Storytelling program for young children: Seasons – Winter
Story: The Fire That Would Not Burn
Long, long ago there was a castle on a big green hill. In the castle a huge warm fire burned to keep everyone warm. The fire had burned for years and had never gone out. In those days the only way people could warm their houses was by having a fire in the house and because the castle was so big they had to have a big fire.
One cold, cold winter snow fell everywhere. Snow made the castle white. Snow made the big hill white. Long cold icicles hung from the turrets of the castle. Inside the castle the air was chilly. The walls were cold. The floors were cold. People started blowing on their hands and jumping up and down on the spot to try to get warm. Alas, no-one could get the fire going again. The cook piled more logs on the fire but it remained black and cold. The king used the big castle bellows to blow on the fire but it remained dark and cold.
Finally the king ordered a servant to go down the hill into the village to ask for some red hot coals from anyone who had a fire burning in their house. So the servant put on a big coat, and with a great iron lantern and a coal bucket went out into the cold. As he trudged through the snow the freezing wind made his nose red with cold. Icicles formed on his eyebrows.
“A light for the castle fire!” he called as he went. “Who will give me coals to light the castle fire?”
A man came out of a small house carrying bright red coals on a shovel and emptied them into the coal bucket. “Mind you bring me back some gold pieces in return,” he said.
The king’s servant started back to the castle, bending his body against the cold wind and snow. He had gone only a few steps, though, when he saw that the coals had turned cold and grey. He threw them away and turned back toward the village again.
“A light for the castle fire!” he called as he went. “Who will give coals with to light the castle fire?”
A woman came out of a brightly lit house and invited the servant in to take red hot coals from her fire for the castle. “Mind you bring me back some gold pieces in return,” she said.
The king’s servant started back to the castle, bending his body against the cold wind and snow.
He had gone only a few steps, though, when he saw that the coals had turned cold and grey. He threw them away and turned back toward the village once more. This went on time after time. Every time someone gave him red hot coals they asked for gold pieces in return but the coals died away before the servant could get back to the castle.
At last the king’s servant came to a small tumbledown cottage at the edge of the village. Snow covered the path to the door. The wind blew down through the old chimney. Jack Frost had crept in through the cracks in the wall. The door opened at once when the messenger knocked. There was only one person inside; a small girl stirring porridge over a small fire.
“You may have as many coals as you like,” she said. She explained that she was cooking a nice hot supper for her father when he got home from work. “Please sit down and warm yourself, and have a bowl of warm porridge before you start out in the cold again. Then you may have half of our fire for the castle fire.”
The king’s messenger was glad to have some warm food in his body and very pleased to rest in the warmth of the little cottage. When it was time to go, he did not like to take half the fire so he simply lifted one bright red coal from the fire and placed it in the coal bucket and once more headed back toward the castle.
He was afraid the hot coal would go cold before he got back to the castle. To his amazement the small red coal grew brighter with each step. When he arrived back at the castle, the coal still burned and glowed. As soon as the small red coal touched the cold logs in the fireplace they burst into flames. In no time at flames licked around the logs and the fire sent its warmth through the castle. The fire was bigger and warmer than it had ever been before.
The king and queen were astonished. They questioned the messenger and heard how many people had offered him coals but demanded gold in return but each red coal had gone cold before he had taken a few steps.
“What did the girl in the cottage ask for?” said the queen.
“Nothing at all,” said the messenger. “Not only that, but she gave me hot food to eat.”
“Ah,” said the queen. “She gave freely with care in her heart. That is why our fire is so warm.”
An old folktale retold by JB Rowley.
Rhyme: It’s Raining; It’s Pouring
It’s raining; it’s pouring.
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and bumped his head,
And he couldn’t get up in the morning.