Transcript

Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.

I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Singing Bone. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Bone. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Bone. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.

So, a few weeks ago on the podcast, I mentioned that I had an interview for a PGCE. So a PGCE is a qualification, a degree, in the UK to train as a teacher, so I can go and teach in schools here. And we did the interview online and it went very well! I actually forgot to tell you before because of everything happening with coronavirus, but yes, the interview went well and I got a place at the university. So possibly this September, I will be studying in London to train as a teacher, and that will be teaching French, Spanish and maybe some German at secondary schools in the UK. So secondary school is kind of like high school. It’s between 11 and 16 here.

In other news, the live streams on our YouTube channel have been doing really well. We had the last stream on Saturday the 12th and I had so much fun. Actually, the stream was over two hours long because I just enjoyed talking to you all so much. So, really do come along to the stream. It’s really fun and we talk a lot and write together. It’s really good.

So the next stream is on Saturday the 18th at 1pm British Summer Time, GMT+1.

In the last stream, I also answered many questions from all of you, such as: What films and TV shows do I recommend? Should you use subtitles when watching a film in English? And can you study three languages at the same time? So if you want to hear the answers to these questions and many more, go and watch the replay of the stream. So the stream is on the YouTube channel and you can watch it as a video. And I will put a link to that in the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Bone. I look forward to seeing you at the next stream on Saturday!

OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.

A spear is a weapon, like a sword or a gun. You use a spear to hurt people or animals. Spears are long sticks, and they have a sharp bit at the end. You can stab someone with a spear or throw it.

A paw is a hand, but an animal’s hand. Animals don’t have fingers like us, so they have paws. Cat paws are really cute.

A claw is a long, sharp nail that animals have. So instead of nails, bears, tigers, cats and so on have claws. They can really hurt you! So these animals have claws on their paws.

Spin around is when you move around in a circle. If you spin around a lot, you will be dizzy—you might feel a bit sick. Washing machines spin clothes around to wash them. The Earth spins around very slowly.

Drunk means you have drunk alcohol, like beer or wine, and you feel strange. Actually, most people like getting drunk. In the UK, beer and cider, which is made with apples, are popular types of alcohol to get drunk. British people, mostly, like getting drunk very much. Personally, I drink very rarely, because I don’t like how you feel afterwards.

Wipe off is when you clean something off something else. So maybe you dropped orange juice on the floor, so you wipe it off with a cloth. Or maybe there is dirt on your face, so you wipe it off to make your face clean. You wipe with a cloth or a sponge.

Swirl means to move around in a fast spinning movement. So basically, when your sink is full of water and you let the water out, it swirls away. Or maybe you are making soup and you stir it, you turn it, really fast, and it swirls around the pot.

A coward is someone who is scared of everything. This word was specifically used during the World Wars to mean someone who chose not to fight, but it also generally means anyone who is scared a lot and not brave.

A grave is the place you put a body when someone dies. Graves are usually a hole in the ground, and you put a gravestone on top to show that the dead person is buried there.

If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5 you get an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.

A big thank-you to our new patrons: Blas Alvarez, Vera Kaufmann, Apple Chan and Oscar Caluzzi. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to us.

OK, so listen and enjoy!

The Singing Bone

Once there were two brothers. The older brother, Brian, was very clever, but also very proud. The younger brother, Frederick, was not so clever, but he was kind, and everyone liked him. The brothers lived in peace in the countryside, but one day, a villager ran into town. He was covered with blood.

‘A bear! There is a bear in the forest! It attacked me. I was just able to run away.’

The man fell down on the ground. Some villagers quickly picked him up and took him to the doctor. Brian and Frederick saw this, and were very surprised.

‘A bear, brother?’ said Frederick. ‘I have never heard of a bear in this region.’

‘There used to be many bears,’ said Brian. ‘We killed them, many years ago, but maybe the bears are coming back.’

Over the next few weeks, nobody could stop talking about the bear. Nobody wanted to go into the forest, but they needed firewood, as well as mushrooms. They sent a message to the King, asking him to send soldiers. But all the soldiers were fighting in a war, so the King could send nobody.

‘Whoever kills the bear can marry my daughter and have a thousand gold pieces,’ said the King, in a letter to the town.

When Brian heard this, he said, ‘I will go and fight the bear!’

Frederick was surprised. ‘But brother, it is so dangerous! I will go and fight the bear, instead of you. You are older than me, so you are more important.’

Brian was proud, though, and he did not want his brother to be better than him. So he said, ‘Fine then, we will both go into the forest. It will be a competition.’

Frederick did not want to compete, but he wanted to get rid of the bear before anything else. It was attacking the townspeople, and he wanted to protect them.

So, a few days later, the two brothers set off into the forest. Brian entered from the eastern side and Frederick entered from the west. That way, they had an equal chance of finding the bear, and they would find it more quickly. They both had their knives, but they did not seem very big compared to a bear.

Frederick walked through the forest for several hours. At first, he moved slowly, and every time he heard a sound he jumped. Finally, he relaxed, but the bear was nowhere to be found.

‘Good afternoon.’

Frederick jumped. He looked down and saw a very small man standing in front of him. The man had a big beard, and had a long, black spear over his shoulder.

‘What are you doing in here?’ said Frederick. ‘There is a bear in the forest. You must leave.’

‘I know. I came to the forest to fight the bear. But I was injured.’

The man had his hand on his stomach, but he pulled his hand away and Frederick saw that he was bleeding.

‘This spear is magic. If you have a pure heart, and think no bad thoughts, then you will never be hurt. My heart was once pure, but times have changed…’

‘Are you OK? Quick, I will take you to the doctor.’

‘No, no,’ said the man. ‘I am old and have fought in many battles. This will be my last. Take the spear. You are pure of heart. I know it. Fight the bear and kill it.’

The man handed Frederick the spear. It was heavy, and it shone in the light. Frederick tried to thank the man, but suddenly he was gone.

So he kept walking through the forest. It was not long before he met the bear. It was catching fish in a river.

The bear heard him and turned around. Its eyes were a bloody red, and its claws were as sharp as knives. The bear ran at Frederick, fast as lightning, and he held out the spear. Before the bear could stop, it ran straight into the spear. The spear cut into the bear, going through its heart and killing it straight away.

Frederick let go of the spear and the bear fell to the ground. His heart was beating fast and he was shaking all over. He had never killed a living creature before.

‘It is done,’ he said. ‘I must go home.’

He pulled the spear out of the bear. He cut off its paw to prove that he had killed it, and left the woods. As he was coming back to the village, he heard a voice.

‘That bear can’t beat me. I’m too strong. Too strong!’

It was Brian. Frederick looked, and saw him sitting by a tree. He had a bottle of something in his hand.

‘Brother, what are you doing here? Are you hurt?’

Brian saw him and looked embarrassed. His eyes were all red, even in the dark.

‘Well, if it isn’t my good little brother Frederick. What’s that you have there? A spear? You have blood on your face. Did you cut yourself?’

Frederick was surprised. His brother never talked like this usually.

‘No. I went and fought the bear. It is over, brother.’

Frederick showed him the paw. He smiled, but his older brother did not look so happy.

‘You know, dear brother, it is the older brother’s job to be the hero.’ For a moment, Frederick wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but then he smiled. ‘Come on. Sit with me.’

Frederick put the spear down and sat down by the tree. He realised then just how tired he was. His brother handed him the bottle. It was whisky. He took a drink.

‘More. We need to celebrate!’ Brian shouted. ‘Keep drinking.’

So they sat and drank and talked. It had been a long time since they drank together, but Frederick felt a bit uncomfortable. He was exhausted from the fight with the bear, and he just wanted to go home.

Finally, Brian stood up and said, ‘Right. We’re going back.’

Frederick got up, but everything span around him. He was really quite drunk, while Brian looked fine now. The spear felt heavy, and he could hardly stand up straight.

‘Let me carry your spear for you, brother,’ said Brian.

So Frederick gave his spear to Brian, and they walked home. But the bear’s paw felt heavy in Brian’s hand, and he kept dropping it.

‘Let me carry that paw for you, brother,’ said Brian.

So Frederick gave the bear’s paw to Brian, and they continued on. As they walked, Frederick felt the bear’s blood on his face. Suddenly, it smelled very strong, and he felt sick.

‘Let me clean you up, brother,’ said Brian.

So Brian wiped the blood off Frederick’s face and put it on his own face. Frederick thought that was strange, but he was too drunk to say anything.

Finally, they came to a bridge that went into the village. The bridge was very narrow, so Brian said, ‘You go first, brother. The hero should go first.’

But when Frederick was standing on the middle of the bridge, Brian ran up behind him and hit him on the head with a big stone. Frederick shouted and fell down, and everything went dark.


Many years later, a farmer was passing through the village. The small village was famous now, because a great hero came from there: Brian the Bear Killer. He had travelled into the woods and killed the monster bear with his spear, and now he was famous in the village. He married the King’s daughter, and now Brian the Bear Killer had his own kingdom far away.

But stories of heroes were not important to the farmer. He was more worried about his sheep. There were at least fifty of them, and he had to take them over the narrow bridge that went out of the village.

‘Easy, easy. Come on now, don’t fall in!’

It took over an hour to get all the sheep to cross, but finally they were safely on the other side. Then the old farmer saw something small and white on the bridge. He went over and saw that it was a bone.

‘Why, this bone is a perfect size! I could make it into an instrument.’

The farmer liked to make musical instruments out of wood and bone, so he put it in his pocket and took it home. That night, he cut a hole into the bone and tried playing it.

To his surprise, the bone jumped into the air, danced around, and started to sing:

‘Hello, dear friend, you have blown on my bone!

I was killed, you see, with a heavy stone,

For many years I’ve laid underwater,

While my brother went to get the King’s daughter,

Because, you know, I killed the bear,

But instead of me, my brother was there,

He took the gold and married the girl,

And now I sit by the waters that swirl,

So I ask you, please, to go to the King,

And show him this bone, which dances and sings.’

‘What a wonderful bone!’ said the farmer. ‘It dances and sings by itself. It is magic! I will listen again.’

So the farmer blew into the bone, and once again it sang:

‘Hello, dear friend, you have blown on my bone!

I was killed, you see, with a heavy stone,

For many years I’ve laid by the water,

While my brother went to get the King’s daughter,

Because, you know, I killed the bear,

But instead of me, my brother was there,

He took the gold and married the girl,

And now I sit by the waters that swirl,

So I ask you, please, to go to the King,

And show him this bone, which dances and sings.’

The farmer listened closely, and he began to understand the message. He remembered the story of Brian the Bear Killer. He jumped up and said, ‘I must go to the King at once!’

The farmer rode through the night and the day and came to the King’s castle. He played the bone and the song was sang to the King. The King listened in silence, thought for a long time, and finally spoke.

‘We must dig around this bridge and see if this is true.’

So they went and dug up the ground next to the bridge. Sure enough, they found Frederick’s bones. His brother, Brian, had killed him on that night many years ago and buried his body there.

‘What can we do?’ said the farmer. ‘Brian is a king now. He has power.’

The King shook his head. ‘He has no power. He is a coward. He took his brother’s work as his own.’

The King took out the singing bone and tried to play it, but it did not sing or dance.

‘You seem to play this bone very well,’ said the King. ‘Go around the land and play the song for people. They will decide what to do.’

And so the farmer travelled around, telling the true story of Frederick the Bear Killer. The news came to Brian’s kingdom, and the people were very angry. They threw Brian into a bag, sewed it up, and threw it into the river. Brian died, and everywhere people spoke and sang of Frederick the True Hero.

Meanwhile, the King took Frederick’s bones to the largest church in the country, and he was buried in a big grave. People from all over came to visit Frederick’s grave and thank him for his brave work.

THE END

If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.

10 comments on “The Singing Bone
  1. Ayfer Kara says:

    It is a fantastic story . I congratulate you. I read and listen to your stories with pleasure. Besides, your voice sounds great. Thank you so much.

    1. Ariel Goodbody says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Ayfer!

  2. Jassi says:

    👌👌👌

    1. Ariel Goodbody says:

      Thanks, Jassi!

  3. Zayed says:

    Thank you for your help

    1. Ariel Goodbody says:

      You’re very welcome, Zayed 🙂

      1. Nur Moreno says:

        I learn English when i listen your voice, thanks!!!

        1. Ariel Goodbody says:

          You’re very welcome, Nur 🙂

  4. Hind says:

    I like it thank you very much 🙏🏻🙏🏻

    1. Ariel Goodbody says:

      You’re very welcome, Hind 🙂

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