This series of literature readers is edited by the president of the University of Chicago Harry Pratt Judson, as to supply almost the only reading of many children, and stimulate their taste for good literature and awaken interest in a wide range of subjects.
In the Graded Literature Readers good literature has been presented as early as possible, and the classical tales and fables are largely used. Nature study has received due attention. The lessons on scientific subjects, though necessarily simple at first, preserve always a strict accuracy.
These books have been prepared with the hearty sympathy and very practical assistance of many distinguished educators in different part of the United States, including some of the most successful teachers of reading in primary, intermediated, and advanced grades.
We believe that Graded Literature Readers disclose a broader knowledge of literature, better taste and judgment in its selections.
The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean
BY THE BROTHERS GRIMM
Jakob Grimm (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859): German authors. The Brothers Grimm, as they are familiarly called, wrote many learned scientific books, but they are best known to children by their collection of German fairy and folk stories.
1. In a village lived a poor old woman, who had gathered some beans and wanted to cook them. So she made a fire on her hearth, and that it might burn more quickly, she lighted it with a handful of straw.
2. When she was emptying the beans into the pan, one dropped without her observing1 it and lay on the ground beside a straw. Soon afterwards a burning coal from the fire leaped down to the two.
3. Then the straw said: “Dear friends, whence do you come here?”
The coal replied: “I fortunately sprang out of the fire. If I had not escaped by main force my death would have been certain. I should have been burned to ashes.”
4. The bean said: “I, too, have escaped with a whole skin. But if the old woman had got me into the pan, I, like my comrades, should have been made into broth without any mercy.” “And would a better fate have fallen to my lot?” said the straw. “The old woman has destroyed all my brethren1 in fire and smoke; she seized sixty of them at once and took their lives. I luckily slipped through her fingers.”
5. “But what are we to do now?” asked the coal.
“I think,” answered the bean, “that as we have so fortunately escaped death, we should keep together like good companions. Lest a new mischance2 should overtake us here, let us go away to a foreign country.”
6. This plan 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, they did not know how they were to get over.
At last the straw said: “I will lay myself across, and then you can walk over on me as on a bridge.”
7. The straw, therefore, stretched herself from one bank to the other, and the coal, who was of an impetuous3 nature, tripped forward quite boldly on the newly built bridge. But
when she reached the middle and heard the water rushing beneath her, she was, after all, frightened, and stood still.
8. The straw then began to burn, broke in two pieces, and fell into the stream. The coal slipped after her, hissed when she sank into the water, and breathed her last.
The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore, could not help laughing at these events, and laughed so heartily that she burst.
9. It would have been all over with her also, if, by good fortune, a tailor who was traveling in search of work had not sat down to rest by the brook. Pitying the poor bean, he pulled out his needle and thread and sewed her together. She thanked him prettily, but, as the tailor used black thread, beans since then have a black seam.
Robert Louis Stevenson
1. The famous Scotch author, Robert Louis Stevenson, was born in Edinburgh, November 13, 1850. He was a delicate child with a sweet temper and a happy, unselfish disposition, who bore the burden of ill health bravely in childhood as in later life. In “The Land of Counterpane,” a poem which you may remember, he tells some of the ways in which he amused himself during the idle days in bed.
2. When he was well enough to be up, he invented games for himself and took keen delight in the world of out-door life.
3. His education was carried on in a somewhat irregular fashion. He attended schools in Edinburgh, and studied with private tutors at places to which his parents had gone for the benefit of his health or of their own. He thus became an excellent linguist1, and gained wide knowledge of foreign2 life and manners. He early showed a taste for literature, beginning as a boy the careful choice of language which made him a master of English prose.
4. Stevenson’s father had planned to have him follow the family profession3 of engineering. With this in view he was sent to Edinburgh University in the autumn of 1868. Later he gave up engineering and attended law classes; but law, like engineering, was put aside to enable him to fulfil his strong desire for a literary life.
5. His first stories and essays, published in various magazines, met with favorable notice. In 1878 he published his first book, “An Inland Voyage,” the account of a canoe4 trip with a friend.
6. The mists and east winds of his native Scotland proved too harsh for his delicate lungs, and year after year he found it necessary to spend more and more time away from his Edinburgh home. On one of these journeys in quest5 of health, he came to America, and in “Across the Plains” he describes his journey in an emigrant6 train from New York to San Francisco. It was on this visit to California that he met Mrs. Osbourne, who became his wife in 1880……………