Stories to Tell Children - Fifty-Four Stories With Some Suggestions For Telling
by Sara Cone Bryant
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This little book came into being at the instance of my teaching friends. Their requests for more stories of the kind which were given in How to Tell Stories to Children, and especially their urging that the stories they liked, in my telling, should be set down in print, seemed to justify the hope that the collection would be genuinely useful to them. That it may be, is the earnest desire with which it is offered. I hope it will be found to contain some stories which are new to the teachers and friends of little children, and some which are familiar, but in an easier form for telling than is usual. And I shall indeed be content if its value to those who read it is proportionate to the pleasure and mental stimulus which has come to me in the work among pupils and teachers which accompanied its preparation.

Among the publishers and authors whose kindness enabled me to quote material are Mr John Murray and Miss Mary Frere, to whom I am indebted for the four stories of the Little Jackal; Messrs Little, Brown & Company and the Alcott heirs, who allowed me the use of Louisa Alcott's poem, My Kingdom; and Dr Douglas Hyde, whose letter of permission to use his Irish material was in itself a literary treasure. To the charming friend who gave me the outline of Epaminondas, as told her by her own "Mammy," I owe a deeper debt, for Epaminondas has carried joy since then into more schools and homes than I dare to enumerate.

And to all the others,—friends in whom the child-heart lingers,—my thanks for the laughs we have had, the discussions we have warmed to, the helps you have given. May you never lack the right story at the right time, or a child to love you for telling it!



PAGE SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR THE STORY-TELLER Additional Suggestions for Method—Two Valuable Types of Story—A Graded List of Stories to dramatise and retell 11

STORY-TELLING IN TEACHING ENGLISH Importance of Oral Methods—Opportunity of the Primary Grades—Points to be observed in dramatising and retelling, in connection with English 27
























A TRUE STORY ABOUT A GIRL (Louisa Alcott) 108
































Concerning the fundamental points of method in telling a story, I have little to add to the principles which I have already stated[1] as necessary, in my opinion, in the book of which this is, in a way, the continuation. But in the two years which have passed since that book was written, I have had the happiness of working on stories and the telling of them, among teachers and students in many parts, and in that experience certain secondary points of method have come to seem more important, or at least more in need of emphasis, than they did before. As so often happens, I had assumed that "those things are taken for granted"; whereas, to the beginner or the teacher not naturally a story-teller, the secondary or implied technique is often of greater difficulty than the mastery of underlying principles. The few suggestions which follow are of this practical, obvious kind.

Take your story seriously. No matter how riotously absurd it is, or how full of inane repetition, remember, if it is good enough to tell, it is a real story, and must be treated with respect. If you cannot feel so toward it, do not tell it. Have faith in the story, and in the attitude of the children toward it and you. If you fail in this, the immediate result will be a touch of shamefacedness, affecting your manner unfavourably, and, probably, influencing your accuracy and imaginative vividness.

Perhaps I can make the point clearer by telling you about one of the girls in a class which was studying stories last winter; I feel sure if she or any of her fellow-students recognises the incident, she will not resent being made to serve the good cause, even in the unattractive guise of a warning example.

A few members of the class had prepared the story of The Fisherman and his Wife. The first girl called on was evidently inclined to feel that it was rather a foolish story. She tried to tell it well, but there were parts of it which produced in her the touch of shamefacedness to which I have referred.

When she came to the rhyme,—

"O man of the sea, come, listen to me, For Alice, my wife, the plague of my life, Has sent me to beg a boon of thee,"

she said it rather rapidly. At the first repetition she said it still more rapidly; the next time she came to the jingle she said it so fast and so low that it was unintelligible; and the next recurrence was too much for her. With a blush and a hesitating smile she said, "And he said that same thing, you know!" Of course everybody laughed, and of course the thread of interest and illusion was hopelessly broken for everybody.

Now, anyone who chanced to hear Miss Shedlock?[A] tell that same story will remember that the absurd rhyme gave great opportunity for expression, in its very repetition; each time that the fisherman came to the water's edge his chagrin and unwillingness were greater, and his summons to the magic fish mirrored his feeling. The jingle is foolish; that is a part of the charm. But if the person who tells it feels foolish, there is no charm at all! It is the same principle which applies to any assemblage: if the speaker has the air of finding what he has to say absurd or unworthy of effort, the audience naturally tends to follow his lead, and find it not worth listening to.

Let me urge, then, take your story seriously.

Next, "take your time." This suggestion needs explaining, perhaps. It does not mean license[A] to dawdle. Nothing is much more annoying in a speaker than too great deliberateness[A] or than hesitation of speech. But it means a quiet[A] realisation of the fact that the floor is yours, everybody wants to hear you, there is time[A] enough for every point and shade of meaning, and no one will think the story too long. This mental attitude must underlie proper control of speed. Never hurry. A business-like leisure is the true attitude of the story-teller.

And the result is best attained by concentrating one's attention on the episodes of the story. Pass lightly, and comparatively swiftly, over the portions between actual episodes, but take all the time you need for the elaboration of those. And above all, do not feel hurried.

The next suggestion is eminently plain and practical, if not an all too obvious one. It is this: if all your preparation and confidence fails you at the crucial moment, and memory plays the part of traitor in some particular,—if, in short, you blunder on a detail of the story, never admit it. If it was an unimportant detail which you misstated, pass right on, accepting whatever you said, and continuing with it; if you have been so unfortunate as to omit a fact which was a necessary link in the chain, put it in, later, as skilfully as you can, and with as deceptive an appearance of its being in the intended order; but never take the children behind the scenes, and let them hear the creaking of your mental machinery. You must be infallible. You must be in the secret of the mystery, and admit your audience on somewhat unequal terms; they should have no creeping doubts as to your complete initiation into the secrets of the happenings you relate.

Plainly, there can be lapses of memory so complete, so all-embracing, that frank failure is the only outcome; but these are so few as not to need consideration, when dealing with so simple material as that of children's stories. There are times, too, before an adult audience, when a speaker can afford to let his hearers be amused with him over a chance mistake. But with children it is most unwise to break the spell of the entertainment in that way. Consider, in the matter of a detail of action or description, how absolutely unimportant the mere accuracy is, compared with the effect of smoothness and the enjoyment of the hearers. They will not remember the detail, for good or evil, half so long as they will remember the fact that you did not know it. So, for their sakes, as well as for the success of your story, cover your slips of memory, and let them be as if they were not.

And now I come to two points in method which have to do especially with humorous stories. The first is the power of initiating the appreciation of the joke. Every natural humorist does this by instinct, and the value of the power to a story-teller can hardly be overestimated. To initiate appreciation does not mean that one necessarily gives way to mirth, though even that is sometimes natural and effective; one merely feels the approach of the humorous climax, and subtly suggests to the hearers that it will soon be "time to laugh." The suggestion usually comes in the form of facial expression, and in the tone. And children are so much simpler, and so much more accustomed to following another's lead than their elders, that the expression can be much more outright and unguarded than would be permissible with a mature audience.

Children like to feel the joke coming, in this way; they love the anticipation of a laugh, and they will begin to dimple, often, at your first unconscious suggestion of humour. If it is lacking, they are sometimes afraid to follow their own instincts. Especially when you are facing an audience of grown people and children together, you will find that the latter are very hesitant about initiating their own expression of humour. It is more difficult to make them forget their surroundings then, and more desirable to give them a happy lead. Often at the funniest point you will see some small listener in an agony of endeavour to cloak the mirth which he—poor mite—fears to be indecorous. Let him see that it is "the thing" to laugh, and that everybody is going to.

Having so stimulated the appreciation of the humorous climax, it is important to give your hearers time for the full savour of the jest to permeate their consciousness. It is really robbing an audience of its rights, to pass so quickly from one point to another that the mind must lose a new one if it lingers to take in the old. Every vital point in a tale must be given a certain amount of time: by an anticipatory pause, by some form of vocal or repetitive emphasis, and by actual time. But even more than other tales does the funny story demand this. It cannot be funny without it.

Everyone who is familiar with the theatre must have noticed how careful all comedians are to give this pause for appreciation and laughter. Often the opportunity is crudely given, or too liberally offered; and that offends. But in a reasonable degree the practice is undoubtedly necessary to any form of humorous expression.

A remarkably good example of the type of humorous story to which these principles of method apply, is the story of Epaminondas on page 92. It will be plain to any reader that all the several funny crises are of the perfectly unmistakable sort children like, and that, moreover, these funny spots are not only easy to see; they are easy to foresee. The teller can hardly help sharing the joke in advance, and the tale is an excellent one with which to practise for power in the points mentioned.

Epaminondas is a valuable little rascal from other points of view, and I mean to return to him, to point a moral. But at the moment I want space for a word or two about the matter of variety of subject and style in school stories.

There are two wholly different kinds of story which are equally necessary for children, I believe, and which ought to be given in about the proportion of one to three, in favour of the second kind; I make the ratio uneven because the first kind is more dominating in its effect.

The first kind is represented by such stories as The Pig Brother,[1] which has now grown so familiar to teachers that it will serve for illustration without repetition here. It is the type of story which specifically teaches a certain ethical or conduct lesson, in the form of a fable or an allegory,—it passes on to the child the conclusions as to conduct and character, to which the race has, in general, attained through centuries of experience and moralising. The story becomes an inescapable part of the outfit of received ideas on manners and morals which is a necessary possession of the heir of civilisation.

Children do not object to these stories in the least, if the stories are good ones. They accept them with the relish which nature seems ever to have for all truly nourishing material. And the little tales are one of the media through which we elders may transmit some very slight share of the benefit received by us, in turn, from actual or transmitted experience.

The second kind has no preconceived moral to offer, makes no attempt to affect judgment or to pass on a standard. It simply presents a picture of life, usually in fable or poetic image, and says to the hearer, "These things are." The hearer, then, consciously or otherwise, passes judgment on the facts. His mind says, "These things are good"; or, "This was good, and that, bad"; or, "This thing is desirable," or the contrary.

The story of The Little Jackal and the Alligator (page 100) is a good illustration of this type. It is a character-story. In the naive form of a folk tale, it doubtless embodies the observations of a seeing eye, in a country and time when the little jackal and the great alligator were even more vivid images of certain human characters than they now are. Again and again, surely, the author or authors of the tales must have seen the weak, small, clever being triumph over the bulky, well-accoutred, stupid adversary. Again and again they had laughed at the discomfiture of the latter, perhaps rejoicing in it the more because it removed fear from their own houses. And probably never had they concerned themselves particularly with the basic ethics of the struggle. It was simply one of the things they saw. It was life. So they made a picture of it.

The folk tale so made, and of such character, comes to the child somewhat as an unprejudiced newspaper account of to-day's happenings comes to us. It pleads no cause, except through its contents; it exercises no intentioned influence on our moral judgment; it is there, as life is there, to be seen and judged. And only through such seeing and judging can the individual perception attain to anything of power or originality. Just as a certain amount of received ideas is necessary to sane development, so is a definite opportunity for first-hand judgments essential to power.

In this epoch of well-trained minds we run some risk of an inundation of accepted ethics. The mind which can make independent judgments, can look at new facts with fresh vision, and reach conclusions with simplicity, is the perennial power in the world. And this is the mind we are not noticeably successful in developing, in our system of schooling. Let us at least have its needs before our consciousness, in our attempts to supplement the regular studies of school by such side-activities as story-telling. Let us give the children a fair proportion of stories which stimulate independent moral and practical decisions.

And now for a brief return to our little black friend. Epaminondas belongs to a very large, very ancient type of funny story: the tale in which the jest depends wholly on an abnormal degree of stupidity on the part of the hero. Every race which produces stories seems to have found this theme a natural outlet for its childlike laughter. The stupidity of Lazy Jack, of Big Claus, of the Good Man, of Clever Alice, all have their counterparts in the folly of the small Epaminondas.

Evidently, such stories have served a purpose in the education of the race. While the exaggeration of familiar attributes easily awakens mirth in a simple mind, it does more: it teaches practical lessons of wisdom and discretion. And possibly the lesson was the original cause of the story.

Not long ago, I happened upon an instance of the teaching power of these nonsense tales, so amusing and convincing that I cannot forbear to share it. A primary teacher who heard me tell Epaminondas one evening, told it to her pupils the next morning, with great effect. A young teacher who was observing in the room at the time told me what befell. She said the children laughed very heartily over the story, and evidently liked it much. About an hour later, one of them was sent to the board to do a little problem. It happened that the child made an excessively foolish mistake, and did not notice it. As he glanced at the teacher for the familiar smile of encouragement, she simply raised her hands, and ejaculated, "'For the law's sake!'"

It was sufficient. The child took the cue instantly. He looked hastily at his work, broke into an irrepressible giggle, rubbed the figures out, without a word, and began again. And the whole class entered into the joke with the gusto of fellow-fools, for once wise.

It is safe to assume that the child in question will make fewer needless mistakes for a long time because of the wholesome reminder of his likeness with one who "ain't got the sense he was born with." And what occurred so visibly in his case goes on quietly in the hidden recesses of the mind in many cases. One Epaminondas is worth three lectures.

I wish there were more of such funny little tales in the world's literature, all ready, as this one is, for telling to the youngest of our listeners. But masterpieces are few in any line, and stories for telling are no exception; it took generations, probably, to make this one. The demand for new sources of supply comes steadily from teachers and mothers, and is the more insistent because so often met by the disappointing recommendations of books which prove to be for reading only, rather than for telling.

For the benefit of suggestion to teachers in schools where story-telling is newly or not yet introduced in systematic form, I am glad to append the following list of additional stories which will be found to be equally tellable and likeable. The list is not mine, although it embodies some of my suggestions. I offer it merely as a practical result of the effort to equalise and extend the story-hour throughout the schools. The list is roughly graded in four groups. Stories in the present volume have been excluded.



The Lion and the Mouse, AEsop The Fox and the Crow, AEsop The Hare and the Tortoise, AEsop The Wolf and the Kid, AEsop The Crow and the Pitcher, AEsop The Fox and the Grapes, AEsop The Dog and his Shadow, AEsop The Hare and the Hound, AEsop The Wolf and the Crane, AEsop The Elf and the Dormouse[1] The Three Little Pigs[1] Henny Penny The Three Bears[1] Why the Woodpecker's Head is Red[2] Little Red Riding-Hood The Cat and The Mouse, Grimm Snow White and Rose Red, Grimm


The Boasting Traveller, AEsop The Wolf and the Fox, AEsop The Boy and the Filberts, AEsop Hercules and the Wagoner, AEsop The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf, AEsop The Star Dollars[1] The Pied Piper[1] King Midas[1] Raggylug[1] Peter Rabbit, B. Potter The Tar-Baby, Joel Chandler Harris (from Uncle Remus) The Tailor and the Elephant The Blind Men and the Elephant (Harrap's Dramatic Readers, Book II.) The Valiant Blackbird, Wm. Canton (from The True Annals of Fairyland) The Wolf and the Goslings, Grimm The Ugly Duckling, Andersen The Old Woman and Her Pig[1] The Cat and the Parrot[1]


Little Black Sambo Why the Bear has a Short Tail[2] Why the Fox has a White Tip to his Tail[2] Why the Wren flies low[2] Jack and the Beanstalk The Golden Fleece[3] The Pig Brother[1] The Ugly Duckling, Andersen How the Mole became Blind[2] How Fire was brought to the Indians[2] Echo[4] Why the Morning Glory Climbs[1] The Bay of Winds[3] Pandora's Box[4] The Little Match Girl, Andersen The Story of Wylie[1]


Arachne[4] The Nuernberg Stove[3] Clytie[3] Latona and the Frogs[4] Dick Whittington and his Cat Proserpine[4] The Bell of Atri[5] The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Edgar (from Stories from the Earthly Paradise) The Guardians of the Door, Wm. Canton (from A Child's Book of Saints) The Little Lame Prince, Mrs Craik Narcissus[5] The Little Hero of Haarlem[6] The Bar of Gold[5] The Golden Fish[5] Saint Christopher[5] The Four Seasons[7]

A further source for excellent stories put into a form which is suggestive for purposes of retelling to children is the series of graded reading books known as Harrap's Dramatic Readers.


[1] How to Tell Stories to Children.

[2] In How to Tell Stories to Children, page 145.

[3] How to Tell Stories to Children.

[4] Nature Myths, Florence Holbrook.

[5] Favourite Greek Myths, Lilian S. Hyde.

[6] Legends of Greece and Rome, G.H. Kupfer.

[7] Folk Tales from Many Lands, Lilian Gask.


I have to speak now of a phase of elementary education which lies very close to my warmest interest, which, indeed, could easily become an active hobby if other interests did not beneficently tug at my skirts when I am minded to mount and ride too wildly. It is the hobby of many of you who are teachers, also, and I know you want to hear it discussed. I mean the growing effort to teach English and English literature to children in the natural way: by speaking and hearing,—orally.

The structure of the language and the choice of words are dark matters to most of our young people; this has long been acknowledged and struggled against. But even darker, and quite equally destructive to English expression, is their state of mind regarding pronunciation, enunciation, and voice. It is the essential connection of these elements with English speech that we have been so slow to realise. We have felt that they were externals, desirable but not necessary adjuncts—pretty tags of an exceptional gift or culture. Many an intelligent person will say, "I don't care much about how you say a thing; it is what you say that counts." He cannot see that voice and enunciation and pronunciation are essentials. But they are. You can no more help affecting the meaning of your words by the way you say them than you can prevent the expressions of your face from carrying a message; the message may be perverted by an uncouth habit, but it will no less surely insist on recognition.

The fact is that speech is a method of carrying ideas from one human soul to another, by way of the ear. And these ideas are very complex. They are not unmixed emanations of pure intellect, transmitted to pure intellect: they are compounded of emotions, thoughts, fancies, and are enhanced or impeded in transmission by the use of word-symbols which have acquired, by association, infinite complexities in themselves. The mood of the moment, the especial weight of a turn of thought, the desire of the speaker to share his exact soul-concept with you,—these seek far more subtle means than the mere rendering of certain vocal signs; they demand such variations and delicate adjustments of sound as will inevitably affect the listening mind with the response desired.

There is no "what" without the "how" in speech. The same written sentence becomes two diametrically opposite ideas, given opposing inflection and accompanying voice-effect. "He stood in the front rank of the battle" can be made praiseful affirmation, scornful scepticism, or simple question, by a simple varying of voice and inflection. This is the more unmistakable way in which the "how" affects the "what." Just as true is the less obvious fact. The same written sentiment, spoken by a Lord Rosebery and by a man from White chapel or an uneducated ploughman, is not the same to the listener. In one case the sentiment comes to the mind's ear with certain completing and enhancing qualities of sound which give it accuracy and poignancy. The words themselves retain all their possible suggestiveness in the speaker's just and clear enunciation, and have a borrowed beauty, besides, from the associations of fine habit betrayed in the voice and manner of speech. And, further, the immense personal equation shows itself in the beauty and power of the vocal expressiveness, which carries shades of meaning, unguessed delicacies of emotion, intimations of beauty, to every ear. In the other case, the thought is clouded by unavoidable suggestions of ignorance and ugliness, brought by the pronunciation and voice, even to an unanalytical ear; the meaning is obscured by inaccurate inflection and uncertain or corrupt enunciation; but, worst of all, the personal atmosphere, the aroma, of the idea has been lost in transmission through a clumsy, ill-fitted medium.

The thing said may look the same on a printed page, but it is not the same when spoken. And it is the spoken sentence which is the original and the usual mode of communication.

The widespread poverty of expression in English, which is thus a matter of "how," and to which we are awakening, must be corrected chiefly, at least at first, by the elementary schools. The home is the ideal place for it, but the average home in many districts is no longer a possible place for it. The child of parents poorly educated and bred in limited circumstances, the child of powerful provincial influences, must all depend on the school for standards of English.

And it is the elementary school which must meet the need, if it is to be met at all. For the conception of English expression which I am talking of can find no mode of instruction adequate to its meaning, save in constant appeal to the ear, at an age so early that unconscious habit is formed. No rules, no analytical instruction in later development, can accomplish what is needed. Hearing and speaking; imitating, unwittingly and wittingly, a good model; it is to this method we must look for redemption from present conditions.

I believe we are on the eve of a real revolution in English teaching,—only it is a revolution which will not break the peace. It will introduce a larger proportion of oral work than has hitherto been contemplated in secondary school work. It will recognise the fact that English is primarily something spoken with the mouth and heard with the ear. And this recognition will have greatest weight in the systems of elementary teaching.

It is as an aid in oral teaching of English that story-telling in school finds its second value; ethics is the first ground of its usefulness, English the second,—and after these, the others. It is, too, for the oral uses that the secondary forms of story-telling are so available. By secondary I mean those devices which I have tried to indicate, as used by many teachers, in the chapter on "Specific Schoolroom Uses," in my earlier book. They are retelling, dramatisation, and forms of seat-work. All of these are a great power in the hands of a wise teacher. If combined with much attention to voice and enunciation in the recital of poetry, and with much good reading aloud by the teacher, they will go far toward setting a standard and developing good habit.

But their provinces must not be confused or overestimated. I trust I may be pardoned for offering a caution or two to the enthusiastic advocate of these methods,—cautions the need of which has been forced upon me, in experience with schools.

A teacher who uses the oral story as an English feature with little children must never lose sight of the fact that it is an aid in unconscious development; not a factor in studied, conscious improvement. This truth cannot be too strongly realised. Other exercises, in sufficiency, give the opportunity for regulated effort for definite results, but the story is one of the play-forces. Its use in English teaching is most valuable when the teacher has a keen appreciation of the natural order of growth in the art of expression: that art requires, as the old rhetorics used often to put it, "a natural facility, succeeded by an acquired difficulty." In other words, the power of expression depends, first, on something more fundamental than the art-element; the basis of it is something to say, accompanied by an urgent desire to say it, and yielded to with freedom; only after this stage is reached can the art-phase be of any use. The "why" and "how," the analytical and constructive phases, have no natural place in this first vital epoch.

Precisely here, however, does the dramatising of stories and the paper-cutting, etc., become useful. A fine and thoughtful principal of a great school asked me, recently, with real concern, about the growing use of such devices. He said, "Paper-cutting is good, but what has it to do with English?" And then he added, "The children use abominable language when they play the stories; can that directly aid them to speak good English?" His observation was close and correct, and his conservatism more valuable than the enthusiasm of some of his colleagues who have advocated sweeping use of the supplementary work. But his point of view ignored the basis of expression, which is to my mind so important. Paper-cutting is external to English, of course. Its only connection is in its power to correlate different forms of expression, and to react on speech-expression through sense-stimulus. But playing the story is a closer relative to English than this. It helps, amazingly, in giving the "something to say, the urgent desire to say it," and the freedom in trying. Never mind the crudities,—at least, at the time; work only for joyous freedom, inventiveness, and natural forms of reproduction of the ideas given. Look for very gradual changes in speech, through the permeating power of imitation, but do not forget that this is the stage of expression which inevitably precedes art.

All this will mean that no corrections are made, except in flagrant cases of slang or grammar, though all bad slips are mentally noted, for introduction at a more favourable time. It will mean that the teacher will respect the continuity of thought and interest as completely as she would wish an audience to respect her occasional prosy periods if she were reading a report. She will remember, of course, that she is not training actors for amateur theatricals, however tempting her show-material may be; she is simply letting the children play with expression, just as a gymnasium teacher introduces muscular play,—for power through relaxation.

When the time comes that the actors lose their unconsciousness it is the end of the story-play. Drilled work, the beginning of the art, is then the necessity.

I have indicated that the children may be left undisturbed in their crudities and occasional absurdities. The teacher, on the other hand, must avoid, with great judgment, certain absurdities which can easily be initiated by her. The first direful possibility is in the choice of material. It is very desirable that children should not be allowed to dramatise stories of a kind so poetic, so delicate, or so potentially valuable that the material is in danger of losing future beauty to the pupils through its present crude handling. Mother Goose is a hardy old lady, and will not suffer from the grasp of the seven-year-old; and the familiar fables and tales of the "Goldilocks" variety have a firmness of surface which does not let the glamour rub off; but stories in which there is a hint of the beauty just beyond the palpable—or of a dignity suggestive of developed literature—are sorely hurt in their metamorphosis, and should be protected from it. They are for telling only.

Another point on which it is necessary to exercise reserve is in the degree to which any story can be acted. In the justifiable desire to bring a large number of children into the action one must not lose sight of the sanity and propriety of the presentation. For example, one must not make a ridiculous caricature, where a picture, however crude, is the intention. Personally represent only such things as are definitely and dramatically personified in the story. If a natural force, the wind, for example, is represented as talking and acting like a human being in the story, it can be imaged by a person in the play; but if it remains a part of the picture in the story, performing only its natural motions, it is a caricature to enact it as a role. The most powerful instance of a mistake of this kind which I have ever seen will doubtless make my meaning clear. In playing a pretty story about animals and children, some children in an elementary school were made by the teacher to take the part of the sea. In the story, the sea was said to "beat upon the shore," as a sea would, without doubt. In the play the children were allowed to thump the floor lustily, as a presentation of their watery functions! It was unconscionably funny. Fancy presenting even the crudest image of the mighty sea, surging up on the shore, by a row of infants squatted on the floor and pounding with their fists! Such pitfalls can be avoided by the simple rule of personifying only characters that actually behave like human beings.

A caution which directly concerns the art of story-telling itself, must be added here. There is a definite distinction between the arts of narration and dramatisation which must never be overlooked. Do not, yourself, half tell and half act the story; and do not let the children do it. It is done in very good schools, sometimes, because an enthusiasm for realistic and lively presentation momentarily obscures the faculty of discrimination. A much loved and respected teacher whom I recently listened to, and who will laugh if she recognises her blunder here, offers a good "bad example" in this particular. She said to an attentive audience of students that she had at last, with much difficulty, brought herself to the point where she could forget herself in her story: where she could, for instance, hop, like the fox, when she told the story of the "sour grapes." She said, "It was hard at first, but now it is a matter of course; and the children do it too, when they tell the story." That was the pity! I saw the illustration myself a little later. The child who played fox began with a story: he said, "Once there was an old fox, and he saw some grapes"; then the child walked to the other side of the room, and looked at an imaginary vine, and said, "He wanted some; he thought they would taste good, so he jumped for them"; at this-point the child did jump, like his role; then he continued with his story, "but he couldn't get them." And so he proceeded, with a constant alternation of narrative and dramatisation which was enough to make one dizzy.

The trouble in such work is, plainly, a lack of discriminating analysis. Telling a story necessarily implies non-identification of the teller with the event; he relates what occurs or occurred, outside of his circle of consciousness. Acting a play necessarily implies identification of the actor with the event; he presents to you a picture of the thing, in himself. It is a difference wide and clear, and the least failure to recognise it confuses the audience and injures both arts.

In the preceding instances of secondary uses of story-telling I have come some distance from the great point, the fundamental point, of the power of imitation in breeding good habit. This power is less noticeably active in the dramatising than in simple retelling; in the listening and the retelling, it is dominant for good. The child imitates what he hears you say and sees you do, and the way you say and do it, far more closely in the story-hour than in any lesson-period. He is in a more absorbent state, as it were, because there is no preoccupation of effort. Here is the great opportunity of the cultured teacher; here is the appalling opportunity of the careless or ignorant teacher. For the implications of the oral theory of teaching English are evident, concerning the immense importance of the teacher's habit. This is what it all comes to ultimately: the teacher of young children must be a person who can speak English as it should be spoken,—purely, clearly, pleasantly, and with force.

It is a hard ideal to live up to, but it is a valuable ideal to try to live up to. And one of the best chances to work toward attainment is in telling stories, for there you have definite material, which you can work into shape and practise on in private. That practice ought to include conscious thought as to one's general manner in the schoolroom, and intelligent effort to understand and improve one's own voice. I hope I shall not seem to assume the dignity of an authority which no personal taste can claim, if I beg a hearing for the following elements of manner and voice, which appeal to me as essential. They will, probably, appear self-evident to my readers, yet they are often found wanting in the public school teacher; it is so much easier to say "what were good to do" than to do it!

Three elements of manner seem to me an essential adjunct to the personality of a teacher of little children: courtesy, repose, vitality. Repose and vitality explain themselves; by courtesy I specifically do not mean the habit of mind which contents itself with drilling the children in "Good-mornings" and in hat-liftings. I mean the attitude of mind which recognises in the youngest, commonest child the potential dignity, majesty, and mystery of the developed human soul. Genuine reverence for the humanity of the "other fellow" marks a definite degree of courtesy in the intercourse of adults, does it not? And the same quality of respect, tempered by the demands of a wise control, is exactly what is needed among children. Again and again, in dealing with young minds, the teacher who respects personality as sacred, no matter how embryonic it be, wins the victories which count for true education. Yet, all too often, we forget the claims of this reverence, in the presence of the annoyances and the needed corrections.

As for voice: work in schoolrooms brings two opposing mistakes constantly before me: one is the repressed voice, and the other, the forced. The best way to avoid either extreme, is to keep in mind that the ideal is development of one's own natural voice, along its own natural lines. A "quiet, gentle voice" is conscientiously aimed at by many young teachers, with so great zeal that the tone becomes painfully repressed, "breathy," and timid. This is quite as unpleasant as a loud voice, which is, in turn, a frequent result of early admonitions to "speak up." Neither is natural. It is wise to determine the natural volume and pitch of one's speaking voice by a number of tests, made when one is thoroughly rested, at ease, and alone. Find out where your voice lies when it is left to itself, under favourable conditions, by reading something aloud or by listening to yourself as you talk to an intimate friend. Then practise keeping it in that general range, unless it prove to have a distinct fault, such as a nervous sharpness, or hoarseness. A quiet voice is good; a hushed voice is abnormal. A clear tone is restful, but a loud one is wearying.

Perhaps the common-sense way of setting a standard for one's own voice is to remember that the purpose of a speaking voice is to communicate with others; their ears and minds are the receivers of our tones. For this purpose, evidently, a voice should be, first of all, easy to hear; next, pleasant to hear; next, susceptible of sufficient variation to express a wide range of meaning; and finally, indicative of personality.

Is it too quixotic to urge teachers who tell stories to little children to bear these thoughts, and better ones of their own, in mind? Not, I think, if it be fully accepted that the story hour, as a play hour, is a time peculiarly open to influences affecting the imitative faculty; that this faculty is especially valuable in forming fine habits of speech; and that an increasingly high and general standard of English speech is one of our greatest needs and our most instant opportunities in the schools of to-day.

And now we come to the stories!



There's a garden that I ken, Full of little gentlemen; Little caps of blue they wear, And green ribbons, very fair. (Flax.)

From house to house he goes, A messenger small and slight, And whether it rains or snows, He sleeps outside in the night. (The path.)


Once there was a little yellow Tulip, and she lived down in a little dark house under the ground. One day she was sitting there, all by herself, and it was very still. Suddenly, she heard a little tap, tap, tap, at the door.

"Who is that?" she said.

"It's the Rain, and I want to come in," said a soft, sad, little voice.

"No, you can't come in," the little Tulip said.

By and by she heard another little tap, tap, tap on the window-pane.

"Who is there?" she said.

The same soft little voice answered, "It's the Rain, and I want to come in!"

"No, you can't come in," said the little Tulip.

Then it was very still for a long time. At last, there came a little rustling, whispering sound, all round the window: rustle, whisper, whisper.

"Who is there?" said the little Tulip.

"It's the Sunshine," said a little, soft, cheery voice, "and I want to come in!"

"N—no," said the little Tulip, "you can't come in." And she sat still again.

Pretty soon she heard the sweet little rustling noise at the keyhole.

"Who is there?" she said.

"It's the Sunshine," said the cheery little voice, "and I want to come in, I want to come in!"

"No, no," said the little Tulip, "you cannot come in."

By and by, as she sat so still, she heard tap, tap, tap, and rustle, whisper, rustle, up and down the window-pane, and on the door and at the keyhole.

"Who is there?" she said.

"It's the Rain and the Sun, the Rain and the Sun," said two little voices, together, "and we want to come in! We want to come in! We want to come in!"

"Dear, dear!" said the little Tulip, "if there are two of you, I s'pose I shall have to let you in."

So she opened the door a little wee crack, and in they came. And one took one of her little hands, and the other took her other little hand, and they ran, ran, ran with her right up to the top of the ground. Then they said,—

"Poke your head through!"

So she poked her head through; and she was in the midst of a beautiful garden. It was early springtime, and few other flowers were to be seen; but she had the birds to sing to her and the sun to shine upon her pretty yellow head. She was so pleased, too, when the children exclaimed with pleasure that now they knew that the beautiful spring had come!


[8] These riddles were taken from the Gaelic, and are charming examples of the naive beauty of the old Irish, and of Dr Hyde's accurate and sympathetic modern rendering. From Beside the Fire (David Nutt).


A very little boy made this story up "out of his head," and told it to his papa. I think you littlest ones will like it; I do.

Once upon a time there was a little boy, and he wanted to be a cock-a-doo-dle-doo. So he was a cock-a-doo-dle-doo. And he wanted to fly up into the sky. So he did fly up into the sky. And he wanted to get wings and a tail So he did get some wings and a tail.


[9] From The Ignominy of being Grown Up, by Dr. Samuel M. Crothers, in the Atlantic Monthly for July 1906.


One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drought. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

"Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!" she thought. "If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!"

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, "Ah, if you could help us!"

"I will help you; I will!" said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,—thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, "Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!"

The thought made her suddenly marvellously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

"Yes, I will help you," cried the Cloud once more. "Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!"

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud's great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colours; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.


[10] Adapted from the German of Robert Reinick's Maerchen-, Lieder-und Geschichtenbuch (Velhagen und Klasing, Bielefeld and Leipsic).


The little Red Hen was in the farmyard with her chickens, when she found a grain of wheat.

"Who will plant this wheat?" she said.

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen, and she planted the grain of wheat.

When the wheat was ripe she said, "Who will take this wheat to the mill?"

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen, and she took the wheat to the mill.

When she brought the flour home she said, "Who will make some bread with this flour?"

"Not I," said the Goose.

"Not I," said the Duck.

"I will, then," said the little Red Hen.

When the bread was baked, she said, "Who will eat this bread?"

"I will," said the Goose.

"I will," said the Duck.

"No, you won't," said the little Red Hen. "I shall eat it myself. Cluck! cluck!" And she called her chickens to help her.


Once upon a time there was a little old woman and a little old man, and they lived all alone in a little old house. They hadn't any little girls or any little boys, at all. So one day, the little old woman made a boy out of gingerbread; she made him a chocolate jacket, and put raisins on it for buttons; his eyes were made of fine, fat currants; his mouth was made of rose-coloured sugar; and he had a gay little cap of orange sugar-candy. When the little old woman had rolled him out, and dressed him up, and pinched his gingerbread shoes into shape, she put him in a pan; then she put the pan in the oven and shut the door; and she thought, "Now I shall have a little boy of my own."

When it was time for the Gingerbread Boy to be done she opened the oven door and pulled out the pan. Out jumped the little Gingerbread Boy on to the floor, and away he ran, out of the door and down the street! The little old woman and the little old man ran after him as fast as they could, but he just laughed, and shouted,—

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And they couldn't catch him.

The little Gingerbread Boy ran on and on, until he came to a cow, by the roadside. "Stop, little Gingerbread Boy," said the cow; "I want to eat you." The little Gingerbread Boy laughed and said,—

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"And a little old man,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And, as the cow chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,—

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the cow couldn't catch him.

The little Gingerbread Boy ran on, and on, and on, till he came to a horse, in the pasture. "Please stop, little Gingerbread Boy," said the horse, "you look very good to eat." But the little Gingerbread Boy laughed out loud. "Oho! oho!" he said,—

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And, as the horse chased him, he looked over his shoulder and cried,—

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the horse couldn't catch him.

By and by the little Gingerbread Boy came to a barn full of threshers. When the threshers smelt the Gingerbread Boy, they tried to pick him up, and said, "Don't run so fast, little Gingerbread Boy; you look very good to eat."

But the little Gingerbread Boy ran harder than ever, and as he ran he cried out,—

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And when he found that he was ahead of the threshers, he turned and shouted back to them,—

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the threshers couldn't catch him.

Then the little Gingerbread Boy ran faster than ever. He ran and ran until he came to a field full of mowers. When the mowers saw how fine he looked, they ran after him, calling out, "Wait a bit! wait a bit, little Gingerbread Boy, we wish to eat you!" But the little Gingerbread Boy laughed harder than ever, and ran like the wind. "Oho! oho!" he said,—

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"A barn full of threshers,

"And I can run away from you, I can!"

And when he found that he was ahead of the mowers, he turned and shouted back to them,—

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

And the mowers couldn't catch him.

By this time the little Gingerbread Boy was so proud that he didn't think anybody could catch him. Pretty soon he saw a fox coming across a field. The fox looked at him and began to run. But the little Gingerbread Boy shouted across to him, "You can't catch me!" The fox began to run faster, and the little Gingerbread Boy ran faster, and as he ran he chuckled,—

"I have run away from a little old woman,

"A little old man,

"A cow,

"A horse,

"A barn full of threshers,

"A field full of mowers,

"And I can run away from you, I can!

"Run! run! as fast as you can!

"You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!"

"Why," said the fox, "I would not catch you if I could. I would not think of disturbing you."

Just then, the little Gingerbread Boy came to a river. He could not swim across, and he wanted to keep running away from the cow and the horse and the people.

"Jump on my tail, and I will take you across," said the fox.

So the little Gingerbread Boy jumped on the fox's tail, and the fox began to swim the river. When he was a little way from the bank he turned his head, and said, "You are too heavy on my tail, little Gingerbread Boy, I fear I shall let you get wet; jump on my back."

The little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his back.

A little farther out, the fox said, "I am afraid the water will cover you, there; jump on my shoulder."

The little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his shoulder.

In the middle of the stream the fox said, "Oh, dear! little Gingerbread Boy, my shoulder is sinking; jump on my nose, and I can hold you out of water."

So the little Gingerbread Boy jumped on his nose.

The minute the fox reached the bank he threw back his head, and gave a snap!

"Dear me!" said the little Gingerbread Boy, "I am a quarter gone!" The next minute he said, "Why, I am half gone!" The next minute he said, "My goodness gracious, I am three quarters gone!"

And after that, the little Gingerbread Boy never said anything more at all.


[11] I have tried to give this story in the most familiar form; it varies a good deal in the hands of different story-tellers, but this is substantially the version I was "brought up on."


Once there was a great big jungle; and in the jungle there was a great big Lion; and the Lion was king of the jungle. Whenever he wanted anything to eat, all he had to do was to come up out of his cave in the stones and earth and roar. When he had roared a few times all the little people of the jungle were so frightened that they came out of their holes and hiding-places and ran, this way and that, to get away. Then, of course, the Lion could see where they were. And he pounced on them, killed them, and gobbled them up.

He did this so often that at last there was not a single thing left alive in the jungle besides the Lion, except two little Jackals,—a little father Jackal and a little mother Jackal.

They had run away so many times that they were quite thin and very tired, and they could not run so fast any more. And one day the Lion was so near that the little mother Jackal grew frightened; she said,—

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal! I b'lieve our time has come! the Lion will surely catch us this time!"

"Pooh! nonsense, mother!" said the little father Jackal. "Come, we'll run on a bit!"

And they ran, ran, ran very fast, and the Lion did not catch them that time.

But at last a day came when the Lion was nearer still and the little mother Jackal was frightened almost to death.

"Oh, Father Jackal, Father Jackal!" she cried; "I'm sure our time has come! The Lion's going to eat us this time!"

"Now, mother, don't you fret," said the little father Jackal; "you do just as I tell you, and it will be all right."

Then what did those cunning little Jackals do but take hold of hands and run up towards the Lion, as if they had meant to come all the time. When he saw them coming he stood up, and roared in a terrible voice,—

"You miserable little wretches, come here and be eaten, at once! Why didn't you come before?"

The father Jackal bowed very low.

"Indeed, Father Lion," he said, "we meant to come before; we knew we ought to come before; and we wanted to come before; but every time we started to come, a dreadful great lion came out of the woods and roared at us, and frightened us so that we ran away."

"What do you mean?" roared the Lion. "There's no other lion in this jungle, and you know it!"

"Indeed, indeed, Father Lion," said the little Jackal, "I know that is what everybody thinks; but indeed and indeed there is another lion! And he is as much bigger than you as you are bigger than I! His face is much more terrible, and his roar far, far more dreadful. Oh, he is far more fearful than you!"

At that the Lion stood up and roared so that the jungle shook.

"Take me to this Lion," he said; "I'll eat him up and then I'll eat you up."

The little Jackals danced on ahead, and the Lion stalked behind. They led him to a place where there was a round, deep well of clear water. They went round on one side of it, and the Lion stalked up to the other.

"He lives down there, Father Lion!" said the little Jackal. "He lives down there!"

The Lion came close and looked down into the water,—and a lion's face looked back at him out of the water!

When he saw that, the Lion roared and shook his mane and showed his teeth. And the lion in the water shook his mane and showed his teeth. The Lion above shook his mane again and growled again, and made a terrible face. But the lion in the water made just as terrible a one, back. The Lion above couldn't stand that. He leaped down into the well after the other lion.

But, of course, as you know very well, there wasn't any other lion! It was only the reflection in the water!

So the poor old Lion floundered about and floundered about, and as he couldn't get up the steep sides of the well, he was at last drowned. And when he was drowned, the little Jackals took hold of hands and danced round the well, and sang,—

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"We have killed the great Lion who would have killed us!

"The Lion is dead! The Lion is dead!

"Ao! Ao! Ao!"


[12] The four stories of the little Jackal, in this book, are adapted from stories in Old Deccan Days, by Mary Frere (John Murray), a collection of orally transmitted Hindu folk tales, which every teacher would gain by knowing. In the Hindu animal legends the Jackal seems to play the role assigned in Germanic lore to Reynard the Fox, and to "Bre'r Rabbit" in the negro stories of Southern America; he is the clever and humorous trickster who usually comes out of an encounter with a whole skin, and turns the laugh on his enemy, however mighty he may be.[A]


Once a little mouse who lived in the country invited a little mouse from the city to visit him. When the little City Mouse sat down to dinner he was surprised to find that the Country Mouse had nothing to eat except barley and grain.

"Really," he said, "you do not live well at all; you should see how I live! I have all sorts of fine things to eat every day. You must come to visit me and see how nice it is to live in the city."

The little Country Mouse was glad to do this, and after a while he went to the city to visit his friend.

The very first place that the City Mouse took the Country Mouse to see was the kitchen cupboard of the house where he lived. There, on the lowest shelf, behind some stone jars, stood a big paper bag of brown sugar. The little City Mouse gnawed a hole in the bag and invited his friend to nibble for himself.

The two little mice nibbled and nibbled, and the Country Mouse thought he had never tasted anything so delicious in his life. He was just thinking how lucky the City Mouse was, when suddenly the door opened with a bang, and in came the cook to get some flour.

"Run!" whispered the City Mouse. And they ran as fast as they could to the little hole where they had come in. The little Country Mouse was shaking all over when they got safely away, but the little City Mouse said, "That is nothing; she will soon go away and then we can go back."

After the cook had gone away and shut the door they stole softly back, and this time the City Mouse had something new to show: he took the little Country Mouse into a corner on the top shelf, where a big jar of dried prunes stood open. After much tugging and pulling they got a large dried prune out of the jar on to the shelf and began to nibble at it. This was even better than the brown sugar. The little Country Mouse liked the taste so much that he could hardly nibble fast enough. But all at once, in the midst of their eating, there came a scratching at the door and a sharp, loud miaouw!

"What is that?" said the Country Mouse. The City Mouse just whispered, "Sh!" and ran as fast as he could to the hole. The Country Mouse ran after, you may be sure, as fast as he could. As soon as they were out of danger the City Mouse said, "That was the old Cat; she is the best mouser in town,—if she once gets you, you are lost."

"This is very terrible," said the little Country Mouse; "let us not go back to the cupboard again."

"No," said the City Mouse, "I will take you to the cellar; there is something specially fine there."

So the City Mouse took his little friend down the cellar stairs and into a big cupboard where there were many shelves. On the shelves were jars of butter, and cheeses in bags and out of bags. Overhead hung bunches of sausages, and there were spicy apples in barrels standing about. It smelt so good that it went to the little Country Mouse's head. He ran along the shelf and nibbled at a cheese here, and a bit of butter there, until he saw an especially rich, very delicious-smelling piece of cheese on a queer little stand in a corner. He was just on the point of putting his teeth into the cheese when the City Mouse saw him.

"Stop! stop!" cried the City Mouse. "That is a trap!"

The little Country Mouse stopped and said, "What is a trap?"

"That thing is a trap," said the little City Mouse. "The minute you touch the cheese with your teeth something comes down on your head hard, and you're dead."

The little Country Mouse looked at the trap, and he looked at the cheese, and he looked at the little City Mouse. "If you'll excuse me," he said, "I think I will go home. I'd rather have barley and grain to eat and eat it in peace and comfort, than have brown sugar and dried prunes and cheese,—and be frightened to death all the time!"

So the little Country Mouse went back to his home, and there he stayed all the rest of his life.


[13] The following story of the two mice, with the similar fables of The Boy who cried Wolf, The Frog King, and The Sun and the Wind, are given here with the hope that they may be of use to the many teachers who find the over-familiar material of the fables difficult to adapt, and who are yet aware of the great usefulness of the stories to young minds. A certain degree of vividness and amplitude must be added to the compact statement of the famous collections, and yet it is not wise to change the style-effect of a fable, wholly. I venture to give these versions, not as perfect models, of course, but as renderings which have been acceptable to children, and which I believe retain the original point simply and strongly.


Once upon a time there was a wee little boy who slept in a tiny trundle-bed near his mother's great bed. The trundle-bed had castors on it so that it could be rolled about, and there was nothing in the world the little boy liked so much as to have it rolled. When his mother came to bed he would cry, "Roll me around! roll me around!" And his mother would put out her hand from the big bed and push the little bed back and forth till she was tired. The little boy could never get enough; so for this he was called "Little Jack Rollaround."

One night he had made his mother roll him about, till she fell asleep, and even then he kept crying, "Roll me around! roll me around!" His mother pushed him about in her sleep, until her slumber became too sound; then she stopped. But Little Jack Rollaround kept on crying, "Roll around! roll around!"

By and by the Moon peeped in at the window. He saw a funny sight: Little Jack Rollaround was lying in his trundle-bed, and he had put up one little fat leg for a mast, and fastened the corner of his wee shirt to it for a sail; and he was blowing at it with all his might, and saying, "Roll around! roll around!" Slowly, slowly, the little trundle-bed boat began to move; it sailed along the floor and up the wall and across the ceiling and down again!

"More! more!" cried Little Jack Rollaround; and the little boat sailed faster up the wall, across the ceiling, down the wall, and over the floor. The Moon laughed at the sight; but when Little Jack Rollaround saw the Moon, he called out, "Open the door, old Moon! I want to roll through the town, so that the people can see me!"

The Moon could not open the door, but he shone in through the keyhole, in a broad band. And Little Jack Rollaround sailed his trundle-bed boat up the beam, through the keyhole, and into the street.

"Make a light, old Moon," he said; "I want the people to see me!"

So the good Moon made a light and went along with him, and the little trundle-bed boat went sailing down the streets into the main street of the village. They rolled past the town hall and the schoolhouse and the church; but nobody saw little Jack Rollaround, because everybody was in bed, asleep.

"Why don't the people come to see me?" he shouted.

High up on the church steeple, the Weather-vane answered, "It is no time for people to be in the streets; decent folk are in their beds."

"Then I'll go to the woods, so that the animals may see me," said Little Jack. "Come along, old Moon, and make a light!"

The good Moon went along and made a light, and they came to the forest. "Roll! roll!" cried the little boy; and the trundle-bed went trundling among the trees in the great wood, scaring up the squirrels and startling the little leaves on the trees. The poor old Moon began to have a bad time of it, for the tree-trunks got in his way so that he could not go so fast as the bed, and every time he got behind, the little boy called, "Hurry up, old Moon, I want the beasts to see me!"

But all the animals were asleep, and nobody at all looked at Little Jack Rollaround except an old White Owl; and all she said was, "Who are you?"

The little boy did not like her, so he blew harder, and the trundle-bed boat went sailing through the forest till it came to the end of the world.

"I must go home now; it is late," said the Moon.

"I will go with you; make a path!" said Little Jack Rollaround.

The kind Moon made a path up to the sky, and up sailed the little bed into the midst of the sky. All the little bright Stars were there with their nice little lamps. And when he saw them, that naughty Little Jack Rollaround began to tease. "Out of the way, there! I am coming!" he shouted, and sailed the trundle-bed boat straight at them. He bumped the little Stars right and left, all over the sky, until every one of them put his little lamp out and left it dark.

"Do not treat the little Stars so," said the good Moon.

But Jack Rollaround only behaved the worse: "Get out of the way, old Moon!" he shouted, "I am coming!"

And he steered the little trundle-bed boat straight into the old Moon's face, and bumped his nose!

This was too much for the good Moon; he put out his big light, all at once, and left the sky pitch-black.

"Make a light, old Moon! Make a light!" shouted the little boy. But the Moon answered never a word, and Jack Rollaround could not see where to steer. He went rolling criss-cross, up and down, all over the sky, knocking into the planets and stumbling into the clouds, till he did not know where he was.

Suddenly he saw a big yellow light at the very edge of the sky. He thought it was the Moon. "Look out, I am coming!" he cried, and steered for the light.

But it was not the kind old Moon at all; it was the great mother Sun, just coming up out of her home in the sea, to begin her day's work.

"Aha, youngster, what are you doing in my sky?" she said. And she picked Little Jack Rollaround up and threw him, trundle-bed boat and all, into the middle of the sea!

And I suppose he is there yet, unless somebody picked him out again.


[14] Based on Theodor Storm's story of Der Kleine Haewelmann (George Westermann, Braunschweig). Very freely adapted from the German story.


One day little Brother Rabbit was running along on the sand, lippety, lippety, when he saw the Whale and the Elephant talking together. Little Brother Rabbit crouched down and listened to what they were saying. This was what they were saying:—

"You are the biggest thing on the land, Brother Elephant," said the Whale, "and I am the biggest thing in the sea; if we join together we can rule all the animals in the world, and have our way about everything."

"Very good, very good," trumpeted the Elephant; "that suits me; we will do it."

Little Brother Rabbit sniggered to himself. "They won't rule me," he said. He ran away and got a very long, very strong rope, and he got his big drum, and hid the drum a long way off in the bushes. Then he went along the beach till he came to the Whale.

"Oh, please, dear, strong Mr Whale," he said, "will you have the great kindness to do me a favour? My cow is stuck in the mud, a quarter of a mile from here. And I can't pull her out. But you are so strong and so obliging, that I venture to trust you will help me out."

The Whale was so pleased with the compliment that he said, "Yes," at once.

"Then," said the Rabbit, "I will tie this end of my long rope to you, and I will run away and tie the other end round my cow, and when I am ready I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull very, very hard, for the cow is stuck very deep in the mud."

"Huh!" grunted the Whale, "I'll pull her out, if she is stuck to the horns."

Little Brother Rabbit tied the rope-end to the Whale, and ran off, lippety, lippety, till he came to the place where the Elephant was.

"Oh, please, mighty and kindly Elephant," he said, making a very low bow, "will you do me a favour?"

"What is it?" asked the Elephant.

"My cow is stuck in the mud, about a quarter of a mile from here," said little Brother Rabbit, "and I cannot pull her out. Of course you could. If you will be so very obliging as to help me——"

"Certainly," said the Elephant grandly, "certainly."

"Then," said little Brother Rabbit, "I will tie one end of this long rope to your trunk, and the other to my cow, and as soon as I have tied her tightly I will beat my big drum. When you hear that, pull; pull as hard as you can, for my cow is very heavy."

"Never fear," said the Elephant, "I could pull twenty cows."

"I am sure you could," said the Rabbit, politely, "only be sure to begin gently, and pull harder and harder till you get her."

Then he tied the end of the rope tightly round the Elephant's trunk, and ran away into the bushes. There he sat down and beat the big drum.

The Whale began to pull, and the Elephant began to pull, and in a jiffy the rope tightened till it was stretched as hard as could be.

"This is a remarkably heavy cow," said the Elephant; "but I'll fetch her!" And he braced his forefeet in the earth, and gave a tremendous pull.

"Dear me!" said the Whale. "That cow must be stuck mighty tight"; and he drove his tail deep in the water, and gave a marvellous pull.

He pulled harder; the Elephant pulled harder. Pretty soon the Whale found himself sliding toward the land. The reason was, of course, that the Elephant had something solid to brace against, and, beside, as fast as he pulled the rope in a little, he took a turn with it round his trunk!

But when the Whale found himself sliding toward the land he was so provoked with the cow that he dived head first, down to the bottom of the sea. That was a pull! The Elephant was jerked off his feet, and came slipping and sliding to the beach, and into the surf. He was terribly angry. He braced himself with all his might, and pulled his best. At the jerk, up came the Whale out of the water.

"Who is pulling me?" spouted the Whale.

"Who is pulling me?" trumpeted the Elephant.

And then each saw the rope in the other's hold.

"I'll teach you to play cow!" roared the Elephant.

"I'll show you how to fool me!" fumed the Whale. And they began to pull again. But this time the rope broke, the Whale turned a somersault, and the Elephant fell over backward.

At that, they were both so ashamed that neither would speak to the other. So that broke up the bargain between them.

And little Brother Rabbit sat in the bushes and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.


[15] Adapted from two tales included in the records of the American Folk-Lore Society.


There was once upon a time a Spanish Hen, who hatched out some nice little chickens. She was much pleased with their looks as they came from the shell. One, two, three, came out plump and fluffy; but when the fourth shell broke, out came a little half-chick! It had only one leg and one wing and one eye! It was just half a chicken.

The Hen-mother did not know what in the world to do with the queer little Half-Chick. She was afraid something would happen to it, and she tried hard to protect it and keep it from harm. But as soon as it could walk the little Half-Chick showed a most headstrong spirit, worse than any of its brothers. It would not mind, and it would go wherever it wanted to; it walked with a funny little hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, and got along pretty fast.

One day the little Half-Chick said, "Mother, I am off to Madrid, to see the King! Good-bye."

The poor Hen-mother did everything she could think of to keep him from doing so foolish a thing, but the little Half-Chick laughed at her naughtily. "I'm for seeing the King," he said; "this life is too quiet for me." And away he went, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, over the fields.

When he had gone some distance the little Half-Chick came to a little brook that was caught in the weeds and in much trouble.

"Little Half-Chick," whispered the Water, "I am so choked with these weeds that I cannot move; I am almost lost, for want of room; please push the sticks and weeds away with your bill and help me."

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you; I am off to Madrid, to see the King!" And in spite of the brook's begging, he went away, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

A bit farther on, the Half-Chick came to a Fire, which was smothered in damp sticks and in great distress.

"Oh, little Half-Chick," said the Fire, "you are just in time to save me. I am almost dead for want of air. Fan me a little with your wing, I beg."

"The idea!" said the little Half-Chick. "I cannot be bothered with you; I am off to Madrid, to see the King!" And he went laughing off, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick.

When he had hoppity-kicked a good way, and was near Madrid, he came to a clump of bushes, where the Wind was caught fast. The Wind was whimpering, and begging to be set free.

"Little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "you are just in time to help me; if you will brush aside these twigs and leaves, I can get my breath; help me, quickly!"

"Ho! the idea!" said the little Half-Chick "I have no time to bother with you. I am going to Madrid, to see the King." And he went off, hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, leaving the Wind to smother.

After a while he came to Madrid and to the palace of the King. Hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, the little Half-Chick skipped past the sentry at the gate, and hoppity-kick, hoppity-kick, he crossed the court. But as he was passing the windows of the kitchen the Cook looked out and saw him.

"The very thing for the King's dinner!" she said. "I was needing a chicken!" And she seized the little Half-Chick by his one wing and threw him into a kettle of water on the fire.

The Water came over the little Half-Chick's feathers, over his head, into his eyes. It was terribly uncomfortable. The little Half-Chick cried out,—

"Water, don't drown me! Stay down, don't come so high!"

"But," the Water said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and came higher than ever.

Now the Water grew warm, hot, hotter, frightfully hot; the little Half-Chick cried out, "Do not burn so hot, Fire! You are burning me to death! Stop!"

But the Fire said, "Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick, when I was in trouble you would not help me," and burned hotter than ever.

Just as the little Half-Chick thought he must suffocate, the Cook took the cover off, to look at the dinner. "Dear me," she said, "this chicken is no good; it is burned to a cinder." And she picked the little Half-Chick up by one leg and threw him out of the window.

In the air he was caught by a breeze and taken up higher than the trees. Round and round he was twirled till he was so dizzy he thought he must perish. "Don't blow me so, Wind," he cried, "let me down!"

"Little Half-Chick, little Half-Chick," said the Wind, "when I was in trouble you would not help me!" And the Wind blew him straight up to the top of the church steeple, and stuck him there, fast!

There he stands to this day, with his one eye, his one wing, and his one leg. He cannot hoppity-kick any more, but he turns slowly round when the wind blows, and keeps his head toward it, to hear what it says.


A little boy sat at his mother's knees, by the long western window, looking out into the garden. It was autumn, and the wind was sad; and the golden elm leaves lay scattered about among the grass, and on the gravel path. The mother was knitting a little stocking; her fingers moved the bright needles; but her eyes were fixed on the clear evening sky.

As the darkness gathered, the wee boy laid his head on her lap and kept so still that, at last, she leaned forward to look into his dear round face. He was not asleep, but was watching very earnestly a blackberry-bush, that waved its one tall, dark-red spray in the wind outside the fence.

"What are you thinking about, my darling?" she said, smoothing his soft, honey-coloured hair.

"The blackberry-bush, mamma; what does it say? It keeps nodding, nodding to me behind the fence; what does it say, mamma?"

"It says," she answered, "'I see a happy little boy in the warm, fire-lighted room. The wind blows cold, and here it is dark and lonely; but that little boy is warm and happy and safe at his mother's knees. I nod to him, and he looks at me. I wonder if he knows how happy he is!

"'See, all my leaves are dark crimson. Every day they dry and wither more and more; by and by they will be so weak they can scarcely cling to my branches, and the north wind will tear them all away, and nobody will remember them any more. Then the snow will sink down and wrap me close. Then the snow will melt again and icy rain will clothe me, and the bitter wind will rattle my bare twigs up and down.

"'I nod my head to all who pass, and dreary nights and dreary days go by; but in the happy house, so warm and bright, the little boy plays all day with books and toys. His mother and his father cherish him; he nestles on their knees in the red firelight at night, while they read to him lovely stories, or sing sweet old songs to him,—the happy little boy! And outside I peep over the snow and see a stream of ruddy light from a crack in the window-shutter, and I nod out here alone in the dark, thinking how beautiful it is.

"'And here I wait patiently. I take the snow and the rain and the cold, and I am not sorry, but glad; for in my roots I feel warmth and life, and I know that a store of greenness and beauty is shut up safe in my small brown buds. Day and night go again and again; little by little the snow melts all away; the ground grows soft; the sky is blue; the little birds fly over, crying, "It is spring! it is spring!" Ah! then through all my twigs I feel the slow sap stirring.

"'Warmer grow the sunbeams, and softer the air. The small blades of grass creep thick about my feet; the sweet rain helps to swell my shining buds. More and more I push forth my leaves, till out I burst in a gay green dress, and nod in joy and pride. The little boy comes running to look at me, and cries, "Oh, mamma! the little blackberry-bush is alive and beautiful and green. Oh, come and see!" And I hear; and I bow my head in the summer wind; and every day they watch me grow more beautiful, till at last I shake out blossoms, fair and fragrant.

"'A few days more, and I drop the white petals down among the grass, and, lo! there are the green tiny berries! Carefully I hold them up to the sun; carefully I gather the dew in the summer nights; slowly they ripen; they grow larger and redder and darker, and at last they are black, shining, delicious. I hold them as high as I can for the little boy, who comes dancing out. He shouts with joy, and gathers them in his dear hand; and he runs to share them with his mother, saying, "Here is what the patient blackberry-bush bore for us: see how nice, mamma!"

"'Ah! then indeed I am glad, and would say, if I could, "Yes, take them, dear little boy; I kept them for you, held them long up to the sun and rain to make them sweet and ripe for you"; and I nod and nod in full content, for my work is done. From the window he watches me and thinks, "There is the little blackberry-bush that was so kind to me. I see it and I love it. I know it is safe out there nodding all alone, and next summer it will hold ripe berries up for me to gather again."'"

* * * * *

Then the wee boy smiled, and said he liked the little story. His mother took him up in her arms, and they went out to supper and left the blackberry-bush nodding up and down in the wind; and there it is nodding yet.


[16] From Celia Thaxter's Stories and Poems for Children.


Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men. Wee folk, good folk, Trooping all together; Green jacket, red cap, And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore Some make their home— They live on crispy pancakes Of yellow tide-foam; Some in the reeds Of the black mountain-lake, With frogs for their watch-dogs, All night awake.

High on the hilltop The old King sits; He is now so old and gray, He's nigh lost his wits. With a bridge of white mist Columbkill he crosses, On his stately journeys From Slieveleague to Rosses; Or going up with music On cold starry nights, To sup with the Queen Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget For seven years long; When she came down again Her friends were all gone. They took her lightly back, Between the night and morrow; They thought that she was fast asleep, But she was dead with sorrow. They have kept her ever since Deep within the lake, On a bed of flag-leaves, Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hillside, Through the mosses bare, They have planted thorn-trees, For pleasure here and there. Is any man so daring As dig them up in spite, He shall find their sharpest thorns In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain, Down the rushy glen, We daren't go a-hunting For fear of little men. Wee folk, good folk, Trooping all together; Green jacket, red cap, And white owl's feather!


[17] By William Allingham.


Once upon a time, there was a little brown Field Mouse; and one day he was out in the fields to see what he could find. He was running along in the grass, poking his nose into everything and looking with his two eyes all about, when he saw a smooth, shiny acorn, lying in the grass. It was such a fine shiny little acorn that he thought he would take it home with him; so he put out his paw to touch it, but the little acorn rolled away from him. He ran after it, but it kept rolling on, just ahead of him, till it came to a place where a big oak-tree had its roots spread all over the ground. Then it rolled under a big round root.

Little Mr Field Mouse ran to the root and poked his nose under after the acorn, and there he saw a small round hole in the ground. He slipped through and saw some stairs going down into the earth. The acorn was rolling down, with a soft tapping sound, ahead of him, so down he went too. Down, down, down, rolled the acorn, and down, down, down, went the Field Mouse, until suddenly he saw a tiny door at the foot of the stairs.

The shiny acorn rolled to the door and struck against it with a tap. Quickly the little door opened and the acorn rolled inside. The Field Mouse hurried as fast as he could down the last stairs, and pushed through just as the door was closing. It shut behind him, and he was in a little room. And there, before him, stood a queer little Red Man! He had a little red cap, and a little red jacket, and odd little red shoes with points at the toes.

"You are my prisoner," he said to the Field Mouse.

"What for?" said the Field Mouse.

"Because you tried to steal my acorn," said the little Red Man.

"It is my acorn," said the Field Mouse; "I found it."

"No, it isn't," said the little Red Man, "I have it; you will never see it again."

The little Field Mouse looked all about the room as fast as he could, but he could not see any acorn. Then he thought he would go back up the tiny stairs to his own home. But the little door was locked, and the little Red Man had the key. And he said to the poor mouse,—

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