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Best Stories to Tell to Children

BY

SARA CONE BRYANT
(Mrs. Theodore F. Borst)



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
PATTEN WILSON

BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge

COPYRIGHT, 1905,
BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND CO.
COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY SARA CONE BRYANT
COPYRIGHT, 1912, BY SARA CONE BORST
Published October 1912



PREFACE

THIS foreword is written from the Playtime Coun­try try of our Eastern States, the coast of Maine. Here the little brown rabbit waits confidingly by the road­side till the human animal is all but abreast of him. The squirrel pelts with broken acorn cups the in­truder who discovers his favorite red oak. Sea gulls soar overhead so close that one can trace the outline of their slender, fish-like bodies hanging between the outspread curve of wings. Wild roses and thick mats of low-bush blueberries cover the pastured clear­ings; bunch-berries, scarlet in the deep moss, tuft the shadowy carpet under the red spruce and the balsam fir. It is a land of leisure and of the merry heart.

Such a land I would might unfold about the open fire in the dreaming eyes of every child who hears these little stories told. For there is wisdom found, -- and true content, -- in leisure with the merry heart.

The stories in this book, some very old and un­changed, some new, and some changed from an older form, grew into their present shape by the process of being told to children many, many times. They were shortened or lengthened, modelled and remodelled, by the conscious or instinctive adaptation of the story-teller to the listener. A few of them took this form long since, and are included here because chil­dren of many generations have loved to hear them thus, but the greater part are the fruit of my own story-telling years, and, because of their good fortune in the favor of English-speaking children of to-day, have served as model forms for teachers and mothers all over the world.

All of them, with others, are included in one or the other of my two earlier books, "How to Tell Stories to Children" and "Stories to Tell to Children," both of which are used chiefly by persons in some way actively concerned in the education of children, and both of which deal largely with the aims and method of story­telling as an art.

It is the belief of the publishers, here and in England, that some of the stories ought to be printed separately  from these books on method, for the more ready access of children themselves and those whose interest is of a wholly untechnical sort. This is the more de­sirable because stories which are especially adapted to be told are equally charming for reading aloud or to one's self. The converse is not true: stories written to be read are rarely suitable for the story-teller's art until they have been skilfully adapted. In other words, those tales which can be and have been told with suc­cess are in a sense the chosen few; they, of all the world's stories, are most charming to hear or to read.

We, therefore, the publishers and I, have chosen, out of the tested story-telling favorites of the children who made my earlier public, this handful of the very dearest, to give to the children themselves. We hope the mothers and big sisters, and of course the fathers and good uncles and aunts, will like to tell or read these tales to the littler ones. Bu t we also trust that many a studious little head will bend over the pages of this book while the reading child absorbs its stories all for himself, and traces in Mr. Patten Wilson's fas­cinating pictures the adventures of its mimic world. For it is to the children and their home friends that we send it out, with greetings from the Playtime Land to the Playtime spirit, everywhere.

SARA CONE BRYANT BORST.



CONTENTS

THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS
From Joseph Jacobs's English Fairy Tales.

THE STORY OF THE THREE BEARS
Adapted from Joseph Jacobs's English Fairy Tales.

THE OLD WOMAN AND HER PIG
From Joseph Jacobs's English Fairy Tales.

RAGGYLUG
Adapted from Ernest Thompson Seton's Wild Animals I have Known.

THE GOLDEN COBWEBS
This story was told me in the mother-tongue of a German friend, at the kindly instance of a common friend of both; the narrator had heard it at home from the lips of a father of story-loving children for whom he often invented such little tales. The present adaptation has passed by hearsay through so many minds that it is perhaps little like the original, but I venture to hope it has a touch of the original fancy, at least.

THE STORY OF LITTLE TAVWOTS
Adapted from The Basket Woman, by Mary Austin.

THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN TOWN
From traditions, with rhymes from Browning's "The Pied Piper of Hamelin."

THE CAT AND THE PARROT THE FIRE-BRINGER
Adapted from The Basket Woman, by Mary Austin.

THE BURNING OF THE RICE FIELDS
Adapted from Gleanings in Buddha-Fields, by Lafcadio Hearn.

THE STORY OF JAIRUS' DAUGHTER TARPEIATHE JUDGMENT OF MIDAS
Adapted from Old Greek Folk-Stories, by Josephine Preston Peabody.

BILLY BEG AND HIS BULL
Adapted from In Chimney Corners, by Seumas McManus.
I have ventured to give this in the somewhat Hibernian phraseology suggested by the original, because I have found that the humor of the manner of it appeals quite as readily to the boys and girls of my acquaintance as to maturer friends, and they distinguish as quickly between the savor of it and any unintentional crudeness of diction.

THE LITTLE HERO OF HAARLEM
Told from memory of the story told me when a child.

THE LITTLE PINK ROSE THE GINGERBREAD MAN
I have tried to give this story in the most familiar form; it varies a good deal in the hands of different story-tellers, but this is substantially the version I was "brought up on." The form of the ending was suggested to me by the story in Carolyn Bailey's For the Children's Hour.

THE LITTLE JACKALS AND THE LION
The two stories of the little Jackal, in this book, are adapted from stories in Old Deccan Days, a collection of orally trans­mitted Hindu folk tales, which every teacher would gain by knowing. In the Hindu animal legends the Jackal seems to play the role assigned in Germanic lore to Reynard the Fox, and to "Bre'r Rabbit" in the stories of our Southern negroes: he is the clever and humorous trickster who comes out of every encounter with a whole skin, and turns the laugh on every enemy, however mighty.

LITTLE JACK ROLLAROUND
Based on Theodor Storm's story of Der Kleine Häwelmann. Very freely adapted from the German story.

HOW BROTHER RABBIT FOOLED THE WHALE AND THE ELEPHANT
Adapted from two tales included in the records of the Amer­ican Folk-Lore Society.

THE LITTLE HALF-CHICKTHE STORY OF EPAMINONDAS AND HIS AUNTIE
A Southern nonsense tale.

THE LITTLE JACKAL AND THE ALLIGATOR
See note on "The Little Jackals and the Lion," above.

THE LITTLE FIR TREE
Founded on early memories of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Fir Tree" but not an adaptation of that famous story.

WHO KILLED THE OTTER'S BABIES?
Adapted from the story as told in Fables and Folk Tales from an Eastern Forest, by Walter Skeat.

THE NIGHTINGALE
Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen.

ROBERT OF SICILY
Adapted from Longfellow's poem.

THE DAGDA'S HARP
The facts from which this story was constructed are found in the legend as given in Ireland's Story, Johnston and Spencer.

DAVID AND GOLIATH
From the text of the King James version of the Old Testa­ment, with introduction and slight interpolations, changes of order, and omissions.



ILLUSTRATIONS


"YOU CAN'T CATCH ME, I'M THE GINGERBREAD MAN!"

"THE LITTLE PIG ... TOOK OFF THE COVER, AND IN FELL THE WOLF"

"SHE LIKED IT SO WELL THAT SHE ATE IT ALL UP"

"HOP! HOP! SHE WENT OVER THE SNAKE'S BACK"

"TAVWOTS ... DREW HIS SHARP HUNTING-KNIFE AND RAN TO CUT THE BOW-STRING "

"WITH THE CHILDREN AT HIS HEELS"

"'GET OUT OF MY WAY, PUSSY'"

"THE FIRE SPIRITS TORE AFTER IT ... TILL THEY CAME TO THE MOUNTAINS OF THE SNOWS"

"'I'LL FIGHT YOU,' SAID BILLY"

"THE LION IN THE WATER SHOOK HIS MANE AND SHOWED HIS TEETH"

"ALL SHE SAID WAS, 'WHO ARE YOU? '"

"THE ELEPHANT . . . BRACED HIMSELF WITH ALL HIS MIGHT, AND PULLED HIS BEST"

"'DON'T YOU KNOW THAT'S NO WAY TO CARRY BUTTER?'"

"'SMART MR. ALLIGATOR, TO TAKE THAT OLD BULRUSH ROOT FOR MY PAW!'"

"ROBERT OF SICILY BOWED HIS HEAD"

"ONCE MORE THE DAGDA TOUCHED HIS HARP"

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