Jeb lived with Ben and Lindell and two grown-up people called Mum and Dad. He had bright eyes and a shiny black nose. He was a small brown dog with a funny black patch on the tip of his left ear.
One day Jeb curled up in Mum’s chair and went fast asleep. He began to dream. In his dream he found a delicious bone. But just as he was about to start chewing on it he heard a shout. It sounded like Mum’s voice. It was Mum. Jeb was wide awake now. “Jeb! OUT! Shoo!” Mum clipped him with the newspaper and chased Jeb out the door.
Jeb hid in a bush until Mum went back inside. Then he looked about him. He was in the garden. It felt warm and damp. Here was a good place to dig for another bone – a real one! Jeb set to work. He dug quickly letting the dirt fly up behind him. This was fun. Soon he had dug quite a deep hole. Jeb was about to put his nose into the hole to sniff out a bone when he heard a yell. It sounded like Dad’s voice. It was Dad. “Jeb! OUT! Shoo!” Dad turned the hose on him and Jeb scrambled out of his hole and away.
Soon he found himself a safe new hiding place in the children’s play house. He looked about him. Ben’s kite was on the shelf. It’s long tail was dangling invitingly near his nose. Jeb grabbed it in his teeth and pulled and chewed until a piece of the tail came loose. Then he looked about for something else to do. He saw Lindell’s big brightly coloured beach ball. He gave it a knock with his paw. It rolled away. Jeb chased it. The ball went under the table. Jeb went after it. He caught the edge of the tablecloth as he went and EVERYTHING came tumbling down. Spoons, forks, plates of play food and cups of drink. Jeb began to lap up some spilt milk. Then he heard a cry. It sounded like Ben’s voice – and Lindell’s too! “Jeb! OUT! Shoo!”
Jeb’s tail sank down between his legs. He looked up at Lindell’s face. She was not smiling. He looked to Ben. But Ben was too busy looking at his chewed kite to take any notice. Jeb felt BAD. First Mum, then Dad, and now Lindell and Ben. They had all said, “Jeb! OUT! Shoo!”
Nobody wanted him. It was time to leave home – to run away. “Yes,” thought Jeb, “I’ll run away and join the circus.”
He ran down the pathway, out the gate and across the park. He was on his way. He passed the school where Ben went. He crossed the road to avoid the big black guard dog that lived at the warehouse. Soon he was far from home. But which way should he go to find the circus? He asked a horse, a cow, a sheep and a pig – but they did not know.
It was getting dark. Jeb found a bush in which to hide. He curled himself up and went to sleep. Deep into the night he woke with a start! The sounds of the night were all around him – crickets chirping, mosquitoes buzzing and somewhere close by an owl hooted. But in the distance there were other sounds. Grrr …grrrr! Could it be a lion? Hoop-hoop, hoop! Hoop-hoop, hoop! That sounded like … like a … monkey. Then came the unmistakable trumpeting sound of elephants! Jeb stood up and shook himself. He moved away from the shelter of the bush and looked up into the night sky.
At first all he saw was the twinkling lights of the stars and the rounded light of the crescent moon. Suddenly, balls of coloured lights showered across the sky and then there was the sound of music – a band was playing and there was clapping.
Jeb ran toward the lights and the sounds. As he came nearer he could see large shadows in the night and then – there it was – a huge tent! Jeb had found the circus.
He crept up to the side of the tent and crawled under a flap. There inside were lots of people clapping. A clown stepped into the ring. He did three cartwheels and then began to juggle coloured balls. Jeb thought it looked great fun. He jumped into the ring and began to follow the clown. He ran a little, then he crouched, then he ran a little more. The people cheered and clapped. Jeb felt very proud. He watched the balls – sometimes high, sometimes low. The clown threw and caught every one of them. Again, Jeb watched the balls – sometimes high, sometimes low. Then, he pounced! He caught a low ball in his mouth and ran with it around the ring. The crowd cheered and cheered. The clown looked puzzled. Where had one of his balls gone? Then he spotted Jeb. “Hey you, come here!” he called. And he chased Jeb round and round the ring. Jeb was having a fine time. He joined the next act by sitting in the passenger seat of a little red car driven by an acrobat who stood on his hands as he drove. Jeb was so glad he had joined the circus. No-one here said, “Jeb! OUT! Shoo!” He thought he would stay forever.
Soon the show was over. The people went home. The circus was packed up. The light went out. The circus people got ready for bed. Jeb was left alone. He felt hungry. There was no dish of nibbles by the door for him here as there were at home. There was no bowl of water … no blanket in a basket … and no Ben … for Jeb to creep into his bed and lick his face. All at once Jeb felt very lonely.
He crept around the tents in search of a friendly voice … but all he got was: “You! OUT! Shoo!” And Jeb knew it was time to go home.
It was still dark as Jeb set off. He passed the field where the horse, cow, sheep and pig had been – but they were fast asleep.
The big black guard dog that lived at the warehouse barked as Jeb passed by. Jeb went by the school where Ben went. Soon he was close to home.
The sun cast an orange light across the sky as Jeb crept into the house. He found his dish of nibbles by the door and his bowl of water. He sniffed at the blanket in his basket. Then he sneaked into Ben’s room, hopped up on the bed and licked Ben’s sleeping face. Ben rolled over and, still more asleep than awake, put his arm around Jeb, and said in a sleepy kind of voice: “Oh, Jeb! You’re home.”
The RABBIT’S TAIL
by Mabel Kaplan
There was once a young rabbit who was very sad.
He had two ears.
He had two eyes.
He had a nose and mouth. He had four fine paws. His fur was white and fluffy and soft – but he had no tail!
“Where’s my tail?” he asked his mother.
“I do not know,” said his mother. “You must have lost it when you were a baby.”
The poor little rabbit grew sadder every day.
One day he said to his mother, “Do you think I can ever find another tail?’
“Perhaps,” she replied. “And when you do, I will sew it on for you.”
The little rabbit set off to find a tail. He looked everywhere. He looked in the grass. He looked under a rock. He even looked among the rubbish that had caught in the fence.
Then one day he found a soft, fresh green leaf. It looked very pretty.
The little rabbit took it home.
“Will this do for a tail?” he asked his mother.
“No, I’m afraid not,” she said. “It would dry up and drop off.”
So the little rabbit threw it away and went to look for something else.
The next day he found a feather.
“Will this do for a tail?” he asked his mother.
His mother said, “Let me see.”
She tied the feather on to the little rabbit’s bottom.
Little rabbit went out for a walk to try out his new tail. It was white like his fur. It felt soft and fluffy. The little rabbit began to sing. He was just beginning to enjoy being happy when a bird, sitting on the fence, called out to him,
“EEEeeech! EEEeeech! EEEeeech! … Who do you think you are – a bunny bird?”
And the bird laughed so hard (“EEEeeech! EEEeeech! EEEeeech!”) he nearly fell off the fence.
The little rabbit hurried home and looked in the mirror.
“I don’t like it. It looks funny. And everyone laughs at me.”
He put the feather on the shelf, saying to himself, “I must find something else.”
The next day he went to the park.
There he saw a little girl. She had something on her hat. It was round. It was white. It was soft. It looked just like a … a rabbit’s tail.
“Little girl,” said the rabbit, “what is that pretty thing on your hat?”
“It’s a pompom,” said the little girl.
“Oh!” sighed the little rabbit.
“I thought it might be a rabbit’s tail. I am looking for the tail I lost when I was a baby.”
“Poor little rabbit without a tail,” said the little girl. “You can have my pompom.”
The little rabbit laughed for joy. “And you can have my feather to put in your hat.”
He hopped home and got the feather from the shelf. He gave it to the little girl and the little girl gave him the pompom.
Little rabbit hopped back home again as fast as he could hop … to tell his mother he had found a tail. She sewed on the pompom, and little rabbit wore it for the rest of his life.
This Story is Copyrighted, if in doubt, please read COPYRIGHTS section at TALESetc.com
Jonathan, the Fastest Snail in the Meadow
© Jan Luthman
Jonathan was looking dismal.
Robbit had never seen his friend looking quite so forlorn, not even on that rainy wet day when Jonathan had fallen over on a slippery corner and got mud on his nice shiny shell.
“What’s up?” asked Robbit.
“Oh, nothing,” said Jonathan, and carried on sliding glumly along the little snail-trail that led to his house
Robbit stared after his friend anxiously: whatever it was, it must be really bothering him if he wouldn’t even talk about it. Robbit hopped thoughtfully after the retreating shell, trying to think what to say.
“Bad day at school?” he ventured, “get your sums wrong?”
Robbit almost always got his sums wrong; and his spelling. Getting things wrong at school was just the way things were for Robbit. Maybe, he thought, if you were extremely clever like Jonathan, then getting a sum wrong might make you unhappy.
But Jonathan just shook his head glumly; it wasn’t anything to do with sums.
“So, why are you so gloomy, then?” demanded Robbit.
“Bullies,” mumbled Jonathan at last.
“Bullies?” asked Robbit, “What bullies?”
Jonathan hung his head
” At school,” he muttered. “They tease me.”
“Who teases you?” demanded Robbit.
“The beetle boys,” he said at last.
“Oh, them,” Robbit snorted. “Nobody likes them. They bully anybody who’s smaller than they are.”
Robbitt thought for a bit.
“How do they tease you?” he asked eventually.
“Oh,” Jonathan sighed, “they call me names and….”
“And what?” asked Robbit sympathetically.
“They write things on my shell.”
“On your shell?”
Robbit was amazed. Everybody in the meadow knew that Jonathan always took such care of his shell; it was always beautifully polished, with never a speck of dust on it.
“What did they write on it?” he asked.
Jonathan turned sideways.
“Look,” he said.
There, all across Jonathan’s gleaming shell was scrawled the word “SWOT”.
“They say I’m just a swot,” sighed Jonathan, close to tears, “a boring, boring swot.”
Robbit hopped up and down in agitation,
“But you’re not,” he cried. “You know lots and lots of things. That’s not boring at all.”
Jonathan cheered up, just a little bit. It had helped him feel a little better already, just telling a friend.
“Thank you.” He tried a watery smile, and fished around inside his shell for a handkerchief. “You’re a good friend, Robbit.”
Robbit was angry on his friend’s behalf.
“Why didn’t you just chase the beetles away?” he demanded, “I would have.”
Jonathan blew his nose.
“Dad’s bedos you’re a rabbid,” he said thickly through his hanky, “I’m only a snail. A swotty, slow snail. The only thing I can catch is a cold.”
Jonathan blew his nose loudly and tucked his hanky away in his shell and began to slide off up the hill again. Robbit hopped after him.
“Let’s go home together,” he said. “Maybe we’ll think of an idea.”
So they did.
On the way, they overtook Old Mrs Spider, struggling along the path with her bags of shopping. She looked very tired.
“Good morning, Mrs Spider,” called Robbit and Jonathan together.
“And good morning to you both, young Robbit and Jonathan,” replied Old Mrs Spider. “How nice to see you on this lovely morning.”
Jonathan and Robbit were both very polite, and asked Old Mrs Spider if they could help carry her shopping for her.
“Why, thank you,” she said, “what a kind thing to do.”
Robbit took one bag and Jonathan took the other, and the three of them went on along the path towards Mrs Spider’s house. As they walked, Old Mrs Spider noticed how quiet Jonathan was.
“Is there anything the matter?” she asked, for she was really a kindly old lady.
Before Jonathan could say anything, Robbit blurted out.
“Yes,” he said indignantly, “there jolly well is: Jonathan’s being bullied at school.”
“Bullied?” said Old Mrs Spider, “but why?”
So they told old Mrs Spider the whole story, and at the end of it Jonathan added.
‘Jonathan, the Fastest Snail’ continued.
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” he explained. “I’m just a snail; I’m far too slow to chase anybody away.”
“Just a snail, indeed!” snorted Old Mrs Spider. “Too slow to chase anybody, eh? We’ll soon see about that.”
With a twinkle in her eye, old Mrs Spider’s weaved off to a cupboard in the corner of her kitchen. She opened it and held up a small, dark green bottle.
“See this?” she asked.
“Yes,” they chorused, “what is it?”
“A secret,” she replied, “a special old spider secret. Mind, though,” She eyed them sternly, “it only works when somebody’s in trouble and needs help.”
“What does it do?”
“Makes you stronger,” she replied, “and faster.”
Old Mrs Spider smiled and headed for the door.
” Let’s go outside,” she suggested. “There’s not enough space in here for you to go rushing around.”
Jonathan had never rushed around anywhere in his life, but, with a shrug, he slid out to Old Mrs Spider’s front gate, Robbit beside him, bouncing with curiosity.
“What do I do now?” Asked Jonathan uncertainly, once they got there.
Old Mrs Spider uncorked the little green bottle
“Take a spoonful,” she instructed.
Cautiously, Jonathan took a sip.
“Well?” he said. “Now what?”
Old Mrs Spider smiled, and pointed to a tree on the other side of the clearing. “See how fast you can run over there.”
Jonathan was just about to say that he couldn’t run anywhere when, all of a sudden, he felt like he really could. He gave a little hop of excitement then, with a puff of dust, shot off across the clearing in a blur of speed, straight towards the tree.
Robbit couldn’t believe his eyes.
“Wow!” he breathed. Robbit had never, ever seen anybody move that fast.
“Wow!” he breathed again, ” Jonathan the high speed snail!”
Away across on the other side of the clearing, Jonathan slithered to a halt beside the tree, breathing deeply. He felt wonderful.
“Now run back here again,” called old Mrs Spider.
Jonathan took a deep breath and, in a cloud of leaves and twigs and dust, zipped back across the clearing towards Robbit and old Mrs Spider.
“Watch out, Jonathan!” yelled Robbit.
It was too late. With a tremendous crash, Jonathan piled headfirst into a huge bush. There was a moment of silence, then Jonathan slid slowly and unsteadily out from under the branches.
“Oooh, my goodness,” he breathed, “things do rather rush at you, don’t they?”
” Ahem,” coughed Robbit. “That bush didn’t rush at you: you rushed at it.”
Jonathan looked rather proud of himself
“Yes, I did rather, didn’t I?” He smiled happily. He took off his spectacles and began wiping blobs of mud off them.
Robbit gazed at his friend with newly found admiration.
Jonathan put his glasses back on again,
“That was exciting,” he said, peering up at Robbit through mud-smeered lenses, “I think I’ll do it again.”
“Hang on a mo,” called Robbit. “You need some practice first.”
But Jonathan wasn’t listening. He gave a quick little hop and roared off round the clearing, his shell glinting in the sunlight as he sped across the grass.
“Oh, no,” Robbit sighed, and put his paws over his eyes, “I can’t watch.”
There was a despairing wail and a skidding noise followed by a loud thump.
Robbit uncovered his eyes and looked. There, on the far side of the clearing, lay Jonathan, his shell on one side in the mud. Old Mrs Spider chortled with delight. Robbit ran over and began to hoist his friend back upright again.
“What happened?” asked Robbit, wiping the worst of the mud and leaves off Jonathan’s shell.
“I fell over,” said Jonathan indignantly. “When I tried to turn, I fell over.”
Robbit tapped his feet impatiently.
“If you really want to run fast, and chase those bullies,” he said, his paws on his hips. “You’re going to have to learn how to steer properly.”
Jonathan scratched his head
“That’s easy for you to say,” he answered. “You’ve always been a rabbit. But I’ve always been a snail. Besides, I wear glasses, so things sometimes arrive before I see them.”
Robbit thought for a bit. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers.
“I’ve got it!” he exclaimed.
“Got what?” Jonathan was puzzled.
“The answer!” Robbit was hopping up and down with excitement. “We could use Andrew!”
“Andrew?” queried Old Mrs Spider.
“Andy,” explained Robbit, “Andy the ant.”
“How could he help?” asked Jonathan.
“Easy,” said Robbit, “Andy’s got the sharpest eyes of anybody in the meadow, and he’s tiny: he could sit on your shell and tell you which direction to go.”
It seemed like a brilliant idea.
“Come on,” Robbit bounced off down the path, “let’s go find him.”
Jonathan sped after him, Old Mrs Spider at his side, her dark green bottle clutched in one hand. She was so excited, she had quite forgotten her aches and pains. As she bowled along between the two friends, Old Mrs Spider thought to herself that she hadn’t run like this since she was a girl.
This was fun.
© Jan Luthman All copyrights reserved.
This Story is Copyrighted, if in doubt, please read COPYRIGHTS section at TALESetc.com
This Story is Copyrighted, if in doubt, please read COPYRIGHTS section at TALESetc.com
Katie and Fluffy
There once was a little girl named Katie who had a kitty named Fluffy. Fluffy was a very lovable cat whose hair was long and bushed out in every direction. Katie was six years old and loved Fluffy and thought of him as her best friend in the whole world. She told bedtime stories to him every night. Stretched out across the bed, Katie told Fluffy stories about anything and everything, as she stroked him from head to tail and Fluffy purred and purred during story-time. Katie’s long ripples of golden-brown hair flopped over one of her rosy cheeks as she snuggled close to Fluffy and she jabbered constantly, until they both fell asleep. Bright sunshine rays shone across Katie’s face and woke her.
Fluffy was nowhere in sight. He had been disappearing for a couple days off-and-on for weeks now. Sometimes, Fluffy would hide under the bed or curl up in an open dresser drawer and even lay in the coolness of the bathtub. He also had the habit of showing up in funny places, but this time he was nowhere to be found. Katie bounced out of bed, slid into her purple slippers that matched her pink and purple gown and raced downstairs. Where was Fluffy?
Katie’s mom, Sandy, told her that he would show up when he wanted to be found, but that didn’t make Katie feel better. Mom and Dad though they’d come up with a plan to take Katie’s mind off Fluffy, so the family drove to Katie’s favorite restaurant for breakfast.
Mom and Dad wore a smile, but Katie wore a sad frown. Katie’s chair faced the window and she saw a stray cat dodging traffic to get across the street. Katie immediately thought about Fluffy: was he safe? Had a car run him over? Or, was he scared and hiding under a bush somewhere. After breakfast, Dad told Katie that he’d go with her to investigate the possibilities, of Fluffy visiting the neighbor’s houses. Katie and Ted, her tall lanky dad went door-to-door asking if anyone had seen Fluffy, but no one had.
That night, after goodnight hugs and kisses from Mom and Dad, Katie kneeled beside her bed and prayed, for God to send an angel, to help Fluffy find his way back home. Katie was so tired that she fell asleep within minutes.
Fluffy had been busy, very busy indeed. Fluffy loudly and proudly meowed and meowed right below Katie’s bedroom window. Katie happily bounced out of bed and peered out of her window. There was Fluffy still meowing and peering back at her, as if to announce he was home again. Not only was Fluffy meowing, but also a trail of little meows echoed after him. Not only had Fluffy came home, but five little Fluffys were there, and a beautiful feline calico cat, too!
Fluffy was now a father, and his whole family had followed him home. Katie ran downstairs and opened the door as Fluffy and his family trailed in, right behind him. He ran over and licked his food-bowl clean. Mom and Dad laughed. Mom poured Fluffy and his family, cat snacks into another large bowl and placed it next to the cleanly-licked bowl.
Katie remembered her prayer and thanked God for sending an Angel, and for giving her even more Fluffys, along with a mother cat, to love and help take care of.
The author can be contacted at:
“Cherry Lawrence” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE SAD NETTLE
The Beautiful Butterfly
© Jan Luthman
It was one of those summery days when the air is heavy and warm and nobody wants to do very much. Jonathan and Robbit were resting on top of one of Moley’s hummocks, relaxing and watching the rest of the world go by. Jonathan could feel the sun’s warmth through his shell and it was making him feel comfortable and drowsy. He wriggled contentedly. Last night, before he’d gone to bed, Jonathan had taken off his shell and given it a special polish, and this morning it gleamed in the sunlight. Beside him on the soft warm molehill, Robbit lay on his back, his paws behind his head, gazing up at the clear blue sky, thinking about things in his own rabbity way.
“Why do nettles have stings?” he asked suddenly.
Jonathan had just begun to doze off, and woke with a start
“Why do nettles have what?” he asked, not quite awake.
“Stings.” Robbit scratched one of his ears in a comfortable, absent-minded sort of way.
Jonathan pondered, his head tilted to one side as he thought.
“I suppose,” he said eventually. “They have stings so nobody will eat them.”
“That’s silly,” said Robbit, “nobody’d want to eat a rotten old nettle, anyway: they’re all tough and stringy.”
Jonathan had never tried eating a nettle, so he couldn’t think of a good answer. Besides, he was still feeling sleepy and just wanted to curl up quietly inside his shell.
Robbit bounced up, his nose twitching.
“I’ve an idea,” he said.
Jonathan sighed; sometimes he wished Robbit would just relax and enjoy the sunshine.
Robbit was hopping around Moley’s hummock.
“Let’s ask Farmer Jack.”
“But,” Jonathan protested, “the Old Farmhouse is miles away.”
“No it’s not, it’s just at the top of the hill.”
“Feels like miles when you’re a snail,” grumbled Jonathan.
“Why don’t you go and ask him yourself?” he suggested. “Then you can come back and tell me.”
Robbit sat down, flipping his fingers impatiently.
“It’s no fun on my own,” he said. “Besides, that’s what a friend is for: to come with you when you’re going somewhere.”
Jonathan felt suddenly rather happy, as if a little glow had lit up inside him: it was nice when someone said you were their friend, he thought, even if they did bounce rather a lot.
He slithered down off Moley’s hill
“All right,” he agreed, “I’ll come with you.”
“Goody.” said Robbit, jumping backwards and forwards over Jonathan’s head.
“But remember,” Jonathan reminded him, “I’m not as quick as you.”
“Doesn’t matter, I can stop for a nibble or a scratch while you slide and glide.”
They set off, Robbit leaping happily from one clump of grass to another, while, beside him, Jonathan’s little round shell glinted in the sunlight as they wound their way slowly up the hill towards the Old Farmhouse, two of the best friends in the meadow.
Farmer Jack was digging his potato patch when he noticed the pair arrive.
“Hallo Robbit,” Farmer Jack stopped digging and rested on the handle of his spade, “and Jonathan.”
“Hallo Farmer Jack,” Robbit sniffed hopefully at the basket of potatoes at Farmer Jack’s feet: he didn’t much like potatoes, but he did like the green leaves that came with them. “Can I eat the leaves?” he asked.
Farmer Jack smiled
“Go ahead,” he said. “Help yourself.”
Jonathan sidled up
“Can I have some, too, please?” Jonathan’s spectacles glinted in the sunlight as he squinted up at Farmer Jack
“Course you can.”
Jonathan slid off in the direction of a particularly appetising leaf.
“My Goodness, Jonathan,” Farmer Jack called after him, “your shell’s looking very shiny this morning.”
“I polished it,” said Jonathan proudly, pleased that Farmer Jack had noticed, “last night, before I went to bed.”
“Must have taken you a long time to clean all the little whorly bits.”
“M’mm,” agreed Jonathan, “ages.”
Robbit was busy nibbling, taking care not to tread on any of the potatoes. Farmer Jack’s wife didn’t like muddy paw prints on her new potatoes.
“Farmer Jack,” he asked, just about to munch on a particularly bright green leaf, “if potato leaves taste nice and don’t sting, why do nettles?”
“Why do nettles what?”
“Fting,” Said Robbit, his mouth full of leaf.
Farmer Jack scratched his head.
“Not quite sure that I really know why, ” he replied, “but I did hear an old story once that seemed to make sense.”
Robbit stopped chewing.
“Can you tell us?” he asked.
“If I can remember it.” replied Farmer Jack, and settled down on a nearby tree stump.
“Long ago,” he began, “there was a nettle growing in a meadow.”
“Just one?” Robbit was picking at a piece of potato leaf that had got stuck between his big front teeth. “There are lots in our meadow: specially in the shady bit.”
“Maybe there were lots in this meadow as well.” said Farmer Jack, “The story didn’t say.”
Jonathan slid across and began to climb up the stump, a great big leaf hanging from the back of his shell.
“I’m bringing it with me,” he explained, “just in case it’s a long story and I get hungry while you’re talking.”
“The story, ” Robbit tugged at Farmer Jack’s trouser leg, “tell us the story.”
“Well, ” Farmer Jack began again, “this nettle was really sad.”
“Why?” demanded Robbit.
“Probably because he was lonely.” puffed Jonathan, half way up the side of the stump. “I hate being lonely.”
Farmer Jack could see it was going to take some time to tell the story.
“He was sad,” he sighed, “because nobody liked him.”
“That’s ‘cos he stung them, ” muttered Robbit.
“M’mm,” agreed farmer Jack, “but he couldn’t help it: that’s the way he was made.”
“Then,” Farmer Jack continued, “one day, a beautiful butterfly settled on one of the nettle’s leaves and, instead of saying ‘ow!’ and flying away again, the butterfly just sat there and unfolded her lovely coloured wings and rested there in the sunshine.”
Jonathans’ eyes were big as saucers behind his spectacles.
“Well,” Farmer Jack went on, “the nettle was just bursting with excitement and hardly dared move, in case he frightened the butterfly away.”
Eventually the butterfly spoke. “Why are you so quiet?” she asked the nettle.
” I don’t know what to say,” he replied, ” nobody’s ever sat on one of my leaves before.”
“I wonder why?” asked the butterfly.
“Because I sting them.” said the nettle, then added sadly. “I can’t help it.”
“Well,” declared the butterfly, “I think your leaves are very comfortable.”
She paused for a moment, deep in thought.
“I was wondering,” the butterfly said eventually, “if I could ask you a special favour.”
The nettle blushed: nobody had ever asked him a favour before.
“Of course you can,” he whispered.
“I need somewhere safe for my eggs during the winter.”
“Would you like me to look after them?”
“Yes, please,” he butterfly answered, “it would mean taking care of them for the whole winter. Could you do that?”
The nettle quivered with pleasure.
“I’d be honoured,” he said.
And so, that winter, the nettle guarded the butterfly’s eggs. All through the rain and the snow and storms, the nettle kept the eggs safe and dry under its leaves, where no animal would dare try to eat them.
In the spring, as the weather grew warmer, the eggs hatched out into caterpillars and, later, each of these caterpillars turned into a chrysalis. Finally, at long last, in the middle of the summer, each chrysalis hatched into a beautiful new butterfly. It looked so pretty, the nettle could hardly believe his eyes.
“Oh!” The beautiful new butterfly stretched its fresh new wings out to dry in the sunshine. “I do feel hungry.”
“Where will you eat?” asked the nettle.
The beautiful new butterfly flicked its glorious wings lightly. They were a deep red colour, with beautiful patterns along the edges, and had four great big eyes painted on them, blue and white and yellow and black.
“My favourite place,” she said, her wings shimmering in the sunlight, “is the flower of a Buddleia bush.”
There were lots of Buddleia bushes in the meadow, their enormous lilac-coloured flower-cones waving gently in the breeze. The butterfly flitted gracefully over to the nearest of them.
The nettle watched, then looked down at his own plain green leaves. They seemed so dull and boring next to the butterfly, he felt very humble.
As if reading his thoughts, the butterfly looked up and spoke.
“Thank you,” she said, “for looking after me all winter. I think your leaves are the strongest and safest leaves in the whole wide world.”
The nettle blushed with pride. Suddenly, he didn’t feel sad at all.
“What’s your name?” he asked her.
“Why?” she said, settling down to feed. “I’m called a Peacock butterfly.”
Farmer Jack turned to Jonathan and Robbit.
“And, do you know,” he said, “from that day on, every winter the nettle has looked after the eggs of the beautiful Peacock butterfly.”
© Jan Luthman All copyrights reserved.
This Story is Copyrighted, if in doubt, please read COPYRIGHTS section at TALESetc.com
This Story is Copyrighted, if in doubt, please read COPYRIGHTS section at TALESetc.com
THE MEMORY IN A GRAIN OF SAND
Once upon a time, at the edge of the sea, there was a rock, older than Time itself. Only The Unicorn used to go there: to watch the sea at sunset, and soothe his sadness with the song of the sea. He always arrived lonely, and as each night-time fell, he left even lonelier and sadder. Only the moonlight reflecting from his mythical horn lightened the darkness, and his sadness.
One day, at twilight, the sea gathered all of its waves at the foot of the rock. The watching Unicorn was puzzled. He had never seen so much foam in one place before, and then, out of the sparkling foam, ‘She’ was born!
With a body of foam and a soul made of light, ‘She’ climbed the rock with steps of dreams and shadows. The Unicorn, looked deep into her sea-like eyes and found true happiness. ‘She’ was his beloved!
Since then, that ancient rock has been pummelled and crushed by the pounding waves of Time, and spread afar, throughout the seas of the world.
We call that crushed ancient rock ‘sand’, and imagine that it knows only of the footprints trodden into it; though soon forgetting them, as the sea wipes away the bare-foot traces, but, in every grain of sand a memory remains, of the golden summer when The Unicorn found his true love!
The Legend of the Pearl
Once upon a time, there was a butterfly who was so sad and lonely that he did not want to live anymore. As he stood, very depressed, on the sea-shore, thinking about the uselessness of his life, he heard a soft, clear voice beside him.
“Good morning. Who are you?” The voice asked.
“I’m a butterfly, but who are you? A speaking stone? I don’t believe it!”
The voice replied. “I’m not a stone. I’m a shell, an oyster! I’m a living being just like you are.”
“Would you like to be my friend?” The butterfly asked. “I have no friends, and I’m very unhappy because nobody loves me. I want to die in the sea.”
“I don’t want you to die,” said the shell. “I am just as lonely and sad as you, and I too have never known what it is like to be loved, but, now that you are here neither of us is alone. Stay with me, be my winged prince and tell me all about the things that you have seen in the world; things that the eyes of a daughter-of-the sea will never see.”
The butterfly stayed at the shell’s side and they grew to love each other, more than anyone could ever imagine. The butterfly had collected all the colours in the world in his wings and he gave them, as a bouquet, to his sweetheart, while the shell gave, as her gift from the sea, all the mysterious whispers of the deep.
Their joy was short-lived, as butterflies have a shorter lifespan than shells, and when the butterfly died, the shell buried him in the sand. Then she cried and cried so much that she died of her sadness, and was dissolved by her tears.
Next morning, on a small mound of sand, marked with a coral cross, appeared the very first pearl, made from the tears of the shell, the colours from the butterfly’s wings and their love.
Elsa, the bird who couldn’t fly
Elsa lived in the warm and sunny land of Australia. Her family were runner birds and they never flew through the air, or settled in a high tree to sing on a lovely day.
“We have no need to fly from danger” her mother said. And she showed Elsa how to hide among the grass tussocks.
“See they are almost the same colours as yourself. If a clever little emu bird keeps very still she won’t be spotted,” her big sister smiled.
But Elsa didn’t think it was much fun playing hide and seek on the ground when all the other birds could play hide and seek in the trees.
When she was just little, the Kookaburra made the woodlands ring with the sound of his laughter, as Elsa dashed about the ground with her long legs and funny little wings.
He was always telling her how he flew to the gardens of the houses beyond the forest and how the people all liked to spot him there. The lyre bird was often heard singing the loveliest songs of the summer.
But Elsa never went far from the woodland. ‘A bird dashing about near the houses would look an odd sight,’ she sighed.
Instead she practiced her running till she got faster and faster. So swiftly covering the ground that she wasn’t afraid to go down to the river bank were the other birds gathered. To rest from their flight and keep an eye out for a hungery crocodile pretending to be a harmless log. They knew that they could rise into the air and fly to the tree tops where no crocodile could follow. But Esla had grown tall, she was almost five feet and she could give a powerful kick with her strong legs. But, best of all, they could carry her away from danger, far quicker than a lumbering wicked crocodile with a hungery gleam in his eye. She often went to enjoy the cool of the river, now she had learned to overcome the nuisance of not having wings like all the other birds.
She had learned to use her feet to run.
Then one very hot summer, when the sun was baking hot, Elsa set off to find the other birds by the river and, as she went through the forest, she smelt smoke.
For the first time in her life she ran towards the houses and into one of the gardens, flapping her tiny wings and dancing up and down on her long legs.
“Look an Emu bird!” A man resting in his garden jumped up and called his family from the house.
They all came running out to see Elsa and it was then that Elsa turned and ran. She ran faster than she had ever done before and people from all the houses rushed out and followed her. Elsa led the people to the Forest.
She had brought them in time to fight the fierce blaze and when the fire was under control the people went back to their homes. Elsa had slipped away to hide among the tussocks of grass. She kept very quiet and was not to be seen again.
But the people didn’t forget the Emu bird and when they built a fine new park they put a bird at the entrance. It wasn’t the Kookaburra or the lyre or a beautiful creature in flight.
It was Elsa the running bird.
Copyright January 2001 Freda Grieve
LEONARD THE LEAF
Arlene F. Gunn
One bright and sunny spring day, Leonard came into the world. He wasn’t a baby robin, or a baby mouse, or a baby cricket. Leonard was a baby leaf, growing on the big oak tree on Mr. Johnson’s farm.
The tree had been there since Mr. Johnson’s great-grandfather had planted it with his father, when he was still a boy. The tree had seen many years as it grew between the big red barn and the white clapboard house. All the ‘Mr. Johnsons’ through the years have said “Good morning” to the tree, as they walked to the barn each morning, and “Good evening” to the tree, as they walked back to the house each night.
The tree grew-up hearing this and even tried a “Good morning” or “Good evening” of it’s own, on many occasions, with a wave of it’s branches or a creak from it’s trunk, but none of the ‘Mr. Johnsons’ ever really understood. Leonard, as I said, was a leaf who growing on the big oak tree. He was a bright spring-green and had strong veins starting at his base, and shooting up to his edges. He lived about half-way up the big oak tree, neither at the top, nor at the bottom, but at a very good height for a leaf. He felt the strong spring sun on his face and thought there can not be anything greater than being a leaf.
A few days after Leonard was born, a pair of birds came swooping in, through the other leaves of the big oak tree and settled on a branch not far from Leonard. He watched them all the while, wondering what they were. They looked very different than all the other leaves on the tree. They were large and very dark, but when the sun hit them they seemed to glow like the sky after a rainstorm.
“Those are starlings, Leonard”, a deep, old voice said.
“What are starlings, and who are you?” Leonard asked, shivering in the brief gust of wind that came with the voice.
“Starlings are birds”, replied the voice. “They are looking for a new place to make their nest this year. As for who I am, Leonard, I am your Mother, the tree.”
The starlings flew off, through the branches, and disappeared from Leonard’s sight. Leonard sadly watched them go.
“Will they ever come back?” Leonard asked Mother Tree.
“If not them, then another pair.” Mother Tree replied. “There are usually two or three nests in my branches, or trunk, every year.”
“What are nests?” Leonard asked of Mother Tree.
“Nests”, replied Mother Tree, “are what adult birds make to raise their children in. Some types of nests are out on my branches, some types of nests are made in holes in my trunk. Both kinds are usually made with sticks and twigs, and bits of string and spider’s webs. If you look below you, and a little to the right, you may just be able to see a nest that was made last year, by a pair of robins.”
Leonard looked down and saw a bunch of twigs and stems stuck in a crook of one of the branches. They were shaped into a bowl and even now looked very strong. “But why do they build their nests here? Why don’t they build them on the ground or in the barn?” Leonard asked.
“Many birds do nest in the barn”, replied Mother Tree, “But they are mostly pigeons, who have gotten used to man’s ways. Most wild birds nest up in trees for protection from the dogs, cats, and other animals on the ground. My leaves offer them security both from being seen and from the wind and rain.”
“Oh”, said Leonard; and with that, Mother Tree fell silent. Leonard continued to watch as the male birds danced and pranced for the females to be their wives. Eventually, the pair of starlings came back to start a nest in a hole near Leonard’s branch. They collected straw from the barn, spider webs from the bushes, and mud from the yard just after a morning rain shower. They also took some bright ribbons and thick, soft yarn to their nest from Mr. Johnson’s granddaughter. She had put them around the yard in the hopes that she could help some of the birds with their nest building.
Eventually the nest was finished and the mother starling disappeared into the hole in Mother Tree’s trunk. Leonard couldn’t quite understand this, so he asked the smartest person he knew.
“Yes Leonard?” Mother Tree replied with a breezy wave of her branches.
“What’s wrong with the mother starling?” Leonard asked. “She hasn’t come out of the hole for days now. She didn’t even come out during the big storm Father Wind blew up the other night that had you dancing so much.”
“She’s sitting on her eggs”, said Mother Tree. “Keeping her babies warm and out of danger. In a few more days, she should have a whole nest of young birds to feed, THEN you will see her leave the nest! But only for the few minutes it takes to find food. The father starling will also be helping, then. He will be rushing about, almost as much as the mother starling, trying to feed their young family.”
“You mean that she’s sitting on her babies right now?!” asked Leonard, worried for the baby birds. “Doesn’t it hurt them to be sat on like that, all day?”
“No Leonard,” said Mother Tree, “she is very careful with them, and also the babies are protected from being hurt by being inside their shells. All baby birds come from eggs. Eggs are round, protective houses for the baby birds to grow in until they are big enough to survive outside. The only thing they need while they are in them is warmth, and that is exactly what the mother bird is giving to them while she sits on them like that.”
“Oh”, said Leonard, and with that, Mother Tree fell silent.
Annie and Metoo
Arlene F Gunn
Annie was a very lonely girl. She lived with her parents, on a small farm, way up on the side of a mountain, in Vermont. They lived far away from almost everybody. Annie’s parents liked it that way, but Annie didn’t. Annie’s parents made sure she had plenty of toys and games and stuffies, but she didn’t have any friends. There was no one to play her many toys and games with. Her dog Cyder was OK, and the farm cats were fun to play with sometimes, but what Annie really wanted was a friend. Her parents tried their best, but her father was gone most of the day, and her mother was usually busy with chores around the farm.
During the day, Annie would usually go outside and play what her mother called her “imagine” games. Annie would imagine that the old tree in the front yard was a pirate trying to steal her family’s treasure. She would imagine that the boulder in the back was a high mountain and she was the first ever to reach the top. She would imagine that the little rock in the meadow was a desert island in the middle of a great sea.
She had many imagines to choose from, but her favorite she could only do on bright, sunny days. On those days, she would imagine her friend. On sunny days, Annie would run out of the house early in the morning and go to the meadow, or down by the brook, or anyplace where she could see her shadow. On those days, Annie imagined that her shadow was her friend. Her friend’s name was Metoo, because it was her, too.
Annie imagined that Metoo was her big sister, a little older and a little bigger, but not too big. Metoo was just like a big sister should be; she never laughed at Annie, or called her names or any of the other things that her cousins did, when they came to visit. Metoo would go almost everywhere with Annie, sometimes leading, sometimes following, always right there with her. Imagining Metoo didn’t work well in the woods, except on the brightest of days, so they pretty much stayed out in the open, whenever they could.
Often, Annie and Metoo would play hide-and-seek (Metoo would always win) or tag (Annie would win those) or just twirl around (they both were good at that!).
Sometimes, on rainy days when her mother had a lot of work to do, Annie would take the shade off of the lamp in the living room and read to Metoo. She would ask Metoo questions about the book, and Metoo would try to answer them, but sometimes, if her questions were to hard for Metoo, Annie had to go and ask her mother. Metoo was Annie’s best friend. She could tell Metoo anything, and usually did. Sometimes, Annie imagined Metoo telling her stories about where she went when it was cloudy, or at night: those she liked most of all. Metoo would tell Annie about how, at night, all the shadows came out from their daytime places and danced in the forest, swinging and twirling around. The shadows were very big too. All afternoon they would grow longer and longer, until, at sunset, they took up all the night’s sky. Then they would dance around the forests and have a grand old time!
Metoo told Annie about the mice and deer and owls that came out to play with them. She told her about how small the mice were, and how soft the owls were. How the deer would chase them (something like the tag game that she and Annie played), and how the mushrooms would grow for them, so they would have someplace to sit when they got tired.
Annie’s mother didn’t know about Metoo, all she knew was that Annie was happy. She had been worried, at first, about Annie being alone so much of the day, but Annie laughed, ran and acted like other little girls, so she had stopped worrying so much about her.
One bright and sunny day, when Annie and Metoo were playing in the meadow, Annie tripped on a root and twisted her ankle and when she tried to get up, she cried out because it hurt so badly. She knew that her mother was in the house, but it was too far for her to yell. She tried to have Metoo go and get her, but she wouldn’t leave Annie. Metoo said she had an idea though and called to one of the birds that were flying by. When it came to her, she asked it to go to the house and fly to the window, so the woman would see it. Then, when it had the woman’s attention, the bird had to get her, at least, to the beginning of the trail to the meadow, so that when Annie yelled, her mother would be able to hear her. The bird didn’t want to do it, but it said it would try and flew off towards the house, screeching all the way.
Annie and Metoo waited a few more minutes, and then they both started to yell for Annie’s mother. With Metoo helping, Annie’s mother could hear her and ran over to see what the matter was. When she found Annie, she rushed her to the doctor’s office, to make sure she hadn’t broken anything. The doctor said it wasn’t broken, but that it would probably hurt for a while. He gave Annie a white splint to wear for a few weeks, until it felt better, and sent her home.
After Annie got back from the doctor’s (he had given her a lollipop, because she was such a brave little girl), her mother told her to stay on the couch, in the living room, and to call if she needed anything. Annie nodded, but when her mother had left to finish her chores, she turned around and took off the lampshade from the lamp beside the couch, so she could tell Metoo all about the doctor’s visit. When she looked at the other end of the couch, though, Metoo wasn’t there. It was just her normal shadow. Her friend wasn’t there.
Annie’s mother and father put her to sleep that night and when she turned on the little table-lamp, next to the bed, Metoo still wasn’t there. Annie moped around the house until she was well enough to go out in the back yard (with her mother watching through the window), she looked all around her, hoping that Metoo would be there, but it was still just a normal shadow. She went to play on the swings by herself, but it just wasn’t the same.
Annie went outside for the next few weeks looking for Metoo, in all the places they had been, but she was nowhere to be found. Metoo was gone! When Annie’s ankle was better, she went out to the meadow, and yelled for Metoo but all she heard was her echo, calling back. Annie stood and cried, and cried, for Metoo, but all she heard was her echo, crying back at her. Annie had been crying for some time, when she realized she could hear something funny in her echo. Annie sniffed and sniffled herself under control, and, as she did, so did her echo.
When she was sure her voice wouldn’t crack, she called out to Metoo one more time. This time, though, she listened to the echo. It almost sounded like Metoo did, when they had both yelled for Annie’s mother. Annie wasn’t sure at first, but as she started to giggle and laugh, she became more and more sure. Metoo had somehow gotten trapped in Annie’s echo when they had yelled for her mother! That’s why she couldn’t see Metoo in her shadow anymore, she had moved to her echo! Annie hugged herself; the way she imagined Metoo would have, and screamed and laughed and cried out in joy. She had never really lost Metoo, she had just moved to a different place!
When Annie came back home, she was smiling for the first time in weeks. Her mother smiled back at her and told her that she was very happy she was feeling better.
Annie grinned and said “Me too!” and went off to play in her room.
The author can be contacted at:
“Arlene Gunn” <email@example.com>