Huge collection of short stories for kids in English language. It includes 1. Deep-II 2. The Rain-Maker-I 3. A Squirrel Story 4. A Strange Battle-I 5. Cassie the Curious-II
In our time we have become quite used to the sight of airplanes. Yet, in some parts of the Pacific Ocean as well as on the coasts of India, China and western America are to be found fish which knew all about flying long before man did.
Passengers on board ocean liners love to watch the gay antics of the flying-fish, now swimming beneath the waves, now cutting through the air, and again skimming along the surface of the water.
When swimming under water, the flying-fish folds both pairs of fins against his sides; but when chased by other fish, he ‘ takes off’ by thrashing the water with his tail which acts as a propeller and shoots him up into the air. At once his fore-fins are spread out like planes and he glides swiftly through the air for several seconds.
As soon as he touches the water, the ‘propeller’ begins to work again and he skims along the surface like a sea-plane. Often he ‘ takes off’ four times before diving below the surface again.
It is said that if men had studied the ways of the flying-fish rather than those of birds, they would have found the secret of flying much sooner.
Flying-fish are harmless little creatures, but there are large and fierce deep-sea fish which no swimmer or diver cares to meet.
The saw-fish and the sword-fish are two of these. The one has a snout shaped like a sharp- toothed saw, while the nose of the other is like a very long sword. It is thought that the sawfish uses his saw chiefly as a spade with which to dig juicy morsels from the mud at the bottom of the sea.
The sword-fish, however, does not think twice about running his sword through the body of any foe; sometimes he pierces the bottom of a boat with it.
A diver was once being lowered to the bed of the ocean in order to explore the wreck of a sunken ship. On his way he spied a baby sword-fish gazing at him through the green waters.
Feeling rather afraid, he killed the little sword-fish. At once the angry mother came into view and tried to run her sword through the diver’s body.
The man gave the signal to his friends above and they began to haul him up. As he rose, the furious sword-fish swam around him, seeking to find a weak spot in his diving-suit and it was only when he was quite near the surface that she gave up the chase. By that time the diver had fainted with fright.
Another fish which it is worthwhile to avoid is the electric ray; it is found in many parts of the world.
This fish has a round body and a long tail, dark above and white beneath. It has beneath its gills a large number of electric cells with which, when it is faced with an enemy, it can give an electric shock.
Bathers who touch an electric ray may feel a sharp sting and tingle; but if the fish is a big one it can give a fully- grown man a shock from which he may not recover for several days.
1. Why does the flying-fish have this name?
2. What does the saw-fish do with its saw? What does the sword-fish do with his sword?
2. The Rain-Maker-I
Day after day, month after month, the sun had shown from a sky of deep blue. In some parts of the world-in England, for example people would have been grateful for the splendid weather; but here, in this lonely corner of South Africa, the endless sunshine brought nothing but sadness.
The seed which the African women had sown in the ground lay without growing and the grass had long since withered. The oxen, sheep and goats were thin and hungry-looking; and the people feared that they themselves would, before long, die of hunger and thirst.
One day someone said, ‘ Let us send over the hills for the great Rain-maker of whom we have heard so much. In his country he commands the clouds to pour forth their rain and the rivers to come down in floods.’
‘Yes! ‘Cried a hundred voices. ‘Let us send at once for the Rain-maker.’
So a band of messengers went over the hills to the country where the Rain-maker dwelt. When they had found him, they gave him their message.
‘Come over to our land,’ they said, ‘ and if you bring rain in plenty, your riches shall be beyond counting. Your flocks shall cover the hills; you shall wash your hands in milk and you shall be blessed by all.’
‘These are good promises,’ answered the Rain-maker. I shall go.’ At once the party set off on their return journey.
As they came near the chief village, a great crowd came to welcome the Rain-maker. Just then, as if by magic, a flash of lightning lit up the sky, a peal of thunder was heard and rain began to fall.
‘Those are my fiery spears in the heavens,’ boasted the Rain-maker to the excited people, ‘ and that is my voice in the clouds. Let the women sow their seed this year on the hillsides for the rivers shall flood the valleys.’
‘Long live the Rain-maker! ‘Cried the people with one voice.
The rain that fell soon disappeared in the hot, sandy soil and before long the sun was shining as brightly as ever. Soon the people complained that the Rain-maker had not brought enough rain.
‘How can you expect heavy rains when I receive only sheep and goats as presents,’ said the Rain-maker. ‘Give me a good fat ox and I shall make the clouds give forth their rain.’
The people gave him a fat ox, but rain did not fall and soon they were complaining as loudly as ever.
Then one day raindrops were felt again. How the people shouted for joy! ‘It is a miracle! It is the Rain-maker’s doing,’ they cried. ‘Let us hasten to his hut and watch him at his magic work.’
In a crowd they rushed to the Rain-maker’s hut to praise him for his work-but the Rainmaker was fast asleep!
‘So the rain is not his doing after all! ‘They exclaimed in such angry tones that the man was roused from his slumber.
At once the Rain-maker saw what had happened. He pointed to a woman who was at work outside his hut. ‘See, what is my wife doing there? ‘He asked.
‘She is churning butter in a skin,’ said several of the crowd.
‘Foolish children,’ said the Rain-maker in a voice of deep scorn. ‘Know you not that she is churning rain at my command? It is I who has made the rain. It is I who has ended the drought! ‘
At once the anger of the people was turned to wonder. ‘Long live the Rain-maker! ‘They cried again and again.
1. Why did the people send for the Rain-maker?
2. Was the Rain-maker a real worker of magic or a fraud? Give your reasons for your answer.
3. A Squirrel Story
Wells, in Norfolk, lies at the edge of a marsh, a mile and a quarter back from the sea. It has for a harbor a creek which, at full tide, is deep enough to allow small vessels to come up to the town.
Near the mouth of the creek is a row of tall guiding-poles in the water. One afternoon, a fisherman noticed a squirrel sitting bunched up on the top of the most distant pole, about thirty feet above the water.
The little animal had come through the pine wood on the sand hills on the west side of the creek; then, wishing to continue his travels eastward along the shore and over towards Blakeley, he had cast himself into the water.
Finding the current too strong, he had just saved himself from been carried out to sea by climbing up the last pole.
Now the current was the other way, and the creek was full from bank to bank, so the poor squirrel on his pole-top was in the middle of the swirling waters.
The fisherman went home to his tea; but two hours later, just about sunset, he strolled back to the sea-front, and there still sat the squirrel, bunched up on the top of his pole.
Presently a fishing-boat, in which was a young man, came in from the sea. The fisherman hailed the young man, and called his attention to the squirrel on the pole.
‘All right; I see him! ‘The boatman shouted back. ‘I’ll try to get him off! ‘
Then, as the swirling current carried the boat up to within about three yards of the pole, the young man leaned forward and thrust out an oar, until the blade touched the pole.
No sooner had it touched than down, like lightning, came the squirrel from his perch. He leaped upon the oar, and from the oar to the boat, then quickly bounded up the mast and perched himself on the top.
The boat went swiftly on, driven by the rushing tide, until it reached the quay at Wells. No sooner did the keel touch the stones at the landing-stage than down the squirrel flew from the mast-top.
Rushing to the bow, the little creature took a flying leap to the land, and then dashed off towards the town at topmost speed.
A number of children playing on the quay saw him, and with a wild cry of ‘ Squirrel! Squirrel! ‘Went after him. Luckily there was no dog about; and the squirrel, being faster than the boys, kept well ahead.
He dodged this way and that among coal-trucks, wagons, horses, and men busy in unloading boats; then, crossing the coast road, he dashed into one of the narrow streets which run up to the higher part of the town.
There more yelling children joined the hunt, and the people of the street ran out of their houses to find out what all the uproar was about.
Facing the top of the street is a long brick wall ten feet high. Up this wall went the squirrel without a pause or slip, as swiftly as when going over the level earth. He disappeared over the top into the orchard on the other side, where the loud advancing wave of children was kept back by a cliff.
It had been a breathless chase, and the squirrel could now have settled safely down in that sheltered spot among the fruit trees, for the owner, who lived like a hermit in the house, was friendly to all wild creatures, and allowed neither dogs nor cats nor boys with loud halloo and brutal noise to enter his grounds.
Yet this would not have suited the squirrel. The town noises and lights and the shrill cries of children at play in the evening would have kept him in a constant state of fear, for squirrels are timid creatures.
When the town was asleep and silent that night, he climbed the back-wall and crossed other orchards and gardens until he came out to the old unkempt hedge on that side, and followed it all the way to Oldham Park, with its many noble trees in one of which, perhaps, he was born.
And there, at home once more, he no doubt decided, like the Discontented Squirrel of the fable, never again to try
1. In what difficulty did the squirrel find himself?
2. How did he escape?
3. How did the squirrel’s adventure end?
4. A Strange Battle-I
At once Don Quixote turned to his squire and said, ‘ Oh, Sancho, this is the day in which I shall perform such deeds that the fame of them will be remembered in ages to come! Do you see that cloud of dust, Sancho? It is raised by a great army of many nations, who are on the march this way.’
‘There must be two armies, then, master,’ said Sancho Panza, looking behind him, ‘ for on this other side there raises another cloud of dust.’
Don Quixote turned and, seeing that it was so, felt highly pleased. He was quite sure that the two clouds were raised by two armies which were coming to fight in the middle of the plain, for he thought of nothing else but battles and gallant deeds.
Now the clouds of dust that he saw were raised by two great flocks of sheep going along the same road from different parts, and the dust hid them from sight until they came near.
Yet Don Quixote said so firmly that they were armies that Sancho began to believe him.
‘Sir,’ said the squire, ‘ what must we do? ‘
‘Why,’ replied Don Quixote, ‘ we must go at once to help the weaker side. You must
know that the army which marches towards us is commanded by the very great King Alifan- faro. This other, which marches behind us, is that of his enemy, King Pentapolin.’
‘But why do these two princes hate one another so? ‘Asked Sancho.
‘Because,’ answered Don Quixote, ‘ this Ali- fanfaron is a furious heathen who wishes to marry the lovely Christian daughter of King Pentapolin; but her father will not allow the marriage unless King Alifanfaron becomes a Christian also.’
‘Upon my word,’ said Sancho, ‘ Pentapolin is in the right and so I will help him with all my power! ‘
‘In so doing you will do your duty, Sancho,’ replied his master.
He then told his squire to go with him to the top of a hillock a short way off, so that they might see the two armies advancing.
1. What did Don Quixote and his servant see coming across the plain?
2. What story did Don Quixote make up about what they saw?
5. Cassie the Curious-II
One day the tent where the animals lived had to be taken down for some repairs. The horses were lodged for the night in some stables in the town. Bongo and Cassie, to Bob’s delight, were stabled in a shed in a joiner’s yard next door to Bob’s home.
Bob went to say good-night to Cassie and to take her a bun or two before he went to bed. ‘I’ll see you in the morning, old lady,’ he said, as he reached up to stroke her great ear.
The next morning before daylight, Bob’s mother was awakened by a loud crash downstairs in the kitchen. She sat up in bed and listened. What could it be? Burglars?
Crash! Crash! Again, louder than the first time. Mrs. White and Bob were the only people in the house and Bob was asleep. Mrs. White was very much afraid, but she felt that she must go and find out what the noise was.
She went softly downstairs and opened the door that led into the kitchen. As she did so something long and grey waved in her face.
It was an elephant’s trunk! The owner of the trunk was standing wedged in the narrow doorway leading into the back garden.
Mrs. White ran upstairs again, calling ‘ Bob, Bob! There’s a great beast in the kitchen, and I believe it’s your elephant.’
Bob was awake and downstairs in three minutes. Cassie was still in the doorway, trying with her trunk to open a cupboard door which was locked.
Cups, plates and saucers which had been set out on the table for the morning’s breakfast, were lying in pieces on the floor, for Cassie had pulled off the tablecloth and had tried to eat half of it. She had also swept jugs and dishes from the dresser on to the floor.
‘Oh Cassie! ‘Cried Bob. ‘What are you doing here? Go back at once! ‘
At the sound of a voice that she knew, Cassie began to back out of the doorway. She did not find it easy to do this for she was really rather tightly wedged. Still, she freed herself at last. Then she let Bob take her by the trunk and lead her out of the garden gate.
She had broken the gate open by leaning against it, just as she had broken open the kitchen door and the door of her stable. Chains had bound her feet to the stable floor but she had snapped them.
Bob led Cassie back into the shed, where she stayed quietly while he roused her keeper and some more men who soon made her secure again.
Didn’t I tell you,’ the keeper said to Bob later in the day, ‘ that there never was a more curious beast? She wants to find out all about everything, and that’s why she took a trip as far as your kitchen, I suppose.’
Was that it? ‘Bob whispered to Cassie, as he leaned against her and patted her thick hide. ‘What did you come to look for in our kitchen, old lady? ‘
Cassie lifted her head and gave a soft little trumpet and Bob was sure that she said, ‘ Buns, of course! What do you think?
1. What wakened Bob’s mother?
2. What did she find in the kitchen?
3. What other word might have been used, instead of ‘ curious,’ in the heading of this story?