, she shall do servant's work for me."

The little man said, "That is an easy thing for me to do, but a very dangerous thing for you, for if it is discovered, you will fare ill."
But the soldier would not be dissuaded and so the little man left.
When twelve o'clock had struck, the door sprang open, and the man carried in the princess.

"Aha! Are you there?" cried the soldier, "get to your work at once! Fetch the broom and sweep the chamber."
When she had done this, he ordered her to come to his chair, and then he stretched out his feet and said, "Pull off my boots."
He then made her pick them up and clean and brighten them.
She did everything he bade her, without opposition, silently and with half-shut eyes.
When the first cock crowed, the little man carried her back to the royal palace, and laid her in her bed.

Next morning when the princess arose she went to her father, and told him that she had had a very strange dream.

"I was carried through the streets with the rapidity of lightning," said she, "and taken into a soldier's room, and I had to wait upon him like a servant, sweep his room, clean his boots, and do all kinds of menial work. It was only a dream, and yet I am just as tired as if I really had done everything."

"The dream may have been true," said the king. "I will give you a piece of advice. Fill your pocket full of peas, and make a small hole in the pocket, and then if you are carried away again, they will fall out and leave a track in the streets."

Unseen by the king, the soldier's little man servant was standing beside him when he said that, and heard all. At night when the sleeping princess was again carried through the streets, some peas certainly did fall out of her pocket, but they made no track, for the crafty little man had just before scattered peas in every street there was. And again the princess was compelled to do servant's work until cock-crow.

Next morning the king sent his people out to seek the track, but it was all in vain, for in every street poor children were sitting, picking up peas, and saying, "It must have rained peas, last night."

"We must think of something else," said the king. "Keep your shoes on when you go to bed, and before you come back from the place where you are taken, hide one of them there, I will soon contrive to find it."

The little man heard this plot, and at night when the soldier again ordered him to bring the princess, revealed it to him, and told him that he knew of no expedient to counteract this stratagem, and that if the shoe were found in the soldier's house it would go badly with him.
"Do what I bid you." replied the soldier, and again this third night the princess was obliged to work like a servant, but before she went away, she hid her shoe under the bed.

Next morning the king had the entire town searched for his daughter's shoe. It was found at the soldier's, and the soldier himself, who at the entreaty of the little man had gone outside the gate, was soon brought back, and thrown into prison.

In his flight he had forgotten the most valuable things he had, the blue light and the gold, and had only one ducat in his pocket. And now loaded with chains, he was standing at the window of his dungeon, when he chanced to see one of his comrades passing by.
The soldier tapped at the pane of glass, and when this man came up, said to him, "Be so kind as to fetch me the small bundle I have left lying in the inn, and I will give you a ducat for doing it."
His comrade ran thither and brought him what he wanted.

As soon as the soldier was alone again, he lighted his pipe and summoned the little man.
"Have no fear," said the latter to his master.
"Go wheresoever they take you, and let them do what they will, only take the blue light with you."

Next day the soldier was tried, and though he had done nothing wicked, the judge condemned him to death.
When he was led forth to die, he begged a last favor of the king.

"What is it?" asked the king.

"That I may smoke one more pipe on my way."

"You may smoke three," answered the king, "but do not imagine that I will spare your life."

Then the soldier pulled out his pipe and lighted it at the blue light, and as soon as a few wreaths of smoke had ascended, the little man was there with a small cudgel in his hand, and said, "What does my lord command?"

"Strike down to earth that false judge there, and his constable, and spare not the king who has treated me so ill."

Then the little man fell on them like lightning, darting this way and that way, and whosoever was so much as touched by his cudgel fell to earth, and did not venture to stir again.

The king was terrified. He threw himself on the soldier's mercy, and merely to be allowed to live at all, gave him his kingdom for his own, and his daughter to wife.

Yes, that is the end of the story.
Part of me wants to add something more to it and a part of me thinks……well, what more is there to say???
What do you think??

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fathers Day tales.....

Father's Day is just around the corner....sometime in June...specifically, in the US, Canada and the UK it's June 19th this year.
FYI,  Father's day is celebrated in September in Australia and New Zealand .

Anyway, Father's Day is the perfect time to tell a story about fathers and their children.

Sooo, the next few blogs will features stories featuring fathers, some wise some foolish, some brave and some not so brave.

The first story I've chosen is one of my favorites. It's the story of Abiyoyo, a story written and sung by Peter Seeger. The story is based on a South African lullabye.
This vid shows Pete singing his story on the children's show Reading Rainbow.

You can find the text for the story at Pete 
and of course you can always buy the book .....


Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Dance for Water

THERE was a frightful drought.
 The rivers after a while dried up and even the springs gave no water.

The animals wandered around seeking drink, but to no avail. Nowhere was water to be found.

A great gathering of animals was held: Lion, Tiger, Wolf, Jackal, Elephant, all of them came together. What was to be done? That was the question. One had this plan, and another had that; but no plan seemed of value.

Finally one of them suggested: "Come, let all of us go to the dry river bed and dance; in that way we can tread out the water."

Good! Everyone was satisfied and ready to begin instantly, excepting Rabbit, who said, "I will not go and dance. All of you are mad to attempt to get water from the ground by dancing."

The other animals danced and danced, and ultimately danced the water to the surface.

How glad they were.

Everyone drank as much as he could, but Rabbit did not dance with them. So it was decided that Rabbit should have no water.

He laughed at them: "I will nevertheless drink some of your water."

That evening he proceeded leisurely to the river bed where the dance had been, and drank as much as he wanted. The following morning the animals saw the footprints of Rabbit in the ground, and Rabbit shouted to them: "Aha! I did have some of the water, and it was most refreshing and tasted fine."

Quickly all the animals were called together. What were they to do? How were they to get Rabbit in their hands? All had some means to propose; the one suggested this, and the other that.

Finally old Tortoise moved slowly forward, foot by foot: "I will catch Rabbit."

"You? How? What do you think of yourself?" shouted the others in unison.

"Rub my shell with pitch, and I will go to the edge of the water and lie down. I will then resemble a stone, so that when Rabbit steps on me his feet will stick fast."

"Yes! Yes! That's good."

And in a one, two, three, Tortoise's shell was covered with pitch, and foot by foot he moved away to the river. At the edge, close to the water, he lay down and drew his head into his shell.

Rabbit during the evening came to get a drink. "Ha!" he chuckled sarcastically," they are, after all, quite decent. Here they have placed a stone, so now I need not unnecessarily wet my feet."

Rabbit trod with his left foot on the stone, and there it stuck.

Tortoise then put his head out. "Ha! old Tortoise! And it's you, is it, that's holding me. But here I still have another foot. I'll give you a good clout." Rabbit gave Tortoise what he said he would with his right fore foot, hard and straight; and there his foot remained.

"I have yet a hind foot, and with it I'll kick you." Rabbit drove his bind foot down. This also rested on Tortoise where it struck.

"But still another foot remains, and now I'll tread you." He stamped his foot down, but it stuck like the others.
He used his head to hammer Tortoise, and his tail as a whip, but both met the same fate as his feet, so there he was tight and fast down to the pitch.

Tortoise now slowly turned himself round and foot by foot started for the other animals, with Rabbit on his back.

"Ha! ha! ha! Rabbit! How does it look now? Insolence does not pay after all," shouted the animals.

Now advice was sought. What should they do with Rabbit? He certainly must die. But how? One said, "Behead him"; another, "Some severe penalty."

"Rabbit, how are we to kill you?"

"It does not affect me," Rabbit said. "Only a shameful death please do not pronounce."

"And what is that?" they all shouted.

"To take me by my tail and dash my head against a stone; that I pray and beseech you don't do."

"No, but just so you'll die. That is decided."

It was decided Rabbit should die by taking him by his tail and dashing his head to pieces against some stone. But who is to do it?
Lion, because he is the most powerful one.

Good! Lion should do it. He stood up, walked to the front, and poor Rabbit was brought to him.
Rabbit pleaded and beseeched that he couldn't die such a miserable death.

Lion took Rabbit firmly by the tail and swung him around. The white skin slipped off from Rabbit, and there Lion stood with the white bit of skin and hair in his paw.

Rabbit was free.

Story Source: South-African Folk-Tales written by James A. Hone├┐; published in 1910 

Although this is a rabbit tale from South Africa, it very much reminds me of a very popular Brer Rabbit tale. Does anyone else see the similarities between this story and Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby or Brer Rabbit and the Brair Patch?