Vocabulary from the Selection
During Reading Strategy
Create a Prediction Chart
It was a hot afternoon, and the railwaycarriage
was correspondingly sultry
, and the next stop was at Templecombe,
nearly an hour ahead. The occupants of the carriage were a small girl,
and a smaller girl, and a small boy. An aunt belonging to the children
occupied one corner seat, and the further corner seat on the opposite side
was occupied by a bachelor who was a stranger to their party, but the small
girls and the small boy emphatically occupied the compartment. Both the
aunt and the children were conversational in a limited, persistent
reminding one of the attentions of a housefly that refused to be discouraged.
Most of the aunt’s remarks seemed to begin with “Don’t,’’ and
nearly all of the children’s remarks began with “Why?” The
bachelor said nothing out loud.
Guided Reading Question 1
What do most of the aunt’s remarks begin with?
Cyril, don’t,” exclaimed the aunt, as the small boy began
smacking the cushions of the seat, producing a cloud of dust at each
“Come and look out of the window,” she added.
The child moved reluctantly to the window. “Why are those sheep being
driven out of that field?” he asked.
“I expect they are being driven to another field where there is more
grass,’’ said the aunt weakly.
“But there is lots of grass in that field,” protested the boy; “there’s
nothing else but grass there. Aunt, there’s lots of grass in that
“Perhaps the grass in the other field is better,” suggested the
“Why is it better?” came the swift, inevitable question.
“Oh, look at those cows!’’ exclaimed the aunt. Nearly every
field along the line had contained cows or bullocks, but she spoke as though
she were drawing attention to a rarity.
“Why is the grass in the other field better?” persisted
The frown on the bachelor’s face was deepening to a scowl. He was
a hard, unsympathetic man, the aunt decided in her mind. She was utterly
unable to come to any satisfactory decision about the grass in the other
Guided Reading Question 2
What does the aunt decide about the bachelor?
The smaller girl created a diversion by beginning to
recite “On the Road to Mandalay.”1
She only knew the first
line, but she put her limited knowledge to the fullest possible use.
She repeated the line over and over again in a dreamy but resolute
and very audible voice; it seemed to the bachelor as though someone
had had a bet with her that she could not repeat the line aloud two
thousand times without stopping. Whoever it was who had made the wager
was likely to lose his bet.
“Come over here and listen to a story,” said the aunt,
when the bachelor had looked twice at her and once at the communication
The children moved listlessly
toward the aunt’s end of the carriage.
Evidently her reputation as a story-teller did not rank high in their
In a low, confidential voice, interrupted at frequent intervals by
questions from her listeners, she began an unenterprising
and deplorably uninteresting story about a little girl who was good,
and made friends with everyone on account of her goodness, and was
finally saved from a mad bull by a number of rescuers who admired her
Guided Reading Question 3
What type of story does the aunt tell?
they have saved her if she hadn’t been good?” demanded the
bigger of the small girls. It was exactly the question that the bachelor
had wanted to ask.
“Well, yes,” admitted the aunt lamely, “but I don’t
think they would have run quite so fast to her help if they had not liked
her so much.”
“It’s the stupidest story I’ve ever heard,’’ said
the bigger of the small girls, with immense conviction.
“I didn’t listen after the first bit, it was so stupid,’’ said
The smaller girl made no actual comment on the story, but she had long
ago recommenced a murmured repetition of her favorite line.
“You don’t seem to be a success as a story-teller,’’ said
the bachelor suddenly from his corner.
The aunt bristled in instant defense at this unexpected attack.
“It’s a very difficult thing to tell stories that children
can both understand and appreciate,” she said stiffly.
What does the aunt say is difficult about storytelling?
agree with you,” said the bachelor.
“Perhaps you would like to tell them a story,’’ was the
“Tell us a story,” demanded the bigger of the small girls.
“Once upon a time,’’ began the bachelor, “there
was a little girl called Bertha, who was extraordinarily good.”
The children’s momentarily aroused interest began at once to flicker;
all stories seemed dreadfully alike, no matter who told them.
“She did all that she was told, she was always truthful, she kept her
clothes clean, ate milk puddings as though they were jam tarts, learned her
lessons perfectly, and was polite in her manners.”
“Was she pretty?’’ asked the bigger of the small girls.
“Not as pretty as any of you,” said the bachelor, “but
she was horribly good.”
There was a wave of reaction in favor of the story; the word horrible in
connection with goodness was a novelty that commended itself. It seemed to
introduce a ring of truth that was absent from the aunt’s tales of
What does the bachelor say that interests the children?
“She was so
good,” continued the bachelor, “that she won several medals
for goodness, which she always wore, pinned on to her dress. There was
a medal for obedience, another medal for punctuality, and a third for
good behavior. They were large metal medals and they clinked against
one another as she walked. No other child in town where she lived had
as many as three medals, so everybody knew that she must be an extra
“Horribly good,” quoted Cyril.
“Everybody talked about her goodness, and the Prince of the country
got to hear about it, and he said that as she was so very good she might
be allowed once a week to walk in his park, which was just outside the
town. It was a beautiful park, and no children were ever allowed in it,
so it was a great honor for Bertha to be allowed to go there.”
“Were there any sheep in the park?’’ demanded Cyril.
“No,” said the bachelor, “there were no sheep.”
“Why weren’t there any sheep?’’ came the inevitable
question arising out of that answer.
The aunt permitted herself a smile, which might almost have been described
as a grin.
“There were no sheep in the park,” said the bachelor, “because
the Prince’s mother had once had a dream that her son would either
be killed by a sheep or else by a clock falling on him. For that reason
the Prince never kept a sheep in his park or a clock in his palace.”
The aunt suppressed a gasp of admiration.
“Was the Prince killed by a sheep or by a clock?” asked Cyril.
“He is still alive, so we can’t tell whether the dream will
come true,” said the bachelor unconcernedly; “anyway, there
were no sheep in the park, but there were lots of little pigs running all
over the place.”
“What color were they?’’
“Black with white faces, white with black spots, black all over,
gray with white patches, and some were white all over.”
The story-teller paused to let a full idea of the park’s treasures
sink into the children’s imaginations; then he resumed:
Reading Question 6
Why does the story-teller pause?
rather sorry to find that there were no flowers in the park. She had
promised her aunts, with tears in her eyes, that she would not pick any
of the kind Prince’s flowers, and she had meant to keep her promise,
so of course it made her feel silly to find that there were no flowers
“Why weren’t there any flowers?’’
“Because the pigs had eaten them all,” said the bachelor promptly. “The
gardeners had told the Prince that you couldn’t have pigs and flowers,
so he decided to have pigs and no flowers.”
There was a murmur of approval at the excellence of the Prince’s
decision; so many people would have decided the other way.
“There were lots of other delightful things in the park. There were
ponds with gold and blue and green fish in them, and trees with beautiful
parrots that said clever things at a moment’s notice, and hummingbirds
that hummed all the popular tunes of the day. Bertha walked up and down
and enjoyed herself immensely, and thought to herself: ‘If I were
not so extraordinarily good, I should not have been allowed to come into
this beautiful park and enjoy all that there is to be seen in it,’ and
her three medals clinked against one another as she walked and helped to
remind her how very good she really was. Just then an enormous wolf came
prowling into the park to see if it could catch a fat little pig for its
“What color was it?” asked the children, amid an immediate
quickening of interest.
all over, with a black tongue and pale gray eyes that gleamed with unspeakable
. The first thing that it saw in the park was Bertha; her pinafore3
was so spotlessly white and clean that it could be seen from a great
distance. Bertha saw the wolf and saw that it was stealing toward her,
and she began to wish that she had never been allowed to come into the
park. She ran as hard as she could, and the wolf came after her with
huge leaps and bounds. She managed to reach a shrubbery of myrtle bushes,
and she hid herself in one of the thickest of the bushes. The wolf came
sniffing among the branches, its black tongue lolling out of its mouth
and its pale gray eyes glaring with rage. Bertha was terribly frightened,
and thought to herself: ‘If I had not been so extraordinarily good,
I should have been safe in the town at this moment.’ However, the
scent of the myrtle was so strong that the wolf could not sniff out where
Bertha was hiding, and the bushes were so thick that he might have hunted
about in them for a long time without catching sight of her, so he thought
he might as well go off and catch a little pig instead. Bertha was trembling
very much at having the wolf prowling and sniffing so near her, and as
she trembled the medal for obedience clinked against the medals for good
conduct and punctuality. The wolf was just moving away when he heard
the sound of the medals clinking and stopped to listen; they clinked
again in a bush quite near him. He dashed into the bush, his pale gray
eyes gleaming with ferocity and triumph, and dragged Bertha out and devoured
her to the last morsel. All that was left of her were her shoes, bits of
clothing, and the three medals for goodness.’’
Reading Question 7
How does the wolf spot Bertha?
Reading Question 8
What does Bertha realize?
Reading Question 9
How does the wolf discover Bertha?
of the little pigs killed?”
“No, they all escaped.’’
“The story began badly,’’ said the smaller of the small
girls, “but it had a beautiful ending.”
“It is the most beautiful story that I ever heard,’’ said
the bigger of the small girls, with immense decision.
“It is the
beautiful story I have ever heard,’’ said Cyril.
opinion came from the aunt.
“A most improper story to tell to young children! You have undermined
the effect of years of careful teaching.”
“At any rate,’’ said the bachelor, collecting his belongings
leaving the carriage, “I kept them quiet for ten
minutes, which was more than you were able to do.”
“Unhappy woman!” he observed to himself as he walked down the
platform of Templecombe station; “for the next six months or so those
children will assail
her in public with demands for an improper story!”
Reading Question 10
What do the children think of the story? What does the aunt think of the