STORIES FOR B2
1. A new Chief Financial Officer wanted Read the whole story >>>
2. Lord made mothers Read the whole story >>>
3. Pencils Read the whole story >>>
4. The cat maiden. Read the whole story >>>
5. The Duration of Life Read the whole story >>>
6. The Fish That Were Too Clever. Read the whole story >>>
7. The Fun They Had Read the whole story >>>
8. The necklace Read the whole story >>>
9. The power of love Read the whole story >>>
10. The treasure Read the whole story >>>
11. The Unicorn Read the whole story >>>
12. Two men in hospital Read the whole story >>>
13. The Lower Case Letter Read the whole story >>>
14. What goes around comes around... Read the whole story >>>
15. ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG OR A COFFEE BEAN? Read the whole story >>>
16. MY HEART MAY BE FULL OF SCARS BUT IT IS BEAUTIFUL Read the whole story >>>
A new Chief Financial Officer wanted
CHAIRMAN: Hello, everyone! I am the President of a big computer software company and I would like to share a problem I have. You see, I need a new Chief Financial Officer. I put an advertisement in the local paper last week and all the candidates who appeared are equally experienced and well qualified. As you can understand, this makes it very difficult for me to make my final choice.
NARRATOR: A few days later, the confused Chairman decided to have all the candidates take a test. A test unlike the usual ones. He called them to come over his house and took them on tour of his grand office. In the back of the property, the Chairman had the largest swimming pool . None of them had seen anything bigger before.
On top of that the huge pool , was filled with hungry alligators, with lots of sharp nails and wires in it. Now the candidates were more than shocked.
CHAIRMAN : I think an executive should be measured by courage. Courage is what made me rich. So this is my challenge to each of you: if anyone has enough courage to dive into the pool, swim through those alligators, and make it to the other side, I will give that person anything they desire. My job, my money, my house, anything!"
NARRATOR: Everyone laughed at the outrageous offer and stood puzzled unable to utter a word. The executive and the candidates were starting to feel awkward as there was little to say , when suddenly, they heard a loud splash. Everyone turned around and saw George Peterson, one of the candidates, in the pool, swimming for his life.
He dodges the alligators left and right, swims like a maniac. Everybody watches spell bound uttering aahhhs and oommmms and finally the man makes it to the edge of the pool with seconds to spare from the crocodiles following him .He pulls himself out just as a huge alligator snaps at his shoes. His shirt is torn, his pants have a mark of alligator`s tooth and the man is shaking all over like a jelly. Shaking and his teeth rattling.
CHAIRMAN:, "You are amazing. I've never seen anything like it in my life. You are brave beyond measure and anything I own is yours. Tell me what I can do for you!!
GEORGE: "Leave everything... ! Just tell me who on earth pushed me in the pool!" Who ????
Lord made mothers
Narrator: By the time the Lord made mothers, he was into the sixth day working overtime. An Angel appeared and said
Angel: “Why are you spending so much time on this one?”
Lord: Have you read the specification sheet on her? She has to be completely washable, but not elastic; have 200 movable parts, all replaceable; run on black coffee and leftovers; have a lap that can hold three children at one time and that this lap disappears when she stands up; She has to have a kiss that can cure anything from a scraped knee to a broken heart; and She has to have six pairs of hands.”
Angel: Six pairs of hands! No way!”
Lord : Oh, it’s not the hands that are the problem. It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers must have!” ”And that’s on the standard model?”
Angel : Three pairs of eyes?
Lord: (nodding in agreement). One pair of eyes are to see through the closed door as she asks her children what they are doing even though she already knows. Another pair in the back of her head so as to see what she needs to know even though no one thinks she can. And the third pair are here in the front of her head. She should understand and should not complain about errant child and love him or her without even saying a single word.”
Angel: This is too much work for one day. Wait until tomorrow to finish.”
Lord: But I can’t. I am so close to finishing this creation. She already heals herself when she is sick AND can feed a family of six on a pound of hamburger ”
Narrator: The Angel moved closer and touched the woman.
Angel: But you have made her so soft, Lord.
Lord: She is soft, but I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish.
Angel: Will she be able to think?
Lord: Not only will she be able to think, she will be able to reason, and negotiate.
Narrator: The Angel then noticed something and reached out and touched the woman’s cheek.
Angel: Oops, it looks like You have a leak with this model in the middle of the face. I told You that You were trying to put too much into this one.
Lord:. That’s not a leak. That’s a tear!
Angel: What’s the tear for?
Lord: The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her disappointment, her pain, her loneliness, her grief, and her pride.
Narrator: The Angel was impressed.
Angel: “You are a genius, Lord. You thought of everything for this one. You even created the tear!”
Narrator: The Lord looked at the Angel and smiled and said,
Lord: I’m afraid you are wrong again. I created the woman, but she created the tear!
Participants: 2 ( a pencil maker and a narrator)
Props: Pencils / power point presenting the things WE need to know before going out into the world.
NARRATOR: The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box.
PENCIL MAKER (holding a pencil) “There are 5 things you need to know,” before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.”
“One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone’s hand.”
“Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.”
“Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.”
“Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.”
“And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write.”
NARRATOR: The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.
Now replacing the place of the pencil with you. Now people. Over to you. Always remember these and never forget them and you will become the best person you can be.
One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God’s hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.
Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you’ll need it to become a stronger person.
Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.
Four: The most important part of you will always be what’s on the inside.
And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.
Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.
Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.
The cat maiden.
The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being to change its nature.
Jupiter said “Yes,” but Venus said “No.” So, to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden. The cat transformed into a young , graceful woman, a beautiful one too. Soon the young girl met a young man to whom she fell in love and did all she could to attract his attention.
A few weeks later, the young man and the young maiden became husband and wife. Meanwhile Jupiter and Venus were watching from up above because there was a bet between them. Is it possible for a living being to change its nature? They had opposing views and the bet was there and the question was who would win it. So, on the wedding day, the couple and the guests were having the wedding-feast and everything ran smoothly and the young couple seemed to be very much in love and it appeared that Jupiter was winning the bet. “See,” said Jupiter, to Venus, “how becomingly she behaves. How much like a lady she is? Who could tell that a few weeks ago she was only a Cat? Surely her nature has changed. See for yourself and admit you have lost this one”
“Wait a minute,” replied Venus, not yet. I have not proved my point and at that he let loose a mouse into the room. No sooner did the bride see the mouse than she jumped up from her seat , meaoued and snarled and tried to pounce upon the mouse. The mouse just barely escaped. All the guests and the people were confused. The young girl was confused. What had just happened? What had just happened? Nobody wanted to believe their eyes. They all thought that the young girl got too anxious about the mouse on her wedding day and overreacted. And they were all amazed at how quickly she moved and how agile she was and what quick reflexes she had. Everybody was left gaping. Even the young girl herself, even the groom. Only Venus and Jupiter really knew what was going on. “Ah, you see,” said Venus, “Nature will win out.”
The Duration of Life
When the world was first created, it was decided how many years each creature should live. So the Donkey came and asked how long he was to live.
‘Thirty years! Is that enough?’ he was told.
‘Alas! That is a long time. Think how many heavy burdens I will have to carry from morning to night! Cornsacks to the mill, so that other will get their bread while I receive nothing but kicks and blows! Take away some of my years I beg you!’
So the Donkey was pitied and a life of only 18 years was given to him! At this he went away happily and then the Dog made his appearance and asked the same!
‘How long do you wish to live?’ was asked of him. ‘Thirty years were too many for the Donkey, but perhaps you will be satisfied.
‘Do you think so?’ said the Dog. ‘Remember how much I have to run; my feet will not last that long and then when I have lost my voice and cannot bark and my teeth cannot bite, what will there be for me to do but crawl and howl from one corner to another?’
So the Dog’s request was granted and twelve years appointed for his age, after which he left and made room for the monkey. ‘You will have 30 years willingly, no doubt’ was said to the Monkey. ‘You don’t need to work like the Donkey or the Dog and so you will always be well off.’
‘Alas! It should be so’ said the Monkey, but really it is very different. I must always be making comical faces for people to laugh at; and all the apples the give me turn out to be sour ones. How often is sadness hidden by a joke! 30 years I cannot endure!’’
So ten years was allowed to him.
Last of all, Man appeared, healthy and lively and asked how much time was given to him.
‘You will live thirty years! Is that enough?’
‘What a short time!’ shouted Man. ‘Just when I have built myself a house and started a fire in my fireplace and when I have planted trees to bear me fruit for the season and I am thinking of enjoying life, I must die! I beg let my life be longer!’
‘Well then. The 18 years of the Donkey shall be added.
‘That is not enough!’ said Man.
‘You will also have the 12 years of the Dog’s life.’
‘Still too little!’ replied Man.
‘Well, then you may have the 10 years allowed to the Monkey, but you must ask for no more.’
Man was then obliged to leave, but he was not satisfied.
This is how it came to be that Man lives 70 years. The first 30 are his years of joy which pass quickly away: that is when he is healthy and lively, works with pleasure and enjoys life most. Then follow the 18 years of the life of the Donkey, which bring him one burden after the other: he must work to feed others and abuse and blame is the reward for his hard work. Next come the 12 years of the Dog, during which Man has to sit in corners grumbling because he has no longer any teeth to bite with. And when this time is up, then the ten years of the Monkey bring the close of the scene. Then Man becomes childish and foolish and does strange things which make him ridiculous in the eyes of children!
The Fish That Were Too Clever. (From the Panchatantra tales attributed to a wise man called Bidpai)
Two fish lived in a pond. Their names were Satabuddhi (meaning a hundred) and Sahasrabuddhi (meaning a thousand). The two of them had a frog for a friend, whose name was Ekabuddhi (meaning one).
For a time they would enjoy friendly conversation on the bank, and then they would return to the water. One day when they had gathered for conversation, some fishermen came by just as the sun was setting. They were carrying nets in their hands and many dead fish on their heads.
When the fishermen saw the pond, they said to one another, "There seem to be a lot of fish in this pond, and the water is very low. Let us come back here tomorrow morning!" After saying this, they went home.
These words struck the three friends like a thunderbolt, and they took counsel with one another.
The frog said, "Oh, my dear Satabuddhi and Sahasrabuddhi, what shall we do? Should we flee, or stay here?"
Hearing this, Sahasrabuddhi laughed and said, "Oh, my friend, don't be afraid of words alone! They probably will not come back. But even if they do come back, I will be able to protect myself and you as well, through the power of my understanding, for I know many pathways through the water."
After hearing this, Satabuddhi said, "Yes, what Sahasrabuddhi says is correct, for one rightly says: Where neither the wind nor the sun's rays have found a way, intelligent understanding will quickly make a path. And also: Everything on earth is subject to the understanding of those with intelligence. Why should one abandon the place of one's birth that has been passed down from generation to generation, just because of words? We must not retreat a single step ! I will protect you through the power of my understanding."
The frog said, "I have but one wit, and it is advising me to flee. This very day I shall go with my wife to another pond."
After saying this, as soon as it was night, the frog went to another pond.
Early the next day the fishermen came like servants of the god of death and spread their nets over the pond. All the fish, turtles, frogs, crabs, and other water creatures were caught in the nets and captured, also Satabuddhi and Sahasrabuddhi, although they fled, and through their knowledge of the various paths escaped for a while by swimming to and fro. But they too, together with their wives, fell into a net and were killed.
That afternoon the fishermen happily set forth toward home. Because of his weight, one of them carried Satabuddhi on his head. They tied Sahasrabuddhi onto a string and dragged him along behind.
The frog Ekabuddhi, who had climbed onto the bank of his pond, said to his wife, "Look, dear! Mr. Hundred-Wit lies on someone's head, and Mr. Thousand-Wit is hanging from a string. But Mr. Single-Wit, my dear, is playing here in the clear water."
7. The Fun They Had
Margie wrote on the page headed May 17, 2157, of her diary:
"Today, Tommy found a real book! Together we turned the pages, which were yellow and flimsy, and it was awfully funny to read words that stood still instead of moving the way they were supposed to on a screen. And then, when we turned back to the page before, it had the same words on it as it had had when they read it the first time. It was so weird!"
"Gee," said Tommy, "what a waste. When you're through with the book, you just throw it away, whereas our mechanical teacher has great amounts of knowledge and you do not need to throw him away unless he breaks down which has never happened to anyone so far."
The mechanical teacher was large, black and ugly, with a big screen on which all the lessons were shown and the questions were asked. Then there was the big slot where students had to put homework and test papers.
Margie utterly hated school so she said to Tommy: "Why would anyone write about school? School is a nightmare. I had always hated it but now that the mechanical teacher is giving me the one test after the other I feel desperate!"
Tommy looked at her with very superior eyes: "Because it's not our kind of school, stupid. This is the old kind of school that they had hundreds and hundreds of years ago."
Margie was hurt. "Well, I don't know what kind of school they had all that time ago! Ok! I get it! They had a teacher. So, why was this great?”
"Sure they had a teacher, but it wasn't a regular teacher. It was a man."
"A man? How could a man be a teacher?"
"Well, he just told the boys and girls things and gave them homework and asked them questions."
"A man isn't smart enough."
"Sure he is. My father knows as much as my teacher."
"He can't. A man can't know as much as a teacher. Only machines are good teachers.”
She said, "I wouldn't want a strange man in my house to teach me."
Tommy screamed with laughter. "You don't know much, Margie. The teachers didn't live in the house. They had a special building and all the kids went there."
"And all the kids learned the same thing?"
"Sure, if they were the same age."
"But my mother says a teacher has to be adjusted to fit the mind of each boy and girl it teaches and that each kid has to be taught differently."
“They didn't do it that way then! Don’t you get it? It was different!! If you don't want to learn about it, don’t read the book."
"I didn't say I didn't like it," Margie said quickly. "Can we read the book some more after school?"
"Sure! Why not?” he said and they both rushed to their individual schoolrooms.
Margie went into the schoolroom. It was right next to her bedroom, and the mechanical teacher was on and waiting for her.
The screen was lit up, and it said: "Today's arithmetic lesson is on the addition of proper fractions. Please insert yesterday's homework in the proper slot."
Margie did so with a sigh.
Then she heard Tommy reading from next door: " All the kids from the whole neighborhood came to school. They laughed and played merrily in the schoolyard during the breaks. They sat together in the schoolroom, went home together at the end of the day. They learnt the same things, so that they could help one another on the homework and talk about it.
And the teachers were people..." She was absorbed by what Tommy was reading when the mechanical teacher was flashed its screen: "When we add the fractions 1/2 and 1/4..."
Margie was thinking about how the kids must have loved school in the old days. She was thinking about the fun they had. School must have been great!”
8. The necklace
She was one of those pretty and charming girls who felt that they had been born to conquer the world but who had actually been born in a middle or low class family and who, deprived of any dowry or aristocratic origin, had no option but to let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. As a result, she suffered and she would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery. One evening her husband came home with the following invitation:
"The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th."
Instead of being delighted, she was furious!
"What do you want me to do with this?"
"Why, darling, I thought you'd be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Everyone wants one; it's very precious. You'll see all the really big people there."
She looked at him out of burning eyes, and said impatiently: "And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?"
He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was crying.
"What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you?" he faltered.
"Nothing. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall."
"Look here, Mathilde," he persisted. "What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?"
She thought for several seconds: "I don't know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs." Her husband bit her lip but still he gave her the four hundred francs.
The day of the party drew near, and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy and anxious. Her dress was ready, however. One evening her husband said to her:
"What's the matter with you? You've been very odd for the last three days."
“I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear," she replied. "I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party. You see there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women."
"How stupid you are!" exclaimed her husband. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that."
On the next day when she was with her friend, she saw some bracelets and a pearl necklace and a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat wildly.
"Can I have this one? It is the only one which I would really like to wear. I promise I will look after it as if the rest of my existence depended on it!"
"But, of course my dear! I am sure you will! Besides I am giving you a diamond necklace and I expect to get back a diamond necklace! The rest is none of my business!"
"Thank you! Thank you so much my dear friend. You are my savior!"
"I am glad you are so happy. Go on then and make sure you have the time of your life! I will be waiting anxiously to hear all the exciting news of the party!"
Madame Loisel was a success. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. Even the Minister noticed her. She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success. She was the happiest woman in the world.
On arriving home she took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck!
They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it.
As they stared at one another, dumbfounded the husband put on his clothes and went out to search till the morning in the desperate hope that he would find the necklace. In vain !!! They had no other solution but to replace the necklace. In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand. Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow the rest. He did borrow it but in order to do so he mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, but he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller's counter thirty-six thousand francs.
Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat. She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, she washed the dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string. And, like a poor woman, she went to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, and fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money. And this life lasted ten years.
Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, and her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice. She was unrecognizable.
One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.
Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not? So, she went and greeted her, but the other did not recognize her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman.
"But . . . Madame " she stammered. "I don't know! You must be making a mistake."
"No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel."
Her friend uttered a cry: "Oh! ... my poor Mathilde, how you have changed!”
"Yes, I've had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on your account."
"On my account? I fail to understand! How was that?"
"You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?"
"Well, I lost it."
"How could you? Why, you brought it back."
"I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. You realise it wasn't easy for us; we had no money. . . . Well, it's paid for at last, and I'm glad indeed."
Madame Forestier was devastated and said: "You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?"
"Yes. You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike."
Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands. "My poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . "
9. The power of love
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved painstakingly, one and two at a time. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. She was desperate ! She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim!
She was passing in front of the mirror when she suddenly came up with an idea. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the Jim and Della in which they both took pride in. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. She hesitated for a single minute and then rushed out of the door.
Where she stopped the sign read: 'Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.' Della marched right in.
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take your hat off and let's have a look at it!"
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick" said Della.
Then for the next two hours she was ransacking the stores for Jim's present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum chain for Jim's watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons in a desperate attempt to make whatever was left of her hair look as pretty as possible. Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls and she was extremely worried about what Jim would say and whether he would still find her pretty. At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to heat dinner. The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Della went to him. "Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again - you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say 'Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet, even after the hardest mental labour.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, aren't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you - sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you.”
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table "Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
With trembling fingers she tore at the string and paper. Then she gave an ecstatic scream of joy. For there lay The Combs - the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise-shell. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim! It won’t be long before I can be able to wear them! Do not worry my love!"
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm." Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it." Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away for a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now I think you should serve dinner, my love."
10. The treasure
Rabbi Isaak lived in Poland, in the town of Krakau. One night, the rabbi was told in a dream that he should travel to the town of Prague, where a treasure was thought to have been buried under the large bridge to the king’s palace. Rabbi Isaak initially didn’t take any notice of the dream, but when he dreamt the dream for the sixth time, he decided to start looking for the treasure after all.
After a long journey, Rabbi Isaak arrived in Prague and immediately set off for the palace. But the bridge turned out to be guarded day and night by soldiers. From a safe distance the rabbi observed the bridge, but as he was standing there every day, eventually he aroused suspicion from the captain of the guards. The captain approached the rabbi and asked him what he was doing at the palace. Rabbi Isaak saw that the captain was a kind person and told him of his dream.
The captain howled with laughter. ‘My goodness, rabbi, you seem to be a wise man, yet you take dreams seriously? If I were as gullible as you are, I would not be here now, but in Poland, in the town of Krakau. And I will tell you why. I also have a dream that keeps coming back. I happened to have one last night. In my dream a voice said that I should go to Krakau, to the house of a certain Isaak, to dig there, in a corner of the kitchen, for a hidden treasure. What do you say, rabbi, wouldn’t it be mad if I would travel all the way to Krakau and start asking there for a man called Isaak? Half of the male population in that town is called Isaak!’
Rabbi Isaak was totally amazed. He thanked the captain for his story and returned to Krakau as quickly as possible. He ran into his house and started digging in all corners of the kitchen. And he found a treasure that was so big, that he had no more financial worries for the rest of his life.
11. The Unicorn
Once upon a sunny morning a man was taking breakfast in the kitchen. He looked up from his scrambled eggs to see a white unicorn with a golden horn quietly passing the roses in the garden.
The man went up to the bedroom where his wife was still asleep and woke her.
“Wake up, DEAR. There’s a unicorn in the garden. Eating roses.” he said.
She opened one unfriendly eye and looked at him. “The unicorn is a mythical beast”, she said and turned her back on him.
The man walked slowly downstairs and out into the garden. The unicorn was still there; eating some tulips.
“Here, unicorn”, said the man pulled up a lily and gave it to him. The unicorn ate it quickly.
Being excited, because there was a unicorn in his garden, the man went upstairs and woke up his wife again.
“The unicorn ate a lily” he said.
His wife sat up in bed and looked at him, coldly. “You are a booby, loco, stupid, crazy and I’m going to have you put in a booby-hatch, a strait-jacket” she said.
The man, who never liked the words “booby” and “booby-hatch”, and who liked them even less on a shining morning when there was a unicorn in the garden, thought for a moment.
“We’ll see about that” he said.
He walked over to the door. “He has a golden horn in the middle of his forehead”, he told her. Then he went back to the garden to watch the unicorn; but the unicorn had gone away. The man sat among the roses and went to sleep.
The wife got up and dressed as fast as she could. She was very excited and there was a gloat in her eye.
She telephoned the police: “Hello, this is Fiona Pyjamas. I need you to come immediately. Hurry up… It’s my husband”, she said.
Then she called a psychiatrist: “Hello, hello, this is Fiona Pyjamas speaking. You need to come immediately. Please come quickly and bring a strait-jacket for my husband.”, she said.
When the police and the psychiatrist arrived, they sat down in chairs and looked at her with great interest.
“My husband, saw a unicorn this morning.”
The police looked at the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looked at the police.
“He told me it ate a lily”, she said.
The police looked at the psychiatrist and the psychiatrist looked at the police.
“He told me it had a golden horn in the middle of its forehead”, she said.
At once the police grabbed the wife. They had a hard time to seize her, as she struggled for a long time.
Just as they got her into the strait-jacket, the husband came back into the house.
“Did you tell your wife you saw a unicorn?” asked the police.
“Of course not”, said the husband. “The unicorn is a mythical beast”, he said.
“That’s all I wanted to know” said the psychiatrist.
“Take her away. I’m sorry sir, but your wife is as crazy as a jay bird.”
So they took her away, cursing and screaming, and shut her up in an institution.
The husband lived happily ever after.
12. Two men in hospital
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm among flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed. One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained as he slowly turned to look out the window besides the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man was shocked. He was lost for words. He then asked the nurse what could have triggered his deceased roommate to have described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse replied that the man was blind and could not even see the wall and added. 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'
It was then that the man realized lots of things. He had heard that there is tremendous happiness in making others happy. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. It was then that he felt the real message and was more thankful to his dead friend.
13. The Lower Case Letter
She breezed into my office one cold September morning. I'd been enjoying a hot cup of Starbuck's finest and surfing the web for local news. The famous lexical semanticist Professor Edgar Nettleston had been found dead, a gunshot wound to the head. The police verdict was suicide.
She held out an elegant hand as she floated towards me and I glimpsed a wedding band with a stone the size of a peanut M&M.
"I'm Edith Nettleston."
"Sorry about the old man."
"I'm not. He loved me, but he loved words more. I'll be brief. My husband was working on a paper that will rock the very foundation of lexical semantics. It's worth a fortune in lecture tours, but nobody can find it. I believe his suicide note is a clue to its whereabouts."
She removed a scrap of paper from her blouse.
"Edith. i'm not going to whine, i've had a good life. I've found wealth and happiness as a teacher, a seller of knowledge. but i find myself depressed beyond hope ... and so i'm choosing the hour and manner of my own demise. I have treated you badly. I demanded you dyed your brown curls blonde. I thought I could buy you when I should have won your love. I called you a witch. I'd complain: where's the woman I married? I said you ate too much. if I wanted change, I could have used a carrot rather than a stick. You probably wanted to wring my neck. forgive me. farewell."
"It's all written in lower case. My husband was a stickler for correct grammar. I refuse to believe it doesn't mean something."
"Mrs. Nettleston, I think I can help you. There's a couple of odd things about this letter. Firstly, as you say, it's written entirely in lower case. Mr. Nettleston was a world-renowned lexical semanticist, not a teenager texting his BFFs."
"Secondly, it has a more than usual number of homophones, words where there is another word with the same sound but different spelling and meaning. When dealing with a lexical semanticist, that's surely no accident."
"If we read those homophones in order, we have: whine, seller, hour, manner. And translating to their homophones: Wine cellar our manor."
Several hours later, we arrived at the Nettlestons' country house and immediately headed for the basement. A flip of a light switch revealed tunnels filled with rows of dark bottles.
"Where is it? It would take years to search this place."
"Not so fast, Mrs.Nettleston. First I have to ask you something: your wedding ring diamond, how large is it?
"It's eight carats. Edgar wouldn't stop talking about it."
"That's what I feared." I pulled out my trusty revolver. "How you must have hated him and his lexical semantics ! You figured you'd kill him and keep the money from the paper yourself. You forced him to write that suicide note, thinking you knew where it was. But he was suspicious and he'd already hidden it. And he had another surprise for you: the rest of the note, it doesn't reveal where the paper is, it reveals his killer. The final homophones: dyed buy won witch where's ate carrot wring. That is: died by one which wears eight carat ring."
As the cops left with Mrs.Nettleston I took a quick trip round the maze of tunnels. It didn't take me long to find it. Most of the wine lay unpacked on racks but in one corner two cases sat stacked, one on top of each other. Carefully, I opened the lower one.
14. What goes around comes around...
One day a man saw an old lady stranded on the side of the road. Even in the dim light of day he could see she needed help so he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. He pulled over, got out of his car and approached her.
In spite of the smile on his face she looked worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn't look safe; he looked poor and hungry and it was rather dark. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you.
He said, “I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.”
Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack. Soon he was able to change the tire but he was dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid.
Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She had already imagined all the awful things that could have happened if he had not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way and it never occurred to him to act any other way.
He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help she could give that person the help they needed. “Think of me”, he added,
He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.
A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to have something to eat and warm a bit before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was an Ok eating place.
The waitress came over and brought her a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that was not erased even after a whole day of serving and standing. The lady noticed the waitress was obviously pregnant, not far from her due date. She admired the fact that the waitress did not let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan. After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her but the old lady slipped out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.
There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady had written: “You don't owe me anything. I have been there, too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.”
Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.
Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day.
That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard....
She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, “Everything's going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.” There is an old saying... 'What goes around comes around.'
15. ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG OR A COFFEE BEAN?
A young woman told her mother that things were so hard for her in life. She did not know how she was going to make. She was tired of fighting and struggling. When one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let boil, while she sat without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners, took the carrots out, the eggs out and the coffee beans out. She placed them in a bowl and asked her daughter.
“Tell me, what do you see?”
Daughter: ”Carrots, eggs, and coffee.
The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and she felt that they were soft. The mother then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, the young woman observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked her daugher to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.
Daughter: What does this all mean, mother?
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same problem; the boiling water . But each reacted differently. The carrot was strong, hard and unrelenting but after being boiled, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
Having said this the mother asked her daughter: “Which are you? When things are difficult, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Ask yourself. Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but with pain and adversity becomes soft and loses its strength? Am I the egg that starts with a soft heart but changes with the heat? Or am I like the coffee bean which actually changes the hot water, the very cause of its the pain? When the water gets hot, it releases the bean’s fragrance and flavor. When things are at their worst, beans get better and change the situation around them to come out of trouble. When the hours are dark and trials are great, do you elevate yourself to another level in life? Ask yourself. Am I a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
16. MY HEART MAY BE FULL OF SCARS BUT IT IS BEAUTIFUL
One day, in a heavily crowded place, a young man started bragging that he had the most beautiful heart. He, like many other people in his town had had their heart scanned by a special machine which showed what it looked like. Many people were stunned to see that his heart had a perfect shape. It looked quite amazing. Most of the people praised him. However, an old man challenged the young man; “My son, my heart is even more beautiful than yours.
The young man asked to see his heart scan and it showed a very rough, uneven heart full of scars. In addition, the heart was not in shape; it appeared to be in bits and pieces with rough edges here and there; some parts were removed and fitted with other pieces. The young man started laughing. “My dear old man. See, my heart! It is beautiful , flawless and you cannot even find a bit of imperfection. See, yours? It is full of scars and wounds. How can you say your heart is beautiful?”
“Dear boy, each scar in my heart represents the love I share with a person. When I share a piece of my heart with others and get a piece of heart from them, I fix the place from where I have torn a piece!” said the old man. The old man continued, “The pieces of heart I have shared were neither equal or in the same shape or size. That is why my heart is full of uneven edges and bits and pieces. Also sometimes I do not get love in return from those to whom I gave a piece of my heart. Your heart looks fresh and full with no scars because you never shared love with anybody. This does not make it a better heart. Believe me".
The young man stood still and did not speak a word. He was emotional because he understood that real beauty is not physical and thanked the old man for helping him see it.