It was Serozha's birthday, and he received many different gifts; peg tops, and hobby horses, and pictures. But Serozha's uncle gave him a gift that he prized above all the rest - it was a trap for snaring birds.
The trap was constructed in such a way that a board was fitted on the frame and shut down upon the top. If seed was scattered on the board, and the trap was put out in the yard, the little bird would fly down, hop upon the board, the board would give way, and the trap would shut with a clap.
Serozha was delighted, and he ran into the house to show his mother the trap.
His mother said:
"It is not a good plaything. What do you want to do with birds? Why do you want to torture them?"
"I am going to put them in a cage," Serozha said. "They will sing, and I will feed them."
He got some seed, scattered it on the board, and set the trap in the garden. And he stood by and expected the birds to fly down. But the birds were afraid of him and would not come near the cage. Serozha ran in to get something to eat, and left the cage.
After dinner he went to look at it. The cage had shut, and in it a little bird was beating against the bars.
Serozha took up the bird, and carried it into the house.
"Mother, I have caught a bird!" he cried. "I think it is a nightingale, and how its heart beats!"
His mother said it was a wild canary. "Be careful! Don't hurt it - you would better let it go."
"No," he said. "I am going to give it something to eat and drink."
Serozha put the bird in a cage, and for two days gave it seed and water, and cleaned the cage. But on the third day he forgot all about it, and did not change the water.
And his mother said, "See here, you have forgotten your bird. You would better let it go."
Serozha thrust his hand in the cage and began to clean it, but the little bird was frightened and fluttered. After Serozha had cleaned the cage, he went to get some water. His mother saw that he had forgotten to shut the cage door, and she called after him.
"Serozha, shut up your cage, else your bird will fly out and hurt itself."
She had hardly spoken the words when the bird found the door, was delighted, spread its wings, and flew around the room toward the window. Serozha came running in, picked up the bird, and put it back in the cage. The bird was still alive, but it lay on its breast, with its wings spread out, and breathed heavily. Serozha looked and looked at it, and began to cry.
"Mother, what can I do now?" he asked.
"You can do nothing now," she replied.
Serozha stayed by the cage all day. He did nothing but look at the bird. And all the time the bird lay on its breast and breathed hard and fast.
When Serozha went to bed, the bird was dead. Serozha could not get to sleep for a long time; every time that he shut his eyes he seemed to see the bird still lying and sighing.
In the morning when Serozha went to his cage, he saw the bird lying on its back, with its legs crossed, and all stiff.
After that Serozha never again snared birds
A Fairy Tail
It was getting late on a Sunday evening when dad declared it was time for bed. I climbed up on his shoulders as I had done nearly every day of my 7 years and demanded a bedtime story. Dad dumped me on the bed and asked me where my favourite book of fairytales was. I reached under my bed as I enthusiastically announced its location. Which one will it be tonight Bronte he asked but while I was thinking a question popped out of my brain. Why are they called fairytales dad?
Dad stopped for a minute to think, you can always tell when dad's thinking cause he gets a little crinkly in his forehead just between his eyes. Well, he began closing the book, it all started long ago in a far off land. I could tell this was going to be a good one so I snuggled in and listen attentively.
The kingdom of Coractus was ruled by a stern but wise king with a croaky voice by the name of Aday. He had two sons, Murphious & Frazury. Although the two boys were twins they were very different in the way they did their thinking. Murphy was an easygoing storyteller whose best friend was a fairy princess named Ailish. Murphy did not have much time for the day-to-day running of the kingdom, as it was not in his nature to make tough decisions nor to concern himself with the tit-for-tat pettiness of the conflicts of the kingdoms constituents. He preferred to spend his time making up stories and telling them to any and all who would listen and he was never short of an audience as he was very good at it. Most days he could be found in the Coractus Courtyard where a number of writers would meet and share their stories. There they would take turns telling their latest tails and the fairies who would gather to listen would judge the best story of the day and the winner would be presented with food and drink from the courtyard caretaker. Murphious was very often the recipient of these favours.
Ever since he was young the prince's biggest fan was a fairy called Ailish. Ailish was daughter of Melayne Grace queen of the last colony of fairies in the land. She was unmistakably a fairy by looks and by nature. Fairies are a curious lot, they can only be seen when they want to be and although they love to play they have a high sense of duty and believe it their main purpose to make dreams for children. These dreams would be good if the child had been good but if the child had been bad they can make their dreams so dreadful they will wake in the night with a scream, depending on how bad the child had been. The way they would do this is by flying into the children's bedroom at night and sprinkling fairy dust in their eyes. This dust would contain a story magically transformed to be absorbed into the thoughts of sleeping children. By the morning the dust would harden and form crystals in the corner of their eyes and the child would wipe it away without a thought. The fairies would get the stories from the writers in the kingdom such as Murphious and Murphious was Ailish's preferred supplier, as he would only make up stories to give pleasant dreams.
Ever night Ailish would fly in and out of windows sprinkling fairy dust and spreading the wonderful stories of the kingdom until one day things were to change.
Frazury was a far more serious boy whose dedication to his father's work had all and sundry believing he would follow his father and one day rule the kingdom himself. This was his ambition and he believed his right for all his hard work while his brother indulged his folly. He would make the kingdom the greatest in the land and would demand those who waist their time playing games and telling stories be put to better use.
Frasury's bedroom was next to the king's bedroom and one morning while the king was having breakfast with the queen he overheard a conversation that rocked him to the core, the king was talking of announcing Murphious as the heir to the thrown. Frazury is a very dutiful son but he is very unforgiving, Muphious is more understanding than Frazury and he would be kinder to those who need help. Frazury went into a state of panic, how could this be, it was he who worked tirelessly for the king faithfully learning the ways of the king so that he could take over from him when he was no longer able to do it. Murphious shirked his duties in favour of those retched fairies over the needs of the kingdom, how could this be. It would not, it could not, he just can't let it happen. Frazury began to hatch a plan. He knew that as he was first born and if the king did not, or could not, make such a proclamation then he would be crowned king over his brother as this was the law. But how could he do it, how could he change his father's mind or make it so his father could not formally let his wishes be known. Even as he was thinking he could hear that voice in the back of his head, he knew what he would have to do but he was not ready to admit it, not even to himself, not yet. After breakfast he went about his business but his mind was always thinking about what he had heard and trying to think of someway he could stop his father's wishes becoming reality, the thought nearly made him sick, he would be the next king of Coractus no matter what it takes.
To be continued
The Old Woman Who Became a Woodpecker
far in the Northland, where the winter days are so short and the nights so long, and where they harness the reindeer to
sledges, and where the children look like bear's cubs in their funny, furry clothes, there, long ago, wandered a good Saint on
the snowy roads.
He came one day to the door of a cottage, and looking in saw a little old woman making cakes, and baking them on the
Now, the good Saint was faint with fasting, and he asked if she would give him one small cake wherewith to stay his
So the little old woman made a VERY SMALL cake and placed it on the hearth - but as it lay baking she looked at it and
thought, "That is a big cake, indeed, quite too big for me to give away."
Then she kneaded another cake, much smaller, and laid that on the hearth to cook, but when she turned it over it looked
larger than the first.
So she took a tiny scrap of dough, and rolled it out, and rolled it out, and baked it as thin as a wafer - but when it was done
it looked so large that she could not bear to part with it - and she said, "My cakes are much too big to give away,"
and she put them on the *#*#*#**#*#*#**#*#*#**#*#*#*f.
Then the good Saint grew angry, for he was hungry and faint. "You are too selfish to have a human form," said he.
"You are too greedy to deserve food, *#*#*#**#*#*#**#*#*#**#*#*#*ter, and a warm fire. Instead, henceforth, you shall build as the birds do,
and get your scanty living by picking up nuts and berries and by boring, boring all the day long,
in the bark of trees."
Hardly had the good Saint said this when the little old woman went straight up the chimney, and came out at the
top changed into a red- headed woodpecker with coal-black feathers.
...And now every country boy may see her in the woods, where she lives in trees boring, boring, boring for her food.