WHY THE BEAN WEARS A STRIPE DOWN ITS BACK
C. M. L. Adapted from Grimm.
IN a certain village there lived an old woman. One
morning she gathered some beans from her garden to cook
for her dinner. She had a good fire, but to make it
burn more brightly she threw on a handful of straw.
 As she tossed the beans into the pot to boil she
did not see that one of them fell on the floor, not far
from a wisp of straw which had fallen there also.
Suddenly a red-hot coal jumped out of the fire, and
down beside the straw and the bean. They both started
away and exclaimed: "Dear friend, don't come nearer
until you are cooler! What brings you out here?"
"Oh," replied the coal,
"I jumped out of the fire to save my life, for
presently I should have been burned to ashes."
Then said the bean: "I, too, have just escaped, for
if the old woman had put me into the pot, I should have
been made into broth."
"And I, too, should have been burned," said the straw,
"if I had not managed to slip through her fingers just
as she was putting me in the fire."
"What shall we do now?" asked the coal.
"I think," answered the bean, "that as long as we have
been so fortunate as to escape, we may as well travel
together to some more friendly country."
The three agreed to this, so they started on their
Very soon they came to a brook, and, as there was no
bridge, they did not know how to get to the other side.
Then the straw said: "I will stretch myself across the
brook, and you can walk over me, as if I were a
So the straw stretched itself from one bank to the
other, and the coal walked out very boldly upon the
newly built bridge. All went well, at first, but when
he reached the middle of the stream and heard the water
rushing under him he stood still and dared not move a
 Then a sad thing happened! The straw began to
bend from the weight of the coal, and fell into the
brook. And, with a loud splash, the coal slid into the
The bean had stayed behind, on the shore, and when she
saw what had happened she laughed so heartily that she
Now, she would have been worse off than her comrades
had not a tailor, who was traveling by, stopped to rest
by the brook. He noticed the bean, and, taking pity on
her, took a needle out of his pocket and sewed her
together. She thanked him for his kindness; but, ah!
He had only black thread with which to sew her up.
Ever since that day some of the beans have worn black
stripes down their backs.