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 beginners. The name of the story is The Three Snake Leaves. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Leaves. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Leaves. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Recently something very nice happened to me. Somebody interviewed me on a podcast called Language Exchange! So, a few weeks ago I got a message from someone called Francesco and he said he really liked the podcast and that he makes his own podcast called Language Exchange, and his podcast is for Italian people learning English. He asked if he could interview me and I said yes, because I love being interviewed! I love it when people interview me. Maybe it’s just because I like the sound of my own voice. That’s a phrase we use. I certainly do like the sound of my own voice.
But also, I really enjoy being able to talk about the podcast to other people and, you know, in this interview, I don’t just talk about the same things I say here. I talk a bit about the history of the podcast, so why I decided to make it, how I think it’s going, and how it might change in the future. So, if you would like to interview me, please do send me a message at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. As I said, I love being interviewed.
And if you want to hear more of my voice and hear me talk about why I made the podcast, then do go and listen to the episode of Language Exchange. I will post the link in the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Leaves:
Thank you again, Francesco, and if you are an Italian speaker and are looking for people to practise English with, you should also look up Language Exchange. They have a Whatsapp group where they all practise and exchange English together.
By the way, Francesco also promised to support the podcast at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. So, uh, Francesco, I’m still waiting! I’m only joking. Nobody has to support.
Actually, recently I got an email from a listener in Vietnam and he said he couldn’t afford, he didn’t have the money, to support us on Patreon, but what he did is write about a Vietnamese story and then sent me the story, which I love because it means I can put that episode on the podcast, and I don’t have to research the story myself. So, if you are a writer, or you would just like to help the podcast, email me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and send me a story from your own country. I would love that. Don’t worry about spelling and grammar, it doesn’t have to be perfect because I will edit it before putting it on the podcast, but I would love to read your work.
OK, so I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
First of all, marry. Marry is when two people join together for life. So two people who love each other very much might get married. Traditionally, it is a man and woman who get married, but these days men can marry men, and women can marry women in many countries around the world. When you get married you put a ring on your finger to symbolise, to show, your long-lasting relationship with the other person. Traditionally, marriage was a very religious thing and if you got married you had to stay together forever, but these days that doesn’t always happen. Some people get divorced, so a married couple stops being married.
Bury is when you put something under the ground. So usually you bury dead people. You put them in a coffin and bury them. Ostriches are a very strange bird. They can run very fast, and they bury their heads in the ground. You might also bury a time capsule, so a collection of objects that people will dig up and look at in the future. You might also bury a hidden treasure. That happens a lot in pirate stories. People bury boxes of treasure and gold.
A promise. A promise is when you say you will definitely do something or that you will definitely not do something. So a child might promise their mother to not eat sweets. A marriage, when people get married, they are promising to stay together forever. If someone tells you a secret, you might promise that you won’t tell anyone. But of course, all of these promises can be broken.
A mausoleum is a small stone building. When someone dies you might bury them under the ground or, if you life in a rich family, you will put them in mausoleum and all of the family’s bodies will go in the mausoleum. Mausoleums are not so popular nowadays.
A sword. A sword is a long, sharp weapon. In the Middle Ages, they didn’t have guns, so everyone fought using swords. If you’ve watched the TV show Game of Thrones, there is a lot of sword-fighting, and Arya Stark, of the Stark family, is a very talented sword-fighter.
Leaves are the green things that you find on trees. You can pull leaves off trees. Canada has a maple leaf as its symbol because they make syrup from maple trees. We are currently in Autumn and in Autumn all of the leaves on the trees go from green to brown and fall onto the ground.
A captain. A captain is the head of the ship. So when a ship is travelling on the seas, the captain is the most important person. A captain is kind of like the king of the ship.
“Row” is a way of moving. So if you are on a small boat, you will have to row. You have two long sticks called paddles and you use your arms to row. You move the sticks backwards and forwards. Rowing is now a sport. You can use rowing machines at the gyms. In Oxford and Cambridge, two very well-known British universities, rowing is a very popular sport, and every year Oxford and Cambridge have a rowing competition on the River Thames, in London.
Forever means always and always now and always in the future. For example, if you say, ‘I will love you forever,’ it means you will never stop loving the person, and that may be a promise, and it may be a promise that gets broken!
A hole is a round thing. It is a gap. So your old clothes might have holes in them. There might be parts where you can put your finger through. Doughnuts have holes, although there are doughnuts that don’t have holes, but most doughnuts have holes.
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 very big and warm thank-you to our new patron, Thảo Trung. I hope I said your name correctly. Thank you again so much, Thảo. We really appreciate your support.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Three Snake Leaves
Once there was a poor man with a son. The man could not look after his son anymore, so the son said to him, ‘Dear father. Things are bad here, and you have to work hard to look after me. Let me leave, and I will look after myself.’
The father agreed, and said goodbye to his son.
At that time, the King was at war, so the young man went to war. He was strong and fast, and did good work. The King wanted to thank him for his work. So he gave him much money, and said that he could marry his daughter.
The problem was, the King’s daughter was very strange. She said that she would only marry someone if they made a promise.
‘If I die before you, and I am buried, you must be buried alive with me.’
When the young man asked her why this was, she said, ‘If you love me so much, you will not want to live afterwards. That is true love. Of course, if you die first, I will be buried alive with you.’
This strange promise had stopped everyone else from marrying her, but the young man thought she was so beautiful that he didn’t mind. Anyway, he had fought hard in the war, and he was probably going to die first.
So he made the promise, and the two were married. For a while, they lived happily together, but one day the new Queen got ill. She had a strange illness that nobody had seen before. The young man, now the King, called all the doctors in the country to see her, but none of them could help her.
Finally, she died, and the young King remembered his promise.
‘I don’t want to be buried alive!’ he said.
But he kept his promises, so he joined her in the mausoleum. He told all his men, ‘If I try to leave, stop me.’
So they took the King into the mausoleum and locked the door behind him.
Next to the Queen’s body there was a table with four loaves of bread and four bottles of wine. When these ran out, the King would die of hunger. So every day he ate just a little piece of bread and drank just a little bit of wine, but still every day he felt death come nearer.
One day, a snake came into the mausoleum. It went up to the Queen’s dead body. The King thought the snake wanted to eat her, so he took his sword and said, ‘You will not hurt her!’ and cut the snake into three pieces.
A few hours later another snake came in, and when it saw the dead snake, it left again. A few minutes later it came back with three green leaves in its mouth. It put one leaf on each piece of the snake. Suddenly, the three pieces of the snake joined together again, and the snake was alive. The two snakes ran away and left the King alone.
They left the leaves there, and the King had an idea. If the leaves could bring a snake back to life, could they work on a person?
So he picked up the leaves and took them to his dead wife. He put one leaf on her mouth and the other two on her eyes. Suddenly, she moved and sat up, and said, ‘Where am I?’
‘My dear wife! You are with me.’
‘But I was dead…’
‘You were dead, and I brought you back to life.’
He explained the leaves, but his wife did not seem happy.
‘So you didn’t want to die with me.’
‘Nobody wants to die,’ said the King.
‘You said you would die with me, if I died. You made a promise.’
The King couldn’t understand. She was alive again, and they should be happy.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ she said, and she went and banged on the door of the mausoleum. ‘I’m alive!’ she shouted, but she didn’t sound very happy about it.
The King’s men came and opened the door. They were very surprised that the Queen was alive, but they were mostly very happy. The King took the snake leaves with him and gave them to a man who worked for him.
‘Keep these safe, and bring them everywhere. You never know when they will be useful!’
Over the next few months, the Queen became colder and colder. She seemed to hate the King, but he could not understand why. Whenever he asked her, she just said, ‘You should know,’ so finally he stopped asking.
But still, because the Queen was so cold and sad, the whole castle felt sad. So, one day, the King decided to go and visit his father-in-law, the old King. It was a long journey by sea. While they were on the ship, the Queen fell in love with the captain. So one night, while the King was sleeping, she called in the captain. They picked up the King, carried him upstairs, and threw him into the sea.
When they had finished, she said, ‘Let us go home. We will say that he died on the way. I will tell my father how wonderful you are, and he will marry us.’
But someone had seen what they did. It was the King’s man, who looked after his snake leaves. So he took out a boat and rowed after the King, while the Queen and the captain went home. He pulled the dead King out of the water and put the snake leaves on his mouth and eyes. For a few minutes, nothing happened, and then the King woke up, gasping for breath.
‘I can’t believe she did that to me! Where is she now?’
‘My King,’ said the man. ‘They are going to her father, and she will tell him that you are dead.’
‘Then we must go after them!’ said the King.
They rowed with all their strength. They rowed through the day and night. They rowed so quickly that they got to the old King before the Queen and the captain. He was surprised that they were alone, and asked what happened. When they explained what his daughter had done, he said, ‘I cannot believe that she has done this. Let us find out the truth.’
So the King and his man went into the next room and listened. Soon the ship arrived, and the Queen came straight to her father with the captain.
‘Why are you alone?’ he asked. ‘Where is your husband?’
‘Oh, dear father,’ she said, ‘I am so sad! He has died. He became ill during the journey, you see, and he died. His body was dangerous. If we kept the body, we would be ill, too. So we threw the body into the sea. Oh, it is so sad!’
The old King stood up and said, ‘Well, let me bring the dead back to life!’
He clapped his hands, and the two men came from the other room. When the woman saw her husband, she could not believe it.
‘You did not die this time, either! You just want to live, live, live. When will you let me live?!’
The old King said, ‘He was ready to die with you, and he came back to life, but you killed him while he slept. This cannot be.’
‘Wait, father,’ said the young King. He looked at his wife. ‘I still don’t understand. Why did you do this?’
She started crying. ‘I told you! You were going to die with me… but you couldn’t. You didn’t want to. I thought you would love me forever. Don’t you understand? When you brought me back to life, my love for you died.’
‘And when you killed me, my love for you died.’
The King felt very sad, but he could not let his wife live. They put her on a boat with many holes. The boat went out to sea, and because of the holes, it went slowly under the water, and the Queen died just like the King had.
The King threw the snake leaves into the sea and went home.
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.