There were once two brothers, the sons of a rich merchant, and when he died he left all his estate to be divided between them equally. This was done, and the elder at once set about trading and improving his condition, so that very soon he became twice as rich as he had been.
But the younger son had no luck. Everything he undertook failed. Moreover, he never had the heart to say no to a friend in need. So before long he was left with not a penny in his purse or a roof over his head.
In his distress he went to his elder brother and asked help of him.
"How is this?" said the elder. "Our father left the same to both of us, and I have prospered in the world and have now become a rich man, but you have not even a roof to shelter your head or a bite to eat."
"Well, that's a long tale," said the younger, "and what is done is done. But give me another chance, and it may be that this time I will succeed in the world."
Illustration by Giada Aprile.
Near a great forest there lived a poor woodcutter and his wife, and his two children; the boy's name was Hansel and the girl's Grethel. They had very little to bite or to sup, and once, when there was great dearth in the land, the man could not even gain the daily bread. As he lay in bed one night thinking of this, and turning and tossing, he sighed heavily, and said to his wife, “What will become of us? we cannot even feed our children; there is nothing left for ourselves.”
“I will tell you what, husband,” answered the wife; “we will take the children early in the morning into the forest, where it is thickest; we will make them a fire, and we will give each of them a piece of bread, then we will go to our work and leave them alone; they will never find the way home again, and we shall be quit of them.”
Just before being nice was invented there was a rather pretty girl called Gurlina, who everyone in the world hated. No matter where she went she was ridiculed, taunted, and even punched. She wasn’t sure why; she certainly never did anything to provoke anyone. Maybe it’s because I have freckles? But others had freckles so that couldn’t be it, she thought. Maybe it’s because I have bad vision? But others had bad vision too, so she knew that couldn’t be it.
She stared in the mirror all day trying to find out what it was about her that everyone hated so much, but she could find nothing. Little did she know that this was a time when being mean was entertainment.
Before long Gurlina could bear it no more and ran far away where she hoped never to see people again. She found a little wooded grove on the edge of a cliff where the sun never shines completely. There she built a small cottage and braced herself for a long life of isolation. However, as people were so fond of hating, they tracked her down and organized special tours to go to her cottage and torment her with insults and play mean tricks on her and laugh at her. This made her cry, which made everyone laugh even more.
In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town.
This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic.
There was once a girl who was wiser than the King and all his councilors; 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 near by, and he overheard what the girl's 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.
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Foolish Tootles was standing like a conqueror over Wendy's body when the other boys sprang, armed, from their trees.
"You are too late," he cried proudly, "I have shot the Wendy. Peter will be so pleased with me."
Overhead Tinker Bell shouted "Silly ass!" and darted into hiding. The others did not hear her. They had crowded round Wendy, and as they looked a terrible silence fell upon the wood. If Wendy's heart had been beating they would all have heard it.
Slightly was the first to speak. "This is no bird," he said in a scared voice. "I think this must be a lady."
Mr. and Mrs. Vinegar lived in a vinegar bottle. Now, one day, when Mr. Vinegar was from home, Mrs. Vinegar, who was a very good housewife, was busily sweeping her house, when an unlucky thump of the broom brought the whole house clitter-clatter, clitter-clatter, about her ears. In an agony of grief she rushed forth to meet her husband.
On seeing him she exclaimed, "Oh, Mr. Vinegar, Mr. Vinegar, we are ruined, I have knocked the house down, and it is all to pieces!" Mr. Vinegar then said: "My dear, let us see what can be done. Here is the door; I will take it on my back, and we will go forth to seek our fortune."
They walked all that day, and at nightfall entered a thick forest. They were both very, very tired, and Mr. Vinegar said: "My love, I will climb up into a tree, drag up the door, and you shall follow." He accordingly did so, and they both stretched their weary limbs on the door, and fell fast asleep.
In the middle of the night Mr. Vinegar was disturbed by the sound of voices underneath, and to his horror and dismay found that it was a band of thieves met to divide their booty.
"Here, Jack," said one, "here's five pounds for you; here, Bill, here's ten pounds for you; here, Bob, here's three pounds for you."
Mr. Vinegar could listen no longer; his terror was so great that he trembled and trembled, and shook down the door on their heads. Away scampered the thieves, but Mr. Vinegar dared not quit his retreat till broad daylight.
Once upon a time there lived a group of mice under a tree peacefully.
But once a group of elephants came that way and destroyed the homes of all the rats as a result of which many of them were crushed to death.
Then the king of rats decided to approach the elephant chief and request him to guide his herd through another route.
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Feeling that Peter was on his way back, the Neverland had again woke into life. We ought to use the pluperfect and say wakened, but woke is better and was always used by Peter.
In his absence things are usually quiet on the island. The fairies take an hour longer in the morning, the beasts attend to their young, the redskins feed heavily for six days and nights, and when pirates and lost boys meet they merely bite their thumbs at each other. But with the coming of Peter, who hates lethargy, they are under way again: if you put your ear to the ground now, you would hear the whole island seething with life.
In the darkest, dampest, foggiest, and smelliest part of the forest, there lived a tiny witch the size of the tip of a hair. She lived comfortably in the sap of a tree. She had experience in almost everything and enjoyed nagging her slaves into molding her sap palace.
But she was also an impressive scientist; these slaves were her own creation painstakingly prepared from raindrops. She gave them limbs made of ice and flower seeds, and forced them to do her housework. She was so powerful she could rally the wind and turn it into chariots or locomotives and spend months on vacation if that was what pleased her.