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The Princess and the Pea

Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would have liked very much to have a real princess.

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One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city gate, and the old king went to open it. It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. But, good gracious! what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. The water ran down from her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess.

Well, we’ll soon find that out, thought the old queen. But she said nothing, went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and then twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.

On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept. “Oh, very badly!” said she. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!”

Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds. Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it.

There, that is a true story.

The Fox and The Crow


A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree.

“Good day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.”

The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox.

“That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future: “Do not trust flatterers.”

The Ant and the Grasshopper


In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”

“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”

“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “We have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.

When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger – while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for days of need.

Into The Garbage


This is a true story that happened to me many years ago, but I still remember it vividly. It all started while we were on vacation. Vacations should be restful, relaxing times, but I planned to do some studying too. I carefully put all my important papers and books in a large paper bag, and put them in the car with the suitcases.

After a long drive to Los Angeles, we were happy to find a motel with a really good price. We decided to stay for a week so we could get three extra days at no extra cost.

On the second day of our stay there, we arrived back at the motel after a day of sightseeing and a good dinner. It was about ten o’clock in the evening, and I decided I’d better start working. I knew the bag was in the room, but I looked all over and couldn’t find it. It had disappeared! I was panic-stricken. Suddenly I had a sickening thought. I was sure the maid took it out with the garbage.

I ran over to the main office, and asked if I could talk to the maid who had been on duty that day. They told me there were several, and besides, they had all left for the day. The people in the office showed me the large garbage bins in back of the motel, but didn’t offer any help.

I sighed, gathered my courage, grabbed a flashlight, and walked through the dark to the garbage bins. There were three of them. Each one was about four and a half feet high. I didn’t know where to start. I looked around and found an old shopping cart, which I used to climb into the middle of one of the bins. I spent some time rummaging through bags and bags of other people’s garbage, but I didn’t have any luck. After a few minutes of tears of frustration, I finally gave up.

Maybe I was wrong, and was just looking through banana peels, old milk cartons, coffee grounds, and half-eaten food for nothing. I climbed out, being careful not to drop my flashlight, and looked around to see if anyone had spotted me. I took one last look into the other two bins, this time just checking the bags on top. Then I got lucky. Right on top of the third bin was my bag. I was never so happy to see a dirty old bag in my life! I told the manager to tell the maid not to clean our room any more.

The Kindergarten


Jennifer Chan is five years old. Her mother takes her to kindergarten every morning. She has fun with the other children. Her teacher is very nice. Jennifer likes her teacher very much. Her teacher’s name is Mrs. Black.

Mrs. Black teaches the students about the letters and sounds of English. Sometimes Jennifer does worksheets for homework. On the B worksheet for example, she circled all the words that started with B. She circled the box, the bag, the banana, the bird, and the bed. She didn’t circle the duck, the dog, or the cat.

Jennifer likes to show her mother her work. Jennifer’s mother doesn’t know English well. She told Jennifer to show her the worksheets. Then her mother can learn too, and Jennifer feels happy. Mrs. Black teaches the children songs too. Sometimes Jennifer sings the songs for her parents. Her mother always asks her about school.

One day Mrs. Chan got a letter from the school. It was from her daughter’s teacher. Mrs. Chan was very nervous. She didn’t know why her daughter’s teacher wanted to talk to her. She asked her friend for some advice. Her friend told her not to worry. Her friend said the teachers always make an appointment with every child’s parents every semester. It’s called a “parent/teacher conference” and it’s a good time for parents to ask questions too. She said the teachers want parents to be interested in their children’s schoolwork.

Mrs. Chan was nervous because she was afraid the teacher might talk too fast. She was afraid she might not understand. On the day of the conference, Mrs. Chan went to school for the appointment. Mrs. Black was very nice and spoke slowly. She told Mrs. Chan that her daughter was very smart. She told her that her daughter was very helpful too. She said Mrs. Chan should feel proud.

Mrs. Chan went home and told her daughter about the conference. Her daughter was happy too.

When the Clock Got Sick


Once upon a time, in a land not too far from where you live, there was a bank whose outside clock was the talk of the town. Clocks usually don’t cause people to talk about them, unless they’re not working right. This clock wasn’t working right at all.

The clock was a digital clock, meaning that it was the kind of clock with large neon red numbers that glowed both day and night. You could read the clock from an entire block away.

The clock sat prominently a few yards above the main doors to a respected bank, right on the corner of a major intersection in town. In some ways, the clock represented the very center of town.

One day, a few months ago, the time on the clock started slipping backwards a few minutes. At first this didn’t cause any alarm. After all, if you are two minutes late, or two minutes early to an appointment, is there any harm done?

But then the clock’s health got even worse. Not only did the clock slip back more than a few minutes, sometimes it would actually jump forward an hour or two, and then jump back to being a few minutes late. It was clear to everyone in town that this was a sick clock.

What do you do with a sick clock, though? Take it the clockerenarian? Take it a clockpital? Visit a clocktor?

You’re right. Healing a sick clock is not an easy thing to do. First you need to find what’s wrong with the clock, and then you need to find a place that sells the particular part that needs replacing.

The bank, being a respected bank, was eager to get the clock fixed and working again. The bank became even more eager after last month’s birthday party.

You see, a young child on the way to a birthday party burst into tears when he looked up at the clock and realized that he was going to be late. On that day, the clock was running about two hours fast, and the child was in perfect time for the party. The child just thought he was late, because who would ever doubt the time on a public clock?

And then there was the whole wedding fiasco last week. A groom, on the way to his wedding ceremony, noticed that he was two hours early, so he stopped off at the cybercafe to do some web surfing. When he showed up to the ceremony two hours late, the bride and everyone else were not overjoyed to see him.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, though, was last week when an army major was traveling through town. Being an army major, he would regularly adjust his wrist watch to make sure it was perfectly on time. When he saw the clock above the bank, he immediately reset his watch three hours ahead of time. And the next morning he woke his troops at 3 AM to do their regular 6 AM ten mile morning run.

The troops were not amused. And so they stopped by to pay a friendly visit to the bank manager. “Please, please, please repair the clock above the door of your bank,” they spoke in military unison. “Each one of us would like to chip in $20 to repair the clock,” they added.

The bank manager, a kindly young woman, promised that she would do whatever she could to find a part to repair the clock. She would even take the clock to a clockerenarian, if need be. And she had not ruled out the possibility of driving the clock straight to the clockpital, herself. Her own doctor had recommended some skilled clocktors that she could use when she received the replacement part.

Until the clock was repaired, though, she decided to switch off its electricity. For three weeks the lights on the clock were entirely dark. And then one day a UPS truck drove up the bank with a very small package. Inside that very small package was a very small part that made the clock healthy again.

The town sighed a huge sigh of relief when the clock was switched on again. And then everyone reset their watches and went on their merry way.


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