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Stories for Telling: The Travels of a Foxby@carolynsherwin
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Stories for Telling: The Travels of a Fox

by Carolyn SherwinAugust 9th, 2022
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A fox was digging behind a stump, and he found a bumble-bee. The fox put the bumble-bee in a bag and he traveled.

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For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey is part of HackerNoon Books Series . You can jump to any chapter in this book here. The Travels of a Fox

The Travels of a Fox

A fox was digging behind a stump, and he found a bumble-bee. The fox put the bumble-bee in a bag and he traveled.

The first house he came to he went in, and he said to the mistress of the house:

“May I leave my bag here while I go to Squintum’s?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

“Then be careful not to open the bag,” said the fox.

But as soon as the fox was out of sight, the woman just took a little peep into the bag and out flew the bumble-bee, and the rooster caught him and ate him up.

After a while the fox came back. He took up his bag and he saw that the bumble-bee was gone, and he said to the woman:

“Where is my bumble-bee?”

And the woman said:

“I just untied the bag, and the bumble-bee flew out, and the rooster ate him up.”

“Very well,” said the fox, “I must have the rooster, then.”

So he caught the rooster and put him in his bag, and traveled.

And the next house he came to he went in, and said to the mistress of the house:

“May I leave my bag here while I go to Squintum’s?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

“Then be careful not to open the bag,” said the fox.

But as soon as the fox was out of sight, the woman just took a little peep into the bag, and the rooster flew out, and the pig caught him and ate him up.

After a while the fox came back, and he took up his bag and he saw that the rooster was not in it, and he said to the woman: “Where is my rooster?”

And the woman said:

“I just untied the bag, and the rooster flew out, and the pig ate him.”

“Very well,” said the fox, “I must have the pig, then.”

So he caught the pig and put him in his bag, and traveled.

And the next house he came to he went in, and he said to the mistress of the house:

“May I leave my bag here while I go to Squintum’s?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

“Then be careful not to open the bag,” said the fox.

But as soon as the fox was out of sight, the woman just took a little peep into the bag, and the pig jumped out, and the ox ate him.

After a while the fox came back. He took up his bag and he saw that the pig was gone, and he said to the woman:

“Where is my pig?”

And the woman said:

“I just untied the bag, and the pig jumped out, and the ox ate him.”

“Very well,” said the fox, “I must have the ox, then.”

So he caught the ox and put him in his bag, and traveled.

And the next house he came to he went in, and he said to the mistress of the house:

“May I leave my bag here while I go to Squintum’s?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

“Then be careful not to open the bag,” said the fox.

But as soon as the fox was out of sight, the woman just took a little peep into the bag, and the ox got out, and the woman’s little boy chased him away off over the fields.

After a while the fox came back. He took up his bag, and he saw that the ox was gone, and he said to the woman:

“Where is my ox?”

And the woman said:

“I just untied the string, and the ox got out, and my little boy chased him away off over the fields.”

“Very well,” said the fox, “I must have the little boy, then.”

So he caught the little boy and he put him in his bag, and he traveled.

And the next house he came to he went in, and he said to the mistress of the house:

“May I leave my bag here while I go to Squintum’s?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

“Then be careful not to open the bag,” said the fox.

The woman was making cake, and her children were around her asking for some.

“Oh, mother, give me a piece,” said one; and, “Oh, mother, give me a piece,” said the others.

And the smell of the cake came to the little boy who was weeping and crying in the bag, and he heard the children asking for cake and he said: “Oh, mammy, give me a piece.”

Then the woman opened the bag and took the little boy out, and she put the house-dog in the bag in the little boy’s place. And the little boy stopped crying and had some cake with the others.

After a while the fox came back. He took up his bag and he saw that it was tied fast, and he put it over his back and traveled far into the deep woods. Then he sat down and untied the bag, and if the little boy had been there in the bag things would have gone badly with him.

But the little boy was safe in the woman’s house, and when the fox untied the bag the house-dog jumped out and ate him all up.

An old nursery tale of New England. Reprinted by permission of Clifton Johnson.

The point of interest for children in this story lies in their wonder as to what is going to happen next. It begins with a note of the unusual.

“How strange for a fox to put a bumble bee in a bag,” the children say. “Will the next sentence tell us why he did it?”

Then a number of questions present themselves to the child mind.

“Will the woman untie the bag?”

“Will the person at this house do the same thing?”

“Is it possible that every woman will open the bag?”

Another series of questions confronts the child.

“What manner of beast will the fox take at this house and put in his bag?”

And so the suspense is sustained until the children’s curiosity is satisfied at the end of the story. Not alone has the story been a bit of mental gymnastics for the child, it has given him added mental power in the listening. Above and behind the mental process of waiting to see what unusual and unexpected scene of the story drama will be presented to him next, he has been exercising his will in concentrating upon the process of waiting. His power of sustained attention has been strengthened materially and ineffaceably.

For the very young child, the suspensive element in story telling must be very simple. It will consist often in repetition, the pleasureable recurrence in the story of certain sounds that the child likes and is willing to wait for—sort of half way houses on the story road they are, where his mind wheels may stop and rest awhile—sign posts that lead the way to the end of the road. Sometimes this story suspense for the little folks is brought about through a jingle introduced into the story and repeated with certain changes as in the old folk tale of “The Cat and the Mouse.” Again suspense is brought about by means of a change of intonation on the part of the story teller. She adapts her voice to the needs of the story as in “The Three Bears” to the inexpressible delight of the children. This is a primitive sort of suspense quality to be found in the most elemental stories for children but it has its important place in the discipline of the child mind. The little child’s first attempts to attend have a butterfly quality. His mind flies from one stimulus to another with no very long stop anywhere. This is as it should be, for the world of sensations in which the child is plunged as an ego is a varied, crowded world and there is temptation offered him to sip each flower, smell each new odor, touch everything and see everything with which he comes in contact. But a suspensive story holds him to one related set of images for a brief space and through this concentration, however simple it may be, he is developing the power of willed attention.

As children grow older, the suspense quality for which we must look in their stories will not consist in repetition of sounds, jingles and phrases, but in their sequence of events leading toward some unknown climax. This is a more difficult and subtle form of suspense to secure. Here, the beads are strung upon their thread, not in groups of white interspersed with occasional red ones, but rather in the order of the rainbow in bands of color that complement and complete each other. Any description of this more highly developed suspensive story would be absolutely inadequate, for the quality has to be felt by the story teller first and then felt for by her.

An adapted version of the story of the first meeting of John Ridd and Lorna Doone taken from the novel, “Lorna Doone,” gives an illuminating exemplification of the kind of suspense that holds a child breathless, waiting for the unknown something that is to follow. The story teller should endeavor to discover and introduce some suspense, either elemental, as in the case of the folk tale, or of the more elusive quality, illustrated in this story, into all her stories.

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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin. 2018. For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/58107/58107-h/58107-h.htm#Page_60

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