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OK, let’s start the episode.
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 Rumplestiltskin. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Gold. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Gold. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So, a very important date is coming up soon. On the fifth of May is my birthday and, I don’t know about you, but I really like birthdays. I know some people don’t like celebrating, they don’t like having a party, they don’t like getting presents, but I love all those things! I don’t have big expensive parties, but I really like to gather with all my friends, I like to get together with my friends.
But of course, right now, we can’t do that because of coronavirus. So I have decided that on Saturday the ninth I will do a special birthday party stream.
This stream will be on YouTube like the other ones, and in this stream I will celebrate, I will have some cake, I will open presents, and I will tell you about traditional British children’s birthday party things. Because we have a lot of games and habits that we do for children’s birthday parties here, and as you know, I am just a big child, so I would love to share those traditions with you, OK? And of course, you can celebrate as well at home if it is your birthday as well, or if you just want to.
On that note, I have decided to start making YouTube videos. I have talked about it before, but I am really interested right now in making more YouTube videos. The problem is, I need some more equipment, I need some more tools, like a whiteboard, pens, some good lights and so on.
So, I have made a wishlist on Amazon. So a wishlist is where you put things that you want people to buy for you, and then people can go and buy them for you if they want.
So, you don’t have to buy me anything, of course! You already support me so well by listening, by sharing the podcast, and some of you by supporting on Patreon, but if you do feel like getting me a little birthday present and also helping me get the equipment to make YouTube videos, you can go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/HappyBirthday. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/HappyBirthday. And that will take you to my Amazon wishlist. You can see the things I want and you can buy me one, if you feel like it.
Of course, I want to emphasise again, don’t feel like you have to buy anything! I would really appreciate it if anyone bought anything. To be honest, I just really like presents so I thought it was a good idea to put it on the podcast because it will be useful for the YouTube videos, and of course, you will all enjoy the YouTube videos, I am sure.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
Spin is something that most people never do nowadays. It was a way of changing materials like wool into thread so that they can be used to make clothes. You take long, thin bits of material, like wool, and wind it around a wooden stick called a spindle. In the end, you get yarn, which is a kind of thick thread. You can spin by hand with a spindle, or use a machine or a wooden tool called a spinning wheel.
Evil means a very, very bad person. For example, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter is very evil. Usually, it is witches and monsters who are evil.
A beggar is a person who has no money, so they go onto the street and ask for money, they beg for money.
Stride means to walk with very big steps. If you want to go somewhere quickly, or you have a lot of energy, you stride instead of walking.
Straw is dried grain that is used on farms. It looks like long pieces of grass, but dry and hard. Straw is yellow, and lots of straw is put together to make squares. Straw is used to feed animals, like horses and pigs.
A nail is the hard thing on the end of your fingers and toes. Nails grow and you have to cut them, although some people like having long nails. Some people paint their nails, and some people even put on plastic nails. If you are very nervous, you might bite your nails.
Pointy means something has a point, a sharp spike, at the end. Knives and swords are pointy, so they can hurt you a lot. A tower might have a pointy roof. You can have a pointy nose or a flat nose.
Hopeless means you have lost all hope. You might feel hopeless because you failed an exam, or because a family member died. Hopeless can also mean you are really bad at doing something. For example, I am hopeless at sports.
Cheat is when you are playing a game but you do not follow the rules. For example, if you are playing Monopoly and you steal money from the bank, that is cheating. You can also cheat a person. For example, maybe you tell a teenager that if they give you money, you will buy them alcohol, but really you just take the money for yourself. That’s cheating. Hopefully, none of the listeners are out there cheating people!
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.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
Molly had always been a clever girl. As a child, whenever her mother asked her to do work, she always found some way to get out of it. Either she got someone else to do the work for her, or she made it look like she had done it when really she hadn’t. And whenever her mother found out what she had done, Molly was nowhere to be found.
But nothing could prepare Molly for her old mother’s death. She had suffered from a disease for many years, and Molly did not think it serious, so she had continued her games and tricks. But her mother grew weaker and weaker, and her last words to Molly were these.
‘You are a miserable little girl. You have brought me nothing but trouble. I would have been better off if I had never given birth to you. You think you can spin straw into gold, but all you really spin is lies and evil.’
And with that, she fell back and died.
Unsurprisingly, Molly’s father was not happy with her. He had never loved her very much, letting her mother deal with her tricks, but now he had no choice but to look after her.
So he did what every man did, when he had to look after someone he didn’t want to. He threw her out.
‘You have been so awful to us all these years, child. Go and find your own way in the world, and don’t even think of coming back.’
Still, Molly did not cry even for a minute. She had never liked her father much, anyway.
For several weeks, she travelled without aim. In every town she went to, she offered her services as a working girl, but after so many years of lying and tricking her mother, she was unable to do a single day’s work.
Finally, tired and her clothes torn, she arrived at a castle. As soon as she came inside the doors, the guards stopped her.
‘We don’t want beggars here. Get out.’
‘I am no beggar,’ said Molly. ‘I have powers which this kingdom has never seen. I can spin straw into gold! If your king takes me in, he will be the richest man in the world.’
‘Hah! You’re lying.’
Molly laughed. ‘Fine! Wait and see. I will join the king of the neighbouring country, and give him riches you cannot even imagine. He will build an army and destroy this little castle.’
She strode off, head held high. A moment later, the guard spoke.
‘Wait! I will take you to see the King.’
She smiled to herself. They were even easier to trick than Mother.
The King, however, was a bit more doubtful.
‘If you have such power, here.’ He handed her a piece of straw and a spindle. ‘Spin this straw into gold.’
Molly made a face. ‘Have you no respect for my art? It takes a long time, and is very difficult. I work through day and night, and I will need much more straw than this for even a finger of gold.’
The King looked at her doubtfully. ‘Fine then. Lock her up in the West Tower. Give her a lot of straw and a spinning wheel. Tomorrow morning I will come and see your work.’
So they took Molly to the tower, gave her some food, and locked her inside. The girl was so hungry that she ate the food within seconds, and it was only when she was finished that she realised how bad her situation was.
She had gotten herself the food, and now she had to get out of there. But the door was locked tight, and the only windows in the tower were high up. The only things in the room were the straw, the spinning wheel, and a sad little bed in the corner. There was nothing she could use to climb.
So Molly began to lose hope. She cried and cried, and it felt like all the feelings from her mother’s death and her being thrown out came all at once.
‘There, there, little girl,’ came a voice.
Molly jumped. She looked up and saw a tiny man standing in the corner. He was bald, and had no nails. He wore a hat and an ugly shirt that covered his whole body. He had a tiny, pointy nose, and a horrible smile.
‘Who are you? Or rather, what are you?’
‘Not important,’ said the “man”. ‘What is important is what you are: a lying girl. You told the King you could spin straw into gold, and now you are here…’
‘Did you come to make fun of me?’ She stood up. ‘I could kill you, you know.’
‘Oh, believe me, you could not. But I am not here to fight. I am here to help you. You see, I can spin straw into gold.’
Molly looked at him doubtfully. ‘And what do you want in return?’
The little man laughed a horrible little laugh. ‘Clever girl. I only want something small. Hmm…’ He ran up to her and took her hands. ‘Your nails are very pretty. I’ll have those.’
Molly felt sick. She had always had nice nails, given that she never did any work. She didn’t want to give the man her nails, but she needed his help.
‘Fine, but only after you spin the gold.’
The man sighed. ‘Yes, yes, of course. You go to sleep.’
So Molly climbed into the bed and slept, and the man got to work. When she woke up, the sun was rising, and all around her in the room were piles of gold.
‘Amazing!’ she said, holding it in her hands.
‘Uh-uh!’ said the man, hitting her hand. ‘Not for you. For the King, remember? Now, time for my payment.’
He waved his hand over hers, and she felt a sharp pain. She looked down and saw that her nails were gone.
‘Don’t worry, they will grow back.’
The man admired his own nails—Molly’s nails—which were clean and beautiful.
‘I’ll see you later,’ he said, and clicked his fingers. He disappeared into air.
There was a knock at the door, and then the sound of the key going into the lock. The King himself came in, and his mouth fell wide open.
‘My word… you actually did it!’
‘Of course,’ she said, smiling.
‘My dear, but what happened to your hands? Your nails are almost completely gone… you must have been working very hard.’
‘Of course, my king.’
The King clicked his fingers, and two guards came into the room. ‘Take this gold away, and tell the cooks to make a great meal. I want to talk to this girl.’
So while they ate chicken, pork and potatoes, the King asked the girl all about her power.
‘How did you do it? Where did you learn?’
But Molly refused to say, just smiling politely and saying, ‘My little secret.’ She was enjoying this life very much.
But that evening, the King sent her back to the tower and locked the door once more.
‘Happy working, my little treasure,’ he said, before leaving her.
Once again, she was faced with the same problem: a huge pile of straw that she somehow had to turn into gold.
‘Well, well, well.’
She turned around, and the horrible little man was there again.
‘This is familiar,’ he said, smiling. ‘Want my services again?’
The girl paused. ‘What will you take?’
He ran up to her and touched her hair. ‘Your hair is so beautiful and long… I don’t have a single hair on my head. I think that will make a nice present.’
Molly felt sick. She never had to cut it or put it up, because she never worked, so it was long and beautiful. But what choice did she have?
So once again, Molly went to bed, but this time she did not sleep. She watched the man do his work. He did not spin himself, but waved his hands in the air. The spinning wheel danced around as he did so. He was using magic, just as she had thought. As he spun, he sang a song to himself.
‘I spin the straw to make the gold
so lovely for the King to hold
and then the girl will have a shave
and I’ll escape into my cave!’
But as the girl listened, she felt sleepy, and she couldn’t stop herself from closing her eyes.
When she woke up, the man was already gone. Slowly, she reached her hand up to her head. Her hair was almost completely gone. There was only a short bit left. But just as the man had promised, the room was full of gold.
Once again, the King had dinner with her, but this time the girl did not enjoy it at all.
Once the meal was finished, the King said, ‘You have worked so hard, my dear. I can see how tired you are. You cut your hair because it was in the way, yes? Such a hard-working girl! I will only ask you to spin for one more night. And if you work so well again, you can marry me!’
At first, Molly felt nothing. But slowly she realised what the King had said.
If she married him, she would be rich! The gold would all be hers, too, and she would eat duck and pork every day, and have men who dressed her…
So she smiled and said, ‘Tonight I will make the biggest pile of gold yet!’
That evening, she explained to the horrible little man that this would be the last night, and that he had to do his best work.
‘Pretty little girl likes to ask for a lot, doesn’t she? Very well, I will work for you… but tonight, I want a good reward.’ He looked up at her face and smiled. ‘You have such beautiful green eyes…’
‘No!’ shouted Molly. ‘You can’t take my eyes.’
‘You will be a queen. Queens do not need eyes to be beautiful.’
She shook her head. ‘No. Anything but that.’
He scowled. ‘Fine then. You must make a promise. When you have your first child, you will give it to me.’
‘My child?’ She wondered why this horrid man wanted a baby.
‘Don’t have evil thoughts. Many people want to be mothers. You want to be a mother, too, don’t you?’
Actually, she had never wanted a child, but she said, ‘Oh yes! To lose my child… Well, it will be a big price to pay, but I suppose I have no choice…’
Really, she would do everything she could to not have a child, but if she did have one, she could always give it to him.
‘I promise. Now get to work.’
So she climbed into bed and slept happily, dreaming of being queen, while the little man spun gold.
When she woke up, almost the whole tower was filled with gold. When the King saw it, his mouth fell open wider than it ever had before.
‘I love you!’ he said, taking Molly’s hands. ‘Let us get married today!’
So Molly and the King got married, and she became Queen Molly. The three nights of pain were worth it, because now she had beautiful clothes, delicious food and many, many pieces of jewellery. Her lovely hair and nails grew back, and she never saw the strange little man again.
But a few years later, the Queen got pregnant.
‘This cannot be!’ she said. Promise or no promise, she was very happy living her life in the castle, and the last thing she needed was for a baby to ruin it. At the same time, she didn’t particularly want to see that awful little man again, or explain to her husband that he had taken their child. ‘I must get rid of this child before I have it.’
She called on the best medicine women in the country, and asked them to kill the baby inside her, but they refused.
‘If the King finds out… No, it is too dangerous.’
So, against her wishes, the Queen had the child. It was a baby boy, and despite how painful the birth was, the moment she saw him her heart changed.
He was beautiful. He had golden blond hair and a charming little smile. She fell in love straight away, and she knew that she had been wrong before. She was so happy that she forgot her promise completely.
But that night, the strange man came to visit. He looked very pretty now: he had Molly’s nails and long hair, and a beautiful dress on. Even his nose looked better. He must have tricked many other people after her.
‘Beautiful little boy, isn’t he? Well, say goodbye. I’m taking him.’
‘No!’ shouted Molly, holding the child in her arms. ‘There must be another way. Please. I will give you all the money we have.’
‘I don’t care about money. I can spin straw into gold, remember? No, the only thing I want is that child.’
Molly started crying, and so did her son.
‘Oh, alright!’ he groaned. ‘I will give you a chance. If you can guess my name in three days, I will give you the child. But if you cannot, I will take the child and much more.’
‘Your name?’ She thought as hard as she could, but the man had never told her his name. ‘You’re… Satan?’
The man laughed. ‘I’m not that powerful.’
She thought again. It had to be an evil name, no doubt. ‘Grellemor? Faust?’
‘No and no. That’s all your guesses for today. You have two more days, and three guesses each day. Don’t waste them like today. I’ll come back in the evening.’
He clicked his fingers and disappeared.
That night, Molly got no sleep. She slept with the baby, and she felt like the horrible man was hiding in the darkness, watching them. Whenever she closed her eyes, she saw him laughing.
The next day, she went to the library, and searched through all the books on magic and monsters. She thought he had to be a monster, but none of the pictures looked like him.
When he returned that evening, she tried her guesses.
‘Bzzt. Wrong. Try again tomorrow.’
All night, Molly tried to think of what his name could be. It had been years since he spun the straw, and she couldn’t remember it well. But as the sun was rising, she suddenly remembered the song he had sung.
‘ “… and I’ll escape into my cave.” A cave… he must live in the mountains.’
She took a horse and rode into the mountains. She searched all day, but she could not find him. The sun was starting to set, and she felt hopeless, until she heard a horrible laugh.
‘Tonight, tonight, my plans I make
tomorrow, tomorrow, the baby I’ll take!
The kindest mother in all the land
No more will I work and hurt my hands
The Queen will never win the game
if Rumplestiltskin is my name!’
She looked around, and found the horrible man dancing around a fire, singing to himself.
‘Tonight, tonight, my plans I make
tomorrow, tomorrow, the baby I’ll take!
The kindest mother in all the land
No more will I work and hurt my hands
The Queen will never win the game
if Rumplestiltskin is my name!
And it is. It is my name.’
‘Rumplestiltskin,’ she whispered. Then she got on her horse and rode home.
When, that night, the horrible man appeared before her, he smiled.
‘You’ll never guess my name. You should give up now.’
The Queen sighed. ‘You’re right, but I have to try. How about… Geoffrey?’
Rumplestiltskin laughed. ‘A common name!’
‘Oh, then Maximillian!’
‘An ugly name!’
‘Hmm… Wait, I have an idea!’ She smiled. ‘Rumplestiltskin.’
Rumplestiltskin hissed. ‘You, you, you cheated!’
‘No, I did not. Now, leave me alone, you horrible little thing. Goodbye, Rumplestiltskin.’
The man bit his nails and pulled his hair. ‘You nasty little thing! All you do is lie and trick people. The King, he doesn’t even know how evil you really are.’
‘Evil? I’m not the evil one. You stole my beautiful nails and hair, and now you want my child!’
The baby started crying, and Molly picked it up, saying, ‘Shh, shh, it’s OK.’
‘I stole nothing. I worked for all those things, something you have never done in your life. You think you deserve the world, when really all you deserve is a quick kick in the behind.’
‘Leave this place. You’re making the baby cry.’
‘Fine, I will leave. But first, I will pay you back for everything.’
And Rumplestiltskin waved his hands in the air.
The next morning, the King woke up to a strange silence. He did not hear the cries of his son, and he did not hear the beautiful voice of his wife. Something was wrong.
He searched around the castle, and finally, thinking that she must still be asleep, he went to his wife’s bedroom.
And there, he found the strangest thing of all.
‘A pile of gold?’
And no sign of the baby. The King sent his men out to search, but no matter where they looked, they never found Queen Molly or the Prince.
Days passed, and then months, and then years, but the two of them never appeared again, and the King never found out where the gold had come from.
Meanwhile, far away in a forest, a mother looked after her child. She was not the most beautiful of mothers, but she was kind. She taught her son to work hard and to never, ever lie or trick others. She even taught him how to use magic, and together they built a lovely little house, planted vegetables and sang songs, and whenever they needed money, they simply spun straw into gold.
Every night, the boy asked, ‘Mother Rumple, will you spin me a story?’
And every night, she replied, ‘Of course, my son. What story shall I spin tonight?’
But one night, the son asked, ‘Mother Rumple, who is my father?’
For a moment, a look of pain passed over his mother’s face. Then she said, ‘Some stories are too difficult to spin, even for someone as clever as me. But I can tell you the story with the soldiers. That one’s your favourite.’
He looked disappointed, but said, ‘Well, go on then.’
‘Once upon a time there was a group of evil soldiers. They travelled around stealing, attacking women and drinking everything they could find. Really, they were looking for someone to teach them a lesson, and that’s just when your mother came along…’
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