| In Story-land|
|by Elizabeth Harrison|
|A collection of fifteen original stories ideally suited for young children. Each of the stories features a light-filled being whose radiance illumines the path for those who follow. Meant to be suggestive to the parent or teacher of the types of stories that can be told to children to inspire them to grow in goodness. Ages 6-8 |
LITTLE BETA AND THE LAME GIANT
 Near the top of a high, high mountain there lived a great giant.
He was a very wonderful giant indeed. From the door
of his rocky cave he could look into the distance and see
for miles and miles over the surrounding country,
even to the point where the land touched the great ocean,
yet so clearly that he could observe the smile or the frown
on a child's face three miles away. More wonderful
he could look through the darkest cloud which ever covered
the sky and see the sun still shining beyond and above it.
And then his hands! Oh how I wish you could have seen his
They were so large and strong. Such wonderful hands, too!
With them he could lift up a rock as big as this room
and set it to one side. Sometimes his fingers could make
sweetest kind of music come from a crude violin which
he had fashioned for himself.
Then, too, he knew so much, and he knew it well. I don't
that ten of the wisest men that our universities ever sent
 could have told you such extraordinary things.
He knew all about every plant which grew on the mountain,
and just where the rich mines of gold and silver were hidden
inside the mountain. He could have pointed out to you
which pebbles could be polished into emeralds and topazes
and sapphires and which were worthless.
Had you asked him he could have taken you to the secret
from which flowed the sparkling stream of healing waters,
sought by all the sick folks in the country round.
He was such a wonderful giant that it would take me
the whole day to tell you of all the things which he could
do—but—he was lame and
somehow could never get down the mountain to where
the ordinary mortal lived. So for ages he had been alone
upon his mountain top, seeing all the people below him,
loving them with all his heart, and knowing just what
would help them, yet never being able to come near to them.
In one of the valleys of the great mountain lived a little
called Beta. She was so small that most people thought her a
young child and so weak that she could not even carry a
bucket of water from the well to the house. Then too,
she was a very plain looking girl, not at all pretty. Her
 used to say to her: "My dear daughter, you are neither rich,
nor clever, nor beautiful, therefore you must learn to be
to others if you would be loved."
The little maiden often wondered how she was to be of any
to the people about her. She would say to herself, "I have
money to give to them; my hands are not skilled enough to do
work for them and my brain is not quick, therefore I can not
give them beautiful thoughts which will help them."
Still she was a loving-hearted little girl, and love, you
always finds a way to be helpful.
One day it occurred to her that she could gather some wild
take them to the old woman who lived all alone at the end
of the village and who was so deaf that nobody
ever tried to talk to her.
With this thought in mind she started out in search of
the brightest flowers she could find. She climbed the
mountain side and
gathered a whole armful of beautiful yellow
golden-rod and purple asters and red Indian pinks. These
she carried joyfully to the little house at the end of the
They made the dingy old room take on a look of warmth
and happiness. Gay as they were,
 however, the face of the old deaf woman was brighter still
as she said, "Bless you, my child, bless you! Who but little
would ever have thought of bringing flowers to me?"
The next day Beta thought she would take some flowers
to the blind weaver who made all the carpets that the
"This time," she said to herself, "I must hunt for the
which have a sweet odor, as he cannot see their gay colors."
So she gathered some wild roses and some sweet scented
and some witch hazel. As she entered his small shop
he lifted his head from his work and said,
"Ah me, what is this I smell? It has been many a day since
have been near enough to the mountain's own flowers
to breathe in their perfume." Beta placed them in a mug
near his loom and as she ran home she was very happy,
yet she hardly knew why.
After this she went daily to the mountain to gather flowers
for some dear soul who could not go out to get them.
Sometimes they were taken to the gentle mother who had
so many children that she never found time to leave her
Sometimes they went to the village church and made the
Sunday seem more beautiful than other days.
Each time she climbed higher and higher as she had soon
 the rarer and more beautiful flowers could only be found far
the mountain. At last one day, when she had climbed farther
she had ever ventured before, she suddenly came upon the
lame giant sitting on a large stump in front of his cave.
In his hand was his violin, but he was not playing;
his face wore a thoughtful, almost a sad look.
Beta was so frightened that the flowers dropped from her
and she nearly stopped breathing. She had never before
in all her life, seen a real, live giant. He
was so big
that she could hardly believe her own eyes as she looked at
Her first impulse was to run down the mountain as quickly as
but somehow, the very sight of such a wonderful being held
spell-bound, so she stood motionless, gazing at him from
a huge rock.
Soon he put his violin in position under his chin and
taking up his bow began to play. He played so softly and
little Beta felt sure he could not be wicked and cruel
as were the giants she had read about.
Little by little she came shyly toward him. As
soon as he saw her he laid down his violin and held out his
smiling as he did so. "Come near to me, child," he said,
"I will not hurt
 you." Beta thus encouraged, came slowly forward.
"Tell me, little one," said he gently, "from whence came
how did you find your way so far up the mountain side?
None but strong mountain guides have ever before come
near my cave." "I was gathering flowers," answered little
"and I thought I might find some blue forget-me-nots among
these rocks." "So you have learned already, have you,
that forget-me-nots can best be found near the mountain
With that he laughed softly to himself. His laugh was such a
kindly laugh that it took away all fear and made Beta feel
home with him. "What is your name?" said she, "and why do
up here? Do you not sometimes get lonesome?" The
giant did not answer her, but began talking about something
In a short time he had led the little maiden into telling
all about herself and the people of the village and the
gathering. It was not until he rose to point out to her
where forget-me-nots could be found in abundance,
that she noticed he was lame. She had soon gathered a whole
full of the beautiful flowers and bidding him good-bye she
climbed down the mountain, sometimes
 slipping and sliding, but always holding fast to the hem of
that the flowers might not be lost.
Many times after that she climbed the mountain to the cave
of the giant and sat on a little stone at his feet while he
stories of things which had happened in the village long
of the people who lived in it were born. She loved best to
to the tales of gods and heroes of the olden times. Then
she was tired of stories he would show her where the flowers
most profusely. Little by little he taught her to know the
which were good for sick people. Oftentimes they were very
looking plants which she would have passed by unnoticed.
She soon learned how to brew these into drinks and medicines
the feeble and sick folks of the village. Sometimes,
though not often,
he would play on his violin for her. He always played such
weird music that it made her think of Siegfried, and of
Lohengrin and the white swan, or of other beautiful beings
whom she had never seen, but of whom she had heard.
Each day when she returned to her home she told the people
of the village about the wonderful giant who lived so high
up the mountain
 that its top could be seen from his cave door, but they only
and said, "Little Beta has been dreaming." Even after they
learned to call upon her for herbs with which to poultice
bruised limbs and strengthen weak stomachs or quiet restless
they gave no heed to what she said about the giant.
Years passed by and the little maiden still continued to
the mountain to learn of the lame giant more and more
of what was wonderful and beautiful in the world about her.
Much climbing in the open air had made her strong and well.
As time wore on, she unconsciously made a path up the
mountain side, which of course caused the climbing to be
than in the days when she had to scramble over the rocks and
push aside the underbrush to make her way up. The path
was firm and smooth now, with no stones suddenly slipping
her feet and causing painful falls.
At last one day Beta persuaded two or three of her
go with her to the cave. Now that there was a respectable
undertaking did not seem so foolish as in the days when
Beta had gone scrambling up the rocks, nobody knew whither.
they laughingly consented to go, more to please Beta,
 whom they had learned to love, than with any expectation of
seeing a real giant at the end of the journey. Therefore
they were greatly
astonished when, after much climbing, a sudden turn in the
brought them face to face with a being five times as large
as an ordinary man, whose strong hands looked as if they
easily crush any one of them, yet whose kindly face
The great giant received them pleasantly, as they were
little Beta's friends, and soon they were eagerly plying him
with all sorts of questions. "Did he know those strange
the centaurs, whose bodies were half man and half horse?
They had heard that those centaurs lived somewhere among the
mountains, and that they could teach any boy how to become
a great hero. Had he ever ridden on the back of Pegasus,
the flying horse, whom none but giants could ride without
tumbling off? Did he ever drink from the fountain of youth
which had the power to keep mortals from growing old? Was it
true that he could change the dirt beneath their feet into
golden money?" All these and many other questions they
asked him and to each he gave an answer.
That night, when they returned to the village,
 they could talk of nothing else but the wonderful giant
whose home was near the mountain top. Next day a larger
of the villagers climbed the mountain to the cave, and each
succeeding day more were persuaded to make the journey,
until everybody in the little valley, that is, everybody who
had visited the lame giant. Then they began to discuss
could open a road up the mountain to the cave. Finally they
to unite together and build a broad, winding road, one wide
to let horses and vehicles pass each other. "Then," said
"we can take our dear old grandsires and granddames
and even our little children up to the good giant that he
teach them also."
Soon the whole village was humming with the sound of pickaxe
and spade. Everybody worked and everybody was eager and
in the work. It took a long time, several years, in fact,
road was completed, but it was done at last and it proved a
greater blessing than they had anticipated, for not only
now drive up the mountain to the lame giant's cave,
but he was able to come down to them!
This was a thing of which they had never dreamed, and great
was the rejoicing on the occasion of his first visit to
 Years passed by and the little valley became the most famous
on the whole earth, so rich was its soil, so remarkable the
it sent out. People came from all over the land now to visit
giant and learn of him some of the wonderful secrets which
hidden for centuries, and all loved him and revered him.
My story would not be complete if I did not tell you that he
became less lame, since the journeys up and down the
to make him much stronger.
Perhaps some day you may go to this valley yourselves and
to do many wonderful things, which now seem impossible to
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