Aesop's Fables or Aesopica : a collection of fables by Aesop (620560 BC), a slave and story-teller who lived in Ancient Greece . . .


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Aesop's Fables and Fairy Tales for Kids & Adults

One of the Grimms' Fairy Tales from our vast collection of Fables, Tales and Stories.

The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean

In a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered together a
dish of beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fire on
her hearth, and that it might burn the quicker, she lighted it
with a handful of straw. When she was emptying the beans into
the pan, one dropped without her observing it, and lay on the
ground beside a straw, and soon afterwards a burning coal from
the fire leapt down to the two. Then the straw began and said,
dear friends, from whence do you come here. The coal replied,
I fortunately sprang out of the fire, and if I had not escaped
by sheer force, my death would have been certain, I should have
been burnt to ashes. The bean said, I too have escaped with
a whole skin, but if the old woman had got me into the pan,
I should have been made into broth without any mercy, like my
comrades. And would a better fate have fallen to my lot, said
the straw. The old woman has destroyed all my brethren in
fire and smoke. She seized sixty of them at once, and took
their lives. I luckily slipped through her fingers.
But what are we to do now, said the coal.
I think, answered the bean, that as we have so fortunately
escaped death, we should keep together like good companions, and
lest a new mischance should overtake us here, we should go away
together, and repair to a foreign country.
The proposition pleased the two others, and they set out on their
way together. Soon, however, they came to a little brook, and
as there was no bridge or foot-plank, they did not know how they
were to get over it. The straw hit on a good idea, and said,
I will lay myself straight across, and then you can walk over on
me as on a bridge. The straw therefore stretched itself from
one bank to the other, and the coal, who was of an impetuous
disposition, tripped quite boldly on to the newly-built bridge.
But when she had reached the middle, and heard the water rushing
beneath her, she was, after all, afraid, and stood still, and
ventured no farther. The straw, however, began to burn, broke
in two pieces, and fell into the stream. The coal slipped after
her, hissed when she got into the water, and breathed her last.
The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore, could
not but laugh at the event, was unable to stop, and laughed so
heartily that she burst. It would have been all over with her,
likewise, if, by good fortune, a tailor who was traveling in
search of work, had not sat down to rest by the brook. As he had
a compassionate heart he pulled out his needle and thread, and
sewed her together. The bean thanked him most prettily, but
as the tailor used black thread, all beans since then have a
black seam.

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