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ISSN: 2397-9607 Issue 84
In Issue 84 of the Baba Indaba Children’s Stories, Baba Indaba narrates the Burmese tale of A SAD FATE – how a poor farm boy is taught to fish by a magical bird. So successful was he that he fed more than just his family. The king hears about his and asks the boy his secret. But did he tell the king the truth? Download and read the story to find out just what the boy said. Lookout for the moral of the story.
The second story is FRIENDS – Four brothers are continually fighting until taught a lesson in unity and strength by their father.
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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”.
An excerpt from TALES OF FOLK AND FAIRIES – 14 children’s tales from around the world – A NEW RELEASE
THERE was once a girl who was wiser than the King and all his Councillors; there never was anything like it. Her father was so proud of her that he boasted about her cleverness at home and abroad. He could not keep his tongue still about it. One day he was boasting to one of his neighbors, and he said, The girl is so clever that not even the King himself could ask her a question she couldn’t answer, or read her a riddle she couldn’t unravel.
Now it so chanced the King was sitting at a window nearby, and he overheard what the girls father was saying. The next day he sent for the man to come before him. I hear you have a daughter who is so clever that no one in the kingdom can equal her; and is that so? asked the King.
Yes, it was no more than the truth. Too much could not be said of her wit and cleverness.
That was well, and the King was glad to hear it. He had thirty eggs; they were fresh and good, but it would take a clever person to hatch chickens out of them. He then bade his chancellor get the eggs and give them to the man.
Take these home to your daughter, said the King, and bid her hatch them out for me. If she succeeds she shall have a bag of money for her pains, but if she fails you shall be beaten as a vain boaster.
The man was troubled when he heard this. Still his daughter was so clever he was almost sure she could hatch out the eggs. He carried them home to her and told her exactly what the King had said, and it did not take the girl long to find out that the eggs had been boiled.
When she told her father that, he made a great to-do. That was a pretty trick for the King to have played upon him. Now he would have to take a beating and all the neighbors would hear about it. Would to Heaven he had never had a daughter at all if that was what came of it.
The girl, however, bade him be of good cheer. Go to bed and sleep quietly, said she. I will think of some way out of the trouble. No harm shall come to you, even though I have to go to the palace myself and take the beating in your place.
The next day the girl gave her father a bag of boiled beans and bade him take them out to a certain place where the King rode by every day. Wait until you see him coming, said she, and then begin to sow the beans. At the same time he was to call out this, that, and the other so loudly that the King could not help but hear him.
The man took the bag of beans and went out to the field his daughter had spoken of. He waited until he saw the King coming, and then he began to sow the beans, and at the same time to cry aloud, Come sun, come rain! Heaven grant that these boiled beans may yield me a good crop.
The King was surprised that any one should be so stupid as to think boiled beans would grow and yield a crop. He did not recognize the man, for he had only seen him once, and he stopped his horse to speak to him. My poor man, said he, how can you expect boiled beans to grow? Do you not know that that is impossible?
Whatever the King commands should be possible, answered the man, and if chickens can hatch from boiled eggs why should not boiled beans yield a crop?
When the King heard this he looked at the man more closely, and then he recognized him as the father of the clever daughter.
You have indeed a clever daughter, said he. Take your beans home and bring me back the eggs I gave you.
The man was very glad when he heard that, and made haste to obey. He carried the beans home and then took the eggs and brought them back to the palace of the King.
After the King had received the eggs he gave the man a handful of flax. Take this to your clever daughter, he said, and bid her make for me within the week a full set of sails for a large ship. If she does this she shall receive the half of my kingdom as a reward, but if she fails you shall have a drubbing that you will not soon forget.
The man returned to his home, loudly lamenting his hard lot.
What is the matter? asked his daughter. Has the King set another task that I must do?
Yes, that he had; and her father showed her the flax the King had sent her and gave her the message.
Do not be troubled, said the girl. No harm shall come to you. Go to bed and sleep quietly, and to-morrow I will send the King an answer that will satisfy him.
The man believed what his daughter said. He went to bed and slept quietly.
The next day the girl gave her father a small piece of wood. Carry this to the King, said she. Tell him I am ready to make the sails, but first let him make me of this wood a large ship that I may fit the sails to it.
The father did as the girl bade him, and the King was surprised at the cleverness of the girl in returning him such an answer.
That is all very well, said he, and I will excuse her from this task. But here! Here is a glass mug. Take it home to your clever daughter. Tell her it is my command that she dip out the waters from the ocean bed so that I can ride over the bottom dry shod. If she does this, I will take her for my wife, but if she fails you shall be beaten within an inch of your life.
The man took the mug and hastened home, weeping aloud and bemoaning his fate.
Well, and what is it? asked his daughter. What does the King demand of me now?
The man gave her the glass mug and told her what the King had said.
Do not be troubled, said the girl. Go to bed and sleep in peace. You shall not be beaten, and soon I shall be reigning as Queen over all this land.
The man had trust in her. He went to bed and slept and dreamed he saw her sitting by the King with a crown on her head.
The next day the girl gave her father a bunch of tow. Take this to the King, she said. Tell him you have given me the mug, and I am willing to dip the sea dry, but first let him take this tow and stop up all the rivers that flow into the ocean.
The man did as his daughter bade him. He took the tow to the King and told him exactly what the girl had said.
Then the King saw that the girl was indeed a clever one, and he sent for her to come before him.
She came just as she was, in her homespun dress and her rough shoes and with a cap on her head, but for all her mean clothing she was as pretty and fine as a flower, and the King was not slow to see it. Still he wanted to make sure for himself that she was as clever as her messages had been.
Tell me, said he, what sound can be heard the farthest throughout the world?
The thunder that echoes through heaven and earth, answered the girl, and your own royal commands that go from lip to lip.
This reply pleased the King greatly. And now tell me, said he, exactly what is my royal sceptre worth?
It is worth exactly as much as the power for which it stands, the girl replied.
The King was so well satisfied with the way the girl answered that he no longer hesitated; he determined that she should be his Queen, and that they should be married at once.
The girl had something to say to this, however. I am but a poor girl, said she, and my ways are not your ways. It may well be that you will tire of me, or that you may be angry with me sometime, and send me back to my fathers house to live. Promise that if this should happen you will allow me to carry back with me from the castle the thing that has grown most precious to me.
The King was willing to agree to this, but the girl was not satisfied until he had written down his promise and signed it with his own royal hand. Then she and the King were married with the greatest magnificence, and she came to live in the palace and reign over the land.
Now while the girl was still only a peasant she had been well content to dress in homespun and live as a peasant should, but after she became Queen she would wear nothing but the most magnificent robes and jewels and ornaments, for that seemed to her only right and proper for a Queen. But the King, who was of a very jealous nature, thought his wife did not care at all for him, but only for the fine things he could give her.
One time the King and Queen were to ride abroad together, and the Queen spent so much time in dressing herself that the King was kept waiting, and he became very angry. When she appeared before him, he would not even look at her. You care nothing for me, but only for the jewels and fine clothes you wear, he cried. Take with you those that are the most precious to you, as I promised you, and return to your father’s house. I will no longer have a wife who cares only for my possessions and not at all for me.
Very well; the girl was willing to go. And I will be happier in my father’s house than I was when I first met you, said she. Nevertheless she begged that she might spend one more night in the palace, and that she and the King might sup together once again before she returned home.
To this the King agreed, for he still loved her, even though he was so angry with her.
So he and his wife supped together that evening, and just at the last the Queen took a golden cup and filled it with wine. Then, when the King was not looking, she put a sleeping potion in the wine and gave it to him to drink.
He took it and drank to the very last drop, suspecting nothing, but soon after he sank down among the cushions in a deep sleep. Then the Queen caused him to be carried to her fathers house and laid in the bed there.
When the King awoke the next morning he was very much surprised to find himself in the peasants cottage. He raised himself upon his elbow to look about him, and at once the girl came to the bedside, and she was again dressed in the coarse and common clothes she had worn before she was married.
What means this? asked the King, and how came I here?
My dear husband, said the girl, your promise was that if you ever sent me back to my fathers house I might carry with me the thing that had become most precious to me in the castle. You are that most precious thing, and I care for nothing else except as it makes me pleasing in your sight.
Then the King could no longer feel jealous or angry with her. He clasped her in his arms, and they kissed each other tenderly. That same day they returned to the palace, and from that time on the King and his peasant Queen lived together in the greatest love and happiness.
Once Upon a Time there were two king’s daughters who lived in a bower near the bonny mill-dams of Binnorie.
And Sir William came wooing the elder and won her love,
and plighted troth with glove and with ring. But after a time he looked upon the younger sister, with her cherry cheeks and golden hair, and his love went out to her till he cared no longer for the elder one. So she hated her sister for taking away Sir William’s love, and day by day her hate grew and grew and she plotted add she planned how to get rid of her.
So one fine morning, fair and clear, she said to her sister, ‘Let us go and see our father’s boats come in at the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ So they went there hand in hand. And when they came to the river’s bank, the younger one got upon a stone to watch for the beaching of the boats. And her sister, coming behind her, caught her round the waist and dashed her into the rushing mill-stream of Binnorie.
‘O sister, sister, reach me your hand !’ she cried, as she floated away, ‘and you shall have half of all I’ve got or shall get.’
‘No, sister, I’ll reach you no hand of mine, for I am the heir to all your land. Shame on me if I touch her hand that has come ‘twixt me and my own heart’s love.’
‘O sister, O sister, then reach me your glove !’ she cried, as she floated further away, ‘and you shall have your William again.’
‘Sink on,’ cried the cruel princess, ‘no hand or glove of mine you’ll touch. Sweet William will be all mine when you are sunk beneath the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie.’ And she turned and went home to the king’s castle.
And the princess floated down the mill-stream, sometimes swimming and sometimes sinking, till she came near the mill. Now, the miller’s daughter was cooking that day, and needed water for her cooking. And as she went to draw it from the stream, she saw something floating towards the mill-dam, and she called out, ‘Father ! father ! draw your dam. There’s something white — a merrymaid or a milk-white swan–coming down the stream.’ So the miller hastened to the dam and stopped the heavy, cruel mill-wheels. And then they took out the princess and laid her on the bank.
Fair and beautiful she looked as she lay there. In her golden hair were pearls and precious stones; you could not see her waist for her golden girdle, and the golden fringe of her white dress came down over her lily feet. But she was drowned, drowned !
And as she lay there in her beauty a famous harper passed by the mill-dam of Binnorie, and saw her sweet pale face. And though he travelled on far away, he never forgot that face, and after many days he came back to the bonny mill-stream of Binnorie. But then all he could find of her where they had put her to rest were her bones and her golden hair. So he made a harp out of her breast-bone and her hair, and travelled on up the hill from the mill-dam of Binnorie till he came to the castle of the king her father.
That night they were all gathered in the castle hall to hear the great harper–king and queen, their daughter and son, Sir William, and all their Court. And first the harper sang to his old harp, making them joy and be glad, or sorrow and weep, just as he liked. But while he sang, he put the harp he had made that day on a stone in the hall. And presently it began to sing by itself, low and clear, and the harper stopped and all were hushed.
And this is what the harp sung:
‘O yonder sits my father, the king,
Binnorie, O Binnorie;
And yonder sits my mother, the queen;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.
‘And yonder stands my brother Hugh,
Binnorie, O Binnone;
And by him my William, false and true;
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’
Then they all wondered, and the harper told them how he had seen the princess lying drowned on the bank near the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie, and how he had afterwards made his harp out of her hair and breast-bone. Just then the harp began singing again, and this is what it sang out loud and clear:
‘And there sits my sister who drowned me
By the bonny mill-dams o’ Binnorie.’
And the harp snapped and broke, and never sang more.
Originally published in: English Fairy Tales