A Child’s Life at Sea Part 4

I slowly reach my hand out for my brother. It is so dark I can’t even see where my hand is. Then suddenly I feel something on my foot. ‘There is something on the ground,’ I whisper to my brother. ‘I felt it.’ Then I hear a splash and a croak and several other small splashes. ‘It’s just a frog, dummy,’ laughs my brother. ‘Perhaps you should try kissing it. Maybe it will turn into a prince.’ ‘Yuck!’ I say. ‘You kiss it yourself if you dare.’ But my brother doesn’t fall for that. He just keeps teasing me. I still am not able to find his arm in the dark, but hearing his familiar teasing is kind of reassuring. Then suddenly we hear footsteps behind us.

The sound is heavy and thudding, like it belongs to something really big. I hold my breath. My heart is pounding and I close my eyes, even though it doesn’t make a difference, it is just as dark in the tunnel as it is when I close my eyes. Then suddenly it is quiet again. My brother has stopped his teasing. He must be just as scared as me. I am completely frozen, I can’t even run. Then all of a sudden I feel a big hand on my shoulder and a voice whispers in my ear: ‘Got you!’

‘Daaaaad!’ Complains my brother. ‘I knew it was you!’ A flashlight lights up and I see my father laughing in front of us. My brother looks pale, but he starts laughing too. ‘Good one, dad!’ I want to laugh, but I can’t, my heart is still kind of racing around inside of me. ‘Come on,’ says my father and takes my hand in his. ‘ Let’s go see the canon.’ And we do, and just like that, with my hand in my father’s, I feel safe again, and everything is right in the world.

A Child’s Life at Sea Part 3

‘Did the soldiers really hide in here, daddy?’ ‘Sure did, honey. They used these tunnels to move unseen underground when there was an attack. If you follow the tunnel to the end you will find a lookout post with a canon pointed to the horizon.’ ‘Did they really shoot the bad guys, daddy.’ ‘They had to, honey, there was a war and if they didn’t protect our country, innocent people would die.’ I stare at my father. ‘Did you fight in the war, daddy?’ My father laughs. ‘No, sweetie, the war was long before I was born.’ I feel a little disappointed, I really wanted my dad to be a hero. ‘Come on!’ complains my brother, ‘let’s go inside!’

We are on a small island on the south coast, known to be one of the many military bases during the Second World War. Our boat is docked by the stone pier, and my father has taken me and my brother up to see the tunnels carved deep into the mountain. They go on for kilometers and have no natural, or any other form, of light. But my father has brought a flashlight. My brother is already on his way into the pitch black tunnel. I take my father’s hand and we follow him.

There is water dripping from the ceiling of the tunnel and it makes an eerie drip-drop sound that echoes far into the deep. My father switches on the flashlight, but all we can see is black wet slippery stone walls, uneven and bumpy. The ground is also wet. Our plip-plop footsteps bounce off the wall and disappear into the deep, only to return as a hollow mimic of themselves ten seconds later. The sound makes me think of ghosts dragging their skeleton feet on the ground. My brother seems to think the same because he whispers in my ear: ‘I bet it’s haunted! Soldiers must have died in here, you know.’ I shiver and all of a sudden I feel very cold. I grip my father’s hand tighter. We walk further and further in.

‘If the tunnel collapses now, we’ll be dead,’ whispers my brother. And even though I am sure my father can’t hear him, he just adds to the horror be saying out loud: ‘well kids, we have reached the point of no return. We are further from the entrance than we are from the exist.’ I swallow hard. The flashlight flashes a couple of times, and both my brother and I jump. ‘Hold on, let me just…’ My father lets go off my hand to adjust the batteries in the flashlight. Then all of a sudden it goes completely dark. I want to scream, but for some reason I seem to have lost my voice. My brother on the other hand has not. He lets out a roar, fit for a lion. ‘Daaaaaaaad, what’s going on?’ There is no answer. I desperately reach out for my father’s hand, but it is not there. He is gone. My father is gone, and with him: the flashlight.

To be continued…

The Tale of the three little bunnies

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The doorbell was ringing in Carnation Cottage. Ding! Dong! “I wonder who it is?” said little Lavender Rose. “Probably just someone trying to sell something,” said Mother. Ding! Dong! There the bell went again. Little Lavender Rose opened the door excitedly. She liked buying things. Outside stood two little bunnies. They looked very pretty in their flower caps and white clean frocks. “Hello!” said Lavender Rose. “Are you selling something?” The two little bunnies shook their heads. “We have come to ask if you want to play, “said the smallest of the two bunnies. Lavender Rose did want to play. She put on her little lavender coat and her rose pink hat and went into the sunshine outside.

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“My name is Lily,” said the smallest bunny. “My name is Daisy,” said the other bunny. They all liked each other very much right away. “Let us go and play by the river,” said Lavender Rose. They all decided to go and play by the river. On the way to the river they met a butterfly. The butterfly asked if they wanted a drink of flower nectar. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Lily and put out her tongue in disgust. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Daisy and put out her tongue in disgust. “Bunnies hate flower nectar,” said Lavender Rose and put out her tongue in disgust. The butterfly felt dreadfully offended and flew away.
The river was very pretty. The banks were covered in wildflowers and weeping willows and there was no dangerous current to sweep them away into the Far-Away. On a little rock by the river sat a frog fishing for his supper. “Yuck! A frog!” said Daisy and wrinkled her little pink nose. “Yuck! A frog!” said Lily and wrinkled her little pink nose. “Yuck! A frog!” said Lavender Rose and wrinkled her little pink nose. The frog heard them and skipped away angrily.

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“Let’s go for a swim!” said Daisy. They all loved to swim so they took off their clothes and jumped into the river. While all this was going on, no one was watching the river bank. A poor little spider stood there crying. He also wanted to play, but he didn’t know how to swim. The little bunnies soon became tired of swimming and they returned to the river bank. “Can I play with you?” asked the little spider. “No, “said Lavender Rose, “we don’t like spiders!” “No, “said Lily, “we don’t like spiders!” “No,” said Daisy, “we don’t like spiders!” The little spider ran away crying noisily.

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The clouds in the sky went from white to very black and soon it started raining heavily. “Let’s go and stand under the weeping willows,” said Lily. “I hate getting wet!” All the three little bunnies agreed that getting wet was the worst thing in the whole world. They huddled together under the weeping willow. But the rain fell through the branches and the little bunnies started crying.
The frog who had been fishing for his supper heard the little bunnies crying and he felt sorry for them so he decided to give them his water lily leaf to use as an umbrella. “Thank you Mr. Frog “said Lavender Rose and smiled sweetly. “Thank you Mr. Frog,” said Lily and smiled sweetly. “Thank you Mr. Frog,” said Daisy and smiled sweetly. The three little bunnies were so small that they could all fit under the leaf without getting wet.

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After a little while the rain stopped. “Let’s go home!” said Daisy. They all thought that was a very good idea. They started walking home, but after just a few minutes Lily stopped. “ I am so thirsty, “ she said unhappily. “ I am thirsty too,” said Lavender Rose. “I am also thirsty,” said Daisy. The three little bunnies were so thirsty that they started crying. The butterfly they had met earlier that day heard the three little bunnies crying, she felt sorry for them and decided to help them. “I have some flower nectar if you want to try a sip,” she said to the three little bunnies. “I would like that very much Miss Butterfly,” said Lily and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily. “I would also like some Miss Butterfly,” said Lavender Rose and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily. “Please may I also have some,” said Daisy and drank the sweet delicious nectar greedily.

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The three little bunnies felt strong again so they hopped along homewards. “Help!” cried Lily as she suddenly fell into a very deep hole in the ground. “Help!” cried Lavender Rose and fell into the same hole. “Help!” cried Daisy and joined the other two in the hole. The three little bunnies had forgotten all about the farmer’s traps, and now it was too late. The farmer would have them for his supper!

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The three little bunnies started crying miserably. The spider from the river bank heard the three little bunnies crying and he felt sorry for them, so he decided to try and see if he could help them. When the spider saw the three little bunnies trapped in the hole in the ground, he quickly started to spin a long beautiful web. When the web was finished he lowered it into the hole. “Here, climb unto my web!” said the spider. Lavender Rose grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole. Then Lily grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole, and lastly Daisy grabbed hold of the web and climbed out of the hole. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lily and shook the spider’s hand. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lavender Rose and shook the spider’s hand. “Thank you kind spider,” said Lily and shook the spider’s hand.

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The three little bunnies hurried home and said their good byes. When mother asked Lavender Rose how her day had been, all Lavender Rose could say was: “Mother, from today I will be such a good little bunny for I never want to be made into supper for the farmer!”

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All the artwork is by the magical Beatrix Potter. Learn more about her art and books here: http://www.peterrabbit.com/en

The Tale of Little Josie, The Wicked Prince and The Fairies

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once upon a time there was a little girl called Josie. Josie lived in a cozy a house in the forest with her big sister. Josie was a very good little girl, she was always sweet and did what her sister asked her to do. It was quite easy for Josie to do what she was told, because her sister only asked her to do fun things. But then one day something happened that changed things. A wicked prince came to the little house in the forest, and since he was a prince, at least he said that he was, he did not hesitate to demand to stay in the cozy house and to have the two girls as his servants. He was hardest on Josie, since she was the youngest. All day long she had to cook for him, make him endless cups of tea, heat his bathing water, and fill his mug with fresh drinking water. The wicked prince never said thank you or please, he only looked sternly at Josie, and told her to put some more sugar in his tea or less salt in his food. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months, and the prince did not leave. Josie forgot all about what fun felt like, and she was always too tired to be sweet and to smile. One day Josie heard a little voice in her heart telling her that it was time for her to leave the cozy house, and to go looking for happiness somewhere else. Jose felt bad about leaving her sister behind, but she knew she had to obey the voice inside of her, so she promised herself that she would find a way to make the wicked prince leave so that she and her sister could live happily together again.

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That night when the wicked prince was sleeping Josie packed a few of her belongings and ran away from the house.

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She kept running and running deeper and deeper into the forest until she came to a clearing where the full moon shone through the trees and where all kinds of colorful wildflowers grew. Josie felt that this was a safe place to sleep.

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She lay down in the dewy meadow and closed her eyes to the starlit sky. Then all of a sudden she heard a very funny noise, it sounded like the chiming of little bells! Josie opened her eyes, and there right in front of her she saw two tiny silver fairies looking down at her. Josie startled and got up immediately. The fairies laughed. Their bodies almost looked like moonbeams, and their wings were like gossamer threads.

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Josie smiled for the first time in many many months. The fairies pulled her hand to make her follow them, and she did as she was told.

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The fairies brought her to a place under a very big tree with beautiful heart-shaped leaves in golden hues, and to Josie’s great surprise each leaf held a little fairy inside!

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Some of them were the silvery color of the moon, others were more golden like starlight. now all of them started flying towards her, they took her hands in their tiny wings and pulled her into a beautiful dance. Josie could hear faint music playing from the forest and the music swayed in her heart and she drifted away into a magical fairy dance.

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She was having so much fun she forgot all about the wicked prince and the promise she had made. She danced and danced and laughed and smiled and she was again filled with sweetness and joy.

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Then all of a sudden the music changed and the fairies stopped dancing. Everything went very still, but it was as though the
air was filled with Light and sparkles, and then she appeared: The Fairy Queen. Josie knew right away it was her, because all the other little fairies bowed down to her. The Fairy Queen looked at Josie and asked her in perfect human language: What was it you wanted to ask me dear?
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Josie startled and did not understand what the Fairy Queen meant, but then she remembered the wicked prince and her promise to find a way to make him leave. She mustered all her courage and told the Fairy Queen about the wicked prince. “Oh, he is not really a prince,” said the Fairy Queen, “he only says that to make himself more important, and to have an excuse to put others down. He is actually a poor beggar who is too lazy to look for a job, so he pretends to be a prince so that he can impose on others and eat their food and drink their water.” Now Josie felt really angry. The wicked prince had made her do so much work wen he himself was too lazy to do anything. This was not right. “Then how can I get him to leave?” asked Josie, “I am just a little girl!”. The Fairy Queen smiled, ” Don’t worry little girl, it is quite easy. The wicked prince has all his life dreamed of being rich, only he is too lazy to earn any money for himself. So what you will do is this: Tell him that where the rainbow ends there lies buried a big pot of gold, and if he just follows the rainbow he will easily find it and can claim it for his own.” “But what if there is no rainbow that day, ” asked Josie. “Don’t worry about that, ” answered the Fairy Queen, “I can easily help you to make a rainbow!” And as she said that, hundreds of little fairies appeared, and these fairies where neither silvery like the moon or golden like the starlight, their tiny bodies shone in indigo and pink and green and all the seven colors of the rainbow. “Oh, rainbow fairies!” exclaimed Josie.

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The Fairy Queen smiled and nodded. “When you need them to make a rainbow for you, just put a glass of water in the sun, and soon the whole sky will be filled with the most magnificent rainbow.” ” Oh, thank you so much Fairy Queen!”, Josie smiled and bowed her head. “Goodbye for now Josie, hurry home to your sister, she will be worried about you if she finds your bed empty in the morning. I will send some star fairies with you to light up your path.” The Fairy Queen nodded to a couple of golden star fairies and they immediately came to rest on Josie’s shoulders. Josie thanked the Fairy Queen once again and wished her good bye. Then she started on the long walk home, but with the star fairies lighting her path before her, the journey did not take very long.

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Soon, right before the first rays of dawn bathed the forest in their gentle light, Josie was home again, and the star fairies flew back up to the sky. Just as she opened the door she heard that the wicked prince was already up. “Where is my tea Josie!”, he shouted angrily, “it is far past dawn”. Josie could feel that all the sweetness and joy she had inside faded and she decided that she could not wait long before she put the glass of water in the morning sun. She made the tea for the wicked prince, and surly, like every day, he complained that it was not sweet enough nor hot enough. Josie sighed, but said nothing. “My water mug is empty, fill it up!” demanded the prince. Josie’s sister came out of her room and told Josie that she would fill the mug with water. But Josie would not let her. She took the mug and an empty glass and went into the garden where the well was. First she filled the glass with water and put it in the sun, and then she filled the mug. It did not take long, only a couple of seconds, and there right before her eyes, a beautiful thick rainbow appeared in the sky.

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Josie started laughing, and she ran into the house with the mug for the wicked prince. As she gave it to him, she told him about the rainbow and the pot of gold buried where the rainbow ended. The wicked prince immediately took interest in this. He went into the garden and when he saw the rainbow, the temptation of the gold became too great and he started running, as he had never run before, after the rainbow. That was the last Josie and her sister saw of the wicked prince, and if you have not heard differently the wicked prince is still running around chasing golden treasures. and what of Josie and her sister?, well they lived happily ever after of course, filling each day with joy, sweetness and fun.

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All the magnificent art is by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite