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 Lion in Love. This is chapter one of three. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove1. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove1. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Two episodes ago I mentioned that I had surgery on my shoulder recently. I’m still recovering, although I am much closer to being better. I still have to have my left arm in a sling, which means I can’t use it, although I can now take it off for short periods of time. For example, I take it off to get dressed, so I can wear the sling over my clothes, I take the sling off to shower, and so on.
In a few days I’m going in for a physiotherapy appointment. This is where they give you exercises to build your strength back up and to heal the part of your body that’s injured. I’ve done lots of physiotherapy for my shoulder before, because I dislocated it so many times, so I’m not worried about it. The only thing with physiotherapy is that it’s a bit boring. You have to do it usually four times a day, and the exercises aren’t very exciting. But I actually don’t mind it. It’s almost like a kind of meditation? And meditation is something I also do, so it’s good for me.
Today’s story is another one adapted from Aesop’s Fables, but this one is quite different in how it ends. Although I have to say this is definitely one of the more tragic Aesop’s Fables. Some of them are very adult in theme, and this is definitely one of them. But I won’t spoil what happens.
I do feel like I generally write quite dark things. For example, one time I was at a writers’ group and we were doing group writing. So the topic was “I remember” and everyone else wrote these lovely pieces about their own childhood memories, remembering a pleasant time. Mine was the only one that was fiction, and it was an awful story in which a girl saw someone get murdered and was running away from the murderer, so she had to make sure she also wasn’t killed. It was very funny reading it out after hearing all of everyone’s lovely, kind, nice stories. But apparently, I can take just about any topic and make it awful.
Thank you to everyone who sent in emails. I’ve got about five of them now. I’ve had emails from teachers and students. I’ve had people tell me how they used the resources. Um, so it’s really lovely to just hear what you’re doing with the podcast, what you like, what you would like more of. If you would like to send me an email, you can do so at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. And my name is spelt A-R-I-E-L.
There are quite a few words to explain today, so I’ll get on with it.
The first one is “whiskers”. That’s spelt W-H-I-S-K-E-R. Whiskers are hairs, but you find them on animals. They are hairs that grow sideways, out of an animal’s cheeks. So cats have whiskers, tigers have whiskers, lions have whiskers. Actually, it’s usually mainly cats, although some other animals also have whiskers. Like, I think otters have whiskers. We do sometimes use it to describe moustaches on humans, as well.
The next word is “echo”. NOT pronounced “etch-o”. An echo is a sound that bounces around a room and repeats. So you know when you stand in a really tall room? And you go, ‘HELLO! Hello! Hello, hello…’ That’s an echo.
A deer is an animal that you find in the forest, usually. They don’t eat meat, they eat plants. And they are often hunted by hunters. Male deer, who are called “stags”, have really big horns. They have these big antlers that come out of their heads and form into impressive shapes, and they use them to fight other stags when they’re trying to find a mate.
A horn, generally, is a sharp bone that comes out of an animal’s head, that they use to fight. When I think of horns, I think of rhinoceroses.
“Roar” is the sound a lion makes when it’s really angry. When I think of this word, I think of the scene from The Lion King where Simba is trying to show he can roar, and he’s like rawr, and it’s not impressive at all. He can’t even scare a lizard.
Finally, the last word is also related to lions: mane. A mane is the thick set of hair that male lions have on their head. Although we also talk about horses’ manes as well.
OK, so remember you can find a full transcript of this episode, so the episode in text format with the conversation and the story, at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove1. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/LionLove1.
So, listen and enjoy!
The Lion in Love Chapter 1
One day, Gentle the mouse went over to visit Crush the lion. Neither he, nor Bright Eyes the hawk, nor Grunt the pig had seen him for several days, and Gentle was starting to worry.
Gentle stood at the edge of the cave where Crush lived. It was very dark inside, and he was too scared to enter.
‘Crush? Are you there?’
But nobody responded. Gentle waited. Then he heard a noise coming from inside. It sounded like someone was crying. He followed the sound. Eventually, he bumped into something big and soft. He fell, and saw that it was Crush’s back.
Crush was lying on his side in the dark, pushing a rock around.
‘Crush, is something wrong?’
‘Oh. Hello, Gentle.’
He did not turn around to look at his friend.
‘Crush, you haven’t been outside for days. You must be… hungry.’
Suddenly Gentle felt a cold fear. He and Crush were very good friends, but you never knew…
‘I’m fine,’ Crush said.
Gentle was surprised. For Crush, hunger was the most important thing in the world. When he was hungry, he never stopped talking about it. Sometimes he would be in the middle of a conversation with Gentle, and he would suddenly cry, ‘I am hungry!’, and run away to hunt.
So Gentle knew something must be very, very wrong with his friend.
‘Do you want me to bring you some food?’ Gentle said. ‘Some mushrooms? Some fruit, maybe?’
‘Pah! I already told you. I can’t manage without meat.’
Gentle had been trying to get Crush to stop eating meat. It was so sad when other animals in the forest had to die. Gentle knew it was the way of the world, but even so, he wished they could all be friends.
Except for Hoppy the frog. Gentle wouldn’t mind at all if Hoppy was eaten.
‘Maybe I can convince Bright Eyes to bring you some meat?’
Gentle knew that Bright Eyes the hawk would do anything for Crush, because she was deeply afraid of him.
‘No, I don’t want that.’
Gentle was shocked. Crush loved seeing Bright Eyes shake in fear of him. If he didn’t want even that, then something really had to be wrong.
‘My dear, dear friend. What is wrong with you?’
Crush sighed deeply, and rolled over to face Gentle. His face was soaking wet with tears, and his whiskers were a mess.
‘I’m, I’m, I’m—’
‘What is it, Crush?’
‘I’m in love!’
And then he burst into tears. He cried so much that it echoed around the whole cave. Crush sounded like a drowning cat.
‘Oh, Gentle! I’m hopelessly, hopelessly in love.’
‘With whom?’ Gentle said. There were no other lions in the forest, as far as he knew.
Gentle took a moment to remember who Charcoal was. She lived on the other side of the forest.
‘But Charcoal is a deer!’ Gentle said. ‘Crush, you eat deer!’
‘I know! I know! I am a useless lion.’
And he cried more and more. His tears fell down his cheeks and landed on the floor. Gentle had to move away, because Crush’s tears were big enough to cover him entirely.
Eventually, Crush stop crying enough to tell his story.
‘I was hunting, you see. And I saw Charcoal. I knew it was her, because everybody in the Great Forest talks about the black spots on her back, and how beautiful she is. And I thought to myself, “What a treat! I will catch and eat the most delicious deer in all the forest! And she will taste twice as sweet as those ugly old stags!” ’
Gentle said nothing. He didn’t like it when Crush talked about hunting.
‘So I hid in the grass, and walked as slowly and quietly as I could. Charcoal stopped to drink from a stream, and all she could hear was the running of the water and the licking of her tongue. Then I jumped on her!’ Crush clapped his paws together, spraying Gentle with tears. ‘I pushed her to the ground, and my mouth filled with water. I was so hungry, Gentle, because I had been trying to eat plants, just like you said…’
Gentle felt guilty. ‘Go on,’ he said.
‘I had her caught. She didn’t try to escape. She just stared up at me with her big, round eyes. Oh, those eyes! I still see those eyes whenever I close mine! I looked into those eyes, and I knew I could not hurt her. I let her go, and she walked away, walked away as if nothing had happened. Oh, Gentle, I love her!’
Crush started crying again, and Gentle had to move back to avoid being drowned in tears.
‘Crush!’ Gentle cried, trying to be heard over his crying. ‘Crush! Why don’t you tell her?’
Crush fell silent. He stared at the mouse. His eyes were dark red from crying.
‘Tell her? Tell her I am in love with her? She is a deer!’ Crush roared. ‘How could a deer ever fall for a lion? She would think I am mad. All the animals would laugh at me!’
‘Sometimes you have to take a risk, for love,’ said Gentle. ‘And your friends won’t laugh at you. They are the only animals whose opinion matters.’
Crush shook his head. ‘I spoke to Grunt about it, just after it happened. I thought my friend, being an ugly pig, would understand my problem. But he just laughed in my face! He laughed so hard he fell on his fat stomach!’
Gentle remembered when he’d first met Crush, how the lion had laughed in his face. But he didn’t mention that.
‘I’m sure Grunt didn’t mean to hurt you. You’re always joking with each other. He probably thought it wasn’t serious.’
Crush didn’t look convinced. ‘Besides, Charcoal’s father is Webhorn. Do you know why they call him Webhorn? It is because his horns are like a spider’s web. They are huge! He is certainly the most powerful stag in the forest, and perhaps the strongest animal after me. He will never approve of me and Charcoal. I considered killing him, of course, but then I thought about what Charcoal would say. She would hate me!’
‘Well,’ said Gentle, ‘you could try to be more… gentle. Why don’t you tell him you love his daughter? Think about it: the strongest animal in the forest joins with the daughter of the second-strongest animal in the forest. It would make you into quite a powerful family!’
Crush got up with a jump. ‘What an excellent idea! I shall ask to marry his daughter. Gentle, you are so smart!’
‘I didn’t mean you should ask to… Oh, whatever. But before you go to Webhorn, we need to clean you up.’
So Gentle took Crush to the lake. Crush took a big bath, and Gentle helped rub all his fur clean, so that when the sun dried him he shone like a star.
Crush was afraid to go alone, so Gentle hid in his mane, and they went over to visit Webhorn.
When they arrived, Webhorn was rubbing his horns against a tree to make them sharper. They were indeed huge, and formed into a pattern like a spider’s web. When Webhorn saw Crush approaching, he stood up.
‘Crush! You attacked my daughter. I should slice your stomach open!’
Gentle was amazed. Webhorn was not afraid of Crush, even though Crush was probably much stronger than him.
Crush bowed his head. ‘Great Webhorn, King of the Deer, I ask you to forgive me. I did not harm your daughter, did I?’
‘Hmmh,’ said Webhorn. ‘I believe she was not hurt. That is a strange thing in itself. Why attack my daughter and then let her escape? What are you planning, you hairy beast?’
Crush did not react to the insults, while normally he would have roared in anger. Gentle was pleasantly surprised.
‘I let her escape because I realised she is a far too beautiful creature to hurt. I must admit that I fell in love with her. That is why I am here. I would like to… marry Charcoal.’
Webhorn stared silently at Crush. They looked at each other for what felt like hours. Then, Webhorn finally spoke.
‘I suppose I should feel happy, happy that the great King of Beasts has decided to marry my daughter. But I am not easily convinced. Crush, you are known throughout the Great Forest for your anger and violence. How can I know you will not hurt my daughter, and what’s more, my entire family?’
‘I will never put a claw on her, I promise!’
‘A lion’s promise is not worth much,’ Webhorn said. ‘But I do understand how love can change a creature… I have a suggestion for how we can solve this situation. You may marry my daughter, but you must first do one thing. Go to the wood-cutter, the human man who lives on the edge of the forest. Tell him to remove your sharp teeth and your sharp claws. Then I shall know you truly do not intend to hurt my daughter. If you remove your teeth and claws, I will allow you to marry her.’
Gentle was shocked. Crush couldn’t remove his teeth and claws! Without them, he wouldn’t be able to hunt. Besides, he was far too proud to do something like that.
Gentle felt Crush move, and he was sure he was going to attack Webhorn.
‘Don’t do it,’ Gentle whispered in Crush’s ear.
‘I accept your offer,’ Crush said.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
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