3. Bedtime Stories

A Donkey to Market

A Donkey To Market

LONG AGO IN CAMBODIA, there once lived a farmer and his son.  The two of them took good care of all the animals on the farm.  One baby donkey grew up to be the most handsome and plump donkey they had ever seen.  He stood tall and had brown, smooth fur.

On seeing the fine grown-up donkey, the farmer said to his son, “Look at this strong donkey!  If only there was a need in our village to buy a donkey, we would get a good price for him.  But all the farmers I know already have a donkey.  We need to go far away, where most farmers do not have a donkey, to get the best price for him.”

“How far?” said the boy.  “Can I come?” 

“It would be good to have you with me for a long trip,” said the father.  “So yes, let’s go!”

“Where?” said the son.

“The village of Kompang would be good,”  he said.  Then the farmer stopped.  “Wait.  There is something we must think about.  If the donkey walks as far as to the village of Kompang, by the time we get there he might be too thin.  The price for him will go down.”

At last, the father had an idea. He and his son got hold of the donkey and tied each pair of its feet tight.  They passed a pole between the two pairs of feet.  The father put the front of the pole on his shoulders.  The son put the back of the pole on his shoulders. In this way, the two of them could lift the donkey.  They would carry the donkey that way.  And that is how they set off to Kompang.

A Donkey To Market

While going on their way, they were seen by villagers who could not believe their eyes. They laughed and laughed. “Look!” they called out.  “Did you ever see such a thing?  Two men are carrying a donkey!” They called out, “Old man!  People do not carry a horse, or an ox.  People do not carry a donkey!  It is they that have to carry us on their backs!”

“Oh!” said the father.  He and his son took down the donkey.  They untied the feet. Said the father, “We cannot both ride the donkey, for he is not strong enough to carry us both. Ride alone on the donkey, and I will follow you.” And that is what they did.

A Donkey To Market

While passing through another village, the young man was asked, “Where are you riding to, boy?”

“To Kompang,” he said.

Pointing, they asked, “And who is this old man behind you?”

“My father,” said the boy.

On hearing this, the villagers became mad.  They said, “What a selfish son you are! Why are you riding the donkey when you are strong enough to walk? You had better get down at once!  Let your old father be the one to ride the donkey.”

On hearing these sharp words, at once the boy got down from the donkey.  His father took his place to ride.  And that is how the two of them kept going.  The young man walked behind and the father rode on the donkey.

After some time, they came to a village where there was a well. A few young women had come to the well for water.

“You had better get down at once!”

Seeing the handsome young man, the young women felt a great caring for him.  They were not happy to see an old man riding such a fine donkey, when such a handsome young man had to walk behind him, tired and hot.

A Donkey To Market

They called out to the old man, “It is not for you, old man, to ride such a fine donkey.  It should be this good-looking young man to ride!”

The father and son looked at each other.  “Again, we must be doing this wrong!”  They decided to both ride the donkey.  “You in front and I behind you,” said the old man. “That way, no one will be mad.”  And sitting like that, they went on their way.

After a bit, the two of them reached a customhouse. The officer of the customhouse said, “Where are you going, men?”

“To the village of Kompang,” they said.

The officer said in a sharp tone, “Your donkey is not strong enough to carry both of you! If you keep riding as far as the village of Kompang, it will get thin and its price will go down. How foolish you are! Why don’t you let the donkey walk?”

A Donkey To Market

The farmer and his son looked at each other.  They were doing things wrong – again!  They got off the donkey and led it by a rope.

When they came to a field, the road ended. They had to cross the field to find the road on the other side. The owner of the field was working and he called out to them. “Walk carefully! My field is full of thorns, for it is not yet cleaned up.”  The son stepped on a thorn and cried out, “Ow!”   The owner of the field saw their donkey. “What are you doing?” he called.  “You have a donkey, why don’t you ride it? You are treating that donkey as your ruler! How foolish you are!”

Oh, dear!  The father and son did not know what to do. “Whatever we do, someone has something to say about it!” They talked and talked.  At last they said, “We will travel as we see fit, that we will.  And just put up with blame as it comes.”

A Donkey To Market

And so the farmer and his son went on and reached the village of Kompang. There they sold the donkey for a very good price, and to a good family, too.  And the two of them went back home without any more loss of time.

3. Bedtime Stories

The Painting & the Cat

A Fable by Mark Twain

This story is adapted from a fable written by Mark Twain’s. He’s the same writer who brought us Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Once upon a time an artist painted a small and very beautiful picture.  He hung it on the wall across from a mirror so that he could see its reflection in the mirror. Said the artist, “This doubles the distance and softens it, and it’s twice as lovely as it was before.”

A Fable by Mark Twain

The animals out in the woods heard of this through the artist’s housecat, who was greatly admired by them because he was so learned, and so refined and civilized, and so polite and high-bred, and could tell them so much which they didn’t know before, and were not certain about afterward. They were much excited about this new piece of gossip, and they asked questions, so as to get at a full understanding of it. Their first question was what a picture is, and the cat explained.

“It is a flat thing,” he said; “wonderfully flat, marvelously flat, enchantingly flat and elegant. And, oh, so beautiful!”

That excited them almost to a frenzy, and they said they would give the world to see it. Then the bear asked:

“What is it that makes it so beautiful?”

“It is the looks of it,” said the cat.

A Fable by Mark Twain

This filled them with admiration and uncertainty, and they were more excited than ever. Then the cow asked:

“What is a mirror?”

“It is a hole in the wall,” said the cat. “You look in it, and there you see the picture, and it is so dainty and charming and ethereal and inspiring in its unimaginable beauty that your head turns round and round, and you almost swoon with ecstasy.”

The donkey had not said anything as yet; he now began to throw doubts. He said there had never been anything as beautiful as this before, and probably wasn’t now. He said that when it took a whole basketful of adjectives to whoop up a thing of beauty, it was time for suspicion.

It was easy to see that these doubts were having an effect upon the animals, so the cat went off offended. The subject was dropped for a couple of days, but in the meantime curiosity was taking a fresh start, and there was a revival of interest. Then the animals assailed the donkey for spoiling what could possibly have been a pleasure to them, on a mere suspicion that the picture was not beautiful, without any evidence that such was the case.

A Fable by Mark Twain

The donkey was not troubled; he was calm, and said there was one way to find out who was in the right, himself or the cat: he would go and look in that hole, and come back and tell what he found there. The animals felt relieved and grateful, and asked him to go at once–which he did.

But he did not know where he ought to stand; and so, through error, he stood between the picture and the mirror. The result was that the picture had no chance, and didn’t show up. He returned home and said:

“The cat lied. There was nothing in that hole but a donkey. There wasn’t a sign of a flat, beautiful thing visible. It was a handsome donkey, and friendly, but just a donkey, and nothing more.”

The elephant asked:

“Did you see it good and clear? Were you close to it?”

“I saw it good and clear, O Hathi, King of Beasts. I was so close that I touched noses with it.”

“This is very strange,” said the elephant; “the cat was always truthful before–as far as we could make out. Let another witness try. Go, Baloo, look in the hole, and come and report.”

So the bear went. When he came back, he said:

“Both the cat and the donkey have lied; there was nothing in the hole but a bear.”

Great was the surprise and puzzlement of the animals. Each was now anxious to make the test himself and get at the straight truth. The elephant sent them one at a time.

First, the cow. She found nothing in the hole but a cow.

The tiger found nothing in it but a tiger.

The lion found nothing in it but a lion.

The leopard found nothing in it but a leopard.

The camel found a camel, and nothing more.

A Fable by Mark Twain

Then Hathi the elephant declared he would have the truth, if he had to go and fetch it himself. When he returned, he abused his whole subjectry for liars, and was in an unappeasable fury with the mental blindness of the cat. He said that anybody but a near-sighted fool could see that there was nothing in the hole but an elephant.


A Fable by Mark Twain

You can find in a text whatever you bring, if you stand between it and the mirror of your imagination. 

3. Bedtime Stories

Androcles & the Lion

Androcles and the Lion Story

THIS STORY takes place in Rome, where a Greek slave named Androcles escaped from his master and fled into the forest. There he wandered for a long time until he was weary and well nigh spent with hunger and despair. Just then he heard a lion near him moaning and groaning and at times roaring terribly. Tired as he was, Androcles rose up and rushed away, as he thought, from the lion; but as he made his way through the bushes he stumbled over the root of a tree and fell down lamed. When he tried to get up, there he saw the lion coming towards him, limping on three feet and holding his forepaw in front of him.

Androcles was in despair; he had no strength to rise and run away, and there was the lion coming upon him. But when the great beast came up to him instead of attacking him it kept on moaning and looking at him, he saw that the lion was holding out his right paw, it was covered with blood and much swollen.

Androcles and the Lion

Looking more closely at it, Androcles saw a great big thorn pressed into the paw, which was the cause of all the lion’s trouble. Plucking up courage he seized hold of the thorn and drew it out of the lion’s paw, who roared with pain when the thorn came out, but soon after found such relief from it that he fawned upon Androcles and showed, in every way that he knew, to whom he owed the relief. Instead of eating him up, he brought him a young deer that he had slain, and Androcles managed to make a meal from it. For some time the lion continued to bring the game he had killed to Androcles, who became quite fond of the huge beast.

But one day a number of soldiers came marching through the forest and found Androcles. As he could not explain what he was doing, they took him prisoner and brought him back to the town from which he had fled. Here his master soon found him and brought him before the authorities. Soon Androcles was condemned to death for fleeing from his master. Now it used to be the custom to throw murderers and other criminals to the lions in a huge circus, so that while the criminals were punished the public could enjoy the spectacle of a combat between them and the wild beasts.

So Androcles was condemned to be thrown to the lions, and on the appointed day he was led forth into the Arena and left there alone with only a spear to protect him from the lion. The Emperor was in the royal box that day and gave the signal for the lion to come out and attack Androcles. But when it came out of its cage and got near Androcles, what do you think it did? Instead of jumping upon him, it fawned upon him and stroked him with its paw and made no attempt to do him any harm.

Androcles and the Lion

It was of course the lion which Androcles had met in the forest. The Emperor, surprised at seeing such a strange behavior in so cruel a beast, summoned Androcles to him and asked him how it happened that this particular lion had lost all its cruelty of disposition. So Androcles told the Emperor all that had happened to him and how the lion was showing its gratitude for his having relieved it of the thorn. Thereupon the Emperor pardoned Androcles and ordered his master to set him free, while the lion was taken back into the forest and let loose to enjoy liberty once more.

3. Bedtime Stories

A Caterpillar’s Voice

A Caterpillar's Voice

ONE NICE DAY, Caterpillar was out for a walk and came to a cave.  “My, my!”  said Caterpillar.  “This looks like a very nice cave!”  Caterpillar looked in the door of the cave.  “I do not see anyone in there,” he said.  “I will go in.” Caterpillar went inside.

And so Caterpillar inched up on top of a rock.  And that was where he fell asleep. Right at the very same time, Hare, who lived in that cave, was also out for a walk. When Hare came home, she saw marks on the ground. 

A Caterpillar's Voice

This woke up Caterpillar.  And Caterpillar boomed in a very loud voice, “It is I! Yes, I who stamps rhinos in the earth and stomps elephants into dust!”  Hare hopped about in fear. “What can a small animal like me do with a beast who stamps rhinos and elephants?”

Soon Jackal passed by.  Hare said, “Friend Jackal, someone has come inside my cave!  Please, will you help me?” Jackal said, “Yes, I am happy to help.”  Jackal went up to the cave and barked loudly, “Who is in the house of my friend Hare?” Caterpillar called out in a voice that rocked the earth.  “It is I! Yes, I who stamps rhinos in the earth, and stomps elephants into dust!”

A Caterpillar's Voice

On hearing this, Jackal thought in fear, “I can do nothing against such a creature!”  And Jackal ran off as fast as he could.

Then Leopard passed by.  Hare told Leopard everything that had happened.  Leopard said, “I am bigger than Jackal and I am more loud.”  At the door of the cave, Leopard yelled, “Who is in the house of my friend Hare?”  Caterpillar called back in the same way he had done before. Leopard was surprised. 

He thought, “If this creature stamps rhinos and elephants, I do not even want to think about what he could do to me!”  And Leopard ran off very fast.

Next Rhino passed by. “Everyone knows how big and scary I am,” grunted Rhino. He marched up to Hare’s cave.  He snorted and pawed the ground with his very big feet. But when Rhino asked who was inside the cave and he heard Caterpillar’s booming reply, he said, “This is not good!  He can stamp me into the earth?  I am out of here!” And Rhino ran away, crashing through the forest. “I am out of here!”  And Rhino ran away, crashing through the forest.”

A Caterpillar's Voice

Even Elephant tried to help. But like the others, when Elephant heard what Caterpillar had to say, he knew he had no wish to be stomped underfoot like dust.  And he ran off very fast, too.

Hare did not know what to do!  Then Frog passed by.  “What is wrong?” said Frog, and Hare told him.  “Maybe I can help you,” said Frog.  “I wish you could,” said Hare.  “But Jackal tried to help.  And Leopard tried to help.  Even Rhino and Elephant tried to help.  And none of them could.”

“Still,” said Frog.  “Let me try.” Jackal, Leopard, Rhino and Elephant heard their names spoken and they came up see what was going on.  “What, you?” laughed Jackal.  “You are too small!” “You cannot help!” said Rhino.   All the animals laughed. “He wants to,” said Hare. “Why not let Frog try?” 

And so Frog went to the cave door and asked who was inside. He received the same reply as had been given to the others. Then Frog went more close and shouted, “I, who am the strongest of all, have come at last. I am the one who stamps those who stamp the rhinos! I am the one who stomps underfoot those who stomp the elephants!”

When Caterpillar inside Hare’s cave heard this, he trembled. He could see the shadow of Frog coming closer and closer.  He thought, “After all, I am only a caterpillar!” And Caterpillar inched out of Hare’s cave, hoping that no one would see him. But they did see him! 

A Caterpillar's Voice

“I would never dream of staying in that cave!” said Caterpillar with his nose in the air. “An echo like that is far too crude for a fancy creature like me!” As Caterpillar sniffed away, all the other animals laughed at the trouble such a small thing had given them.

3. Bedtime Stories

The Tale of El Capitan

In California today in the valley of Yosemite many tourists come to marvel at a very tall and sheer rock called El Capitan. But those who lived centuries ago, the people of the Miwok tribe, had another name for this natural wonder. They told a story about how it came about.

According to the Miwok, this very tall, vertical rock magically appeared overnight. One day it was an ordinary flat rock, but overnight it rose and stretched until it poked through the clouds above the tallest treetops.

The story began one late summer afternoon when a boy and girl were playing in a stream that crossed through their valley. At the end of the day they climbed out of the water and shivered in the cool air.

“I’m cold,” said the boy to his sister. 

“Look at that rock,” said the sister. “The sun’s shining on it. The moss on top looks as soft as a blanket.”

So they laid down on the sunny rock, stretched out on its thick green moss, and fell asleep under the warm sun.

While they slept – no one knows how or why – but the rock inched upward, bit by bit. Their sleep was so deep the children didn’t stir at all. All that night the rock rose upward more and more. When the villagers awoke, they noticed a rocky hill taller than the highest tree that had somehow mysteriously appeared overnight.

Meanwhile, the parents were searching everywhere for their children, but in vain. No one had seen them playing in the stream.  No one knew they were on top of the rock that had risen overnight. The parents asked Antelope, Jack Rabbit, Raccoon, and many other animals if they had seen their children the afternoon day before.  But all of them had been quite busy at that time and none had any idea where the children might be.

It was Coyote, cleverest of all, who sniffed the ground around the stream, then followed the scent to the mysterious new high hill.

El Capitan

“Your children must be on top,” he announced.

The villagers and animals gathered around. How did such a rock rise up overnight? More important – how to get the children down?

“Antelope!” said the children’s father, “you are the best jumper of all. Can you jump to the top?”

“I will try,” said Antelope. She jumped as high as she could but could only reach a small distance up the side of the rock.

The mother turned. “Grizzly Bear!” she said, “you are the strongest of the animals. Surely you can climb to the top.”

“I will try,” said Grizzly Bear. But as strong as Grizzly Bear was, the rock was too wide for him to stretch his arms around it like a tree, and he could not lift his weight up the sides.

One animal after another tried. Mountain Lion went a long way off to get a good running start, ran toward the rock with great leaps, sprang straight up – and fell and rolled over on his back. She had made a higher jump than any of them, but it was not nearly high enough.

“Let me try,” said a small voice in the back.

The villagers and animals looked around. Who had spoken?

“Don’t step on me, please!” said an offended voice. Who was coming through the crowd but Inchworm!

“Really,” said Antelope. “You can’t possibly expect us to believe you could do what we could not.”

“What nerve!” whispered Raccoon with contempt to Jack Rabbit, who shook his ears scornfully in agreement.

Yet all the other villagers and animals were exhausted from trying and no one else had any new ideas. So finally the parents said, “Go ahead, Inchworm, give it a try.”

El Capitan

With his nose in the air, Inchworm started up the side of the high rock.  Before long he had passed the point where Antelope had reached, and Bear, and Mountain Lion.  Then only Eagle was left who could see where Inchworm was. For one whole day Inchworm climbed the rock, and at last he reached the top. The children were as deep asleep as they had been the moment they had fallen to the magic of the mossy rock.  But Inchworm crawled across their arms and face till they awoke.

“Where are we?” they said sleepily. Looking around with alarm they saw clouds around them and birds flying about on all sides. Inchworm assured the children that they would be fine.  He urged them to follow him down a path through the ridges in the rock where their feet could grab hold. Slowly but surely, the girl and boy stepped safely down and, at last, reached the ground.

El Capitan

With great joy the children and their parents were re-united! Ever since that day, the Miwok people named the magic rock TUTOKANULA (too-tock-awn-oola)after the Inchworm, in honor of the smallest of creatures who had managed the greatest of deeds.

3. Bedtime Stories

The Girl and the Puma

The Girl and the Puma

Five hundred years ago when the Spanish entered South America, Native American tribes often fought back against the invaders. One way tribes could put pressure on the Spanish was to surround their settlements. This is what happened in the early 1500’s when Maldonado, a Spanish girl, was 15 years old.

Hostile Native Americans of the Querandí tribe had encircled the Spanish settlement where Maldonado lived. Before long, their food supplies were depleted. The people faced starvation. They begged their captain to allow them to take their chances and leave the settlement in search of food – but this the captain would not allow.

Famished, Maldonado escaped the settlement and fled into the jungle. As night fell, she heard with alarm the calls of wild animals. Where could she safely sleep for the night? But there was one call that drew her closer. It was a cry of pain. She followed the sound to a cave where she found a puma that had just given birth.

The Girl and the Puma

Maldonado helped the mother puma clean the cubs. Later, she watched the babies while the mother went out to hunt. And so days went by.

One day, while Maldonado was gathering food and the mother puma was inside the cave with her cubs, the girl was surprised by Querandí warriors. They captured her and brought her to their village. Fearing the worst, Maldonado braced herself for the death she felt certain was to come.

But the Querandís were kind to the girl. They taught her tasks to help in their village, and she gladly took part.

One day, a band of Spaniards attacked the Querandí village. Recognizing a Spanish girl, they grabbed Maldonado and forced her to return home.

The Spanish captain was furious that she had disobeyed him by escaping to the jungle. To make an example of her, he commanded that she be tied to a tree and left there for wild animals to devour.

The Girl and the Puma

After several days, the sad villagers ventured where Maldonado had been tied to the tree, fearing the worst. Much to their surprise they found her still tied to the tree and very much alive. Much more surprised were they to learn that it was a mother puma who had fed and protected the girl all that time.

3. Bedtime Stories

The Little Mermaid

Far out in the sea where the water is very deep, the Sea King ruled the undersea world.

In the deepest spot of the sea was his castle. The walls were made of blue coral.  On the roof were shells that opened and closed when the water passed by. And that is where the Sea King lived with his mother and four daughters, each one born a year apart.

The youngest of the four princesses was the Little Mermaid. She spent much of her time swimming to ships that had fallen to the bottom of the sea.  The ships held treasures from the world above! She would fill her arms and set up her collection here and there. All the while she would sing. As she did, fish circled around to hear her.  For the Little Mermaid’s voice was the most beautiful one under the sea.

The girls knew that when they turned 15, they could swim up to the surface for the first time. It would be a long time that the Little Mermaid had to wait, as she was the youngest! So she made her grandmother tell her all about life up on land. Tales about ships and towns, and every bit of stories about humans that she knew.  

Soon the eldest sister turned 15.  She was the first to be allowed to rise up to the surface.  When she came back, she had many wonders to tell her sisters about!  She told about resting on soft white sand. High above was a deep blue sky with puffy white clouds.  Later the sun set, she said, and the whole sky turned gold and red. She had watched the birds fly high above her, dipping and making turns in the red and gold sky.

When the next sister turned 15, it was winter.

She told of icebergs floating in the sea and shining bright.  All the ships stayed far away from the icebergs, she said, as if in fear. But the icebergs did not seem lonely.  They were like friends, floating close to each other. 

When it was the third sister’s turn, she told about moving as close as she could to the gate of a town. She heard people call out, horses that went clip, clopping down the street. And even music that she had never heard before.


All this the Little Mermaid heard with wonder.  It wasn’t fair that she had to wait the longest!  At last the day came when she turned 15, too. Now she could rise up over the surface and see for herself.  

When she came up over the water, the Little Mermaid was next to a large ship. On the ship beautiful music was playing.  Sailors were dancing on the deck. They were laughing and having a fine time. It must be a party! Now and then as the waves lifted up the Little Mermaid, she could see better.  A handsome young man stepped out on the deck. When he did, a hundred rockets rose in the air. The party was for him. Was it his birthday? She swam closer.

The men all seemed to like that young man.  When he spoke, the sailors would laugh. Sometimes they patted him on his back in joy. Once that made his crown fall off. The men laughed and picked it up. “A crown,” said the Little Mermaid.  “He must be a prince.”

Suddenly, it became very dark and the wind picked up.  The sailors started to run about on deck.  They pulled down the sail. The ship dipped and swooped.  It rolled side to side, and up and down on the high waves.

Then lightning.  Thunder.  A strong rainstorm hit.  The poor ship started to tip on the rough waves!  It was so dark that the Little Mermaid could see nothing.  Then lightning lit up the sky, and she could see the young prince on deck.  He seemed to be the only one still there! He was working hard to keep the ship afloat.  He was throwing ropes out to his men who had jumped. But then, all at once, the waves got very high and the ship started to tip over.  The Prince was flung to the side of the ship and thrown overboard! Down into the sea he fell.

He dropped very fast.  What was the Little Mermaid to do?  She knew that human beings cannot live under the water. She dove deep and fast.  She reached out and was able to grab his shirt. Then she swam up to the surface as fast as she could.  At last she could pull his head above the water. There the two of them floated as the waves rose and fell.  By morning, the storm had passed. Yet the prince was as still as he had been all night. From far off the Little Mermaid saw tops of hills.  “Land!” she said.

She swam to the shore, pulling him behind her.  It was not easy to pull the young man up onto dry sand, but she did it.  Was he dead? She sang a sad song. All of a sudden, the prince started to move.  “Oh! Are you all right?” she asked, and touched his forehead.

Just then, she heard a group of girls come over.  At once, she dove into the sea and hid behind a rock.  They must not see her – a mermaid! The girls found the prince, who was now awake. They called for help and soon he was led off. The prince would never know that she had saved him.  The Little Mermaid sank into a deep gloom. When she went back home, her sisters wanted to know all about her trip.  But she was too sad to say anything.

Days went by.  Then weeks. The sisters went to their grandmother for help.  The old woman went to her granddaughter. “Child, what is the matter?” she said.

The Little Mermaid cried out, “Grandmother, I will never be happy again!” She told about meeting the prince and saving him.  Then having to leave him behind. “Unless I can somehow walk on land and be with that young man, I will be sad for the rest of my days!”  

“My dear,” said the grandmother, “you know as well as I do that it is not possible for a mermaid to walk on two legs!  Why, the only one who can do anything like that is the Sea Witch. But of course it is much too dangerous to go to her.”

The Sea Witch!  Before she knew it, the Little Mermaid was headed to the far corner of the sea, where the Sea Witch lived.

“This is no problem,” said the Sea Witch when the Little Mermaid told her what she needed. “I fix problems much harder than this.  Why, to have legs all you need to do is to drink my potion.” Then she turned to face the girl. “But I don’t just give it away, you understand.”

“Oh!” said the Little Mermaid.  “What then is your price?” In her heart, she felt a lift.  So there was a way she could have two legs and be with the prince after all!  

“Oh, not too much,” said the Sea Witch.  “For one, you must give up your voice.”

“My voice?” said the Little Mermaid.  She knew her voice is what everyone loved about her the best.

“You don’t need it,” said the Sea Witch.  “Chitter, chatter, what a waste of time! But know this, little pretty.  If the prince marries someone else, the next day you must die. And your voice will stay with me forever.  But then again, who knows? He might choose YOU….”

The Little Mermaid’s heart leaped.  

The Sea Witch held out a glass with the green potion.  “So!” she said. “What are you going to do? Make up your mind!  I don’t have all day.”

The Little Mermaid took the potion and drank it.  At once she felt dizzy and in pain, as if a sword was being passed through her body. She spun and jerked about, then fell.  When she awoke, she was on the same dry land as when she had rescued the prince. Lifting up her head, she could see that her dream had come true.  Where her tail had been, she had two human legs!

“Say, Miss, are you in trouble?”  It was none other than the prince! She tried to say something but no words came out of her mouth.  “Can you not speak?” said he. She shook her head “no.” “Oh! Well then, let me take you to the castle.  You can clean up there and get some dry clothes to wear.”

You can be sure the Little Mermaid was very happy to join the prince at the castle!  At first, walking on her two legs was shaky. But soon she got the hang of it. That night, the prince showed her around the castle rooms.  He would point to a portrait and tell her all about the person. When he said something funny, they laughed together. When the story was sad, her kind eyes told him that she knew why and she felt sad, too.

The next day was a royal party.  The prince had not been not looking forward to going to it. Hours of standing with finely-dressed people who talk and talk and have nothing to say!  He asked the Little Mermaid if she might come with him. She nodded a big “yes”! That day, with the Little Mermaid by his side, the prince felt glad.  Sometimes he would make a comment in a low voice to her. And by her eyes and face, he knew that she understood.

After that, the prince wanted the Little Mermaid by his side every day.  He thought he could even fall in love with her. But he still held out hope to marry the one with the lovely voice he remembered from when he had been rescued.  Of course, it could not be his wonderful new friend who was not able to talk, let alone sing.

The King called for his son one day.  “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have made a decision.  It is time that you took a bride. Lucky for you that we already picked one out for you.”

“What!?” said the prince.  He only wanted to marry the woman with the beautiful voice that he remembered.  “Who is she?”

“A princess from a nearby land.  Tonight she is coming with her parents.  We will make the wedding plans.”

The prince was crushed.  And the Little Mermaid felt fear.  She knew what would happen to her the day after the prince married someone else!

That night her troubles got even worse.  What the Little Mermaid did not know was that the Sea Witch had put her voice into this princess.  She was a stuck-up princess who thought only of herself. Yet when she spoke, it was the Little Mermaid’s voice that came out! The prince was stunned. He asked the princess to sing. It was the Little Mermaid’s voice that filled the room. The prince could not believe his luck!  At last, he could marry the woman he had longed for all this time! When he shared his joy with the Little Mermaid, she tried to show that she was happy for him.  But gloom filled her heart.

The next morning at dawn, the Little Mermaid went to the sea. Her sisters, worried since they had not heard from her, rose above the water to see how she was.  Their youngest sister let them know the trouble she was in. The prince’s wedding was going to take place the very next day! And the day after that she must die. The sisters said not to worry, that they had an idea!  They told her to come back to the shore later that night. Then they dove back into the sea.

That night, the Little Mermaid came back to the shore as she was told to do.  The three sisters rose up again. Gone was their beautiful long hair. For they had cut it all off to give to the Sea Witch in exchange for a knife.  With the knife, the Little Mermaid must kill the princess that very night. Then the wedding could not take place and she could return to the sea and be with her family.  She took the knife for she knew how much they had done for her in love. But in her heart she knew she was not going to kill the princess.

The wedding day had arrived.  The Little Mermaid stepped up to the wedding ship with the other guests.  The wedding would take place at sunset.

In the meantime, the three sisters had returned home.  They were met with an angry father. “Where is your sister?” the Sea King shouted. “Where have you all been?”

They told the father the trouble their youngest sister was in. The father swam up to the wedding ship.  He saw the prince and princess getting ready to marry. He knew that his daughter did not use the knife the night before.  

At once, the Sea King rushed to see the Sea Witch.  She laughed. She said there was only one way to save his youngest daughter from her fate.  If he would just hand over his scepter to her, the Little Mermaid could be saved. With the scepter in her hand, the Sea Witch would rule the underworld kingdom!  The Sea King took a deep breath. What else could he do? So, he agreed.

The Sea Witch grabbed the scepter and laughed in glee.  She rushed to the wedding ship to see her victory. The Little Mermaid saw the Sea Witch rise out of the sea.  She saw that with the scepter, the Sea Witch had become a huge sea monster. Tentacles were twisting out from all over her body like an octopus.  The Little Mermaid knew she must protect the prince and even his new bride. So she took out the knife. Just then, one of the Sea Witches tentacles reached out and lifted the Little Mermaid right off the ship!  “This is the end for you!” crowed the Sea Witch.

Before the Little Mermaid knew it, she was wrapped up by the tentacle.  She was spun to the very chest of the Sea Witch. And the knife she was holding – the Sea Witch’s very own knife – she used it and dove it deep into the chest of the monster.

The Sea Witch reeled back in pain and the Little Mermaid was freed. On the ship, the guests ran around in fear.  The prince shot arrow after arrow at the monster.  Finally, the Sea Witch dropped down under the water.  As she fell, the Little Mermaid’s voice was let go, and it returned to her.    

The princess then shouted in a gruff harsh voice, “What a lousy kingdom this is!  You can’t even have a proper wedding!” The prince heard the princess and knew that she was not who he thought she was.  Then the Little Mermaid started to sing. The prince knew that the voice he remembered belonged to the very one he had grown to love.

The angry princess stormed off the wedding ship.  And her family followed close behind.

When the Sea King arrived, the scepter was floating in the sea, as if it were waiting for him.  With a sweep of his arm, it was his again.

“Well!” said the Sea King.  “I see my daughter is in good hands.” and, with a wave of his scepter, he lifted the Little Mermaid back onto the ship.

The prince put his arms around her. “Now I know it was you all along!” said the prince.  “Will you marry me?” The Little Mermaid had her voice back now.  But with all the happiness in her heart, she could not manage to speak. So she nodded “yes” with a warm smile.  And a wedding on board ship took place after all.

3. Bedtime Stories

Maui from Moana

Maui from Moana

Maui Pulls Up the Islands

One day Maui said to his four brothers, “Come fishing with me today!  Let’s go far out to sea. The fish are much bigger and better there, than they are close to land.”  

“Okay!” said his brothers.  They were good fishermen and wanted those big fish.  The four brothers and Maui jumped into their canoe and started to row.  When they got far out to sea and could no longer see land, Maui jumped onto the end of the canoe.  He drew out his magical fishing hook. When his brothers were looking ahead, he cast the hook over the side of the canoe.  The hook sunk down deep into the blue water.

  maui from moana

Soon, the magical hook stuck fast to the bottom of the sea. Maui pulled the fishing line tight. He called out, “See that tug? I must have hooked a giant fish!”

“Wow, I see that!” said one brother. 

“That is some fish you caught!” said another.

“My brothers!” Maui called out.  “Paddle hard so we can bring up this great fish!”

The brothers paddled with all their might.  They paddled so hard they did not see that the hook was pulling up the land from the bottom of the sea.  Behind them, one island after another rose from the sea!

Legend says that is how Maui made the islands, where the people now live.

maui moana

Maui Catches the Sun

One day, Maui wanted to see how life was for the people who lived on the islands.  But what he saw there made his heart skip a beat. Life was very hard for them. And he could see why – the days were just too short!  There was not time in a day for people to do what they needed to do, like making and cooking food. If they laid out a wet blanket on the sand, the blanket would still be wet the next day.  There was not even time for the fruit in the trees to get ripe.

“It is that Sun!” said Maui.  “He is racing too fast across the sky!  He is not thinking about the people who live down below, on the islands.”  

Maui knew it was up to him, a demi-god, to slow down the Sun. But how?  He asked his brothers. He asked his sister Hina. He asked still others that he knew.  

“Who do you think you are, Maui?” said one.  “No one can catch the Sun!”

“Even if you are a demi-god,” said another, “you know very well the Sun is too big and bright for anyone to stop.”

But Maui’s sister Hina did not say these sorts of things.  She cut off her long hair.  She tied the hair into ropes and gave the ropes to Maui.  From those ropes, Maui made a giant lasso.  

That night, Maui took his lasso up to the very tallest mountain on the islands of Hawaii.  The mountain had once been an active volcano. Years ago it had sent out waves of hot lava.  When the volcano was over, a big crater was left at the top of the mountain.  And that crater is where Maui planned to catch the Sun.

By the crater Maui waited, very still.  He hid the lasso behind him, out of view. When the Sun rose at dawn, it started to race across the sky very fast.  Soon that Sun was flying over the mountaintop. Brave Maui flung the lasso over his head. The ropes caught!  The Sun tried and tried to move, but was trapped!

maui moana

“Get me out of here!” shouted the Sun.

“Not yet!” said Maui.  “You are moving too fast across the sky.  It makes the days too short for the humans who live down below.”

“So I like to go fast!” said the Sun.  “Who cares? Let me out of here!”

“No!” said Maui in a big voice.  “I care! You have to stay here, in this crater!”  He pulled the lasso tight. But in his heart, Maui did not feel brave.  He did not know how much longer he could hold on. True, his lasso was stronger than any other rope in all the land.  But he did not know how long even a lasso made from his sister’s hair could last before the hot rays of the Sun would burn it up.  maui

The Sun tried to move again, but could not.  “Oh, very well!” the Sun said, at last. You can be sure Maui was very glad to hear that!  “I suppose I could slow down a little,” said the Sun. “But only for part of the year.”

So Maui and the Sun worked out a deal.  For half the year, the Sun would move at a slow pace.  Those days would be long, and that would be the summer. For the other half of the year, the sun could run as fast as it wanted to do.  Those days would be short, and that would be the winter.

This is how Maui made the days longer for the people of the islands.  At last, they could do the tasks they needed. They could have a full dinner and rest after.  And the fruits on the trees grew big and sweet. 

3. Bedtime Stories

The Gift of the Magi

Della and Jim were married just a year.  They had very little money and their place was poor.  But what they lacked in fancy things, they made up for with love.

The very next day was Christmas.  All the money Della had to buy a gift for her dear husband was $1.87.  “What on earth can I buy with that?” she asked. 

Turning around, she saw her reflection in the mirror.  Stepping up to the mirror, she stared at her reflection.  “At least Jim loves my long beautiful hair,” she said, taking a spin.  “He calls me his queen!”  Then she stopped cold.  “Some queen I am!” she said, “with just $1.87 to spend on a gift for my husband.”

Then all at once, Della knew what she must do.  Very fast, she put on her cloak and rushed out of  the apartment.  She ran down the street to a shop where wigs were made.  A sign read: “We buy hair.”

“Tell me,” Della asked the shop woman.  “How much will you pay me for my hair?”

“Come step inside,” said the shop woman, “and let me see it.”

Della stepped in the shop and took off her cloak.  Down fell her long, thick hair.


“My, my!” said the shop woman, “I will pay you twenty dollars for your lovely, long hair.”

At last, with twenty dollars in her pocket and the $1.87 from before, Della could go shopping.  But what should she get her husband?  The one thing Jim loved best in all the world was his golden pocket watch.  It had come from his father, and from his father’s father before that.  Sometimes, when Jim did not think anyone could see, he took out that golden watch, turned it over, and rubbed it with care.  Della knew this because she saw him do it. Then Della saw the perfect gift- a gold chain for his pocket watch!


 For $21 she bought the gold watch chain.  With that chain hooked up to Jim’s pocket watch, the watch could not fall out of his pocket.   And wouldn’t Jim look grand when he took out that golden pocket watch and everyone could see the shiny gold chain, too!

That night when Jim came home, Della rushed up to give him the gift she had bought.  Yet when he saw his wife’s short hair on her face, a frown appeared where he had smiled.  “Oh, do not worry, husband!” she cried.  “My hair grows back quickly.”

Then, before she could give Jim her gift, he handed his wife a small box.  Della untied the ribbon and opened it.  Inside were two beautiful hair combs!  They were the very same ones she had mooned over many times in the store windows, but they cost far too much money. 

Now they were the gift her dear husband had given her. Then, Della handed Jim her box.  “Now your turn,” she said.

When Jim opened it and saw the gold watch chain, he had to sit down.  “Don’t you like it?” said his wife.  “Of course, I do!” said Jim.  “But you see, I sold my watch so I could buy you the two hair combs.”

“And I sold my hair to buy you the watch chain!” said Della. 

Jim and Della had both given up the one thing they held most dear for the sake of the other.  And now they had nothing to show for it. 

Or did they?

“My queen,” said Jim, taking his wife’s hands into his own and looking into her eyes.

“My dear husband,” said Della, with love.

3. Bedtime Stories

Is There Anyone Like Me?

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

I wonder if there’s another me somewhere in the  world.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

Who looks the same.

And talks the same.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

And even has my curls.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

Someone with my eyes my ears.

Who even has my laugh.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

Who can do what I can do …

Is there anyone like me?

… and can’t do what I can’t.

Is there anyone like me

I’ve looked and looked everywhere to find another me.

I went down to the park and looked behind the trees.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

I looked around, up and down …

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

… at every single face.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

I couldn’t find another me in any single place.

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

There’s only one me in the world!

I’m special, oh it’s true!

Is there anyone like me ~ 5 min Bedtime Stories

But not just me, don’t you see?

There’s only one of you!