The Wager ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.

Many years ago in Denmark there was a poor father who lived with his son in a small cottage. Each day, they had to work hard to earn enough money to live. The father worked as a laborer. His son, John, ran errands.

One hot, summer day the son was sent a long distance to deliver a letter. After he had walked quite a while, he noticed a willow tree by the water/ Its roots were exposed and drying out, so young John covered them up with moist soil.

And then – what was that in the soil? Without a doubt it was a wallet – one that was full of money!

John ran back to the town and asked everyone he met if they had lost a wallet.

Soon a horseman came galloping by. When John asked him, the horseman replied that, in fact, that very morning he had dropped his wallet on the way from home. He described it in great detail, and so John returned the wallet to him.

It turns out that the man on the horse owned a large estate in the nearby town of Ostergaard. He was so grateful that he immediately gave the boy a generous reward. What’s more, he asked the lad if he would like to work at his estate. He would pay room and board and wages besides.

“Yes, I would indeed!” answered John, delighted to find steady work. He delivered the letter he had been given that morning. Then he rushed home to share the good news with his father. In three days time John would move to Ostergaard.

It so happens tat the next day, the man who owned the estate in Ostergaard was entertaining company. The lord of the manor was bragging to his guests about his new servant. The young man was so honest and faithful and honorable, said he, that it would simply not be possible to trick him into telling a lie.

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that if I were you,” said one guest. He was also a lord and owned an estate in the neighboring town of Nebbegaard.

“I think that if he were tempted enough, he would tell a lie,” said the lord of Nebbegaard.

So sure was the lord of Ostergaard about the honest nature of his new servant that he immediately said he would place as large a wager as his neighbor pleased that he could not get John to tell a lie. Whichever lord won the wager would also win the entire estate of the lord who had lost.

The lord of Nebbegaard thought of a plan. First, he would write a letter to his daughter, a lovely young maiden back home in Nebbegaard, to be delivered by John. In the letter, he would ask his daughter to trick young John into giving her his master’s horse. Then, when the young man returned to his master without the horse, surely he would make up some sort of lie to explain why the horse was gone!

And so the lord of Nebbegaard wrote the letter to his daughter. He told her about the wager and stressed how important it was for him to win. He wrote that the young man who delivered the letter was John and that she should seem as friendly toward him as possible. Her task was to persuade John to give her the horse on which he rode.

So the lord of Nebbegaard sealed the letter and gave it to the lord of Ostergaard, who called at once for John. He asked his new hire to deliver the letter to the Nebbegaard estate.

“John,” said he, “this is your first errand in my charge. Take my horse so that you can return more quickly, and deliver this letter to my guest’s estate in Nebbegaard. Now do not ride too fast or by any means lose the horse. This is the finest and most valuable in my stable.”

John said that he would do as his master told him.

After awhile, he climbed off the horse and led the animal on foot. That way he could spare the creature the work of carrying him. Of course, this took more time. It was nearly dark by the time he reached Nebbegaard.

When the young lady read her father’s letter, she at once behaved in the most friendly manner toward John. Actually, this was not hard for her to do, since from the first moment he saw the lad she felt drawn to him. Yet she must do as her father had asked.

So she entertained John in the most sumptuous manner. They laughed and talked well into the night. Just after midnight, she offered him a drink in a jeweled cup which contained sleeping powder. When the lad was tired and drowsy and more than a little bit love struck, she begged him to let her keep the horse.

With a yawn, he agreed. Then John fell deeply asleep.

The next morning, John found that he no longer had the horse. Sadly, he took the saddle and bridle and wandered back to Ostergaard. As he walked along it struck him how foolishly he had acted to give away his master’s horse.

“What shall I say when I reach home,” he moaned, “and my master finds that the horse is gone? ‘Well, John,’ he will say, ‘have you executed my errand and delivered the letter?’ I shall answer, “Yes.” Then my master will say. ‘What has become of my horse, which I entrusted with you?’ What will I say? Perhaps I should say, ‘I met a band of robbers who took the horse from me.'”

He stopped in the path and shook his head. “No, no, that will never do. I have never yet told a lie. I will not start now.”

Then John imagined how disappointed his father would be to find out how poorly he had behaved in his new job, and on his very first errand, too. Another thought rose to mind: “I know! I will say that the horse fell down and that I buried it in a ditch… Oh, no,, that won’t do either,” John sighed.

Before long, John decided that he would say that the horse had suddenly run away and had shaken off his saddle and bridle, which was why he was carrying them.

Long before he reached the front door to the estate at Ostergaard, the guests saw him coming from the distance. They could tell he was carrying the saddle and the bridle.

“Here comes your truthful boy,” exclaimed the lord of Nebbegaard. “Look how slowly he comes and without the horse. You know the instructions I gave my daughter in the letter. Who do you think will win the wager now?”

The lord of Ostergaard saw John also. He was very angry at seeing him return without the horse. As soon as the boy entered the house, he was called up to where all the guests were assembled. “Well, John,” bellowed John’s master, “have you finished and delivered the letter?”

“Yes, I have, gracious master,” said the boy, trembling.

“And what has become of my good horse, with which I entrusted you and ordered you to take such good care?”

John did not dare to meet his master’s gaze and cast his eyes on the ground. In a low, sorrowful voice he said:

 “The lady’s arm was soft and round,
Her manner sweet; her cup I downed,
My senses took a different course,
And thus I lost my master’s horse.”

 When he had finished, his mater embraced him in joy.

“You see?” he exclaimed. “I knew well enough this lad would speak the truth. Which of us has on the wager now?”

Young John was stunned. Why would his master be pleased with him? Then his master clapped John on the back of his shoulder. He cried, “Be of good heart, my boy! As you have kept to the path of truth and right, when you are old enough, I will give you both house, and land, and horses, too!”

So pleased was he to win the wager that the lord of Ostergaard allowed the lord of Nebbegaard to keep his estate after all. He invited John’s father to come live with them.

For her part, the maiden was delighted to learn that John had proven himself to be honest and true. She was sorry for her part in getting him to give up the horse. He quickly forgave her, and before long, they were married.

Over time the lord of Ostergaard, who had no sons of his own, declared John to be the full heir to his estate. And so John and his new wife, always honest to each other, lived happily together.

 

end

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yuuki tsunami

Yuuki & the Tsunami Legend ~ Short Story 4.67/5 (3)




Yuuki & the Tsunami-Short Story for Kids

FOR AS LONG as people can remember, the shores of Japan have been swept from time to time by enormous tsunamis. These awful sudden risings of the sea are caused by earthquakes or by underwater volcanic action. The story of the boy Yuuki is the story of such a calamity.

Yuuki lived with his family in the village. His grandfather, who had passed away several years before, had taught Yuuki much about raising rice crops, solving disputes, and a great deal about the ways of the world. His grandfather had been the most respected and wealthiest resident of the village – its headman. Now Yuuki’s family cultivated the enormous fields of rice that his grandfather had passed on to them.

Yuuki’s village was nestled by the shore below a small mountain. One day, Yuuki was playing on top of the small mountain, watching the preparations below for a festival that was going to take place that very night to celebrate a wonderful rice crop.

All of a sudden, Yuuki felt an earthquake beneath his feet. It was not strong enough to frighten anybody, but Yuuki, who had already felt dozens of shocks, thought it was odd – a long, slow, spongy motion.  The houses below, by the sea, rocked gently several times, then all became still again. Soon after, Yuuki noticed something even more strange. The sea darkened all of a sudden and it seemed to be rushing backward, toward the horizon. The sea was actually running away from the shore very fast, leaving behind wide stretches of beach that had never been exposed before.

With a gasp, Yuuki suddenly remembered the words of his grandfather. His grandfather had told the boy how his own father’s father had told him that just before a terrible tsunami, the sea suddenly and quickly rolls backward. Yuuki, his breath heavy, ran down the mountainside to warn the people of the impending danger. Already many had run to the beach to witness the spectacular new stretch of ribbed sand.

“Get back, get back!” shouted the boy. “There is terrible danger!”

“What are you talking about, Yuuki?” laughed one person. “Look at all the great new shells on the beach!”

“No, no! You don’t understand!” cried Yuuki. “You must run away! Up to the mountain! Everybody!”

But no one would listen to him. They all laughed in his face and carried on romping in the new sand and watching the sea roll backward even more.

Desperate, Yuuki could think of only thing to do. He lit a pine torch and hurried with it to the fields. There hundreds of rice-stacks stood golden and dried in the sun. He touched the torch to the edge of each one – hurrying from one to the other as quickly as his legs could carry him. The sun-dried stalks instantly caught fire; the strengthening sea breeze blew the blaze forward. Soon the stacks burst into flame. Yuuki, terrified, ran after his friends and family calling, “Fire! Fire! Everyone run to the mountain! Quick!”

The people hurried from over the beach, like a swarming of ants, though to Yuuki’s anxious eyes the moments seemed terribly long to him. All the while, the sea was fleeing even more quickly toward the horizon.

The whole village was moving up the mountain now. The growing multitude, still knowing nothing, looked horrified at the flaming fields and at the destruction of their homes and their livelihood.

“Yuuki is mad!” cried one of the boys when they had all reached the top. “He set fire to the rice on purpose: I saw him do it!”

“Yuuki, is this true?” said Yuuki’s mother and father, frowning deeply.

Yuuki hung his head.

Just then, someone cried, “Look!”

At the edge of the horizon a long dim line like the shadowing of a coast where no coast had even been – a line that thickened as they gazed, that broadened in the way a coast-line broadens when one approaches it, yet much more quickly. For that long thin line of darkness was the returning sea, towering like a cliff, and raging swiftly toward them.

“A tsunami!” shrieked the people. Then all shrieks and all sounds and all power to hear sounds were annihilated by a nameless shock heavier than any thunder, as the colossal swell struck the shore with a weight that sent a shudder through the hills, and with a burst of foam like a blaze of sheet lightning. Then for an instant nothing could be seen but a storm of spray rushing up the slope like a cloud, and the people scattered back in panic from the mere menace of it. When they looked again, they saw a white horror of sea roaring over the place of their homes. It drew back, tearing out the land as it went. Twice, three times, five times the sea struck the land and ebbed, but each time with surges less strong. Then finally, the sea returned to its normal place and stayed there, though still raging, as the sea will do after a hurricane.

On the mountain for a long time no word was spoken. All stared speechlessly at the desolation below, at the wreckage and debris that was scattered over what was left of their village.

“I’m sorry I burned the fields,” said Yuuki, his voice trembling.

“Yuuki,” said his father softly. “You saved us all.”

And the villagers swept up Yuuki and raised him into the air. “We were going to celebrate our rice harvest tonight,” said one, “but now we’ll celebrate that we’re all still alive!”

And they cheered with relief and admiration at the brave Yuuki, who that day had saved over four hundred lives.

 

end

 

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5/5

Kate

United States


I liked the lesson of this story that for people to realize there was danger they had to see something they recognized and understood before they would seek safety.

5/5

Renee

62

USA


A wonderful reminder to all adults that we should listen to our children and believe what they say.

4/5

mason

9


AWESOMENESS

 

 

 

 

 

The Young Head of the Household ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.

The Young Head of the Household-Short Story for Kids

There was once a family consisting of a father, his four sons, and his three daughters-in-law. The three daughters-in-law, that is, the wives of the three elder sons, were recently brought into the house, and were all from one village a few miles away. Having no mother-in-law with them in their new home, and being lonesome and homesick for their former families, they constantly bothered the old man by asking permission to visit their former village.

Vexed by these continual pleas, he set himself to invent a method of putting an end to them, and at last gave the young women permission in this way: “You are always begging me to allow you to go and visit your mothers, and thinking that I am very hard-hearted because I do not let you go. Now you may go, but only upon condition that when you come back you will each bring me something I want. One of you shall bring me some fire wrapped in paper, the other shall bring me some wind in a paper, and the third shall bring me some music in wind. Unless you promise to bring me these, you are never to ask me to let you go home; and if you go and fail to get these for me, you are never to come back.”

The old man did not suppose that these conditions would be accepted, as they were difficult to understand, much less to fulfill, but the girls were young and thoughtless, and in their anxiety to get away did not consider any of that. So they made ready with speed, and in great glee started off on foot to visit their mothers. After they had walked a long distance; chatting about what they should do and whom they should see in their native village, the high heel of one of them slipped from under her foot, and she fell down. Owing to this mishap they all stopped to adjust the misplaced footgear, and while doing this the conditions under which alone they could return to their husbands came to mind, and they began to cry.

While they sat there crying by the roadside a young girl came riding along on a water buffalo. She stopped and asked them what was the matter, and whether she could help them. They told her she could do them no good; but she persisted in offering her sympathy and inviting their confidence, till at last they told her their story. At once, she said that if they would go home with her she would show them a way out of their trouble. Their case seemed so hopeless, and the girl on the water buffalo seemed so sure of her own power to help them, that they finally went with her to her father’s house, where she showed them how to comply with their father-in-law’s demand.

 

 stop

 

How can the first daughter-in-law bring back fire wrapped in paper?
How can the second daughter-in-law bring back wind in a paper?
How can the third daughter-in-law bring back music in wind?

 

For the first, a paper lantern would do. When lighted, it would be a fire, and its paper surface would encompass the blaze, so that it would truly be “some fire wrapped in paper.” For the second, a paper fan would suffice. When flapped, wind would issue from it, and the “wind wrapped in paper” could thus be carried to the old man. For the third, a set of chimes would provide music in the wind.

The three young women thanked the wise child, and went on their way rejoicing. After a pleasant visit to their home village, they took a paper lantern, a fan and a set of chimes, and returned to their father-in-law’s house. As soon as he saw them approach he began to vent his anger at their light regard for his commands, but they assured him that they had perfectly obeyed him, and showed him that what they had brought fulfilled the conditions required. Much astonished, he inquired how it was that they had suddenly become so clever, and they told him the story of their journey, and of the girl that had so fortunately come to their relief. He inquired whether the girl was already betrothed, and finding that she was not, he engaged a go-between to see if he could arrange for the girl on the water buffalo to marry his youngest son.

Having succeeded in securing the girl as a daughter-in-law, he brought her home. The father told all the rest of the family that as there was no mother in the house, and as this girl had shown herself to be possessed of extraordinary wisdom, that she should be the head of the household.

Some happy and prosperous years passed, the young wife bore many children, and all fared very well in the household.

 

end

 

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The Wizard Khizr ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.

The Wizard Khizr-Short Story for Kids

THE KING OF PERSIA was troubled. His people cried out for hunger and the land had been parched for too long. Enemies pounded at their borders and bandits attacked their travelers. The king longed for a visit from the Wizard Khizr, a magical figure known to mysteriously appear at times of trouble to give comfort and guidance.  “If ever there was a time for the Wizard Khizr to appear, this is it!” exclaimed the king.

Desperate, the king announced a proclamation. Anyone who could show him the Wizard Khizr would be richly rewarded with one thousand tumãns.

Now in the kingdom there lived a poor man who was beset by troubles of his own. He was very much in debt and worried that his family could never climb its way out of a life of hunger and poverty. When he heard the king’s announcement of the king, he came straightway to the palace.

“I will show you the Wizard Khizr,” declared the poor man, “though it may take some time.”

“How long?” said the king.

“Forty days,” said he, “but to complete the task I will need the thousand tumãns in advance.”

“Very well,” says the king. “Of course you realize that if you fail to show me the Wizard Khizr in forty days, you will lose your head.”

“I understand,” said the poor man. And so an agreement was drawn and signed. The king issued orders to release the money and the court attendants handed over the thousand tumãns.

The man returned home with a mixed heart. He paid back all his creditors and gave his wife the balance for the family. Then he settled down as best he could for what remained of the forty days.

On the morning of the fortieth day, he said to his wife, “My dear, today is the day I will be executed.”

“Alas!” she cried. “It must be so.”

At the palace, the poor man was greeted with much fanfare and was quickly ushered to the king. “Now,” boomed the king to the man who stands before him in his great hall, “I have waited long enough. The forty days expires today. Where is Khizr?”

“He is not here,” said the unhappy man. “O King, did you really imagine I could call up the Wizard Khizr? I was in debt and at my wits’ end, and I renounced my life. Now I have come here on my own feet and of my own free will for you to cut off my head.”

“What?!” cried the king. Taken aback, he summoned his four viziers for advice. As they seated themselves around the King, an old man entered the chambers at the back of the great hall.

The first vizier announced, “It would serve him right if you cut up his flesh with scissors.” The second vizier proclaimed, “It would be only right that you should put him in a baker’s oven and let him be burnt to death.”

Then the third of them rose and declared, “He deserves to be cut up into little pieces with a razor.”

The fourth vizier said, “O King, this man has played fairly. He came back as he said he would, knowing he faced the end of his life. How many others would do the same? I would be inclined to set him up with some money so that he could start his life anew.”

The king frowned and turns to his viziers. “Very different advice. How am I supposed to figure this out?” Then he noticed the old man at the back of the chambers. “You, in the back,” he said, “what do you say?”

“I might say,” said the old man, standing, “that your first vizier was by origin a tailor, for all his talk of scissors; and the second was formerly a baker, for he speaks of ovens; and the third a barber, with all his talk of razors. As far as the fourth, only he speaks as one who comes from a long line of viziers. For in truth it was out of desperation that this man put his head in jeopardy and he returned to your court of his own volition, knowing his fate. Rather than punishing him, your fourth vizier suggested that you help him to rebuild a useful life.” The old man rose and spread his robe. “And now, behold, you have seen Khizr!” The speaker vanished and all those in court gasped, “That was the Wizard Khizr, without a doubt!”

Immediately, the king ordered his attendants to search the grounds to find Khizr, but he had already vanished.  “I can’t believe the Wizard Khizr disappeared before I could ask his help!” groaned the king. “Why didn’t I catch him by the sleeve while he was still here?”

With the poor man still standing, awaiting his fate, the king decided that the very least he could do was to abide by whatever advice, however fleeting, he had received from the Wizard Khizr. So the king presented the flabbergasted poor man with a village and some money – stunned by the unexpected turn of events, he quickly rushed home to his family.

Then the king drove out the three viziers, keeping only the fourth. Thanks to the good counsel of the fourth vizier, before long the fortunes of the kingdom were reversed. For many years thereafter, the vizier’s advice helped the king to rule the land wisely and well.

 

end

 

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The Willow Leaf Eyebrow ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.




ONCE LONG AGO IN CHINA there lived a girl named Chen Lien who was very self-conscious about a large scar, caused by a childhood accident, that crossed one of her eyebrows. If by mistake she happened to catch her reflection in a mirror, she quickly turned away; the scar seemed three times larger than it really was to her. And so she avoided mirrors and reflections at all costs, and as she grew to become a young woman, she preferred to spend more and more time alone in the garden. Yet she remained helpful and pleasant to all.

One day a rich young man named Wu Tang was visiting Chen Lien’s neighbors in the house next door. As Wu Tang was climbing in the trees searching for bird’s nests, he happened to notice Chen Lien in the garden below, over the wall, stitching embroidery and humming to herself. He was so entranced by the young woman, who moved as gracefully as a willow branch and whose sweet voice hypnotized him, that he nearly fell from the branches. It so happened that the maiden sat with her good side facing toward him, and Wu Tang thought her the perfect vision of a soul mate.

He scurried down the tree. “I have found my bride!” Wu Tang declared to his parents. “Call the matchmaker at once.”

And so the matchmaker was summoned. After the usual discussion of gifts and negotiations, the matchmaker asked all others to leave the room. “I must have a moment alone with the young man,” said she.

“Wu Tang,” said the matchmaker. “As you know, the young woman is from a good family and carries herself with the grace of a princess. But there is something you may not know about her. You should know about a flaw to her beauty.”

“I have seen her with my own eyes!” exclaimed Wu Tang. “I will not hear you speak of any flaw!”

And so the wedding arrangements proceeded on schedule. Soon the day of the ceremony was at hand. Never was the garden of Chen Lien’s home more lovely, decorated with fresh flowers from stonewall to treetop. Yet while Chen Lien was standing in her bridal fineries, she felt uneasy. In the last moments before the ceremony began, she anxiously turned to her mother.

“Are you sure the matchmaker told him?”

“Yes, my child, I told you a hundred times,” said her mother. “She absolutely told him about your eyebrow and it does not matter to him in the least.” And the mother adjusted her daughter’s veil.

Yet as Chen Lien watched her husband-to-be laughing and talking with guests, she worried, “If he had been told, why wouldn’t he try to glance at me to try to see the scar through my veil? Why does he seem so unaware of it?”

After the wedding ceremony, the two of them were alone. The new husband lifted his bride’s veil, and who can blame him if he was startled when he first saw the eyebrow?

Poor Chen Lien saw the surprise on her husband’s face. She said, “Good husband, did not the matchmaker tell you of my bad eyebrow?” The young man was silent, so she went on.

“When I was a little girl,” she said, “my family was traveling far away to visit friends. I was playing in their garden when a little boy threw a heavy stone. I’m sure that he did not wish to hurt me, but it hit me on the forehead, and cut this gash where you now see a scar. I am sorry that I cannot come to you, my husband, perfect in every way.”

“O my bride,” said Wu Tang at last, “what was the name of that little boy who threw the stone?”

“Alas, I do not know; he was a visitor there like myself.”

“Was the garden in which you were playing that of the Li family in the city of Peking?” whispered Wu.

“O excellent husband, how could you know that?”

“Because that boy was myself,” said Wu. “My parents have often told me how I once threw a stone and cut the forehead of a little girl in the gardens of the Li family. It must be destiny itself that our ankles are now tied with the silken cord of marriage, so that I might finally make amends to you for the injury I caused. And now I know exactly what I must do.”

He called for the finest black ink and his thinnest writing brush, and with the brush and ink he drew a new eyebrow right through the scar. It was thin and curved, like a willow leaf, and it was so much like Chen Lien’s other perfect eyebrow that no one could tell them apart.

For all the many happy years that the two lovers lived together, every morning the husband Wu Tang painted a new willow-leaf eyebrow over the scar that he had made. And so the two of them lived their lives in perfect contentment.

end

 

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The White Tiger ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.




Long ago in a village near the Kumgang Mountains in Korea there lived a young boy. His father had been missing since he was a baby, and the boy knew very well the reason why.  An enormous White Tiger still lived in the Kumgang Mountains who had tormented the village for years, coming down to prey not only on horses and cattle, but even on the human beings who lived there. Years ago, his father, who had been the finest hunter and gunman in the land, ventured into the Kumgang Mountains to shoot the White Tiger and to save the village. He had never returned.

When the boy was still small he already decided deep in his heart that when he grew up, he would be the one to shoot down the tiger that had overpowered his father. As soon as he was allowed, he trained rigorously with the gun and became almost as good a gunman as his father had been.

When he was fifteen years old, the boy went to his mother and said, “Mother, I’m ready now to set out for the Kumgang Mountains to find the White Tiger and defeat him. Please, let me go.”

The mother did not want to lose her son, too. With tears in her eyes, she said, “Even a famous marksman like your father was lost to the terrible White Tiger. Please, son, quit dreaming about such nonsense and stay safe here at home.”

“Don’t worry, Mother,” the son cried. “I shall find the White Tiger, I know it!”

Finally the mother said, “Very well, as you wish. But first let me ask you one thing. Your father used to have me stand with a water jug on my head. Then he would shoot off the handle of the water jug from one mile away without spilling any water. Can you do the same thing?”

When he heard this, the young son immediately tried to match his father’s skill. He had his mother stand one whole mile away, with a water jug on top of her head. He took careful aim, but missed. So he gave up his idea of going to the mountains and instead, practiced three more years with the gun.

After three years, he tried again. This time he succeeded in knocking off the handle of the water jug on his mother’s head without spilling a drop of water. Then the mother said, “Actually son, your father was able to shoot the eye out of a needle from one mile away. Can you do this?”

The son asked his mother to place a needle in a tree trunk. Then he walked back for one mile. Taking careful aim, he let go a shot, but missed. Once again, he gave up the idea of going to the Kumgang Mountains and settled down to another three years of practicing even harder. At the end of three years, he was 21 years old by that time, he again tried the same trick. This time, with the crack of his gun, the eye of the needle fell to the ground.

Now in fact, what the mother had told her son about the amazing feats his father used to be able to do, were all lies. The mother had thought that if she told him impossible tales about the father, that the boy might give up his crazy idea of seeking the terrible White Tiger.  But now that he had actually succeeded in performing each of the feats she told him her husband could do, the mother could not help being impressed with his determination. So she gave permission for him to leave for the Kumgang Mountains.

The son was thrilled. He immediately set out. At the foothills he came across a small inn. An old woman, who was the innkeeper, asked the young man why he had come. He told her that his father had been a victim of the White Tiger years ago and that he had practiced for many years to avenge his death.

The old innkeeper then said, “Ah, yes, I knew your father. He was the greatest gunman in all the land. Why, he stopped here at this very inn, many years ago, before venturing into the Kumgang Mountains. Can you see that tall tree over there in the distance? Why, your father used to turn his back to that tree and then shoot down the highest leaf on the highest branch from over his shoulder. If you can’t do the same thing, how can you expect to defeat the White Tiger?”

The hunter’s son, when he heard this, said he also would try. He placed his gun over his shoulder and took aim and shot. But he missed. He knew then that he still wasn’t ready, and he asked the old innkeeper to let him stay with her a while. From that day, he kept practicing shooting over his shoulder at the tree. After three more years, he was finally able to shoot down the highest leaf on the highest branch.

Then the old innkeeper told the hunter’s son, “Just because you can do that, it still doesn’t mean you can outshoot your father. Why, your father used to set an ant on the side of a cliff and then, from a distance of three miles away, he would shoot that ant off without even scratching the surface of the cliff. No matter what a fine gunman you may be, certainly you can’t match that.”
The young man then tried to do what the old innkeeper said his father had done. Again he failed at first and had to practice three more years. Like the young man’s mother, it turns out that all that the old innkeeper had told him had been made up because she, too, only wanted to save his life. But the hunter’s son, not questioning her once, had practiced until he could do the tasks she said his father had done. The old innkeeper was filled with amazement.

“With your skill now, surely you will avenge your father’s death.” So saying, the old innkeeper prepared a bag with many rice balls for him to eat along the way. The hunter’s son thanked her and started out along the path leading into the heart of the Kumgang Mountains.

The young man pressed deeper and deeper into the mountains. For days and days he wandered through the wilderness. After all, the Kumgang Mountains have twelve thousand peaks and stretch over a vast area, and he had no means of knowing just where the White Tiger was hidden.  So he wandered on through the vast mountain ranges.

One day, while the hunter’s son was seated on a big rock nibbling a rice ball, a ragged old woman stumbled up to him and said, “Excuse me, sir. Could you spare an extra rice ball for me?”

The hunter’s son handed the old woman several rice-balls, which she ate ravenously. Then the old woman said, “We don’t see many strangers this deep into these mountains. What brings you here?”

When the hunter’s son explained, the old woman shook her head vigorously from side to side. “Nay, good fellow,” she said. “Forget about shooting the terrible White Tiger. He is too quick. As soon as the tiger desires to pounce, his next prey is gone. From one day to the next, we never know whether we are going to survive to see the morrow. You are a young man. You ought best to leave these mountains at once and go back home while you’re still alive!” Then the hunter’s son replied that no, he would not be persuaded to leave. He described how hard he had practiced for so many years, and that now, with his skill, he knew he could smite the White Tiger after all. “Well,” sighed the old woman, “if you are so sure, then you should know that the only way to shoot the White Tiger is to shoot him when all you see is but a white dot on the horizon. If you wait a single moment too late,” here she shook her finger, “or if you miss your first shot, believe me, all will be will be lost for you.”

The old woman left. The hunter’s son immediately took to scanning the horizon until he was entirely familiar with every curve and shadow on each mountainside far and wide. Thus he waited for hours, his gun at readiness.  While the sun was setting, a single white dot appeared in a fraction of a moment on a distant mountainside. No dot had been there the moment before, the young man was certain of that. Instantly, he fired at the white dot. His heart pounding, he raced toward the mountainside where he had aimed his shot.

And there he came upon the felled White Tiger, nearly as big as a mountain itself. It had collapsed with its mouth open, ready to swallow its next prey — him! Astonished by its size and thrilled that he had actually defeated the legendary beast, the son stepped into the dead tiger’s throat. Inside the tiger’s mouth, he followed a black tunnel. Eventually, he came to a vast room as large as a fairground. This was the giant White Tiger’s stomach.

Then the young man came upon an unconscious girl who lay huddled in a heap. The young hunter took the girl in his arms and nursed her until she awakened. The girl looked into his face and thanked him with all of her heart. She then revealed that she was the daughter of the king’s highest advisor, who was famous in the capital city. The young girl told him how just the night before, the great White Tiger had stolen her away while she was washing her hair outside on the veranda of her home.
Suddenly, the two of them heard what sounded like a human voice. Puzzled, they groped in the dark toward it. When lo! The voice belonged to an old man crouched in the corner. Who was it but none other than the boy’s father! He had survived all these years inside the White Tiger’s stomach on the prey swallowed by the great beast. The father and son rejoiced in having found one another at last.  Then together with the young girl, the three of them escaped through the tiger’s mouth and found that they were in the middle of a large field. The young man skinned a portion of the tiger, for he wanted to take home as a remembrance the beautiful white tiger-skin. Taking the young girl by one hand and his father by the other, he proudly returned home, where his mother was waiting for him. Words cannot describe her joy to see not only her son come safely back home, but her long lost husband, too!

Then the young hunter took the maiden to her home in the capital city. Her father cried tears of joy to see his daughter returning safe and sound. In gratitude, her father welcomed the young hunter into his family to become his daughter’s husband and to be heir to his name and fortune.

The young man’s mother and father proudly attended their son’s wedding day. And the young man and his bride lived happily ever after in the grand mansion of the king’s highest adviser.

 

end

 

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weighing elephant

Weighing the Elephant ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.




Weighing the Elephant-Short Story for Kids

Today it’s not at all unusual to see animals from other lands. We may go to a zoo, or we may see exotic animals in books, movies, or even on the Internet. But many centuries ago, when an animal that had never been seen before entered the land, it was a wondrous and momentous event. That’s how it was long ago in China, when a mighty emperor received an elephant as a gift from a ruler of a faraway land.

The royal court was abuzz with excitement. Word quickly spread throughout the land about the enormous creature. The question on everyone’s lips: how much could it weigh?

The emperor was curious, too. One day, he and his mandarins were discussing that very question. But the puzzle was – how to weigh it? No scales in China were big enough to weigh such a huge animal.

“Father.” The Emperor looked down to see his six-year-old son tugging at his royal robes. “I know how to weigh it.” The mandarins chuckled that the boy would be so bold. But after the Emperor’s son explained his idea, they weren’t chuckling anymore.

stop
What did he say?
How would you weigh the elephant?

This was the boy’s secret:  “Here’s what you do,” said the boy. “Put the elephant in a big boat and let the boat sit out on the water. Draw a line on the boat where it sits right on the water, at the watermark. Then bring the boat to shore and let the elephant off. Gather a lot of big stones. Put the stones on the boat until the boat, when it’s out on the water again, sinks to the same watermark line it had when the elephant was in it. Then take the stones out of the boat and weigh them, one by one! That’s how you can tell how much the elephant weighs!”

“Wonderful! Wonderful!” shouted everyone. And the fame of emperor’s son traveled far and wide.

 

end

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The Wanderings of Vicram Maharajah ~ Short Story No Reviews Posted.

THERE WAS ONCE a king or rajah named Vicram Maharajah, and he had a vizier or prime minister named Butti.   Both Vicram Maharajah and Butti were left orphans when very young, and ever since their parents’ deaths they had lived together, were educated together and loved each other tenderly – like brothers.

Both were good and kind – no poor man coming to the rajah was ever known to have been sent away disappointed, for it was his delight to give food and clothes to those in need.  Indeed, Vicram Maharajah was the spur of every noble work.  Still, there were times when the king was too apt to let his imagination run away with his reason, and at those times the vizier, by offering careful judgment and discretion, provided the curb to every rash or impractical impulse. Under their united rule, the kingdom greatly prospered.

In a country far away from Vicram Maharajah’s there lived a little Queen called Anar Ranee (the Pomegranate Queen).  Her parents reigned over the Pomegranate country, and for her they had made a beautiful garden.  In the middle of the garden was a lovely pomegranate tree that bore three large pomegranates.  Each one opened in the center and inside was a little bed.  In one of them Anar Ranee used to sleep, and in the pomegranates on either side, slept two of her maids.

Early each morning the pomegranate tree would gently bend its branches to the ground, the fruit would open, and Anar Ranee and her attendants would creep out to play under the shadow of the cool tree until evening.  And each night the tree again bent down to allow them to climb into their tiny, snug bedrooms.

Many princes wished to marry Anar Ranee for she was said to be the fairest lady on earth – her hair was as black as a raven’s wing, her eyes like the eyes of a gazelle, her teeth two rows of exquisite pearls, and her cheeks the color of the rosy pomegranate.  But her father and mother had caused her garden to be hedged around with seven hedges made of bayonets so that none could go in or out, and they had published a decree that none could marry her but he who could enter the garden and gain entry to the three pomegranates, in which she and her two maids slept.  To do this, kings, princes, and nobles innumerable had striven, but striven in vain.

Some never got past the first sharp hedge of bayonets; others, more fortunate, surmounted the second hedge, the third, or the fourth, or fifth, or even the sixth, but there they perished miserably, being unable to climb the seventh.  None had ever succeeded in entering the garden.

Now in the palace of Vicram Maharajah there lived an old wizard, as powerful as he was wise, who much loved the king and his vizier. One day he said to Vicram Maharajah, “Sire, I have given you much wisdom in our years together.  Now as a parting gift, since I can tell my days are coming to an end, ask of me what you will and it shall be yours – riches, power, beauty, long life, health, happiness – choose what you will have.”

Now it happened that near the palace there lived the son of a carpenter who was very cunning.  For a long time he had been coming to where the wizard taught the Maharajah and hid close behind so he could overhear all their conversations and become very wise himself.  No sooner, therefore, did he hear the wizard’s offer to Vicram Maharajah, than he determined to return again when the king did, and find out the secret of the promised gift, whatever it may be.

When Vicram Maharajah returned to the palace, he consulted his vizier and friend Butti as to what he should ask for. “I have more than enough riches,” he said, “and as king, I have enough power.  For the rest of it I’d just as soon take my chances with other men, which makes me at a loss to know what to choose.”

Butti said, “Is there any supernatural power you desire at all?  If so, ask for that.”

“As a matter of fact,” replied the Maharajah, “it has always been a great desire of mine to have the power to leave my body and translate my soul and sense into some other body, either of man or animal.  I would rather be able to do that than anything else.”

“Then,” said the vizier, “ask the wizard to give you the power.”

Next morning Vicram Maharajah went to have his final interview with the wizard.  And the carpenter’s son went, too, in order to overhear it.

The wizard said to the rajah, “Vicram, what gift do you choose?”

“Oh wizard,” answered the king, “Already I have plenty of wealth and power from being rajah.  And of long life, health, and happiness, I would rather take my chances with other men.  But there is a power which I desire above all else.”

“Name it, oh good son of a good father,” said the wizard.

“Most wise wizard,” replied Vicram Maharajah, “give me the power to leave my own body when I want, and translate my soul and sense and thinking powers into any other body that I choose, either of man, bird, or beast – whether for a day, or a year, or for twelve years, or as long as I like; grant also that however long the term of my absence, my body may not decay, but that when I please to return to it again, I may find it still as fresh as when I left it.”

“Vicram,” answered the wizard, “your wish is fulfilled,” and he instructed the king by what means he should translate his soul into another body, and also gave him something which, being placed within his own body when he left it, would preserve it from decay until his return.

The carpenter’s son, who had been all this time listening outside, heard and learned the spell whereby the wizard gave Vicram Maharajah the power to enter into any other body; but he could not see or find out what was given to the king to place within his own body when he left it, to preserve it; so he was only master of half the secret.

Vicram Maharajah returned home and told Butti that he now knew the much-desired secret.  “My first journey,” he said to Butti, “will be to fly to Pomegranate country and bring back for you Anar Ranee, for I know that from the time the two of you chanced to meet years ago, you have desired one another.”

His friend was surprised and delighted.  “I’d nearly given up on our love,” he said, “knowing how impossible her parents made it to reach her and even if I survived the attempt, that they would never approve a match for their daughter with a lowly vizier. How can you do what you suggest?”

“I will transport myself into the body of a parrot and fly over the seven hedges or bayonets that surround her garden.  I’ll go to the tree in the center of it, bite off the stalks of the pomegranates and bring them home in my beak.”

“That’s wonderful,” said the vizier.  He picked up a parrot on the ground which had recently died.  Vicram Maharajah, after placing within his own body the life-preserving charm, transported his soul into the parrot and flew off.

On and on he went over the hills and far away until he came to the garden.  Then he flew over the seven hedges of bayonets, and with his beak broke off the three pomegranates (in which were Anar Ranee and her two ladies).  Holding them by the stalks, he brought them safely home to his palace.  Then he immediately left the parrot’s body and re-entered his own body.

When Butti saw how well he had accomplished the feat, he said, “Thank you!  Already you have done well with your gift!”  All who saw Anar Ranee were pleased with her beauty, for she was as fair as a lotus flower, and the vizier and Anar Ranee were very happy indeed.

But in a little while Vicram Maharajah said to Butti, “Again, I have a great desire to see the world.”

“What?” said the vizier, “so soon again to leave your home?”

“I love you and my people dearly,” answered the king, “but I cannot but feel a longing to use this supernatural power of taking any form I please to see the world.”

“Where will you go? How long will you be?” asked Butti.

“I’ll leave the day after tomorrow,” answered Vicram Maharajah.  “I noticed in the garden another beautiful parrot just died – a handsome bird, with a tuft of bright feathers on its head and ring about its neck.  I shall take its form, and see as much of the world as possible.”

So Vicram Maharajah arranged for the kingdom to be left in the vizier’s sole charge. He cut a small incision in his arm and rubbed into it some of the magic preservative given him by the wizard to keep his body from decaying, transported his soul into the parrot’s body, and flew away.

No sooner did the carpenter’s son hear that the king was dead, than, knowing the power that both he and Vicram Maharajah owned, he felt certain that the king had made use of it, and decided likewise to turn it to his advantage.  Therefore, as soon as Vicram Maharajah entered the parrot’s body, the carpenter’s son entered the king’s body, and the world at large imagined that the king had only swooned and recovered.

But the vizier was wiser than they. Immediately he thought, “Someone beside Vicram Maharajah must have become acquainted with this spell and is now making use of it, thinking it would be very amusing to play the part of king for a while.  Soon I’ll discover if this is the case or not.”

He confided his doubts that night to his wife Anar Ranee when they were alone.

“Yet what can we do?” said she.

“We cannot cast him into prison, since he inhabits the body of our Vicram Maharajah,” said Butti, “but neither of us, nor any of the Maharajah’s relations, must have any friendship with, or so much as speak to him; and if he speaks to any of us, let whoever it be, immediately begin to quarrel with him, whereby he will find the life of a rajah not so agreeable as he anticipated, and may be induced to return to his proper form.”

Anar Ranee instructed all the servants and court officials as her husband had advised, and the carpenter’s son began to think the life of a rajah not at all as pleasant as he had fancied, and would, if he could, have gladly returned to his own body again.  But, having no power to preserve it, his spirit had no sooner left it than it began to decay and at the end of three days it was quite destroyed, so that the unhappy man had no alternative but to remain where he was.

Meantime the real Vicram Maharajah had flown, in the form of a parrot, very far away until he reached a large banyan tree where there were a thousand other pretty pollies, whom he joined, making their number a thousand and one.  Every day the parrots flew away to get food, and every night they returned to roost in the great banyan tree.

Now it chanced that a hunter had often gone through that part of the jungle, and noticed the banyan tree and all the parrots.  He said to himself, “If I could only catch the thousand and one parrots that nightly roost in that tree, I would have plenty of curry for a long, long time.”  But he could not do it, though he often tried, for the trunks of the tree were tall, straight and very slippery, so that he no sooner climbed up a little way, than he slid down again.  However, he did not stop looking and longing for them.

One day, a heavy shower of rain drove all the parrots back earlier than usual to their tree.  When they got there, they found a thousand crows who had stopped at their tree on their homeward flight to shelter themselves there till the storm was over.

Vicram Maharajah’s parrot said to the other parrots, “Look! These crows have all sorts of seeds and fruits in their beaks which they are carrying home to their little ones.  We must quickly drive them away before some of these fall down under our tree and then spring up strong plants that will twine around the trunks, and enable our enemy the hunter to climb up with ease and kill us all.”

But the other parrots said, “That is a very far-fetched idea!  We musn’t drive the poor birds away from shelter in this pouring rain.”  So the crows were not driven away.  It turned out, however, just as Vicram Maharajah had foretold; some of the fruits and seeds in their beaks fell under the tree and the seeds took root and sprang up, strong creeping plants, which twined all round the straight trunks of the banyan tree, and made it very easy to climb.

The next time the hunter came by, he noticed this.  “Ah, my fine friends,” he said, “I’ve got you at last.”  With the help of the creepers, he climbed the tree and set one thousand and one snares of fine thread among the branches.  Having done this, he went away.

That night, when the parrots flew down on the branches as usual, they found themselves all caught by the feet.

“Crick! crick! crick!” cried they, “crick! crick!  Oh dear!  Oh dear!  What shall we do?  What can we do?  Oh, Vicram Maharajah, you were right and we were wrong.  Oh dear!  Oh dear!  Crick! crick!”

Then Vicram said, “Did I not tell you how it would be?  But do as I bid you now and we may yet be saved.  So as soon as the hunter comes to take us away, let everyone hang his head down on one side, as if he were dead. Thinking us dead, he will not trouble himself to wring our necks, or stick the heads of those he wishes to keep alive through his belt, as he otherwise would, but will merely release us and throw us on the ground.  Let each one remain perfectly still until the whole thousand and one are set free and the hunter begins to descend the tree.  Then we will all fly up over his head and far out of sight.”

The parrots agreed to do as Vicram Maharajah Parrot proposed.  When the hunter came next morning to take them away, every one had his eyes shut and his head hanging down on one side as if he were dead.  The hunter said, “All dead, indeed!  This will be easier than I thought!”  So saying, he cut the noose that held the first parrot and threw him down.  It fell like a stone to the ground, so did the second, the third, the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and so on – up to the thousandth parrot.

Now the thousandth and first chanced to be none other than Vicram; all were released but he.  Just as the hunter was going to cut the noose round his feet, he let his knife fall, and had to go down and pick it up again.  When the thousand parrots who were on the ground heard him coming down, they thought, “The thousand and one must all be released now, and here comes the hunter.  We must now fly away to safety.”  And in one moment they flew up into the air together and far out of sight, leaving poor Vicram Maharajah still a prisoner.

The hunter, seeing what had happened, was very angry.  Seizing Vicram, he said, “You wretched bird, it’s you that worked all this mischief.  I know it must be, for you are a stranger here and different from the other parrots.  I’ll strangle you in any event – that I will!”

But to his surprise the parrot answered, “Do not kill me!  What good will that do?  Rather sell me in the next town.  I am very handsome.  And a parrot that talks as well as I do will fetch a thousand gold mohurs (several thousand dollars).”

“A thousand gold mohurs!” answered the hunter, much astonished.  “You silly bird, who’d be so foolish as to give a thousand gold mohurs for a parrot?”

“Never mind,” said Vicram, “only take me and try.”

So the hunter took him into town and though most people laughed at the price, one merchant took a fancy to the talking bird, paid the thousand gold mohurs, and taking Vicram Maharajah home, hung him up in his shop.

The Parrot took on the duties of shopkeeper and talked so much, and so wisely, that everyone in town soon heard of the merchant’s wonderful bird.  Nobody cared to go to any other shop – all came to his shop, only to hear the Parrot talk.  The merchant sold them whatever they wanted, and they did not care how much he charged for what he sold, but gave him whatever he asked; insomuch, that in one week, the merchant had made a thousand gold mohurs over and above his usual weekly profits.  In the shop, Vicrema Maharajah Parrot lived for a long time, made much of by everybody, and was happy.

It was now two years since the Vicram Maharajah had left his kingdom.  About six months before, Butti, in despair of his ever returning, said goodbye to his wife and set out to seek him.  Up and down through many countries had he gone, searching for his master, but without success.  As good fortune would have it, however, he chanced to enter the village where the merchant lived and overhead the villagers extolling the virtues of the famed parrot that lived in the merchant’s shop.  No sooner did he enter the shop and see the Parrot, than he recognized Vicram.  The king also saw his friend and instantly flew onto his shoulder.  The vizier caught him, put him in a cage where he would be safe, and took him home.  The merchant was sorry to see him go but could not complain, for he had succeeded so handsomely with the parrot.

Now was a puzzling problem to be solved.  Vicram Maharajah’s soul was in the parrot’s body and the carpenter’s son’s soul in the king’s body. How could the carpenter’s son’s soul be expelled to make way for the king to return to his own body?  The carpenter’s son could not return to his own body, for that had perished long before.

It happened that the pretend Maharajah and Butti each had a fighting ram.  One day the vizier suggested to the pretend Maharajah, “Let us set our rams to fight today, and try the strength of yours against mine.”

“Agreed,” answered the pretend king, who was glad to at be addressed in a pleasant manner, and the two of them set their rams to fight.  But there was much difference in the two rams; for when Butti’s ram was but a lamb, and his horns were growing, Butti had tied him to a lime tree and his horns had got very strong indeed by constantly rubbing against its tender stem, and butting against it.  But the carpenter’s son had tied his ram, when a lamb, to a young teak tree – the trunk of which was so stout and strong that the little creature, butting against it, could make no impression on it but only damaged and loosened his own horns.

The pretend Maharajah soon saw, to his vexation, that his favorite’s horns being less strong than its opponent’s he was getting tired, was beginning to lose courage, and would surely be worsted in the fight.  So quick as thought, he left his own body and transported his soul into the ram’s body in order to give it an increase of courage and resolution and enable it to win.

No sooner did Vicram Maharajah, who was hanging up in a cage, see what had taken place, than he left the parrot’s body and re-entered his own body, which had already fallen to the ground. In the meantime, Butti’s ram suddenly pushed the other down on its knees, and soon put an end to it, ending in one instant the life of the carpenter’s son along, unfortunately, with that of the ram.

Great was the joy of the vizier and his wife, and the entire royal household, at recovering their beloved Vicram Maharajah after his long absence. The vizier prevailed upon the king to fly away no more as a parrot, and he pledged to remain in the kingdom.

From that day, Vicram Maharajah stayed in his own kingdom, ruling it wisely and well, and beloved by all.  He and the vizier lived to a good old age, and their affection for each other lasted as long as they lived.  So that it became a proverb in that country that instead of saying, “So-and-so love each other like brothers” (when speaking of two who were much attached), the people would say, “So-and-so love each other like the rajah and the vizier.”

end

 

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Wali Dad ~ Short Story 5/5 (1)




Wali Dad-Short Story for Kids

V0045759 An Indian man riding a camel. Gouache painting by an Indian Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org An Indian man riding a camel. Published: [18–?] Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Once upon a time there lived in India a poor old baldheaded man whose name was Wali Dâd. He had no family but lived all by himself in a little mud hut far from any town, and he made his living by cutting grass in the jungle and selling it as feed for horses. He only earned five halfpence a day, but he was a simple old man and needed so little that he saved up one halfpenny each day and spent the rest on food and clothing as he needed.

In this way he lived for many years. One night, he thought that he would count the money he had hidden away in the great earthen pot under the floor of his hut. So with much trouble he pulled the bag out onto the floor and sat gazing in astonishment at the heap of coins that tumbled out of it. What should he do with this pile of money? He never thought of spending the money on himself, because he was content to pass the rest of his days as he had been doing for ever so long, and he had no desire for any greater comfort or luxury.

At last, he threw all the money into an old sack, which he pushed under his bed, and fell asleep under his ragged old blanket. Early next morning, he staggered off with his sack of money to the shop of a jeweler whom he knew in the town, and bargained with him for a beautiful gold bracelet. With this carefully wrapped up in his cotton waistband, he went to the house of a rich friend.  His friend was a traveling merchant and wandered about with his camels and merchandise through many countries. Wali Dâd was lucky enough to find him at home. After a little talk, he asked the merchant who was the most virtuous and beautiful lady he had ever met. The merchant quickly replied that without a doubt, that would be the Princess of Khaistan, who was renowned everywhere as much for her beauty as for her kind and generous disposition.

“Then,” said Wali Dâd, “next time you go that way, give her this little bracelet, with the respectful compliments of one who admires virtue far more than he desires wealth.”

With that he pulled the bracelet from his waistband and handed it to his friend. The merchant was naturally much astonished, but he said nothing and made no objection to carrying out his friend’s plan.     At length, the merchant arrived at the capital of Khaistan. He presented himself at the palace and sent in the bracelet, neatly packed in a little perfumed box he himself had provided, giving at the same time the message entrusted to him by Wali Dâd.

The princess could not imagine who could have bestowed this present on her, but graciously offered a return gift of a camel-load of rich silks, besides a present of money for himself. With those he set out on his journey.

Some months later he reached home again and at once he took the princess’ present to Wali Dâd. Great was the perplexity of that good man to find a camel-load of silk tumbled at his door! What was he to do with these costly things? After much thought, he begged the merchant to consider if he knew of some young prince to whom such treasures might be useful.

“Of course,” the merchant said, greatly amused. “From Delhi to Baghdad, and from Constantinople to Lucknow, I know them all; and there lives no prince worthier than the gallant and wealthy young Prince of Nekabad.”

“Very well, then, take these silks to him with the blessing of an old man,” said Wali Dâd, much relieved to be rid of them.

The merchant in due course arrived at Nekabad, where he sought an audience with the prince. There he produced the beautiful gift of silks from Wali Dâd, and he begged the young man to accept them as a humble tribute to his worth and greatness. The prince was much touched, and ordered twelve of the finest horses for which his country was famous to be delivered over as a return present for Wali Dâd. The prince also gave the merchant a large reward for his services.

As before, Wali Dad could not imagine what to do with the twelve fine horses. Finally, he gave two to the merchant, and begged him to take the other ten back to the worthy Princess of Khaistan.

True to his old friend’s request, the merchant took the horses with him on his next journey and eventually presented them to the princess. This time the princess sent for the merchant and questioned him about the giver. Now the merchant was usually a most honest man; yet he did not quite like to describe Wali Dâd in his true light as an old man whose income was five halfpence a day and who hardly had clothes to cover himself. So he told her that his friend had heard of her beauty and goodness and had longed to lay the best he had at her feet. The princess then took her father into her confidence and begged him to advise what courtesy she might return to the man who persisted in making her such presents.

“Well,” said the king, “you cannot refuse them. The best thing you can do is to send this unknown friend at once a present so magnificent that he is not likely to be able to send you anything better — and so will be ashamed to send anything at all!”

He then ordered that in return for each of the ten horses, the princess should send back twenty mules laden with silver. Thus in a few hours the merchant found himself in charge of such a splendid caravan that he had to hire a number of armed men to defend it against robbers. He was glad indeed to find himself back again in Wali Dâd’s hut.

“What is this?” Wali Dâd exclaimed as he viewed all the wealth laid at his door, “My friend, kindly accept four mules and their load for your trouble and expense, and take the rest of the mules and the silver straight to that kind prince of Nekabad.”

The merchant felt handsomely paid for his trouble. As soon as he could get things ready, he set out to Nekabad with this new and princely gift.

This time the prince, too, was embarrassed, and he questioned the merchant closely. The merchant could not help describing Wali Dâd in such glowing terms that the old man would never have known himself had he heard them. The prince, like the King of Khaistan, determined to return a gift that would be truly royal and that would perhaps prevent the unknown giver from sending him anything more. So he made up a caravan of twenty splendid horses decorated in gold-embroidered cloth, with fine morocco saddles and silver bridles and stirrups; also twenty camels of the very best breed; and what’s more, twenty elephants with magnificent silver seats having silver canopies and covered by silk embroidered with pearls. It was necessary for the merchant to hired a little army of men to protect these fine animals, and the troop made a great show as it traveled along the roads of India.

“More riches!” cried Wali Dâd when the caravan arrived at his door. “What has an old man like me with one foot in the grave to do with riches? That beautiful young princess, now — she’d be the one to enjoy all these fine things! My friend, take for yourself two horses, two camels and two elephants with all their decorations, and present the rest to her.”

The merchant at first objected and pointed out to Wali Dâd that he was beginning to find these visits a little awkward. Of course he was himself richly repaid, but still he did not like going so often and he was getting nervous. At length, however, he consented to go once more, but he promised himself never to embark on another such enterprise.

So, after a few days’ rest, the caravan started off once more for Khaistan. The King of Khaistan was dumbstruck when he heard that these were another present from the princely Wali Dâd to the princess, his daughter. He went hastily off to his daughter and said, “My dear, this man wants to marry you — that must be the meaning of all these presents! He must be a man of immense wealth, and as he is so devoted to you, perhaps you might do worse than marry him! There is nothing for it but to go and pay him a visit in person.”
The princess agreed, and arrangements were made for the king and the princess to pay a visit to the great and munificent Prince Wali Dâd. The merchant, at the king’s command, was to guide the party.

Willingly would the poor merchant have run away, but he was treated with so much hospitality, as Wali Dâd’s representative, that he hardly got an instant’s peace and never any opportunity of slipping away. In fact, after a few days, despair possessed him to such a degree he made up his mind that it was fate and escape was impossible.

Day after day they moved on, and each day the poor merchant felt more miserable. He wondered what kind of death the king would invent for him, and he went through almost as much torture lying awake at night thinking over his situation as he would have suffered if the king’s executioners were already setting to work upon his neck.

At last they were only one day’s march from Wali Dâd’s little mud hut. Here a great encampment was made, and the merchant was sent on to tell Wali Dâd that the King and Princess of Khaistan had arrived and were seeking an interview. The merchant found Wali Dâd eating his evening meal of onions and dry bread, and when he told him of all that had happened, he had not the heart also to scold him. For Wali Dâd was overwhelmed with grief and shame for himself as well as for his friend, and for the name and honor of the princess; and he wept and plucked at his beard and groaned most piteously. With tears he begged the merchant to detain them for one day with any excuse he could think of and to come back the next morning to discuss what they should do.

As soon as the merchant was gone, Wali Dâd went off in the middle of the night. Where he headed was a place where the river ran at the base of steep, rocky cliffs; there he was determined to throw himself over and put an end to his life. At the very edge of that dreadful black gulf, he stopped short. He could not do it!

Soon he was aware of a gentle radiance close by. Surely morning had not yet come to reveal his disgrace! He took his hands away from his face and saw two lovely fairies.

“Why do you weep, old man?” said one, her voice as clear and musical as that of a nightingale.

“I weep for shame,” he replied.

“What are you doing here?” said the other.
“I came here to die,” said Wali Dâd. And as they questioned him, he confessed his whole story.

When he had told all, the first fairy stepped forward and laid a hand upon his shoulder. Now Wali Dâd began to feel that something strange — he did not know what — was happening to him. His old cotton rags had become beautiful linen and embroidered cloth. On his callused feet he felt warm, soft shoes. On his head was a great jeweled turban. As he stood in wonder, like a man in a dream, the other fairy waved her hand and bade him turn his head. Lo, before him a noble gateway stood open to an avenue of giant plane trees. Up this avenue the fairies led him, dumb with amazement; and at the end of the avenue, on the very spot where his hut had stood, a shining palace appeared, ablaze with light. At last Wali Dâd stood before the palace, stunned and helpless.

“Fear not,” said one of the fairies. “This is as rich as your generous spirit.” Then both fairies disappeared. He walked into the palace, still thinking that he must be dreaming, and retired to rest in a splendid room, far grander than any he had ever dreamed of. When he woke at dawn he found that the palace and his servants were all real, and that he was not dreaming, after all!

If Wali Dâd was dumbfounded, you can only imagine the surprise of his old friend the merchant, who was ushered into the palace soon after sunrise. The merchant told Wali Dâd that he had not slept all night and had started at dawn to seek him. What a search he had had! The great stretch of wild country the merchant remembered that surrounded his friend’s mud hut had changed in the middle of the night to parks and gardens! Had it not been for some of Wali Dâd’s new servants, who brought the merchant to the palace, he would have fled thinking that his troubles had driven him mad, and that what he had seen was a hallucination.

Then Wali Dâd told the merchant all that had happened. On the merchant’s advice, he sent an invitation to the King and Princess of Khaistan, together with all their retinue down to the very humblest servant. For three nights and days a great feast was held in honor of the royal guests. Each evening the king and his nobles were served on golden plates and with golden cups, those of lesser rank on silver plates and silver cups, and each time the guests were requested to keep the plates and cups as a remembrance. Never had anything so splendid been seen. Besides the feasting, there were sports and hunting, dances and amusements of all kinds.

On the fourth day the King of Khaistan took his host aside and asked him whether it was true, as he suspected, that Wali Dâd wished to marry his daughter. Wali Dâd, after thanking him very much for the compliment, said that he had never dreamed of so great an honor and that he was far too old and ugly for so fair a lady. But he begged the king to stay with him until he could send for the Prince of Nekabad, who was a most excellent, brave and honorable young man and would surely be delighted to win the hand of the beautiful princess.

To this the king agreed, and Wali Dâd sent the merchant to Nekabad with a number of attendants and with such handsome presents that the prince came at once, fell head over ears in love with the princess and married her in Wali Dâd’s palace amidst great rejoicing.

As for Wali Dâd, he lived to a good old age, befriending all who were in trouble, and preserving in his prosperity the simple-hearted and generous nature that had been his when he had been only Wali Dâd, the grass cutter.

 

end

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Lauren

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Thanks for sharing such a great story. My students will love reading it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

two princesses

The Two Princesses ~ Short Story 5/5 (1)

Two Princesses-Short Story for Kids

ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a Rajah (king) who was left with two little daughters, the two princesses, when his wife died. Not very long after his first wife died, he married again. His second wife did not care for her step-children and was often unkind to them. The Rajah, their father, never troubled himself to look after them, but allowed his wife to treat them as she liked. This made the poor girls very miserable, and one day one of them said to the other, “Let’s not stay here any more. Come away into the jungle, for nobody here cares whether we go or stay.”

So they both walked off into the jungle and lived for many days on jungle fruits. After they had wandered on for a long while, they came to a fine palace which belonged to an Ogre, but both the Ogre and his wife were out when they got there.

One of the princesses said to the other, “This fine palace, in the middle of the jungle, can belong to no one but the horrible Ogre that has plagued our people for so long. But no one is at home now; let’s go in and see if we can find anything to eat. I am so tired of jungle fruit.”

So they went into the Ogres’ house and found some rice. One princess kept watch out the window while the other boiled their dinner. But hardly had they finished their meal and returned the dishes to the sink when the Ogre and his wife returned home. The two princesses were so frightened that they ran up to the top of the house and hid themselves on the flat roof, where they could look down on one side into the inner courtyard of the house, and from the other could see the open country. The rooftop was a favorite resort of the Ogre and his wife. Here they would sit on the hot summer evenings; here they winnowed the grain, and hung out the clothes to dry; and the two princesses found shelter behind some sheaves of corn that were waiting to be thrashed.

When the Ogre came into the house he looked around and said to his wife, “Somebody has been moving the furniture, everything looks different. Wife, did you do this?”

“No,” she said, “I don’t know who can have done all this.”

“Someone also has been cooking the rice,” continued the Ogre. “Wife, did you cook the rice?”

“No,” she answered. “I did not do it. I don’t know who did.”

Then the Ogre walked around and around several times with his nose up in the air, saying, “Someone is here now. I smell human flesh and blood! Where can they be?”

“Stuff and nonsense,” said the wife. “You smell flesh and blood, indeed! Why, with all the humans you killed only this morning, I should wonder if you didn’t still smell flesh and blood!”

They went on quarreling this way until the Ogre said, “Well, never mind, I don’t know how it is, but I’m very thirsty. Let’s go outside and drink some water.”

So both the Ogre and his wife went to a well close to the house, and begin letting down jars into it, and drawing up the water, and drinking it. And the princesses, who were on the top of the house, saw them. Now the younger of the two princesses was a very clever girl, and when she saw the Ogre and his wife by the well, she said to her sister, “I will do something now that will be good for us and good for everyone.” Running down quickly from the top of the house, she crept close behind the Ogre and his wife as they stood on top-toe more than half over the side of the well, and, catching hold of one of the Ogre’s heels with one hand with one of his wife’s with the other, gave each a mighty push, and down they both tumbled into the well and were drowned, the Ogre and the Ogre’s wife!

The princess then returned to her sister and said, “I killed the Ogres.”

“What, both of them?” cried her sister.

“Yes, both,” she said.

“Won’t they come back?” said her sister.

“Never,” answered she.

So the two princesses took possession of the house, and lived there very happily for a long time. In it they found heaps and heaps of rich clothes and jewels, gold and silver, which the Ogres had taken from people they had murdered, and all around the house were folds for the flocks and sheds for the herds of cattle which the Ogres owned. Every morning the youngest princess used to drive out the flocks and herds to pasture and return home with them every night, while the elder one stayed at home, cooked the dinner, and kept the house.

The younger princess, who was the wise one, would often say to her sister in the morning, “Take care that if you see any stranger (be it a man, woman, or child) come by the house, to hide, if possible, that nobody may know that we live here. If anyone should call out and ask for a drink of water, or any poor beggar ask for food, before you give it to them be sure you put on ragged clothes and cover your face with charcoal and make yourself as ugly-looking as possible. Otherwise, seeing how fair you are, they might steal you away and we would never meet again.”

“Very well,” her older sister would answer, “I will do as you advise.”

But a long time passed, and no one ever came by that way. At last one day, after the younger princess had gone out, an old Ranee (queen), the wife of a neighboring Rajah, who had been traveling for many days with her attendants, came near the place when searching for water (for she and her people had been seeking all through the jungle for a stream, but could find none). When the Ranee saw the fine palace, standing all by itself in the middle of the jungle, she was very much astonished and said, “It is a strange thing that anyone should have built such a house as this in the depths of the forest. Let us go in; the owners will doubtless give us a drink of water.”

“No, no, do not go,” cried her attendants. “This is most assuredly the house of an Ogre.”

“I should scarcely think anything very terrible lives here for there is not a sound stirring, nor a living creature to be seen.”

So she began tapping at the door, which was bolted, and called, “Will whoever owns this house give me and my people some water to drink?”

But nobody answered, for the princess, who heard her coming, was busy up in her room, blacking her face with charcoal and covering her rich dress with rags. Then the Ranee got impatient and shook the door, saying angrily, “Let me in, whoever you are! If you don’t, I’ll force the door open!”

At this the poor little princess got dreadfully frightened, and having blacked her face and made herself look as ugly as possible, she ran downstairs with a pitcher of water. Unbolting the door, she gave the Ranee the pitcher to drink from, but the maiden did not speak, for she was afraid. Now the Ranee was a very clever woman, and as she raised the pitcher to her mouth to drink the water, she thought to herself, “This is a very strange-looking creature who has brought me this jug of water. She would be pretty, but that her face seems to need washing, and her dress also is very untidy. What can that black stuff be on her face and hands? It looks very unnatural.” And so instead of drinking the water, she threw it in the princess’ face! The princess started back with a little cry while the water, trickling down her face, washed off the charcoal and showed her delicate features and beautiful complexion. The Ranee caught hold of her hand and said, “Now tell me true, who are you? Where do you come from? Who are your father and mother? And why are you here alone by yourself in the jungle? Answer me, or I’ll have your head cut off!” And she summoned one of her guards, who drew his sword. The princess was so terrified she could hardly speak, but as best she could, she told how she was the daughter of a king, and had run away into the jungle because of her cruel stepmother, and finding the house had lived there ever since, and, having finished her story, she began to cry.

Then the Ranee said to her, “Pretty child, forgive me for my roughness; do not fear; I will take you home with me. As the daughter of a Rajah you shall be a proper wife for my son.” But the more she spoke to the princess the more frightened the princess became, and could do nothing but cry.

Now the girl had said nothing to the queen about her sister, nor even told her that she had one, for she thought, “This Ranee says she will kill me; if she hears that I have a sister, they may kill her too.”

At last the Ranee said to one of her servants, “Place this young lady in one of the palanquins and we will set off for home.” And so they did.

When the princess found herself shut up in the palanquin and being carried she knew not where, she thought how terrible if would be for her sister to return home and find her gone, and determined, if possible, to leave some sign to show her which way she had been taken.

Round her neck were many strings of pearls. She untied them, and tearing her sari (robe) into little bits, tied one pearl in each piece of the sari, that it might be heavy enough to fall straight to the ground. And so she went on, dropping one pearl and then another and another, all the way she went along, until they reached the palace where the queen lived. She threw the last remaining pearl down just as they reached the palace gate.

The Ranee commanded her son to appear. When he did, she said, “My son, you have tarried long enough in choosing a bride. I told you that if you did not choose one for yourself I would find one for you and so I have. Here she is.” And she thrust the girl forward. She was still weeping and the prince could tell that she was hardly a willing bride. When they were alone, he whispered, “Fear not, maiden. I will postpone the wedding for as long as I can. And if the wedding must take place, you will not be forced to say or do anything you do not want to do.” But she barely heard him, thinking only of her sister, and too distraught and fearful to say or do anything else.

Meanwhile the younger princess, who had been out with her flocks when the queen took her sister away, had returned home. When she came back she found the door wide open and no one standing there. She thought it very odd, for her sister always came every night to the door to meet her on her return. She went upstairs; her sister was not there; the whole house was empty and deserted. There she must stay all alone, for the evening had closed in and it was impossible to go outside and seek her with any hope of success. So all night long she waited, crying, “Someone has been here, and they have stolen her away; they have stolen my darling away. Oh, sister! My sister!”

Next morning, very early, going out to continue the search, she found one of the pearls belonging to her sister’s necklace tied up in a small piece of sari. A little further on lay another, and yet another, all along the road the Ranee had gone. Then the princess understood that her sister had left this clue to guide her on her way, and she at once set off to find her. Very, very far she went – a two month’s journey through the jungle – for she could not travel fast, the many days’ walking tired her so much, and sometimes it took her two or three days just to find the next piece of sari with the pearl. At last she came near a large town, to which it was evident her sister had been taken. Now this young princess was very beautiful indeed – as beautiful as she was wise – and when she got near the town she thought to herself, “If people see me they may steal me away as they did my sister, and then I shall never find her again. I will disguise myself.” As she was thus thinking, she noticed by the side of the road a skeleton and a shriveled, dry fur of an old tiger. The princess took the skin and washed it, and drew it on over her own lovely face and neck, as one draws a glove on one’s hand. The skin was so old nothing remained of the shape of the tiger, and only a yellowish hue, and it hung on her the way an old woman’s skin might hang. Then she took a long stick and began hobbling along, leaning on it, toward the town.

On she went, picking up the pearls – one here, one there – until she found the last pearl just in front of the palace gate. Then she felt certain her sister must be somewhere near, but where, she did not know. She longed to go into the palace and ask for her, but no guards would have let such a wretched looking old woman enter, and she did not dare offer them any of the pearls she had with her, lest they should think she was a thief. So she determined merely to remain as close to the palace as possible, and wait till fortune favored her with the means of learning something further about her sister. Just opposite the palace was a small house belonging to a farmer, and the princess went up to it and stood by the door.

The farmer’s wife saw her and said, “Poor old woman, who are you? Why are you here? Have you no one in the world?”

“Alas, no,” answered the princess. “I am a poor old woman and have neither father nor mother, son nor daughter, sister nor brother, to take care of me; all are gone and I can only beg my bread from door to door.”

“Do not grieve, good mother,” answered the farmer’s wife, kindly. “You may sleep in the shelter of our porch and I will give you food.”

So the princess stayed there for that night and for many more; and every day the good farmer’s wife gave her food. But all this time she could learn nothing of her sister.

Now there was a large tank near the palace on which grew some fine lotus plants covered with rich crimson lotuses – the royal flower – and of these the Ranee was very fond indeed, and prized them very much. To this tank (because it was the nearest to the farmer’s house) the princess would go every morning, very early, almost before it was light, at about three o’clock, and take off the old tiger’s skin that helped her to look like an old woman, and wash it, and hang it out to dry; and wash her face and hands and bathe her feet in the cool water, and comb her beautiful hair. Then she would gather a lotus-flower (such as she had been accustomed to wear in her hair as a child) and put it on, so as to feel for a few minutes like herself again. Thus she would amuse herself. Afterwards, as soon as the wind had dried the old skin, she put it on again, threw away the lotus-flower, and hobbled back to the farmer’s door, before the sun was up.

After a time the Ranee discovered that someone had plucked some of her favorite lotus flowers. People were set to watch, and all the wise men in the kingdom put their heads together to try and discover the thief, but to no avail. At last, the excitement about this matter being very great, the queen’s younger son, a brave and noble young prince, said, “I will certainly discover this thief.”

It chanced that several fine trees grew round the tank. Into one of these the young prince climbed one evening, and there he watched all the night through, but with no more success than his predecessors. The lotus plants lay still in the moonlight, without so much as a thieving wind coming by to break off one of the flowers. The prince began to get very sleepy and thought the thief, whoever he might be, could not intend to return when, in the very early morning, before it was light, who should come down to the tank but an old woman he had often seen near the palace gate.

“Ah, ha!” thought the prince, “this then is the thief; but what can this queer old woman want with lotus flowers?” Imagine his astonishment when the old woman sat down on the steps of the tank and began pulling the skin off her face and arms! And from underneath the shriveled yellow skin came the loveliest face he had ever beheld! So fair, so fresh, so young, so gloriously beautiful, that appearing thus suddenly it dazzled the prince’s eyes like a flash of lightning! “Ah,” thought he, “can this be a woman or a spirit? A devil or an angel in disguise?”

The princess twisted up her glossy black hair and, plucking a red lotus, placed it in it, and dabbled her feet in the water, and amused herself by putting round her neck a string of the pearls that had been her sister’s necklace. Then, as the sun was rising, she threw away the lotus and, covering her face and arms again with the withered skin, went hastily away.

When the prince got home the first thing he said to his mother was, “Mother, I should like to marry that old woman who stands all day at the farmer’s gate, just opposite.”

“What?” cried the Ranee. “You are mad! Marry that skinny old thing? You cannot – you are a prince. Are there not enough princesses in all the world that you should wish to marry a wretched old beggar woman?”

But he answered, “Above all things I should like to marry that old woman. You know that I have ever been a dutiful and obedient son. In this matter, I pray you, grant me my desire.”

Seeing he was really in earnest about the matter, and that nothing she could say would alter his mind, she agreed; not, however, without telling him in no uncertain terms what a terrible mistake he was making, and sent out the guards, who fetched the old woman (who was really the princess in disguise) to the palace. There she was married to the prince as privately, and with as little ceremony as possible, for the Ranee wanted no one to know of the matter.

As soon as the wedding was over, the prince said to his wife, “Gentle wife, tell me how much longer you intend to wear that old skin? You had better take it off; do be so kind.”

The princess wondered how he knew of her disguise, or whether it was only a guess. She thought, “He seems kind, but if I take off this ugly skin, my husband will think me pretty and perhaps he will shut me up in the palace and never let me go away, and then I shall never be able to find my sister. No, I had better not take it off.” So she answered, “I don’t know what you mean. Nobody can change their skin.” This she mumbled as if she were a very old woman indeed, and had lost all her teeth and could not speak plain. At this the prince laughed very much to himself and thought, “I’ll wait and see how long this lasts.”

But the princess continued to keep on the old skin; only every morning at about three o’clock, before it was light, she would get up and wash it and put it on again. Then some time afterwards the prince, having found this out, got up softly one morning early and followed her to the next room, where she had washed the skin and placed it on the floor to dry. Stealing it, he ran away with the skin and threw it on the fire. So the princess, having no old skin to put on, was obliged to appear in her own likeness. As she walked forth, very sad at missing her disguise, her husband ran to meet her, smiling and saying, “How do you do, my dear? Where is your skin now?”

Soon the whole palace had heard the joyful news of the beautiful young wife that the prince had won, and all the people when they saw her, cried, “Why, she is exactly like the beautiful princess our young prince married, the jungle lady.”

The younger prince took her to introduce his bride to his older brother’s wife. No sooner did the princess enter her sister-in-law’s room, than she saw that in her she had found her lost sister, and they ran into each other’s arms. Great then was the joy of all, but the happiest of all these happy people were the two princesses who were at last re-united, and they lived together in peace and joy their whole lives long.

end

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Sakshi

16

India


Awesome story it is damn lovely....