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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 88
In Issue 88 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Estonian tale of Tontlawald (Tontla Forest or Tontla Woods.) The story goes thus, a peasant had remarried, and he and his new wife quarreled, and she abused her stepdaughter Elsa. One day, the children were gathering strawberries when a boy realised they had wandered in to Tontlawald; the rest ran off, but Elsa did not think the woods could be worse than her stepmother. She met a little black dog with a silver collar, and a maiden dressed in silk who asked her to stay and be her friend….. Download and read the stories to find out just what happened after that.
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Each issue also has a “WHERE IN THE WORLD – LOOK IT UP” section, where young readers are challenged to look up a place on a map somewhere in the world. The place, town or city is relevant to the story, on map. HINT – use Google maps.
Baba Indaba is a fictitious Zulu storyteller who narrates children’s stories from around the world. Baba Indaba translates as “Father of Stories”.
THE STORY OF A SHEPHERD WHO SLEPT ALL WINTER
Once upon a time there was a shepherd who was called Batcha. During the summer he pastured his flocks high up on the mountain where he had a little hut and a sheepfold.
One day in autumn while he was lying on the ground, idly blowing his pipes, he chanced to look down the mountain slope. There he saw a most amazing sight. A great army of snakes, hundreds and hundreds in number, was slowly crawling to a rocky cliff not far from where he was lying.
When they reached the cliff, every serpent bit off a leaf from a plant that was growing there. They then touched the cliff with the leaves and the rock opened. One by one they crawled inside. When the last one had disappeared, the rock closed.
Batcha blinked his eyes in bewilderment.
“What can this mean?” he asked himself. “Where are they gone? I think I’ll have to climb up there myself and see what that plant is. I wonder will the rock open for me?”
He whistled to Dunay, his dog, and left him in charge of the sheep. Then he made his way over to the cliff and examined the mysterious plant. It was something he had never seen before.
He picked a leaf and touched the cliff in the same place where the serpents had touched it. Instantly the rock opened.
Batcha stepped inside. He found himself in a huge cavern the walls of which glittered with gold and silver and precious stones. A golden table stood in the center and upon it a monster serpent, a very king of serpents, lay coiled up fast asleep. The other serpents, hundreds and hundreds of them, lay on the ground around the table. They also were fast asleep. As Batcha walked about, not one of them stirred.
Batcha sauntered here and there examining the walls and the golden table and the sleeping serpents. When he had seen everything he thought to himself:
“It’s very strange and interesting and all that, but now it’s time for me to get back to my sheep.”
It’s easy to say: “Now I’m going,” but when Batcha tried to go he found he couldn’t, for the rock had closed. So there he was locked in with the serpents.
He was a philosophical fellow and so, after puzzling a moment, he shrugged his shoulders and said:
“Well, if I can’t get out I suppose I’ll have to stay here for the night.”
With that he drew his cape about him, lay down, and was soon fast asleep.
He was awakened by a rustling murmur. Thinking that he was in his own hut, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Then he saw the glittering walls of the cavern and remembered his adventure.
The old king serpent still lay on the golden table but no longer asleep. A movement like a slow wave was rippling his great coils. All the other serpents on the ground were facing the golden table and with darting tongues were hissing:
“Is it time? Is it time?”
The old king serpent slowly lifted his head and with a deep murmurous hiss said:
“Yes, it is time.”
He stretched out his long body, slipped off the golden table, and glided away to the wall of the cavern. All the smaller serpents wriggled after him.
Batcha followed them, thinking to himself:
“I’ll go out the way they go.”
The old king serpent touched the wall with his tongue and the rock opened. Then he glided aside and the serpents crawled out, one by one. When the last one was out, Batcha tried to follow, but the rock swung shut in his face, again locking him in.
The old king serpent hissed at him in a deep breathy voice:
“Hah, you miserable man creature, you can’t get out! You’re here and here you stay!”
“But I can’t stay here,” Batcha said. “What can I do in here? I can’t sleep forever! You must let me out! I have sheep at pasture and a scolding wife at home in the valley. She’ll have a thing or two to say if I’m late in getting back!”
Batcha pleaded and argued until at last the old serpent said:
“Very well, I’ll let you out, but not until you have made me a triple oath that you won’t tell anyone how you came in.”
Batcha agreed to this. Three times he swore a mighty oath not to tell anyone how he had entered the cavern.
“I warn you,” the old serpent said, as he opened the wall, “if you break this oath a terrible fate will overtake you!”
Without another word Batcha hurried through the opening.
Once outside he looked about him in surprise. Everything seemed changed. It was autumn when he had followed the serpents into the cavern. Now it was spring!
“What has happened?” he cried in fright. “Oh, what an unfortunate fellow I am! Have I slept through the winter? Where are my sheep? And my wife—what will she say?”
With trembling knees he made his way to his hut. His wife was busy inside. He could see her through the open door. He didn’t know what to say to her at first, so he slipped into the sheepfold and hid himself while he tried to think out some likely story.
While he was crouching there, he saw a finely dressed gentleman come to the door of the hut and ask his wife where her husband was.
The woman burst into tears and explained to the stranger that one day in the previous autumn her husband had taken out his sheep as usual and had never come back.
“Dunay, the dog,” she said, “drove home the sheep and from that day to this nothing has ever been heard of my poor husband. I suppose a wolf devoured him, or the witches caught him and tore him to pieces and scattered him over the mountain. And here I am left, a poor forsaken widow! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!”
Her grief was so great that Batcha leaped out of the sheepfold to comfort her.
“There, there, dear wife, don’t cry! Here I am, alive and well! No wolf ate me, no witches caught me. I’ve been asleep in the sheepfold—that’s all. I must have slept all winter long!”
At sight and sound of her husband, the woman stopped crying. Her grief changed to surprise, then to fury.
“You wretch!” she cried. “You lazy, good-for-nothing loafer! A nice kind of shepherd you are to desert your sheep and yourself to idle away the winter sleeping like a serpent! That’s a fine story, isn’t it, and I suppose you think me fool enough to believe it! Oh, you—you sheep’s tick, where have you been and what have you been doing?”
She flew at Batcha with both hands and there’s no telling what she would have done to him if the stranger hadn’t interfered.
“There, there,” he said, “no use getting excited! Of course he hasn’t been sleeping here in the sheepfold all winter. The question is, where has he been? Here is some money for you. Take it and go along home to your cottage in the valley. Leave Batcha to me and I promise you I’ll get the truth out of him.”
The woman abused her husband some more and then, pocketing the money, went off.
As soon as she was gone, the stranger changed into a horrible looking creature with a third eye in the middle of his forehead.
“Good heavens!” Batcha gasped in fright. “He’s the wizard of the mountain! Now what’s going to happen to me!”
Batcha had often heard terrifying stories of the wizard, how he could himself take any form he wished and how he could turn a man into a ram.
“Aha!” the wizard laughed. “I see you know me! Now then, no more lies! Tell me: where have you been all winter long?”
At first Batcha remembered his triple oath to the old king serpent and he feared to break it. But when the wizard thundered out the same question a second time and a third time, and grew bigger and more horrible looking each time he spoke, Batcha forgot his oath and confessed everything.
“Now come with me,” the wizard said. “Show me the cliff. Show me the magic plant.”
What could Batcha do but obey? He led the wizard to the cliff and picked a leaf of the magic plant.
“Open the rock,” the wizard commanded.
Batcha laid the leaf against the cliff and instantly the rock opened.
“Go inside!” the wizard ordered.
But Batcha’s trembling legs refused to move.
The wizard took out a book and began mumbling an incantation. Suddenly the earth trembled, the sky thundered, and with a great hissing whistling sound a monster dragon flew out of the cavern. It was the old king serpent whose seven years were up and who was now become a flying dragon. From his huge mouth he breathed out fire and smoke. With his long tail he swished right and left among the forest trees and these snapped and broke like little twigs.
The wizard, still mumbling from his book, handed Batcha a bridle.
“Throw this around his neck!” he commanded.
Batcha took the bridle but was too terrified to act. The wizard spoke again and Batcha made one uncertain step in the dragon’s direction. He lifted his arm to throw the bridle over the dragon’s head, when the dragon suddenly turned on him, swooped under him, and before Batcha knew what was happening he found himself on the dragon’s back and he felt himself being lifted up, up, up, above the tops of the forest trees, above the very mountains themselves.
For a moment the sky was so dark that only the fire, spurting from the dragon’s eyes and mouth, lighted them on their way.
The dragon lashed this way and that in fury, he belched forth great floods of boiling water, he hissed, he roared, until Batcha, clinging to his back, was half dead with fright.
Then gradually his anger cooled. He ceased belching forth boiling water, he stopped breathing fire, his hisses grew less terrifying.
“Thank God!” Batcha gasped. “Perhaps now he’ll sink to earth and let me go.”
But the dragon was not yet finished with punishing Batcha for breaking his oath. He rose still higher until the mountains of the earth looked like tiny ant-hills, still up until even these had disappeared. On, on they went, whizzing through the stars of heaven.
At last the dragon stopped flying and hung motionless in the firmament. To Batcha this was even more terrifying than moving.
“What shall I do? What shall I do?” he wept in agony. “If I jump down to earth I’ll kill myself and I can’t fly on up to heaven! Oh, dragon, have mercy on me! Fly back to earth and let me go and I swear before God that never again until death will I offend you!”
Batcha’s pleading would have moved a stone to pity but the dragon, with an angry shake of his tail, only hardened his heart.
Suddenly Batcha heard the sweet voice of the skylark that was mounting to heaven.
“Skylark!” he called. “Dear skylark, bird that God loves, help me, for I am in great trouble! Fly up to heaven and tell God Almighty that Batcha, the shepherd, is hung in midair on a dragon’s back. Tell Him that Batcha praises Him forever and begs Him to deliver him.”
The skylark carried this message to heaven and God Almighty, pitying the poor shepherd, took some birch leaves and wrote on them in letters of gold. He put them in the skylark’s bill and told the skylark to drop them on the dragon’s head.
So the skylark returned from heaven and, hovering over Batcha, dropped the birch leaves on the dragon’s head.
The dragon instantly sank to earth, so fast that Batcha lost consciousness.
When he came to himself he was sitting before his own hut. He looked about him. The dragon’s cliff had disappeared. Otherwise everything was the same.
It was late afternoon and Dunay, the dog, was driving home the sheep. There was a woman coming up the mountain path.
Batcha heaved a great sigh.
“Thank God I’m back!” he said to himself. “How fine it is to hear Dunay’s bark! And here comes my wife, God bless her! She’ll scold me, I know, but even if she does, how glad I am to see her!”
From: THE SHOEMAKER’S APRON – 20 Czech & Slovak Folk Tales
eBooks: http://abelapublishing.com/the-shoemakers-apron–20-czech-and-slovak-folk-tales_p24975669.htm PDF & ePub formats – only US$0.50 or GBP0.25
‘How astonishingly cold it is! My body is cracking all over!’ said the Snow-man. ‘The wind is really cutting one’s very life out! And how that fiery thing up there glares!’ He meant the sun, which was just setting. ‘It sha’n’t make me blink, though, and I shall keep quite cool and collected.’
‘There it is again on the other side!’ said the Snow-man, by which he meant the sun was appearing again. ‘I have become quite accustomed to its glaring. I hope it will hang there and shine, so that I may be able to see myself. I wish I knew, though, how one ought to see about changing one’s position. I should very much like to move about. If I only could, I would glide up and down the ice there, as I saw the boys doing; but somehow or other, I don’t know how to run.’
‘Bow-wow!’ barked the old yard-dog; he was rather hoarse and couldn’t bark very well. His hoarseness came on when he was a house-dog and used to lie in front of the stove.
‘The sun will soon teach you to run! I saw that last winter with your predecessor, and farther back still with his predecessors! They have all run away!’
‘Well, it certainly did run just now, for I saw it quite plainly over there, and now here it is on this side.’
‘You know nothing at all about it,’ said the yard-dog. ‘Why, you have only just been made. The thing you see there is the moon; the other thing you saw going down the other side was the sun. He will come up again tomorrow morning, and will soon teach you how to run away down the gutter. The weather is going to change; I feel it already by the pain in my left hind-leg; the weather is certainly going to change.”I can’t understand him,’ said the Snow-man; ‘but I have an idea that he is speaking of something unpleasant. That thing that glares so, and then disappears, the sun, as he calls it, is not my friend. I know that by instinct.’
‘Bow-wow!’ barked the yard-dog, and walked three times round himself, and then crept into his kennel to sleep.
The weather really did change. Towards morning a dense damp fog lay over the whole neighbourhood; later on came an icy wind, which sent the frost packing. But when the sun rose, it was a glorious sight. The trees and shrubs were covered with rime, and looked like a wood of coral, and every branch was thick with long white blossoms. The most delicate twigs, which are lost among the foliage in summer-time, came now into prominence, and it was like a spider’s web of glistening white. The lady-birches waved in the wind; and when the sun shone, everything glittered and sparkled as if it were sprinkled with diamond dust, and great diamonds were lying on the snowy carpet.
‘Isn’t it wonderful?’ exclaimed a girl who was walking with a young man in the garden. They stopped near the Snow-man, and looked at the glistening trees. ‘Summer cannot show a more beautiful sight,’ she said, with her eyes shining.
‘And one can’t get a fellow like this in summer either,’ said the young man, pointing to the Snow-man. ‘He’s a beauty!’
The girl laughed, and nodded to the Snow-man, and then they both danced away over the snow.
‘Who were those two?’ asked the Snow-man of the yard dog.
‘You have been in this yard longer than I have. Do you know who they are?’
‘Do I know them indeed?’ answered the yard-dog. ‘She has often stroked me, and he has given me bones. I don’t bite either of them!’
‘But what are they?’ asked the Snow-man.
‘Lovers!’ replied the yard-dog. ‘They will go into one kennel and gnaw the same bone!’
“Are they the same kind of beings that we are?’ asked the Snow-man.
‘They are our masters,’ answered the yard-dog. ‘Really people who have only been in the world one day know very little.’ That’s the conclusion I have come to. Now I have age and wisdom; I know everyone in the house, and I can remember a time when I was not lying here in a cold
‘The cold is splendid,’ said the Snow-man. ‘Tell me some more. But don’t rattle your chain so, it makes me crack!’
‘Bow-wow!’ barked the yard-dog. ‘They used to say I was a pretty little fellow; then I lay in a velvet-covered chair in my master’s house. My mistress used to nurse me, and kiss and fondle me, and call me her dear, sweet little Alice! But by-and-by I grew too big, and I was given to the
housekeeper, and I went into the kitchen. You can see into it from where you are standing; you can look at the room in which I was master, for so I was when I was with the housekeeper. Of course it was a smaller place than upstairs, but it was more comfortable, for I wasn’t chased about and teased by the children as I had been before. My food was just as good, or even better. I had my own pillow, and there was a stove there, which at this time of year is the most beautiful thing in the world. I used to creep right under that stove. Ah me! I often dream of that stove still! Bow-wow!’
‘Is a stove so beautiful?’ asked the Snow-man. ‘Is it anything like me?’
‘It is just the opposite of you! It is coal-black, and has a long neck with a brass pipe. It eats firewood, so that fire spouts out of its mouth. One has to keep close beside it quite underneath is the nicest of all. You can see it through the window from where you are standing.’
And the Snow-man looked in that direction, and saw a smooth polished object with a brass pipe. The flicker from the fire reached him across the snow. The Snow-man felt wonderfully happy, and a feeling came over him which he could not express; but all those who are not snow-men
know about it.
‘Why did you leave her?’ asked the Snow-man. He had a feeling that such a being must be a lady. ‘How could you leave such a place?’
‘I had to!’ said the yard-dog. ‘They turned me out of doors, and chained me up here. I had bitten the youngest boy in the leg, because he took away the bone I was gnawing; a bone for a bone, I thought! But they were very angry, and from that time I have been chained here, and I have lost
my voice. Don’t you hear how hoarse I am? Bow-wow! I can’t speak like other dogs. Bow-wow! That was the end of happiness!’
The Snow-man, however, was not listening to him anymore; he was looking into the room where the housekeeper lived, where the stove stood on its four iron legs, and seemed to be just the same size as the Snow-man. ‘How something is cracking inside me!’ he said. ‘Shall I never be able to get in there? It is certainly a very innocent wish, and our innocent wishes ought to be fulfilled. I must
get there, and lean against the stove, if I have to break the window first!’
‘You will never get inside there!’ said the yard-dog; ‘and if you were to reach the stove you would disappear. Bowwow!’
‘I’m as good as gone already!’ answered the Snow-man. ‘I believe I’m breaking up!’
The whole day the Snow-man looked through the window; towards dusk the room grew still more inviting; the stove gave out a mild light, not at all like the moon or even the sun; no, as only a stove can shine, when it has something to feed upon. When the door of the room was open, it flared up-this was one of its peculiarities; it flickered quite red upon the Snow-man’s white face.
‘I can’t stand it any longer!’ he said. ‘How beautiful it looks with its tongue stretched out like that!’
It was a long night, but the Snow-man did not find it so; there he stood, wrapt in his pleasant thoughts, and they froze, so that he cracked.
Next morning the panes of the kitchen window were covered with ice, and the most beautiful ice-flowers that even a snow-man could desire, only they blotted out the stove. The window would not open; he couldn’t see the stove which he thought was such a lovely lady. There was a cracking and cracking inside him and all around; there was just such a frost as a snow-man would delight in. But this Snow-man was different: how could he feel happy?
‘Yours is a bad illness for a Snow-man!’ said the yard-dog. ‘I also suffered from it, but I have got over it. Bow-wow!’ he barked. ‘The weather is going to change!’ he added.
The weather did change. There came a thaw. When this set in the Snow-man set off. He did not say
anything, and he did not complain, and those are bad signs. One morning he broke up altogether. And lo! where he had stood there remained a broomstick standing upright, round which the boys had built him!
‘Ah! now I understand why he loved the stove,’ said the yard-dog. ‘That is the raker they use to clean out the stove! The Snow-man had a stove-raker in his body! That’s what was the matter with him! And now it’s all over with him! Bow-wow!’
And before long it was all over with the winter too! ‘Bowwow!’ barked the hoarse yard-dog.
But the young girl sang: Woods, your bright green garments don! Willows, your woolly gloves put on! Lark and cuckoo, daily sing—February has brought the spring! My heart joins in your song so sweet; Come out, dear sun, the world to greet!
And no one thought of the Snow-man.
From “The Pink Fairy Book”
A Dog and a Cock, who were the best of friends, wished very much to see something of the world. So they decided to leave the farmyard and to set out into the world along the road that led to the woods. The two comrades travelled along in the very best of spirits and without meeting any adventure to speak of.
At nightfall the Cock, looking for a place to roost, as was his custom, spied nearby a hollow tree that he thought would do very nicely for a night’s lodging. The Dog could creep inside and the Cock would fly up on one of the branches. So said, so done, and both slept very comfortably.
With the first glimmer of dawn the Cock awoke. For the moment he forgot just where he was. He thought he was still in the farmyard where it had been his duty to arouse the household at daybreak. So standing on tip-toes he flapped his wings and crowed lustily. But instead of awakening the farmer, he awakened a Fox not far off in the wood. The Fox immediately had rosy visions of a very delicious breakfast. Hurrying to the tree where the Cock was roosting, he said very politely:
“A hearty welcome to our woods, honoured sir. I cannot tell you how glad I am to see you here. I am quite sure we shall become the closest of friends.”
“I feel highly flattered, kind sir,” replied the Cock slyly. “If you will please go around to the door of my house at the foot of the tree, my porter will let you in.”
The hungry but unsuspecting Fox, went around the tree as he was told, and in a twinkling the Dog had seized him.
Moral: Those who try to deceive may expect to be paid in their own coin
From: ÆSOP FOR CHILDREN
Available as a PDF eBook at: http://store.payloadz.com/details/1011742-ebooks-children%27s-ebooks-aesop-for-children-1919-.html
33% of the profit from the sale of this book will be donated to CECILY’S FUND, a charity educating and supporting Zambian children orphaned by aids.