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November 30, 2016

Audio Story A Chinese Fairy Tale

Tiki-pu was a small grub of a thing; but he had a true love of Art deep down in his soul. There it hung mewing and complaining, struggling to work its way out through the raw exterior that bound it.

Tiki-pu s master professed to be an artist: he had apprentices and students, who came daily to work under him, and a large studio littered about with the performances of himself and his pupils. On the walls hung also a few real works by the older men, all long since dead.

This studio Tiki-pu swept; for those who worked in it he ground colours, washed brushes, and ran errands, bringing them their dog chops and bird's-nest soup from the nearest eating-house whenever they were too busy to go out to it themselves. He himself had to feed mainly on the breadcrumbs which the students screwed into pellets for their drawings and then threw about upon the floor. It was on the floor, also, that he had to sleep at night.

Tiki-pu looked after the blinds, and mended the paper window-panes, which were often broken when the apprentices threw their brushes and mahl-sticks at him. Also he strained rice-paper over the linen-stretchers, ready for the painters to work on; and for a treat, now and then, a lazy one would allow him to mix a colour for him. Then it was that Tiki-pu's soul came down into his finger-tips, and his heart beat so that he gasped for joy. Oh, the yellows and the greens, and the lakes and the cobalts, and the purples which sprang from the blending of them! Sometimes it was all he could do to keep himself from crying out.

Tiki-pu, while he squatted and ground at the colour-powders, would listen to his master lecturing to the students. He knew by heart the names of all the painters and their schools, and the name of the great leader of them all who had lived and passed from their midst more than three hundred years ago; he knew that too, a name like the sound of the wind, Wio-wani: the big picture at the end of the studio was by him.

That picture! To Tiki-pu it seemed worth all the rest of the world put together. He knew, too, the story which was told of it, making it as holy to his eyes as the tombs of his own ancestors. The apprentices joked over it, calling it "Wio-wani's back-door," "Wio-wani's night-cap," and many other nicknames; but Tiki-pu was quite sure, since the picture was so beautiful, that the story must be true.

Wio-wani, at the end of a long life, had painted it; a garden full of trees and sunlight, with high-standing flowers and green paths, and in their midst a palace. "The place where I would like to rest," said Wio-wani, when it was finished.

So beautiful was it then, that the Emperor himself had come to see it; and gazing enviously at those peaceful walks, and the palace nestling among the trees, had sighed and owned that he too would be glad of such a resting-place. Then Wio-wani stepped into the picture, and walked away along a path till he came, looking quite small and far-off, to a low door in the palace-wall. Opening it, he turned and beckoned to the Emperor; but the Emperor did not follow; so Wio-wani went in by himself, and shut the door between himself and the world for ever.

That happened three hundred years ago; but for Tiki-pu the story was as fresh and true as if it had happened yesterday. When he was left to himself in the studio, all alone and locked up for the night, Tiki-pu used to go and stare at the picture till it was too dark to see, and at the little palace with the door in its wall by which Wio-wani had disappeared out of life. Then his soul would go down into his finger-tips, and he would knock softly and fearfully at the beautifully painted door, saying, "Wio-wani, are you there?"

Little by little in the long-thinking nights, and the slow early mornings when light began to creep back through the papered windows of the studio, Tiki-pu's soul became too much for him. He who could strain paper, and grind colours, and wash brushes, had everything within reach for becoming an artist, if it was the will of fate that he should be one.

He began timidly at first, but in a little while he grew bold. With the first wash of light he was up from his couch on the hard floor, and was daubing his soul out on scraps, and odds-and-ends, and stolen pieces of rice-paper.

Before long the short spell of daylight which lay between dawn and the arrival of the apprentices to their work did not suffice him. It took him so long to hide all traces of his doings, to wash out the brushes, and rinse clean the paint-pots he had used, and on the top of that to get the studio swept and dusted, that there was hardly time left him in which to indulge the itching appetite in his fingers.

Driven by necessity, he became a pilferer of candleƄends, picking them from their sockets in the lanterns which the students carried on dark nights. Now and then one of these would remember that, when last used, his lantern had had a candle in it, and would accuse Tiki-pu of having stolen it. "It is true," he would confess ; "I was hungry--I have eaten it." The lie was so probable, he was believed easily, and was well beaten accordingly. Down in the ragged linings of his coat Tiki-pu could hear the candle-ends rattling as the buffeting and chastisement fell upon him, and often he trembled lest his hoard should be discovered. But the truth of the matter never leaked out and at night, as soon as he guessed that all the world outside was in bed, Tiki-pu would mount one of his candles on a wooden stand and paint by the light of it, blinding himself over his task, till the dawn came and gave him a better and cheaper light to work by.

Tiki-pu quite hugged himself over the results; he believed he was doing very well. "If only Wio-wani were here to teach me," thought he, "I would be in the way of becoming a great painter!"

The resolution came to him one night that Wio-wani should teach him. So he took a large piece of rice-paper and strained it, and sitting down opposite "Wio-wani's back-door," began painting. He had never set himself so big a task as this; by the dim stumbling light of his candle he strained his eyes nearly blind over the difficulties of it; and at last was almost driven to despair. How the trees stood row behind row, with air and sunlight between, and how the path went in and out, winding its way up to the little door in the palace-wall were mysteries he could not fathom. He peered and peered and dropped tears into his paint-pots; but the secret of the mystery of such painting was far beyond him.

The door in the palace-wall opened; out came a little old man and began walking down the pathway towards him.

The soul of Tiki-pu gave a sharp leap in his grubby little body. "That must be Wio-wani himself and no other!" cried his soul.

Tiki-pu pulled off his cap and threw himself down on the floor with reverent grovellings. When he dared to look up again Wio-wani stood over him big and fine; just within the edge of his canvas he stood and reached out a hand.

"Come along with me, Tiki-pu!" said the great one. "If you want to know how to paint I will teach you."

"Oh, Wio-wani, were you there all the while?" cried Tiki-pu ecstatically, leaping up and clutching with his smeary little puds the hand which the old man extended to him.

"I was there," said Wio-wani, "looking at you out of my little window. Come along in!"

Tiki-pu took a heave and swung himself into the picture, and fairy capered when he found his feet among the flowers of Wio-wani's beautiful garden. Wio-wani had turned, and was ambling gently back to the door of his palace, beckoning to the small one to follow him; and there stood Tiki-pu, opening his mouth like a fish to all the wonders that surrounded him. "Celestiality, may I speak?" he said suddenly.

"Speak," replied Wio-wani; "what is it?"

"The Emperor, was he not the very flower of fools not to follow when you told him?"

"I cannot say," answered Wio-wani, "but he certainly was no artist."

Then he opened the door, that door which he had so beautifully painted, and led Tiki-pu in. And outside the little candle-end sat and guttered by itself, till the wick fell overboard, and the flame kicked itself out, leaving the studio in darkness and solitude to wait for the growings of another dawn.

It was full day before Tiki-pu re- appeared; he came running down the green path in great haste, jumped out of the frame on to the studio floor, and began tidying up his own messes of the night and the apprentices' of the previous day. Only just in time did he have things ready by the hour when his master and the others returned to their work.

All that day they kept scratching their left ears, and could not think why; but Tiki-pu knew, for he was saying over to himself all the things that Wio-wani, the great painter, had been saying about them and their precious productions. And as he ground their colours for them and washed their brushes, and filled his famished little body with the breadcrumbs they threw away, little they guessed from what an immeasurable distance he looked down upon them all, and had Wio-wani's word for it tickling his right ear all the day long.

Now before long Tiki-pu's master noticed a change in him; and though he bullied him, and thrashed him, and did all that a careful master should do, he could not get the change out of him. So in a short while he grew suspicious. "What is the boy up to?" he wondered. "I have my eye on him all day: it must be at night that he gets into mischief."

It did not take Tiki-pu's master a night's watching to find that something surreptitious was certainly going on. When it was dark he took up his post outside the studio, to see whether by any chance Tiki-pu had some way of getting out; and before long he saw a faint light showing through the window. So he came and thrust his finger softly through one of the panes, and put his eye to the hole.

There inside was a candle burning on a stand, and Tiki-pu squatting with paint-pots and brush in front of Wio-Wani's last masterpiece.

"What fine piece of burglary is this?" thought he; "what serpent have I been harbouring in my bosom? Is this beast of a grub of a boy thinking to make himself a painter and cut me out of my reputation and prosperity?" For even at that distance he could perceive plainly that the work of this boy went head and shoulders beyond his, or that of any painter then living.

Presently Wio-wani opened his door and came down the path, as was his habit now each night, to call Tiki-pu to his lesson. He advanced to the front of his picture and beckoned for Tiki-pu to come in with him; and Tiki-pu's master grew clammy at the knees as he beheld Tiki-pu catch hold of Wio-wani's hand and jump into the picture, and skip up the green path by Wio-wani's side, and in through the little door that Wio-wani had painted so beautifully in the end wall of his palace!

For a time Tiki-pu's master stood glued to the spot with grief and horror. "Oh, you deadly little underling! Oh, you poisonous little caretaker, you parasite, you vampire, you fly in amber!" cried he, "is that where you get your training? Is it there that you dare to go trespassing; into a picture that I purchased for my own pleasure and profit, and not at all for yours? Very soon we will see whom it really belongs to!"

He ripped out the paper of the largest window-pane and pushed his way through into the studio. Then in great haste he took up paint-pot and brush, and sacrilegiously set himself to work upon Wio-wani's last masterpiece. In the place of the doorway by which Tiki-pu had entered he painted a solid brick wall; twice over he painted it, making it two bricks thick; brick by brick he painted it, and mortared every brick to its place. And when he had quite finished he laughed, and called "Good-night, Tiki-pu!" and went home to bed quite happy.

The next day all the apprentices were wondering what had become of Tiki-pu; but as the master himself said nothing, and as another boy came to act as colour-grinder and brush-washer to the establishment, they very soon forgot all about him.

In the studio the master used to sit at work with his students all about him, and a mind full of ease and contentment. Now and then he would throw a glance across to the bricked-up doorway of Wio-wani's palace, and laugh to himself, thinking how well he had served out Tiki-pu for his treachery and presumption.

One day--it was five years after the disappearance of Tiki-pu--he was giving his apprentices a lecture on the glories and the beauties and the wonders of Wio-wani's painting--how nothing for colour could excel, or for mystery could equal it. To add point to his eloquence, he stood waving his hallds before Wio-wani's last masterpiece, and all his students and apprentices sat round him and looked.

Suddenly he stopped at mid-word, and broke off in the full flight of his eloquence, as he saw something like a hand come and take down the top brick from the face of paint which he had laid over the little door in the palace- wall which Wio-wani had so beautifully painted. In another moment there was no doubt about it; brick by brick the wall was being pulled down, in spite of its double thickness.

The lecturer was altogether too dumfounded and terrified to utter a word. He and all his apprentices stood round and stared while the demolition of the wall proceeded. Before long he recognised Wio-wani with his flowing white beard; it was his handiwork, this pulling down of the wall! He still had a brick in his hand when he stepped through the opening that he had made, and close after him stepped Tiki-pu!

Tiki-pu was grown tall and strong--he was even handsome; but for all that his old master recognised him, and saw with an envious foreboding that under his arms he carried many rolls and stretchers and portfolios, and other belongings of his craft. Clearly Tiki-pu was coming back into the world, and was going to be a great painter.

Down the garden-path came Wio-wani, and Tiki-pu walked after him; Tiki-pu was so tall that his head stood well over Wio-wani's shoulders--old man and young man together made a handsome pair.

How big Wio-wani grew as he walked down the avenues of his garden and into the foreground of his picture! and how big the brick in his hand! and ah, how angry he seemed!

Wio-wani came right down to the edge of the picture-frame and held up the brick. "What did you do that for?" he asked.

"I . . . didn't!" Tiki-pu's old master was beginning to reply; and the lie was still rolling on his tongue when the weight of the brick-bat, hurled by the stout arm of Wio-wani, felled him. After that he never spoke again. That brick-bat, which he himself had reared, became his own tombstone.

Just inside the picture-frame stood Tiki-pu, kissing the wonderful hands of Wio-wani, which had taught him all their skill. "Good-bye, Tiki-pu!" said Wio-wani, embracing him tenderly. "Now I am sending my second self into the world. When you are tired and want rest come back to me: old Wio-wani will take you in."

Tiki-pu was sobbing, and the tears were running down his cheeks as he stepped out of Wio-wani's wonderfully painted garden and stood once more upon earth. Turning, he saw the old man walking away along the path toward the little door under the palace-wall. At the door Wio-wani turned back and waved his hand for the last time. Tiki-pu still stood watching him. Then the door opened and shut, and Wio-wani was gone. Softly as a flower the picture seemed to have folded its leaves over him.

Tiki-pu leaned a wet face against the picture and kissed the door in the palace-wall which Wio-wani had painted so beautifully. "O Wio-wani, dear master," he cried, "are you there?"

He waited, and called again, but no voice answered him.

March 21, 2012

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

 
A very long time ago, in mid winter, when the snowflakes were falling like feathers from heaven, a beautiful queen sat sewing at her window, which had a frame of black ebony. As she worked, she looked sometimes at the falling snow, and it happened that she pricked her finger with her needle, so that three drops of blood fell upon the snow. How pretty the red blood looked upon the dazzling white! The Queen said to herself as she looked it, “Ah me! If only I had a dear little child who had skin as white as the snow, lips as rosy as the blood, and hair as black as the ebony window frame.” Soon afterwards she had a little daughter, with skin white as snow, lips rosy as blood, and hair as black as ebony– and she was therefore called “Little Snow White.” But alas! When the little one was born, the good Queen died.

 A year passed away, and the King took another wife. She was a beautiful woman, but proud and haughty, and she could not bear that anyone else should surpass her in beauty. She had a mirror and when she stood in front of it and asked, “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?” The mirror answered: “Thou, O Queen, art the fairest of all,” and the Queen was contented, because she knew the mirror could speak nothing but the truth. But as time passed on, Little Snow White grew more and more beautiful, until when she was seven years old, she was as lovely as the bright day, and still more lovely than the Queen herself, so that when the lady one day asked her mirror “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest of us all?” it answered: “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is fairer far to see.” The Queen was shocked, and grew yellow and green with envy, and from that moment envy and pride grew in her heart like rank weeds, so that she had no peace day or night, until one day she called a huntsman and said “Take the child away into the woods and kill her, for I can no longer bear the sight of her. And when you return, bring with you her heart, that I may know you have obeyed my will.” The huntsman dared not disobey, and he led Snow White out into the woods and placed an arrow in his bow to pierce her innocent heart, but the little girl cried and begged him saying, “Ah dear huntsman, leave me my life! I will run away into the wild forest, and never come home again.” And as she was so beautiful the huntsman had pity on her and said, “Run away, then, you poor child.” While to himself he thought, “The wild beasts will soon have devoured you,” and yet it seemed as if a stone had been rolled from his heart since he no longer had to to kill her. 

Then as a young wild boar came rushing by, he killed it, took out its heart, and carried it home to the Queen. The cook was ordered to prepare this, and the wicked Queen ate it, and thought she had eaten the heart of Snow White. Poor little Snow White was now all alone in the wild wood, and so frightened was she that she trembled at every leaf that rustled. Then she began to run, and ran over sharp stones and through thorns, and the wild beasts ran past her, but did her no harm. And she kept on running until she came to a little house, where she went in to rest. Inside the cottage, everything she saw was tiny, but more dainty and clean than words can tell. 

Upon a white-covered table stood seven little plates and upon each plate lay a little spoon, besides which there were seven knives and forks and seven little goblets. Against the wall, and side by side, stood seven little beds covered with perfectly white sheets. Snow White was so hungry and thirsty that she took a little food from each of the seven plates, and drank a few drops of wine from each goblet, for she did not wish to take everything away from one. Then, because she was so tired, she crept into one of the beds, but it did not suit her, and then she tried the others, but one was too long, another too short, and so on, until she came to the seventh, which suited her exactly; so she said her prayers and soon fell fast asleep. When night fell the masters of the little house came home. They were seven dwarfs, who worked with a pick axe and spade, searching for copper and gold in the heart of the mountains. They lit their seven candles and then saw that someone had been to visit them. The first said, “Who has been sitting on my chair?” The second said, “Who has been eating from my plate?” The third, “Who has taken a piece of my bread?” The fourth, “Who has taken some of my vegetables?” The fifth, “Who has been using my fork?” The sixth, “Who has been cutting with my knife?” The seventh, “Who has been drinking out of my goblet?” The first looked round and saw that his bed was rumpled, so he said, “Who has been getting into my bed?” Then the others looked round and each one cried, “Someone has been on my bed too” But the seventh, when he looked at his bed, saw little Snow White, who was lying asleep there. And he called the others, who came running up, and they cried out with astonishment, and brought their seven little candles and let the light fall on little Snow White. “Oh, heavens! oh, heavens!” cried they, “what a lovely child!” and they were so glad that they did not wake her up, but let her sleep on in the bed. And the seventh dwarf slept with his companions, one hour with each, and so got through the night. When the sun rose, Snow White awoke, and, oh! How frightened she was when she saw the seven little dwarfs. But they were very friendly, and asked what her name was. “My name is Snow White,” she answered. “And how did you come to get into our house?” asked the dwarfs. Then she told them how her cruel step-mother had intended her to be killed, but how the huntsman had spared her life and she had run on until she reached the little house. And the dwarfs said, “If you will take care of our house, cook for us, and make the beds, wash, mend, and knit, and keep everything neat and clean, then you may stay with us and you shall lack for nothing.” “Yes,” answered Snow White; “With all my heart,” and so she stayed. She kept the house neat and clean for the dwarfs, who went off early in the morning to search for copper and gold in the mountains, and who expected their meal to be standing ready for them when they returned at night. All day long Snow White was alone, and the good little dwarfs warned her to be careful to let no-one into the house. “For,” said they, “your step-mother will soon discover that you are living here.” The Queen, believing, of course, that Snow White was dead, and that she had eaten her heart, and that therefore she was again the most beautiful lady in the land, went to her mirror, and said: “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest fair of all?” Then the mirror answered- “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is fairer far to see. Over the hills and far away, she dwells with seven dwarfs to-day.” How angry she was, for she knew that the mirror spoke the truth, and that the huntsman must have deceived her. She thought and thought how she might kill Snow White, for she knew she would have neither rest nor peace until she really was the most beautiful in the land. At length she decided what to do. She painted her face and dressed herself like an old pedlar-woman, so that no one could recognize her, and in this disguise she climbed the seven mountains that lay between her and the dwarves’ house, and knocked at their door and cried, “Pretty things to sell, very cheap, very cheap.” Snow White peeped from the window and said, “Good day, good wife, and what are your wares?” “All sorts of pretty things, my dear,” answered the woman. “Silken laces of every colour,” and she held up a bright-coloured one, made of plaited silks. “Surely I might let this honest old woman come in?” thought Snow White, and unbolted the door and bought the pretty lace. “Dear, dear, what a sight for sore eyes you are, child,” said the old woman; “Come, let me lace you properly for once.” Snow White had no suspicious thoughts, so she placed herself in front of the old woman that she might fasten her dress with the new silk lace. But immediately the wicked creature laced her bodice so tightly that she could not breathe, and fell down upon the ground as though she were dead. “Now,” said the Queen, “I am once more the most beautiful lady in the land,” and she went away. 

When the dwarfs came home they were very grieved to find their dear little Snow White lying upon the ground as though she were dead. They lifted her gently and, seeing that she was too tightly laced, they cut the silken cord, when she drew a long breath and then gradually came back to life. When the dwarfs heard all that had happened they said, “The pedlar-woman was certainly the wicked Queen. Now, take care in future that you open the door to none when we are not with you.” The wicked Queen had no sooner reached home than she went to her mirror, and said- “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest fair of all?” And the mirror answered as before- “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is fairer far to see. Over the hills and far away, She dwells with seven dwarfs to-day.” The blood rushed to her face as she heard these words, for she knew that Snow White must have come to life again. “But I will manage to put an end to her yet,” she said, and then, by using witchcraft, she made a poisonous comb. Again she disguised herself, climbed the seven mountains, and knocked at the door of the seven dwarfs’ cottage, crying, “Pretty things to sell -very cheap today!” Snow-White looked out of the window and said, “Go away, good woman, for I dare not let you in.” Surely you can look at my goods,” answered the woman, and held up the poisonous comb, which pleased Snow White so well that she opened the door and bought it. “Come, let me comb your hair in the newest way,” said the woman, and the poor unsuspicious child let her have her way, but no sooner did the comb touch her hair than the poison began to work, and she fell fainting to the ground. “There, you model of beauty,” said the wicked woman, as she went away, “you are done for at last!” But fortunately it was almost time for the dwarfs to come home, and as soon as they came in and found Snow White lying upon the ground they guessed that her wicked step-mother had been there again, and set to work to find out what was wrong. They soon saw the poisonous comb, and drew it out of her hair, and almost immediately Snow White began to recover, and told them what had happened. Once more they warned her to be on her guard, and to open the door to no-one. When the Queen reached home, she went straight to the mirror and said: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, Who is the fairest fair of all?” And the mirror answered- “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is fairer far to see. Over the hills and far away, She dwells with seven dwarfs today.” When the Queen heard these words she shook with rage. “Snow White shall die,” she cried, “even if it costs me my own life!” She went into a secret chamber, where no one else ever entered, and there she made a poisonous apple, and then she painted her face and disguised herself as a peasant woman, and climbed the seven mountains and went to the dwarfs’ house. She knocked at the door. Snow White put her head out of the window, and said, “I must not let anyone in; the seven dwarfs have forbidden me to do so.” “It’s all the same to me,” answered the peasant woman; “I shall soon get rid of these fine apples. But before I go I’ll make you a present of one.” “Oh! No,” said Snow-White, “for I must not take it.” “Surely you are not afraid of poison?” said the woman. “See, I will cut one in two: the rosy cheek you shall take, and the white cheek I will eat myself.” Now, the apple had been so cleverly made that only the rose-cheeked side contained the poison. 

Snow White longed for the delicious-looking fruit, and when she saw that the woman ate half of it, she thought there could be no danger, and stretched out her hand and took the other part. But no sooner had she tasted it than she fell down dead. The wicked Queen laughed aloud with joy as she gazed at her. “White as snow, red as blood, black as ebony,” she said, “this time the dwarfs cannot awaken you.” And she went straight home and asked her mirror– “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest fair of all?” And at length it answered– “Thou, O Queen, art fairest of all!” So her envious heart had peace -at least, as much as an envious heart can have peace. When the little dwarfs came home at night they found Snow White lying upon the ground. No breath came from her parted lips, for she was dead. They lifted her tenderly and sought for some poisonous object which might have caused the mischief, unlaced her frock, combed her hair, and washed her with wine and water, but all in vain -dead she was and dead she remained. They laid her upon a bier, and all seven of them sat round about it, and wept as though their hearts would break, for three whole days. When the time came that she should be laid in the ground they could not bear to part from her. Her pretty cheeks were still rosy red, and she looked just as though she were still living. “We cannot hide her away in the dark earth,” said the dwarfs, and so they made a transparent coffin of shining glass, and laid her in it, and wrote her name upon it in letters of gold; and that she was a King’s daughter. Then they put the coffin out upon the mountain top, and one of them always stayed by it and watched it. And birds came too, and wept for Snow White; first an owl, then a raven, and last a dove. For a long, long time little Snow White lay in the coffin, but she did not change; she only looked as though she slept, for she was still as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as ebony. It chanced that a King’s son came into the wood, and went to the dwarfs’ house, meaning to spend the night there. He saw the coffin upon the mountain top, with little Snow White lying within it, and he read the words that were written upon it in letters of gold. And he said to the dwarfs, “If you will but let me have the coffin, you may ask of me what you will, and I will give it to you.” But the dwarfs answered, “We would not sell it for all the gold in the world.” Then said the Prince, “Let me have it as a gift, I pray you, for I cannot live without seeing little Snow White, and I will prize your gift as the dearest of my possessions.” The good little dwarfs pitied him when they heard these words, and so gave him the coffin. The King’s son then bade his servants place it upon their shoulders and carry it away, but as they went they stumbled over the stump of a tree, and the violent shaking shook the piece of poisonous apple which had lodged in Snow White’s throat out again, so that she opened her eyes, raised the lid of the coffin, and sat up, alive once more. “Where am I?” she cried, and the happy Prince answered, “Thou art with me, dearest.” Then he told her all that had happened, and how he loved her better than the whole world, and begged her to go with him to his father’s palace and be his wife. 

Snow White agreed, and went with him, and the wedding was celebrated with great splendour and magnificence. Little Snow White’s wicked step-mother was invited to the feast, and when she had dressed herself in her most beautiful clothes, she stood before her mirror, and said: “Mirror, mirror upon the wall, Who is the fairest fair of all?” And the mirror answered– “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, The young Queen is fairer to see.” Oh! How angry the wicked woman was then, and so terrified, too, that she scarcely knew what to do. At first she thought she would not go to the wedding at all, but then she felt that she could not rest until she had seen the young Queen. No sooner did she enter the palace than she recognized little Snow White, and could not move for terror. Then a pair of red-hot iron shoes was brought into the room with tongs and set before her, and these she was forced to put on and to dance in them until she could dance no longer, but fell down dead, and that was the end of the wicked Queen.

March 15, 2012

Game- Cargo Master

March 14, 2012

Golden Goose - Audio Story


Once upon a time, there lived a wood cutter and his wife who had three sons. The eldest two were strong and tall, and their mother and father were always telling them how handsome and clever they were. But the youngest son was, to tell you the truth, just a bit simple in the head. He wasn’t very tall, and he wasn’t very strong, and his family thought he was good for nothing. They hardly ever called him by his real name, but instead they gave him a cruel nickname. They called him Dummy, because they said he was stupid.
One day the eldest son wanted to go to the forest to cut wood. The mother praised him for being such a useful boy and before he set out, she gave him some of her best fruit cake for his lunch, and a bottle of wine to wash it down. While the boy was walking through the forest, he met a little grey old man who said to him:


“Do give me a little piece of your cake and a swig of your wine. I’m so terribly hungry and thirsty.”
And the eldest son replied; “Be off with you, you filthy old beggar. “



And the little grey old man went away, but not without taking his revenge. He put a curse on the boy, so that when he started to cut a tree down, his axe slipped and went into his leg. The boy limped home to his mother who washed his wound and bandaged him.


The next day, the second eldest son went out to the forest to cut wood. Before he set out, his mother praised him for being such a useful boy, but especially asked him to be careful with the axe, so as not to have a nasty accident like his brother. The boy promised not to be careless, and his mother gave him some of her best sponge cake for his lunch, and a bottle of wine to wash it down.


It happened that as the boy was walking through the woods, he came across the same little gray old man. The man said to him, “Do please share your sponge cake and your wine with me, for I am so terribly weak with hunger and thirst.” And the boy said;


“Be off with you, you lazy old scoundrel. If you want to eat, you’d better work.”


And the little grey old man went away, but not without taking his revenge. Not long after, when the boy was cutting down a tree, his axe flew out of his hand and hit him on the head. He crawled home to his mother who bandaged up his wound and asked him why he had not kept his promise to be more careful.


For the rest of the week, the two eldest sons were both lying in bed recovering from their wounds. The father said to the third and youngest son:


“Get on your feet, you lazy Dummy, why are you sitting around doing nothing, when both brothers are hurt and unable to work? Get out to the forest and cut some wood – if you’re not too stupid to do that.”


The mother laughed at him and said, “It’s more than likely that Dummy will cut his own head off – but it won’t be much of loss to anyone.” And before he left she gave him some cake that she had burnt almost to a crust in the oven, and a bottle of sour beer to wash it down.


As the youngest boy was going through the woods, he met the same little gray old man who had crossed the path of his brothers. The man said to him:


“Do please share some of your cake and beer with me. I am so terribly hungry and thirsty, and I fear that if I don’t have something to eat and drink soon, I will surely die”
The young boy replied:



“Old man, I will gladly share with you what I have. But the cake is burned and the beer is sour.”


“Never mind that,” said the man. “I am grateful for what you can give me.”


And the boy and the little gray old man sat down and shared the cake and the beer. After they had finished their lunch, the man said:


“Since you have a good heart, and have shared what you have with me, I will give you a reward. You see that old tree over there. Cut it down with your axe and you will find something of value inside its hollow trunk.”


And so when the little gray old man had left, the young boy, whose parents called him “Dummy”, took his axe and cut down the hollow tree just as he had been told. Inside he found a goose – but this was no ordinary bird – for its feathers were made of gold.


The boy realised that he was in luck, and thought to himself: “Why should I go home now and suffer the insults of my parents and brothers? They will take this valuable bird from me, and I shall have nothing.”


And so the boy decided to run away from home. He put the golden goose under his arm and set out for the town. Then he went to the inn, intending to stay there. He stood at the bar and asked the innkeeper if he would accept a golden feather as payment for his board and lodgings. When the innkeeper, saw the golden goose, he readily agreed. But after the boy had gone to bed he said to his three daughters:


“That young boy whose parents call him Dummy is staying up in our guest room. But he can’t be as simple in the head as they say – for he’s got a valuable bird with him – a goose with feathers made of gold.”


The eldest daughter thought to herself, “ Well fancy that. Feathers made of gold. I’ll pluck one or maybe more of those for myself.”


After the clock struck midnight, she sneaked into the boy’s room, and saw that he was asleep with his arm around the golden goose. She crept up and tried to pluck a feather. But the feather wouldn’t budge, and when she tried to take her hand away, she found that she was stuck to it. She couldn’t move, and she couldn’t cry out for fear of waking the boy. She had to stay where she was, on her knees by the bed, with her hand on the feather.


After the clock struck one in the morning, the second sister came in the room, planning to take one feather or more for herself. In the dark she didn’t see her sister, but as soon as she touched her back, she found that her hand was stuck fast to her, and she had to stay where she was, not moving and not making a sound.


After the clock struck two in the morning, the third sister came in. The other two shouted: “Stay back !” but it was too late, – she reached out hoping to steal a feather and found that her hand was stuck to the middle sister.


The boy and the goose slept soundly through all of this. In the morning the boy got up, paid his bill with a golden feather, and left with inn with the goose under his arm. The sisters had no choice but to follow on behind him. A pretty procession they made. 


Along the way they met the Bishop:


“What a sight!” he exclaimed. “It’s hardly right for three young women to follow a boy around like that !”


And as the girls went past he tapped the youngest on the shoulder. In doing so he found that he was stuck to her and had to follow.


Further up the road they met a Police Sergeant. The Bishop called out to him “Sergeant: Help me get free from this young woman’s shoulder. I’m stuck to her and people are bound to start all kinds of gossip about it!”


The Police Sergeant tried to pull the Bishop free, but in doing so he found that both his hands stuck to his waist, and he had to follow along with the procession.


At the top of the road they met the Mayor.


‘What’s this town coming to?” cried the Mayor. “The Bishop and the police sergeant following three young girls who are following a young boy, all holding on to each other in a most unseemly fashion. Have they gone mad?”


And as he spoke, he tried to pull the Police Sergeant and the Bishop away – but in doing so he found that he was stuck to both of them, and had to follow on.


The boy led the little line of townspeople along up the road, and at the top of the hill they passed the King’s Palace. Now the King’s daughter was very beautiful, but she had the saddest face in the whole wide world. She had never laughed and not once even smiled. The king was so troubled by the young Princess’s unhappiness, that he had made a special law. Whosoever could make her laugh and smile would win her hand in marriage.


But the truth was that nothing very funny ever happened inside the Royal Palace. All the King’s servants and advisers were far too high and mighty to understand what would make a young girl laugh – or indeed to allow anything amusing to happen at all.


As the boy known as Dummy went past the palace, he still held the golden goose under his arm, and he was followed by the innkeeper’s three daughters, the Bishop, the Police Sergeant, and the Mayor. The Princess looked out at saw the important people in their uniforms being tugged along behind three girls and a boy with a goose, and she thought that it was the first thing she had seen in her life that was truly funny. She burst out laughing and ran, still giggling, to her father to tell him all about what she had seen. When the King looked out of his window and saw the procession, he couldn’t help laughing himself. He sent for his guards and told them to bring the boy and his followers directly to him. When the boy entered the King’s chamber, with the followers behind him, the Mayor, the Bishop and the Policeman all called out angrily that he should pay for his crime with his head. The King, still laughing, said that on the contrary – he would be rewarded with the hand in marriage of his daughter the Princess.


For an entire week after that , the innkeeper’s three daughters, the Bishop, the policeman, and the Mayor were all stuck to the gold goose and to one another. And while they were stuck , all the townspeople and the whole court laughed and laughed at them.


And the boy whose family called him Dummy married the Princess and inherited the kingdom. He lived with his beautiful wife and they had six happy smiling children, and the palace was often filled with laughter.

March 13, 2012

Hansel & Grettel - Audio Story




 ONCE upon a time there dwelt on the outskirts of a large forest a poor woodcutter with his wife and two children; the boy was called Hansel and the girl Grettel. He had always little enough to live on, and once, when times were bad, they had to get by with one piece of bread and butter each. One night, as he was tossing about in bed, full of cares and worry, he sighed and said to his wife: “What’s to become of us? how are we to feed our poor children, now that we have nothing more for ourselves?” “I’ll tell you what, husband,” answered the woman; “early to-morrow morning we’ll take the children out into the thickest part of the wood; there we shall light a fire for them and give them each a piece of bread; then we’ll go on to our work and leave them alone. They won’t be able to find their way home, and we shall be rid of them.” “No, wife,” said her husband, “that I won’t do; how could I find it in my heart to leave my children alone in the wood? The wild beasts would soon come and tear them to pieces.” “Oh! you fool,” said she, “then we must all four die of hunger, and you may just as well go and saw the boards for our coffins”; and they argued and argued, until he agreed that they must get rid of Hansel and Grettel. “But I can’t help feeling sorry for the poor children,” added the husband.

The children, too, had not been able to sleep for hunger, and had heard what their step-mother had said to their father. Grettel wept bitterly and spoke to Hansel: “Now it’s all up with us.” “No, no, Grettel,” said Hansel, “don’t fret yourself; I’ll be able to find a way to escape, no fear.” And when the old people had fallen asleep he got up, slipped on his little coat, opened the back door and stole out. The moon was shining clearly, and the white pebbles which lay in front of the house glittered like bits of silver. Hansel bent down and filled his pocket with as many of them as he could cram in. Then he went back and said to Grettel: “Be comforted, my dear little sister, and go to sleep: God will not desert us”; and he lay down in bed again.


At daybreak, even before the sun was up, the woman came and woke the two children: “Get up, you lie-abeds, we’re all going to the forest to fetch wood.” She gave them each a bit of bread and said: “There’s something for your luncheon, but don’t you eat it up before, for it’s all you’ll get.” Grettel took the bread under her apron, as Hansel had the stones in his pocket. Then they all set out together on the way to the forest. After they had walked for a little, Hansel stood still and looked back at the house, and this maneuver he repeated again and again. His father observed him, and said: “Hansel, what are you gazing at there, and why do you always remain behind? Take care, and don’t lose your footing.” “Oh! father,” said Hansel, “I am looking back at my white kitten, which is sitting on the roof, waving me a farewell.” The woman exclaimed: “What a donkey you are! that isn’t your kitten, that’s the morning sun shining on the chimney.” But Hansel had not looked back at his kitten, but had always dropped one of the white pebbles out of his pocket on to the path.


When they had reached the middle of the forest the father said: “Now, children, go and fetch a lot of wood, and I’ll light a fire that you may not feel cold.” Hansel and Grettel heaped up brushwood till they had made a pile nearly the size of a small hill. The brushwood was set fire to, and when the flames leaped high the woman said: “Now lie down at the fire, children, and rest yourselves: we are going into the forest to cut down wood; when we’ve finished we’ll come back and fetch you.” Hansel and Grettel sat down beside the fire, and at midday ate their little bits of bread. They heard the strokes of the axe, so they thought their father was quite near. But it was no axe they heard, but a bough he had tied on a dead tree, and that was blown about by the wind. And when they had sat for a long time their eyes closed with fatigue, and they fell fast asleep. When they awoke at last it was pitch dark. Grettel began to cry, and said: “How are we ever to get out of the wood?” But Hansel comforted her. “Wait a bit,” he said, “till the moon is up, and then we’ll find our way sure enough.” And when the full moon had risen he took his sister by the hand and followed the pebbles, which shone like new threepenny bits, and showed them the path. They walked on through the night, and at daybreak reached their father’s house again. They knocked at the door, and when the woman opened it she exclaimed: “You naughty children, what a time you’ve slept in the wood! we thought you were never going to come back.” But the father rejoiced, for his conscience had reproached him for leaving his children behind by themselves.


Not long afterward there was again great dearth in the land, and the children heard their mother address their father thus in bed one night: “Everything is eaten up once more; we have only half a loaf in the house, and when that’s done it’s all up with us. The children must be got rid of; we’ll lead them deeper into the wood this time, so that they won’t be able to find their way out again. There is no other way of saving ourselves.” The man’s heart smote him heavily, and he thought: “Surely it would be better to share the last bite with one’s children!” But his wife wouldn’t listen to his arguments, and did nothing but scold and reproach him. If a man yields once he’s done for, and so, because he had given in the first time, he was forced to do so the second.


But the children were awake, and had heard the conversation. When the old people were asleep Hansel got up, and wanted to go out and pick up pebbles again, as he had done the first time; but the woman had barred the door, and Hansel couldn’t get out. But he consoled his little sister, and said: “Don’t cry, Grettel, and sleep peacefully, for God is sure to help us.”


At early dawn the woman came and made the children get up. They received their bit of bread, but it was even smaller than the time before. On the way to the wood Hansel crumbled it in his pocket, and every few minutes he stood still and dropped a crumb on the ground. “Hansel, what are you stopping and looking about you for?” said the father. “I’m looking back at my little pigeon, which is sitting on the roof waving me a farewell,” answered Hansel. “Fool!” said the wife; “that isn’t your pigeon, it’s the morning sun glittering on the chimney.” But Hansel gradually threw all his crumbs on the path. The woman led the children still deeper into the forest farther than they had ever been in their lives before. Then a big fire was lit again, and the mother said: “Just sit down there, children, and if you’re tired you can sleep a bit; we’re going into the forest to cut down wood, and in the evening when we’re finished we’ll come back to fetch you.” At midday Grettel divided her bread with Hansel, for he had strewn his all along their path. Then they fell asleep, and evening passed away, but nobody came to the poor children. They didn’t awake till it was pitch dark, and Hansel comforted his sister, saying: “Only wait, Grettel, till the moon rises, then we shall see the bread-crumbs I scattered along the path; they will show us the way back to the house.” When the moon appeared they got up, but they found no crumbs, for the thousands of birds that fly about the woods and fields had picked them all up. “Never mind,” said Hansel to Gret- tel; “you’ll see we’ll find a way out”; but all the same they did not. They wandered about the whole night, and the next day, from morning till evening, but they could not find a path out of the wood. They were very hungry, too, for they had nothing to eat but a few berries they found growing on the ground. And at last they were so tired that their legs refused to carry them any longer, so they lay down under a tree and fell fast asleep.
On the third morning after they had left their father’s house they set about their wandering again, but only got deeper and deeper into the wood, and now they felt that if help did not come to them soon they must perish. At midday they saw a beautiful little snow-white bird sitting on a branch, which sang so sweetly that they stopped still and listened to it. And when its song was finished it flapped its wings and flew on in front of them. They followed it and came to a little house, on the roof of which it perched; and when they came quite near they saw that the cottage was made of bread and roofed with cakes, while the window was made of transparent sugar. “Now we’ll set to,” said Hansel, “and have a regular blow-out. I’ll eat a bit of the roof, and you, Grettel, can eat some of the window, which you’ll find a sweet morsel.” Hansel stretched up his hand and broke off a little bit of the roof to see what it was like, and Grettel went to the casement and began to nibble at it. Thereupon a shrill voice called out from the room inside:
“Nibble, nibble, little mouse, Who’s nibbling my house?”
The children answered:
“Tis Heaven’s own child, The tempest wild,”
and went on eating, without putting themselves about. Hansel, who thoroughly appreciated the roof, tore down a big bit of it, while Grettel pushed out a whole round window-pane, and sat down the better to enjoy it. Suddenly the door opened, and an ancient dame leaning on a staff hobbled out. Hansel and Grettel were so terrified that they let what they had in their hands fall. But the old woman shook her head and said: “Oh, ho! you dear children, who led you here? Just come in and stay with me, no ill shall befall you.” She took them both by the hand and let them into the house, and laid a most sumptuous dinner before them–milk and sugared pancakes, with apples and nuts. After they had finished, two beautiful little white beds were prepared for them, and when Hansel and Grettel lay down in them they felt as if they had got into heaven.
The old woman had appeared to be most friendly, but she was really an old witch who had waylaid the children, and had only built the little bread house in order to lure them in. When anyone came into her power she killed, cooked, and ate him, and held a regular feast-day for the occasion. Now witches have red eyes, and cannot see far, but, like beasts, they have a keen sense of smell, and know when human beings pass by. When Hansel and Grettel fell into her hands she laughed maliciously, and said jeeringly: “I’ve got them now; they sha’n't escape me.” Early in the morning, before the children were awake, she rose up, and when she saw them both sleeping so peacefully, with their round rosy cheeks, she muttered to herself: “That’ll be a dainty bite.” Then she seized Hansel with her bony hand and carried him into a little stable, and barred the door on him; he might scream as much as he liked, it did him no good. Then she went to Grettel, shook her till she awoke, and cried: “Get up, you lazy-bones, fetch water and cook something for your brother. When he’s fat I’ll eat him up.” Grettel began to cry bitterly, but it was of no use; she had to do what the wicked witch bade her.


So the best food was cooked for poor Hansel, but Grettel got nothing but crab-shells. Every morning the old woman hobbled out to the stable and cried: “Hansel, put out your finger, that I may feel if you are getting fat.” But Hansel always stretched out a bone, and the old dame, whose eyes were dim, couldn’t see it, and thinking always it was Hansel’s finger, wondered why he fattened so slowly. When four weeks had passed and Hansel still remained thin, she lost patience and determined to wait no longer. “Hi, Grettel,” she called to the girl, abe quick and get some water. Hansel may be fat or thin, I’m going to kill him to-morrow and cook him.” Oh! how the poor little sister sobbed as she carried the water, and how the tears rolled down her cheeks! “Kind heaven help us now!” she cried; “if only the wild beasts in the wood had eaten us, then at least we should have died together.” “Just hold your peace,” said the old hag; “it won’t help you.”
Early in the morning Grettel had to go out and hang up the kettle full of water, and light the fire. “First we’ll bake,” said the old dame; “I’ve heated the oven already and kneaded the dough.” She pushed Grettel out to the oven, from which fiery flames were already issuing. “Creep in,” said the witch, “and see if it’s properly heated, so that we can shove in the bread.” For when she had got Grettel in she meant to close the oven and let the girl bake, that she might eat her up too. But Grettel perceived her intention, and said: “I don’t know how I’m to do it; how do I get in?” “You silly goose!” said the hag, “the opening is big enough; see, I could get in myself,” and she crawled toward it, and poked her head into the oven. Then Grettel gave her a shove that sent her right in, shut the iron door, and drew the bolt. Gracious! how she yelled, it was quite horrible; but Grettel fled, and the wretched old woman was left to perish miserably.


Grettel flew straight to Hansel, opened the little stable- door, and cried: “Hansel, we are free; the old witch is dead.” Then Hansel sprang like a bird out of a cage when the door is opened. How they rejoiced, and fell on each other’s necks, and jumped for joy, and kissed one another! And as they had no longer any cause for fear, they went in the old hag’s house, and here they found, in every corner of the room, boxes with pearls and precious stones. “These are even better than pebbles,” said Hansel, and crammed his pockets full of them; and Grettel said: “I too will bring something home,” and she filled her apron full. “But now,” said Hansel, “let’s go and get well away from the witch’s wood.” When they had wandered about for some hours they came to a big lake. “We can’t get over,” said Hansel; “I see no bridge of any sort or kind.” “Yes, and there’s no ferry-boat either,” answered Grettel; “but look, there swims a white duck; if I ask her she’ll help us over,” and she called out:


Here are two children, mournful very, Seeing neither bridge nor ferry; Take us upon your white back, And row us over, quack, quack!”


The duck swam toward them, and Hansel got on her back and bade his little sister sit beside him. “No,” answered Grettel, “we should be too heavy a load for the duck: she shall carry us across separately.” The good bird did this, and when they were landed safely on the other side, and had gone for a while, the wood became more and more familiar to them, and at length they saw their father’s house in the distance. Then they set off to run, and bounding into the room fell on their father’s neck. The man had not passed a happy hour since he left them in the wood, but the woman had died. Grettel shook out her apron so that the pearls and precious stones rolled about the room, and Hansel threw down one handful after the other out of his pocket. Thus all their troubles were ended, and they lived happily ever afterward. 

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