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Eleanor L. Skinner
Ada M. Skinner
Originally Published By
American Book Company, New York
Abela Publishing, London
Typographical arrangement of this edition
© Abela Publishing 2018
This book may not be reproduced in its current format in any manner in any media, or transmitted by any means whatsoever, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, or mechanical ( including photocopy, file or video recording, internet web sites, blogs, wikis, or any other information storage and retrieval system) except as permitted by law without the prior written permission of the publisher.
From a knowledge and love of children both extending through many years, I wish to speak of the pleasure and profit they will derive from reading and possessing Merry Tales.
To keep children sane and sweet they must be given bright and cheery stories to read. They will find them in Merry Tales. Early in life they should learn something of myths and folklore. These tales are founded on these old treasures, but are charmingly adapted to the understanding of present-day children. I have read few books for children possessing such literary value and yet using words that children can master without difficulty, thereby being able to enjoy their own reading.
I hope that Merry Tales will find a place not only in the schoolroom for that time of delight in a well-taught school,—“the period for supplementary reading,”—but that parents may find the book out to place it in the child’s own library, a thing that a child must have if it is ever to have in later life the joys of a genuine booklover.
MARGARET W. SUTHERLAND,Principal of the Columbus Normal School.
The stories in this collection have been chosen, first, because they are stories children have always loved, and second, because they are free from much of the grewsome or grotesque which figures in so many of the folk tales and fables of the past. Although there are elements of surprise and danger in the adventures of the various characters, yet each story ends happily. The little book is intended as a supplementary reader for children in the third or fourth year of school and the vocabulary has been carefully graded to meet that need. Some of the stories have dramatic qualities and will be found to lend themselves readily to dramatization.
The Monkey and the Crocodile - Jataka Tales
The Hillman and the Housewife - Juliana H. Ewing
The Fishing Party A Southern Folk Tale
The Forest Bailiff – A Russian Legend
Bruin and Reynard Partners – A Scandinavian Folk Tale
The Three Wishes – A Swedish Legend
The Pigtail (Poem) - Translated by W. M. Thackeray
The Stone Lion - Captain W. P. O’Connor
The Story that had No End – An Old Folk Tale
The King’s Rabbit Keeper – A Norse Legend
The Leaping Match – By H. C. Andersen
The Clever Turtle – An East Indian Tale
Robin Goodfellow (Poem) - Percy’s Reliques
Merlin’s Crag - Irish Folk Tale
The Story of Li’l’ Hannibal – By Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
How Timothy won the Princess – An Irish Fairy Tale
The Overturned Cart – By Agnes C. Herbertson
Chanticleer – By Chaucer
The Jackal and the Alligator – An East Indian Tale
Finn and the Fairy Shoemaker – An Irish Legend
Making the Best of it – By Frances Fox
The Brownie of Blednock – By Elizabeth Grierson
How Olaf brought the Brownie Back – An Old English Tale
The Poor Little Turkey Girl – By F. Cushing
Meadow Fiddlers (Poem)Agnes McLellan Daulton
Castle Fortune – A German Legend
A Little Dutch Garden (Poem) – By Harriet Durban
True Friendship - Translated from the Greek by Mrs. Symonds
Permission was obtained to reprint, or to use in adapted form, certain copyrighted and valuable material in this volume. For this the following acknowledgments are made:
To Sturgis and Walton Company, for “The Stone Lion,” by Captain W. P. O’Connor, from Story Telling in School and Home, copyright, 1912, by Sturgis and Walton Company;
To Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and the publishers of Good Housekeeping, for “The Story of Li’l’ Hannibal,” reprinted by permission of Good Housekeeping;
To the Grolier Society, publishers of The Book of Knowledge, for “How Olaf Brought the Brownie Back”;
To George H. Doran Company, for “The Overturned Cart” from Cap O’Yellow, by Agnes Crozier Herbertson;
To Frances Fox and The Outlook Company, for “Making the Best of It”;
To Elizabeth Grierson and Frederick A. Stokes Company, publishers of Scottish Fairy Tales, for “The Brownie of Blednock”;
To F. Cushing and G. P. Putnam’s Sons for “The Poor Little Turkey Girl” from Zuñi Folk Tales; and
To T. Fisher Unwin for “True Friendship.”
t is no use trying to live here any longer,” thought the monkey, looking down, from his home in the tree, at a big crocodile sleeping on the sunlit bank of the river. “Whenever that creature opens his great mouth, I shudder to think what might happen if I were near.”
Just then the crocodile yawned. Wider and wider and wider he opened his mouth. Away whisked the monkey to the topmost branch of the tree.
“This very day I shall move farther down the river!” he said.
So the monkey slipped away to a tree about half a mile distant. There he lived peaceably for some time. He was delighted with his new home. The water was cool and clear. In the middle of the stream was an island covered with fruit trees.
It was very easy to reach the little island. One leap from his tree brought the monkey to the end of a large rock which jutted out into the river; another leap brought him to the island, where he could get a fine feast and frisk about all the day long. In the evening he went back to his home in the great tree on the river’s bank.
One day he stayed later than usual on the island. When he came to the water’s edge, he looked and blinked and looked and blinked! “How strange that rock looks!” he said to himself. “Surely it was never so high before! What can be the matter with it?” Suddenly the monkey’s heart beat very fast. The crocodile was lying on the top of that rock!
“Oho! Mr. Crocodile,” thought the monkey, “I see I must put my wits to work very, very quickly indeed if I am to escape from you!”
“Good evening, Big Rock,” he called.
The crocodile lay very still.
“This is a fine evening, Big Rock!” called the monkey.
The crocodile lay very, very still.
“What is the matter, Big Rock? You have always been a good friend of mine. Why are you so silent this evening?”
Then the crocodile thought, “Now I see I must pretend to be the rock, or the monkey may not come this way to-night.” So with his mouth shut he mumbled as best he could, “Good evening, Mr. Monkey.”
“Oh! Is that you, Mr. Crocodile?” said the monkey, pleasantly. “I’m afraid I have awakened you!”
“Never mind that,” said the crocodile, raising his head. “Come, make your leap! You cannot escape me this time.”
“No, I’m afraid not,” said the monkey, meekly.
And all the time he was thinking, “Crocodiles shut their eyes when they open their mouths wide.”
“Come along and make haste, Monkey,” said the crocodile.
“I’m caught, that is sure, for I must leap your way. Well, as you say, I cannot escape you, Crocodile. Open your mouth. Oh, wider than that, please, if I am to leap into it. Wider! There! Here I go! Ready!”
Before the crocodile knew what was happening, the monkey gave three bounds—first to the top of the crocodile’s head,—then to the bank,—then to his tree. Away he whisked to the topmost branch.
“Thank you, Mr. Crocodile,” he called.
ne day a hillman knocked at the door of a selfish housewife.
“Can you lend me a saucepan, good mother?” said he. “There’s a wedding in the hill, and all the pots are in use.”
“Is he to have one?” asked the servant girl who had opened the door.
“Ay, to be sure,” said the housewife. But when the maid was taking a saucepan from the shelf, the housewife whispered slyly to her, “Do not lend him a good pan; get the old one out of the cupboard. It leaks, and the hillmen are so neat and such nimble workers that they are sure to mend it before they send it home. So one does a good turn and saves sixpence from the tinker.”
The maid fetched the old saucepan which had been laid by till the tinker’s next visit and gave it to the dwarf, who thanked her and went away.
The saucepan was soon returned neatly mended and ready for use. At supper time the maid filled the pan with milk and set it on the fire for the children’s supper, but in a few minutes the milk was so burned and smoked that no one could touch it. Even the pigs would not drink the wash into which the milk was thrown.
“Ah, you good-for-nothing girl!” cried the housewife as this time she filled the pan herself. “Your careless ways would ruin the richest. There’s a whole quart of milk spoiled at once.”
“A quart of milk costs twopence!” cried a queer small voice from the chimney corner.
The housewife had not left the saucepan for two minutes when the milk boiled over and was all burned and smoked as before.
“The pan must be dirty,” cried the housewife in a rage; “and there are two full quarts of milk as good as thrown to the dogs. Oh, what dreadful waste!”
“Two quarts of milk cost fourpence!” cried the queer small voice.
After a long scrubbing, the saucepan was once more filled with milk and set on the fire, but in a little while the milk was burned and smoked again.
The housewife burst into tears at the waste, and cried out, “Never before did such a thing happen to me since I kept house! Three quarts of milk burned for one meal.”
“Three quarts of milk cost sixpence!” cried the queer small voice. “You didn’t save the tinker after all!”
Then the hillman himself came tumbling down the chimney and went off laughing through the door. But from that time the saucepan was as good as any other.
ne clear, warm evening about sunset Brother Rabbit was walking down a road which led to the old mill. He was saying to himself: “It has been a week or more since I have had any fun. I do wish something would happen to make times a little livelier. I’m—”
“A fine sunset, Brother Rabbit! A penny for your thoughts. I do believe you would have passed me without speaking.”
“Good evening, Brother Terrapin,” said the rabbit, stopping and holding out his hand in a most cordial way. “I am very glad to see you, for I like your opinion immensely. I’ll tell you what I was thinking about, my friend. I was planning a little fishing party. Come, let us sit down here on the roadside and talk it over.”
Brother Terrapin replied: “A fishing party! That will be fine sport. We should become very dull indeed in this neighborhood, Brother Rabbit, if it were not for your plans. Have you decided whom to invite?”
“Well,” said Brother Rabbit, “I think it unwise to invite too many. Perhaps five, including ourselves, are enough, because, you see, we must keep very quiet, and if the party is large, there is danger of too much merriment. Have you any particular friend who enjoys fishing?”
“Oh, yes, indeed. Brother Bear is very quiet and sensible, and he loves to fish for mud turtles,” replied Brother Terrapin.
“Well, I have in mind Brother Fox and Brother Wolf. Look, here they come! What good luck! Let us see what they think about the plan.” And the rabbit danced away up the road to meet his friends and tell them about the fishing party.
“Exactly the kind of sport I enjoy most,” said Brother Wolf, interrupting Brother Rabbit. “I’ll fish for hornyheads. Come, Brother Fox, what do you say?”
“First, I wish to thank Brother Rabbit for his kind invitation,” said Brother Fox, politely. “Of course, you all know that I shall fish for perch, and I think I shall use a dip net. Good evening, Brother Terrapin. What an interesting party ours will be. What will you fish for?”
“Oh,” laughed Brother Terrapin, “minnows suit my taste very well.”
“All right,” said Brother Rabbit. “Now let us meet at the mill pond about eight o’clock this evening. Brother Terrapin, may I trouble you to bring the bait? The others will each bring a hook and line, and, Brother Fox, please do not forget your fine dip net. About twelve o’clock you are all invited to a fish supper at my house. Don’t forget the time and place of meeting. Farewell.”
All hurried away to prepare for the evening’s amusement, and, at the appointed time, the five merry brothers met at the mill pond.
Brother Rabbit was very anxious to begin; so he baited his hook and stepped up to the very edge of the water. Then he stopped suddenly, looked straight down into the pond, dropped his fishing pole, and scratched his head.
“Mercy!” said Brother Fox. “What in the world is the matter with Brother Rabbit? Let us slip up to him and see what is the trouble. Come, all together.”
But Brother Rabbit turned and walked toward them, shook his head seriously, and said: “No fishing to-night, my friends. We might as well go home.”
“What is it? What did you see?” began the bear, the fox, and the wolf. Brother Terrapin crept up to the edge of the pond, looked straight into the water, jumped back, and said, “Tut, tut, tut! To be sure! To be sure!”
“Come, come, tell us. We cannot bear this suspense,” snapped the fox.
Then Brother Rabbit said slowly, “The moon has dropped into the mill pond, and if you don’t believe me, go and look for yourselves.”
“Impossible!” cried Brother Bear.
They all crept up to the edge of the pond and looked in and there they saw the golden moon right down in the clear water.
“Isn’t that too bad?” said Brother Wolf.
“Well, well, well,” sighed Brother Fox; and Brother Bear shook his head slowly and said, “The impossible has happened!”
“Now, I’ll tell you something,” began the rabbit, who was not to be easily daunted, “we must get that moon out of the water before we begin to fish. I tell you truly no fish will bite while that great golden ball is near.”
“Well, Brother Rabbit,” said the wolf, “can’t you make a suggestion in this matter? You usually know what to do.”
“I have it, my friends,” said the rabbit jumping up and down. “I have it! I know where I can borrow a sieve. I’ll run and get it and then we can dip up the moon in no time. We’ll have our fishing party yet!” and off he ran.
Brother Terrapin was thinking. In a little while he looked up and said, “My friends, I have often heard that there is a pot of gold in the moon.”
“What’s that?” said Brother Fox, quickly.
“I was saying that my grandmother has often told me that there is a pot of gold in the moon. But here comes Brother Rabbit with the sieve.”
“My good friend,” said Brother Fox, “you were kind enough to go after that sieve and now you must let Brother Bear, Brother Wolf, and myself do the work. No, don’t take off your coat. You are such a little fellow that it would be dangerous for you to go into the water. You and Brother Terrapin stand here on the bank and watch us. Come, give me the sieve.”
So Brother Terrapin and Brother Rabbit stood on the bank and watched the others wade into the pond.
They dipped the sieve down once. “No moon,” said Brother Bear.
Again they dipped. “No moon,” said Brother Wolf.
“Come,” said Brother Fox, “we must go farther in.”
“Oh, do be careful, my friends,” called the rabbit, “you are near a very deep hole.”
Buzz, buzz! The water was roaring in Brother Bear’s ears and he shook his head violently. Down went the sieve again.
“No moon,” sighed Brother Fox. “A little farther out, friends. Now, down again with the sieve.”
Splash! Splash! Splash! Down they all went with the sieve. They kicked and tumbled and splashed as if they would throw all the water out of the mill pond. Then they swam for the shore and all came out dripping wet. “No moon,” said Brother Fox, sulkily. “What! No moon? Well, well, well!” said Brother Rabbit.
“Too bad! Too bad!” said Brother Terrapin.
“My friends,” said the rabbit, seriously, “I think you ought to go home and put on some dry clothes. I do, indeed. And I hope we shall have better luck next time. Good night.”
nce upon a time a peasant owned a cat which was so disagreeable and mischievous that all the neighbors complained about him. Finally the peasant became impatient and said to his wife, “I have decided to get rid of our cat. He is such a nuisance that I feel we ought not to keep him any longer.”
“I do not blame you,” replied his wife. “My patience, too, is worn out listening to the stories told about that mischievous animal.”
In a few days the peasant put the cat into a large sack and walked far into a leafy forest. Then he opened the sack and let the cat bound away. How many interesting things there were in the depths of the beautiful wood! After wandering about for a few hours the cat began to feel quite at home, especially when he found a little deserted cabin where he took up his abode and dined bountifully on mice and birds.
One day when Master Cat was walking proudly along a path which led to a pond, he met Miss Fox, who looked at him with great interest and curiosity. When she came close enough to be heard, she said, “Your pardon, good sir, but may I ask who you are, and why you are walking in the forest?”
Master Cat raised his head very high and replied proudly: “I am the bailiff of the forest. My name is Ivan, and I have been sent from Siberia to become governor of this vast wood.”
“Oh, indeed,” said Miss Fox. “Dear Master Bailiff, will you not honor me with your presence at dinner? I shall be most proud to entertain such a distinguished guest.”
“Lady, I accept your invitation,” replied Master Cat, making a profound bow.
Now Miss Fox knew well how to entertain. She not only provided the greatest delicacies for her table, but she chatted in the merriest fashion and told the bailiff many interesting things about life in the forest.
“My dear Sir Bailiff, do have another serving of this savory pie. The forest, you know, gives one a good appetite,” said she, with a side glance at her visitor.
“Thank you, dear lady,” returned Master Ivan. “It is indeed delicious. I have tasted nothing so good for weeks. What a cozy home you have here.”
“It is very comfortable,” replied Miss Fox. “But I am often a little lonely. May I ask, sir, are you married or single?”
“I am single,” replied Mr. Bailiff.
“Why, so am I,” said his companion, dropping her eyes shyly. “Master Ivan, the Bailiff, will you not marry me?”
The guest was a little astonished, but he finally consented to marry Miss Fox. Their wedding was attended with much ceremony, and the bailiff came to live in his wife’s cozy home.