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Various

ancient-booksThe classic fairy tales and fables to help us understand the past and better understand our time.

Discover old stories and suggest yours at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , we'll be glad to publish your childhood memories!

gray-hare-tolstoyA gray hare was living in the winter near the village.

When night came, he pricked one ear and listened; then he pricked his second ear, moved his whiskers, sniffed, and sat down on his hind legs. Then he took a leap or two over the deep snow, and again sat down on his hind legs, and looked around him. Nothing could be seen but snow. The snow lay in waves and glistened like sugar.

Over the hare's head hovered a frost vapour, and through this vapour could be seen the large, bright stars.

The hare had to cross the highway, in order to come to a threshing-floor he knew of. On the highway the runners could be heard squeaking, and the horses snorting, and seats creaking in the sleighs.

The hare again stopped near the road. Peasants were walking beside the sleighs, and the collars of their caftans were raised. Their faces were scarcely visible.

Their beards, moustaches, and eyelashes were white.

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dunnyOnce there were three children, three brothers, who played together in the sunshine about their father's door. Now the youngest of them all was not as large and strong as his brothers; and for that reason they often teased him, saying : "You are not as tall as we. You cannot run as fast. See! we can jump farther and swing higher than you." If ever they wrestled together, the youngest was the first to be thrown to the ground ; and no matter what he tried to do, the others always laughed, and called out: "Oh! you are so stupid. That is not the way. Let me show you how, you dunny!" So after a while they called him nothing but Dunny.

One day a traveler, with a wonderful pony, stopped at the door of the cottage. His little animal not only could perform all manner of curious tricks, but he was the most gentle little beast in the whole world and, withal, as sleek and pretty a creature as one could wish to see.

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talking-eggsA story from Louisiana

There was once a widow who had two daughters, one named Rose and the other Blanche.

Blanche was good and beautiful and gentle, but the mother cared nothing for her and gave her only hard words and harder blows; but she loved Rose as she loved the apple of her eye, because Rose was exactly like herself, coarse-looking, and with a bad temper and a sharp tongue.

Blanche was obliged to work all day, but Rose sat in a chair with folded hands as though she were a fine lady, with nothing in the world to do.

One day the mother sent Blanche to the well for a bucket of water. When she came to the well she saw an old woman sitting there. The woman was so very old that her nose and her chin met, and her cheeks were as wrinkled as a walnut.

"Good day to you, child," said the old woman.

"Good day, auntie," answered Blanche.

"Will you give me a drink of water?" asked the old woman.

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fair-one-with-golden-locksThere was once a most beautiful and amiable princess who was called "The Fair One with Locks of Gold,"

for her hair shone brighter than gold, and flowed in curls down to her feet, her head was always encircled by a wreath of beautiful flowers, and pearls and diamonds.

A handsome, rich, young prince, whose territories joined to hers, was deeply in love with the reports he heard of her, and sent to demand her in marriage.

The ambassador sent with proposals was most sumptuously attired, and surrounded by lackeys on beautiful horses, as well as charged with every kind of compliment, from the anxious prince, who hoped he would bring the princess back with him; but whether it was that she was not that day in a good humour, or that she did not like the speeches made by the ambassador, I don't know, but she returned thanks to his master for the honour he intended her, and said she had no inclination to marry.

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prince-cherryLong ago there lived a monarch, who was such a very, honest man that his subjects entitled him the Good King. One day, when he was out hunting, a little white rabbit, which had been half-killed by his hounds, leaped right into his majesty’s arms. Said he, caressing it: “This poor creature has put itself under my protection, and I will allow no one to injure it.” So he carried it to his palace, had prepared for it a neat little rabbit-hutch, with abundance of the daintiest food, such as rabbits love, and there he left it.

The same night, when he was alone in his chamber, there appeared to him a beautiful lady. She was dressed neither in gold, nor silver, nor brocade; but her flowing robes were white as snow, and she wore a garland of white roses on her head.

The Good King was greatly astonished at the sight; for his door was locked, and he wondered how so dazzling a lady could possibly enter; but she soon removed his doubts.

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fair-one-golden-locksThere was once a most beautiful and amiable princess who was called "The Fair One with Locks of Gold," for her hair shone brighter than gold, and flowed in curls down to her feet, her head was always encircled by a wreath of beautiful flowers, and pearls and diamonds.

A handsome, rich, young prince, whose territories joined to hers, was deeply in love with the reports he heard of her, and sent to demand her in marriage.

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dick-whittington-catMore than five hundred years ago there was a little boy named Dick Whittington, and this is true. His father and mother died when he was too young to work, and so poor little Dick was very badly off. He was quite glad to get the parings of the potatoes to eat and a dry crust of bread now and then, and more than that he did not often get, for the village where he lived was a very poor one and the neighbours were not able to spare him much.

Now the country folk in those days thought that the people of London were all fine ladies and gentlemen, and that there was singing and dancing all the day long, and so rich were they there that even the streets, they said, were paved with gold. Dick used to sit by and listen while all these strange tales of the wealth of London were told, and it made him long to go and live there and have plenty to eat and fine clothes to wear, instead of the rags and hard fare that fell to his lot in the country.

So one day when a great waggon with eight horses stopped on its way through the village, Dick made friends with the waggoner and begged to be taken with him to London. The man felt sorry for poor little Dick when he heard that he had no father or mother to take care of him, and saw how ragged and how badly in need of help he was. So he agreed to take him, and off they set.

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flower-lessonThere grew a fragrant rose-tree where the brook flows,
With two little tender buds, and one full rose;
When the sun went down to his bed in the west,
The little buds leaned on the rose-mother's breast,
While the bright eyed stars their long watch kept,
And the flowers of the valley in their green cradles slept;
Then silently in odors they communed with each other,
The two little buds on the bosom of their mother.
"sister," said the little one, as she gazed at the sky,
"I wish that the Dew Elves, as they wander lightly by,

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white-catThere was once a king who had three sons, all remarkably handsome in their persons, and in their tempers brave and noble.

Some wicked courtiers made the king believe that the princes were impatient to wear the crown, and that they were contriving a plot to deprive him of his sceptre and his kingdom.

The king felt he was growing old; but as he found himself as capable of governing as he had ever been, he had no inclination to resign his power; and therefore, that he might pass the rest of his days peaceably, he determined to employ the princes in such a manner, as at once to give each of them the hope of succeeding to the crown, and fill up the time they might otherwise spend in so undutiful a manner.

He sent for them to his cabinet, and after conversing with them kindly, he added: " You must be sensible, my dear children, that my great age prevents me from attending so closely as I have hitherto done to state affairs.

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golden-ballOnce upon a time there lived two lasses, who were sisters, and as they came from the fair they saw a right handsome young man standing at a house door before them. They had never seen such a handsome young man before. He had gold on his cap, gold on his finger, gold on his neck, gold at his waist! And he had a golden ball in each hand. He gave a ball to each lass, saying she was to keep it ; but if she lost it, she was to be hanged.

Now the youngest of the lasses lost her ball, and this is how. She was by a park paling, and she was tossing her ball, and it went up, and up, and up, till it went fair over the paling ; and when she climbed to look for it, the ball ran along the green grass, and it ran right forward to the door of a house that stood there, and the ball went into the house and she saw it no more.

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tale-benjamin-bunnyOne morning a little rabbit sat on a bank.

He pricked his ears and listened to the trit-trot, trit-trot of a pony.

A gig was coming along the road; it was driven by Mr. McGregor, and beside him sat Mrs. McGregor in her best bonnet.

As soon as they had passed, little Benjamin Bunny slid down into the road, and set off--with a hop, skip, and a jump--to call upon his relations, who lived in the wood at the back of Mr. McGregor's garden.

That wood was full of rabbit holes; and in the neatest, sandiest hole of all lived Benjamin's aunt and his cousins--Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter.

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tale-jonny-town-mouseJohnny Town-mouse was born in a cupboard. Timmy Willie was born in a garden. Timmy Willie was a little country mouse who went to town by mistake in a hamper. The gardener sent vegetables to town once a week by carrier; he packed them in a big hamper.

The gardener left the hamper by the garden gate, so that the carrier could pick it up when he passed. Timmy Willie crept in through a hole in the wicker-work, and after eating some peas - Timmy Willie fell fast asleep.

He awoke in a fright, while the hamper was being lifted into the carrier's cart. Then there was a jolting, and a clattering of horse's feet; other packages were thrown in; for miles and miles - jolt - jolt - jolt! and Timmy Willie trembled amongst the jumbled up vegetables.

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tale-tsar-saltanLong ago in a faraway kingdom, three sisters were outside in the courtyard talking, imagining what they would do if they were married to Tsar Saltan. One said that she would prepare a great feast for the entire world. The next said that she would weave linen for the entire world. The third said that she would give the tsar "an heir, handsome and brave beyond compare."

It so happened that the tsar, who was just outside the fence, overheard the conversation. When he heard the words of the last maiden, he fell in love and asked her to be his wife. They were married that very same night and conceived a son soon after. The other sisters were given jobs as a cook and a weaver.

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ohThere was once a man who had one son, and he was so lazy that he would not work at all. The father apprenticed him to a tailor, but the lad went to sleep between the stitches. He apprenticed him to a cobbler and the lad only sat and yawned instead of driving pegs. What to do with him the man did not know.

"Come," said the father one day, "we will go out into the wide world. It may be that somewhere or other we will find a master who can make you work."

The lad was very good-natured. "Very well," said he, "I am willing"; and he arose and stretched himself and yawned, and then he was ready to set out.

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little-purse-two-half-penniesThere was once an old man and an old woman. The old woman had a hen and the old man had a rooster; the old woman's hen laid two eggs a day and she ate a great many, but she would not give the old man a single one. One day the old man lost patience and said: "Listen, old crony, you live as if you were in clover, give me a couple of eggs so that I can at least have a taste of them."

"No indeed!" replied the old woman, who was very avaricious. "If you want eggs, beat your rooster that he may lay eggs for you, and then eat them; I flogged my hen, and just see how she lays now."

The old man, being stingy and greedy, listened to the old woman's talk, angrily seized his rooster, gave him a sound thrashing and said:

"There, now, lay some eggs for me or else go out of the house, I won't feed you for nothing any longer."

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adventures-kintaro-golden-boyLong, long ago there lived in Kyoto a brave soldier named Kintoki. Now he fell in love with a beautiful lady and married her. Not long after this, through the malice of some of his friends, he fell into disgrace at Court and was dismissed. This misfortune so preyed upon his mind that he did not long survive his dismissal--he died, leaving behind him his beautiful young wife to face the world alone. Fearing her husband's enemies, she fled to the Ashigara Mountains as soon as her husband was dead, and there in the lonely forests where no one ever came except woodcutters, a little boy was born to her. She called him Kintaro or the Golden Boy. Now the remarkable thing about this child was his great strength, and as he grew older he grew stronger and stronger, so that by the time he was eight years of age he was able to cut down trees as quickly as the woodcutters. Then his mother gave him a large ax, and he used to go out in the forest and help the woodcutters, who called him "Wonder-child," and his mother the "Old Nurse of the Mountains," for they did not know her high rank. Another favorite pastime of Kintaro's was to smash up rocks and stones. You can imagine how strong he was!

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king-fishermanIllustrating the advantage of being able to formulate a judicious reply to an embarrassing question, especially when material plenitude may ensue.

The countries washed by the great rivers Tigris and Euphrates were once ruled by a certain King who was passionately fond of fish.

He was seated one day with Sherem, his wife, in the royal gardens that stretch down to the banks of the Tigris, at the point where it is spanned by the wonderful bridge of boats; and looking up spied a boat gliding by, in which was seated a fisherman having a large fish.

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heart-monkeyA long time ago a little town made up of a collection of low huts stood in a tiny green valley at the foot of a cliff.

Of course the people had taken great care to build their houses out of reach of the highest tide which might be driven on shore by a west wind, but on the very edge of the town there had sprung up a tree so large that half its boughs hung over the huts and the other half over the deep sea right under the cliff, where sharks loved to come and splash in the clear water. The branches of the tree itself were laden with fruit, and every day at sunrise a big grey monkey might have been seen sitting in the topmost branches having his breakfast, and chattering to himself with delight.

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son-soap-sellerCleverly proving that a princess with a necklace can frustrate the intentions of a Ghool, and that every king should have near his person the owner of a crystal cup.

There once dwelt a poor but worthy man named Abdullah in Meshed, the Holy City, the place of pilgrimage, whose beautiful mosque with the golden dome is the glory of the kingdom of Persia. He barely managed to get a living by the sale of soap.

All day long, from sunrise to sunset, he tramped the city, crying out: "O brothers, buy my pure soap. There is none better in the city, as every one knows. Even the little babes would say so if they could but speak."

Still, if you looked closely at it, you would never guess it to be soap; it was black and coarse, and more like wood than anything else. If any unlucky pilgrim used it on his face or hands, it would make his skin burn like fire. But this did not often happen, for the people in Persia do not use much soap on themselves, or their clothes, and sand does very well for cleaning cooking pots and pans. So it was that there were many days when poor Abdullah did not sell enough to buy sufficient bread for himself and his little boy Ahmed.

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mirror-matsuyamaLong years ago in old Japan there lived in the Province of Echigo, a very remote part of Japan even in these days, a man and his wife. When this story begins they had been married for some years and were blessed with one little daughter. She was the joy and pride of both their lives, and in her they stored an endless source of happiness for their old age.

What golden letter days in their memory were these that had marked her growing up from babyhood; the visit to the temple when she was just thirty days old, her proud mother carrying her, robed in ceremonial kimono, to be put under the patronage of the family's household god; then her first dolls festival, when her parents gave her a set of dolls' and their miniature belongings, to be added to as year succeeded year; and perhaps the most important occasion of all, on her third birthday, when her first OBI (broad brocade sash) of scarlet and gold was tied round her small waist, a sign that she had crossed the threshold of girlhood and left infancy behind. Now that she was seven years of age, and had learned to talk and to wait upon her parents in those several little ways so dear to the hearts of fond parents, their cup of happiness seemed full. There could not be found in the whole of the Island Empire a happier little family.

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white-catThere was once a king who had three sons, all remarkably handsome in their persons, and in their tempers brave and noble. Some wicked courtiers made the king believe that the princes were impatient to wear the crown, and that they were contriving a plot to deprive him of his sceptre and his kingdom.

The king felt he was growing old; but as he found himself as capable of governing as he had ever been, he had no inclination to resign his power; and therefore, that he might pass the rest of his days peaceably, he determined to employ the princes in such a manner, as at once to give each of them the hope of succeeding to the crown, and fill up the time they might otherwise spend in so undutiful a manner.

Read more...