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The Ant and the Elephant

An ant met an elephant near a river in the forest. The elephant said, "Good morning, little thing."
"Little thing!" cried the ant. "I am very strong! I am the strongest of all!"
"I am the strongest animal in the forest!" said the elephant.

"Well, come here tomorrow at the same time and we shall fight! Then we shall see which of us is stronger," answered the little ant. "How can I fight with you? I don't see you in the grass!" cried the elephant.
"Then we shall pull a rope. And you will see that I am stronger than you," said the ant.
"All right!" said the elephant and went away.

The ant went to the river and said to a crocodile who lived there, "I have a good dinner for you, Crocodile. Come here tomorrow at the same time. I shall have a big hare tied to a rope for you."
"That's very good of you, Ant!" said the crocodile, "Thank you very much!"

The next morning the ant met the elephant. The ant gave the elephant the end of a long rope.
"Tie this end of the rope to your leg," said the ant, "and I shall tie the other end to my leg. When I say 'Ready!' you must begin to pull. Then we shall see which of us is stronger."
The elephant tied one end of the rope to his leg, and the ant ran off with the other end to the crocodile.
The ant tied the rope to the crocodile's neck and said, "And now - pull!"
And to the elephant he cried, "Ready!"

The crocodile began to pull, and the elephant began to pull, too. They pulled and they pulled.
"How strong that ant is!" thought the elephant, and he pulled again.
"How strong that hare is!" thought the crocodile, and he pulled again.
And they pulled and pulled.

But the clever ant only laughed at the silly elephant and the crocodile, and went home.

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The Bird and the Elephant

In a large forest there was a big tree. In the tree there was a bird's nest. A bird lived there with her children.

One day an elephant came to the tree and began to rub his head against it. The old tree shook. The little birds looked out of their nest and cried, "Oh, Mother! What is it? We are afraid! We may fall down!"
The mother bird said to the elephant, "Please go to another tree! My children are afraid. There are many other trees in the forest!"
The elephant did not say anything. He only looked at the bird with his little eyes and went away.

The next day the elephant came again. He came to the same tree and began to rub his head against it. The old tree shook, and the little birds were very much afraid.
The mother bird cried to the elephant; "Don't shake my tree! Stop it or I shall teach you a lesson!"
The elephant laughed and said, "You are a little bird! What can you do to me, a big elephant?"
"You will see," said the bird.

The next day the elephant came again. He rubbed his head against the tree harder than before. The bird then flew into the elephant's ear.
The elephant shook his head, but the bird did not come out. He shook his big ears, but the bird did not come out.
Then the elephant said to the bird, "Please get out of my ear! I shall not come to this tree again."
The bird answered, "I, too, asked you not to shake the tree. Did you listen to me? No, I shall not get out."

The elephant was angry. He shook his head, then he shook his ears, but the little bird did not go out of his ear.
At last the elephant was so tired that he fell down and cried, "Dear little bird, come out of my ear, please! I shall not come near your tree again!"

Then the bird came out of his ear and flew back to her children. And the elephant never came to that forest again.

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The King Who Wanted to Make the Day Longer

One day a king went into the fields to see how his people worked.
The people worked very hard. They worked from morning till night. But the king thought that they did too little work. The day was too short for him.

He ordered all the people to come to him and said,
"The day is too short. You do too little work. We must make the day longer. The man who will do that will get a piece of gold."
A man came up to him and said, "I can make a machine which will make the day longer."
"Make it at once," said the king.

The man took a very large wheel. Then he fixed a handle to it and the machine was ready.
The king looked at it and said; "It is only a wheel with a handle!"
"But it is a very good machine! Only you must turn the wheel yourself. Otherwise it will not make the day longer. And you must turn the wheel from morning till night without stopping."
The king said, "If I must do it, I shall do it."

Early the next morning when the people went to work, the king began to turn the handle of the machine. He turned and turned the handle all day without stopping. When evening came, he was very tired.

After the sun went down, the man came up to the king and said, "Well, was the day longer today?"
"Oh, yes, it was! It was as long as a week! It is a good machine, but can't you or another man turn the handle?" said the king.
"Oh, yes, we can," answered the man, "but then the day will not be longer."

The king thought for a moment and then said, "If only I must turn the handle, then I don't want to make the day longer."

But he had to give the man a piece of gold.

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The King Who Wanted to Reach the Moon

Many years ago there was a king who wanted to reach the Moon. He thought day and night how to do that. He thought and thought for many months. One day he had an idea. He thought: "I must build a tower. And from the top of the tower I shall reach the moon!"
And he ordered a carpenter to build a tower to the sky.
"To the sky?" asked the carpenter.
"Yes, to the sky!" cried the king, "And not another word!"

The carpenter asked everyone how to build a tower to the sky. But nobody could tell him, because nobody knew how to do it.
The carpenter thought and thought and then he had an idea. He went to the king and said, "I know how to build a tower to the sky. But I must be the first to go to the top of the tower."
"What!" cried the king, "You want to be the first to reach the moon? No, I shall be the first! Tell me how you want to build the tower!"
The carpenter said, "I shall build the tower of boxes."

The king ordered the people to bring every box in the country to the carpenter. When the carpenter had very many boxes, he began to put them one on top of the other.
Soon there was a high tower. But it did not reach the sky. And there were no more boxes in the country.

Then the king ordered the carpenters to cut down all the trees and to make boxes out of them. They put those boxes one on top of the other, too, Now the top of the tower was in the clouds, and the king thought that it was time to go up.

So he climbed, and climbed, and at last he reached the top of the tower. But he did not reach the moon.
"One more box!" cried the king. But there were no more trees in the country. So the carpenters could not make any more boxes.
The king was very angry. He was near the moon, but he could not reach it! Then the king cried to the carpenters:
"Pull out one of the boxes and put it on the top."

The carpenters looked at each other. But what could they do? A king's word is a king's word! When the king again ordered them to pull out one of the boxes and put it on the top, they pulled out a box.
Of course the tower, and with it the king, fell to the ground.

And now no king tries to build towers that will reach the moon.

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The Elves and the Envious Man

Long, long ago, there lived in a land far away a poor shoemaker who had a large hump on his back. One day he went to town to sell some boots. The way home was long, and the poor man was tired. As he entered the forest, he was overtaken by the darkness.
"There is no use in trying to go on," he said. "I would only run into the trees and hurt myself. There is a big hollow tree somewhere near here. I will creep into it and sleep there all night. In the morning I will hurry home."
The shoemaker soon found the tree, crept into the hollow, and fell fast asleep.

About midnight he was awakened by a noise. He peeped out of his hollow. The moon was shining brightly, and to his great surprise he saw many little elves dancing in the moonlight.
At first the man was afraid and lay very still. But as he watched the queer little folk, he saw that they all looked happy and kind; so he crawled out of his hollow and joined them.
The elves were glad to see him, and soon he found himself having a jolly good time. He danced with the elves, told them stories, and sang to them.

At last the king of the elves said: "It is nearly time for us to say goodbye, for you know we must go as soon as we hear the first cock crow. Before we go, I want to tell you how much we all like you. You are such a jolly good fellow that we want you to come and visit us again."

Quickly the elf king snatched the hump from the man's back, saying: "I will keep this to make sure that you will come back. Visit us again when the moon is full, and I will give you back your beautiful hump."
The elf king did this, because he thought the hump was something to be proud of and that the man would be sorry to lose it.
Before the man could answer, they heard the first cock crow, and at once the elves disappeared.

You may be sure the poor shoemaker lost no time in hurrying home. How glad he was to be rid of his hump, and how tall and straight he walked! When the neighbours saw him coming, they rushed to meet him. He told them his wonderful story, and they were all glad for him—all but the tailor. This man envied his good luck.

The very next time that the moon was full, the envious man went to the hollow tree. As he crawled into it, he said to himself: "I shall sing and dance and tell stories to the elves. Then, when I see that they are pleased, I shall ask for gold—much gold."

At midnight, when the moon was at its brightest, the elves appeared. Out from the hollow tree stepped the tailor. The elves made him welcome, for they thought he was their friend, the shoemaker, come back. The tailor danced with the elves, sang songs, and told them stories, and they all had a jolly time.

Just before cockcrow, the king called the tailor to him.
"Now is my chance," thought the tailor; "I will soon be a very rich man."
"You are a good fellow," said the elf king, "and you have kept your promise to me, so I will keep my promise to you. Here is your hump."

So saying, he stuck the shoemaker's hump on the tailor's back, and before the tailor could say a word, the cock crowed and the elves vanished.

Thus the tailor was punished for envying his good neighbour.

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The Happy Man

Many, many years ago in North Africa there lived a chief. He was very rich and had many wives and children, but he was not happy. He thought: "I have everything, but that does not make me happy. What must I do to be happy? I don't know."
Once he shouted angrily to his servants, "Why can't I be happy? What must I do to be happy?"

One of his servants said, "Oh, my Chief! Look at the sky! How beautiful the moon and the stars are! Look at them, and you will see how good life is. That will make you happier."
"Oh, no, no, no!" the chief answered angrily. "When I look at the moon and the stars I become angry, because I know I cannot get them."

Then another servant said, "Oh, my Chief! What about music? Music makes a man happy. We shall play to you from morning till night, and music will make you happy."
The chief's face became red with anger.
"Oh, no, no, no, no!" he cried. "What a silly idea! Music is fine, but to listen to music from morning till night, day after day? Never! No, never!"

So the servants went away, and the chief sat angrily in his rich room. Then one of the servants came back into the room and made a bow.
"Oh, my Chief," he said. "I think I can tell you something that will make you very happy."
"What is it?" asked the chief.
"It is very easy to do," said the servant. "You must find a happy man, take off his shirt and put it on. Then his happiness will go into your body and you will be as happy as he!"

"I like your idea," said the chief. He sent his soldiers all over the country to look for a happy man. They went on and on, but it was not easy to find a happy man in the chief's country.
But one day the soldiers found a man in a small village who said, "I am the happiest man in the world."
He was poor, but he always smiled and sang. The soldiers brought him to the chief.

"At last I shall be a happy man!" said the chief and took off his shirt at once. "Bring the man in!"
The door of the chief's room opened. A small, dark man with a happy smile walked in.
"Come here, my friend!" said the chief. "Please take off your shirt!"
The little smiling man came up to the chief. The chief looked at him and saw — what did he see?

The happy man, the happiest man in the world, had no shirt!

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