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his tail there came four green stripes! They were the marks of Shiva's fingers, placed there as signs of love.
Shiva raised his hand and the water rolled back from the shore. Safe among the rocks and sea weeds, the palm tree lay on dry land.
The little squirrel hastened to it; his tail was now high in the air. He found his wife and children dry and well in their house of woven grass-blades.
As they sang their welcomes to him, the geloori noticed with delight that each smooth little back was striped with marks of Shiva's fingers.
This sign of love is still to be seen upon the backs of chipmunks. That is the reason why in India, good men never kill them.
A man who loves both children and chipmunks says, when he tells this story, "Perhaps our squirrels, though Shiva never stroked them, would be grateful if we left them, unharmed, to play in the maples in our woods."
The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean.*
N a certain village there dwelt a poor old woman,
who had gathered a dish of beans, which she wished to cook. So she made a fire upon the hearth, and, that it might burn the quicker, she lighted it with a handful of straw.
As she shook the beans up in a saucepan, one fell upon the ground, near a straw; soon after a glowing coal burst out of the fire, and fell just by these two. Then the straw began to say, “My dear friend, whence do you come?" The coal replied, “By good luck I have sprung out of the fire, and if I had not jumped away by force, my death had been certain, and I should have been reduced to ashes.”
The bean continued, “I also have escaped with a whole skin, but, had the old woman put me in the pot with the others, I should have been boiled to pieces, as my comrades are," "Would a better fate have fallen to my share?'' said the straw; “for the old woman has suffocated in fire and smoke all my brothers; sixty has she put on at once, and deprived of life; happily, I slipped between her fingers.”
“But what shall we do now?'' asked the coal.
"I think," answered the bean, "since we have so luckily escaped death, we will join in partnership, and keep together like good companions: lest a new misfortune overtake us, let us wander forth, and travel into a strange country."
* From Grimm's Fairy Tales, by permission of Ginn & Co., publishers.
The coal and the straw were pleased, so they set out together on their travels. Presently they came to a little stream, over which there was no bridge nor path, and they did not know how they should get over. The straw gave good advice, and said: “I will lay myself across, so that you may pass over upon me, as upon a bridge."
So the straw stretched itself from one bank to the other, and the coal, which was of a fiery nature, tripped lightly upon the newly-built bridge. But when it came to the middle of it, and heard the water running along beneath, it was frightened, and stood still, not daring to go further. The straw, however, beginning to burn, broke in two and fell into the stream, and the coal, slipping after, hissed as it reached the water, and went to the bottom.
The bean, which had remained upon the shore, was forced to laugh at this accident, and, the joke being so good, it laughed until it burst itself.
Now, they would all have been done for alike, if a tailor, who was out on his wanderings, had not just then, by great good luck, set himself down near the stream. Having a kind heart, he took out needle and thread, and sewed the bean together. The bean thanked him; but the tailor used black thread, and that accounts for the black seam which you often see on beans.
The Swan Maidens.*
LONG, long time ago there was born in the east
a wonderful king. He was called “The King of the Golden Sword."
Every day he came in his golden chariot scattering heat, light, and happiness among his people.
Every day he passed from his palace in the east far over to his throne in the west.
He never missed a day, for he wanted to see that every one had a full share of his gifts.
Throughout the kingdom the birds sang and the flowers bloomed. The sky was full of beautiful pictures which were constantly changing.
The king had many daughters who were called swan maidens.
They were as graceful as swans and usually wore white, featherlike dresses.
The swan maidens loved their good father and each one longed to help him in his work.
Sometimes the king saw that the grass was brown or the buds were not coming out.
Then he called the swan maidens to him and said, "My children, this must not be. There is nothing more beautiful in the kingdom than the green grass and the trees. They need your care."
Gladly each maiden changed her dress and set out at * From Nature Myths and Stories, by permission of A. Flanagan, publisher.
once on her journey. Often they could not all work upon the grass and the buds.
Some of them ran off to play with the stones in the brook. The best ones went down to feed the roots and worms, and worked out of sight.
When their tasks were finished they always hurried back to their father, the king.
They went so noiselessly and swiftly that for a long time their way of traveling was a mystery.
In the fall the king called the bravest swan maidens to him. He told them they must go away for a long time.
The swan maidens wrapped themselves in white, feathery blankets and came softly down to the shivering flowers.
Gently they placed a white spread on the earth and left no small seed uncovered.
At last, when the king smiled, and their work was done, they stole away so softly and happily that no one missed them.