Dear listeners, today I am going to talk about a difficult thing. I have tried to make this language beginner-level, but it is very hard. There are many hard words here. But it is an important thing to talk about, so I hope you will listen.
You have probably heard about the protests happening in America. A protest is when many people go to one place and talk about a political problem. For example, maybe there is corruption, there are people in the government, politicians, who are taking money from the people. That’s corruption, and people often go to protests to talk about corruption, to say no to corruption.
Well, the protests right now in America are a bit different. They are not about corruption. They are about police brutality. Brutality means killing people, hurting people. In America, the police are killing, and they have killed in the past, many, many black people. People are protesting against police brutality, but also people are protesting because there is coronavirus and the government is not giving them food or money. They have nothing to eat, nowhere to live, no job. The government is not helping them, but killing them.
So why is there so much police brutality in America? Well, it is not just in America. Around the world, the police kill and arrest, put in prison, many black people and immigrants. Immigrants are people who move from one country to another.
The news in many countries, for example, the BBC in the UK, are only showing one part of the protests. They are showing the stealing, but they are not showing all the times that the police are attacking people, hurting people, killing people. If you go on Twitter or other social media, you can see pictures and videos of the police attacking people, and it is horrible. These protests are very serious, but the news doesn’t want to show them to us.
It is very easy to say, ‘Well, this is happening in America, but it is not important for me. It is not my problem.’ But police brutality is a problem around the world. Actually, the problem around the world is racism, hate against black people and people of colour, non-white people. Many people in the UK are saying, ‘Oh, there is so much racism in America, but in the UK things are better.’ There is less police brutality in the UK, but that does not mean that there is not racism.
So why is there racism and police brutality? It is not something natural. In 1767, a Swedish man called Carl Linnaeus wrote a theory, an idea, about the different types of people, the different races. He said that white people, Europeans, were the best race, the race with the best culture, and that black people, Africans, were the worst race. After Carl Linnaeus, there were many people who made similar theories. These ideas and theories were accepted in Europe, and because of this, white people in Europe decided that black people would be good slaves.
Slaves are people who belong to other people, people who are not free. They have to work all their life, and they never get money, and they are often hurt or killed if they do something bad. Many Africans were taken to Europe and America and became slaves. Today people say, ‘Oh, slavery is over, there are no slaves anymore.’
But slavery didn’t happen very long ago. There are not slaves in America now, but many black people are in prison, and they have to work like slaves. And white people and the police still have these very old ideas from Carl Linnaeus about race. Anti-blackness, the idea that black people are worse than other races, is still believed around the world. People say that they are not racist, but if there is racism in your culture, then you will grow up racist. It is long and difficult to change how you think. So when people say, ‘These protests are bad. People are just stealing things,’ they are being racist but they don’t know it.
So why am I talking about this? Well, as I said before, the news is not talking very much about the protests. They don’t want people to change how the governments work. They don’t want to think about racism. In this way, I could just say, ‘Well, Easy Stories in English isn’t a podcast about politics, so I won’t talk about the protests.’
But everything is political. Why are you all learning English? Because hundreds of years ago, the British Empire existed, and it controlled most of the world. Many people spoke different languages, but the British Empire made them learn English. English was a language of brutality, and the British Empire killed millions and millions of people. America came out of the British Empire. Many British people think that we are better than Americans, but really, we are the same. We both have a long history of racism and colonialism, of controlling other countries.
So I have to talk about these protests in America. These protests are very important. I think they are going to change history. But many people are dying in the protests. It is very sad to watch the pictures and videos, and because I am not there, I felt like I could not do anything. But I can do something.
So every day, I give some money to help people protesting. Some people need money because the police arrested them, put them in prison. They need bail money, money to get out of prison. Some people need money because they have nowhere to live, no home, and they have no food. Some people need money so that they can have funerals for friends and family who died, who the police killed.
If you can give some money to help, I would be very happy. I know a lot of you don’t have a lot of money. So please don’t give if you cannot. But if you have just 5 or 10 dollars to give, that is enough. I have put links to where you can give money in the transcript, at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/RedMountain.
I want to also give you something to say thank you for supporting the protests. So if you give money to any of the funds, any of the places to give, I will send you ALL the bonus episodes of Easy Stories in English for free. These are the episodes that are on Patreon for $5 a month. There are 3 beginner stories, 3 pre-intermediate stories and 1 intermediate story. Just email me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com with a screenshot, a picture, showing that you gave money to one of the funds. If you are already supporting on Patreon at the $5 level, I will give you a free one-hour English class instead.
Links – where to give money
If you do not know where to give, I recommend this fund. It is a bail fund (money to help people get out of prison) for all of America.
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 Red Mountain. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/RedMountain. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/RedMountain. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
Thank you to Beatrice Valleferro for sending this story in. It is a legend from Italy about a mountain. There is another episode that Beatrice Valleferro wrote the story for called The Mirror of Misurina. So, Beatrice also sent me that story. You can listen to that story, The Mirror of Misurina, at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Mirror.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A weapon is a thing you use to hurt or kill someone. Swords, knives, guns and bows and arrows are all weapons. Now, people usually use guns and knives, but most people don’t have a weapon. I don’t have any! In the United Kingdom, it is illegal, against the law, to have certain weapons, for example, guns and certain knives.
When you want to hurt someone, you might fight them. You might fight them with a weapon, or you can just use your hands. You might even fight them with words—an argument. Children sometimes throw food at each other—a food fight. A war is basically a big fight.
Someone who is heartless does not have a heart. Basically, they are very cold and not kind, and you do not want to be friends with a heartless person.
Marry means to get married to someone. So when you want to get married to someone, you might go down on one knee and ask them, ‘Will you marry me?’ In the old days, mothers often wanted to marry their daughters to rich men.
The son of a king is the prince. It is very important who a prince gets married to. The daughter of a king is the princess. It is also very important who she gets married to.
Weak means not strong. So you might be weak because you are ill, because you never do exercise, or because you don’t eat enough food.
A tower is a tall, round building. Sometimes it is part of a building. For example, castles have round towers on the sides. Sometimes a tower is the whole building. For example, the Eiffel Tower in Paris is very famous. It is nice to go on the top of a tower because you can see very far.
A knight is a person from the Middle Ages who worked for a lord or a king. Knights wear heavy armour, clothes that protect them, they ride horses, and they fight for their lord or king. Knights fight using swords and shields. Sometimes, there are big competitions called jousts where knights ride horses and fight with long weapons called lances. In fairy tales, a knight often comes and rescues princesses.
When someone is fearless, they have no fear. They are afraid of nothing. Maybe you watch a horror film with your friends and they are all afraid but you aren’t—then you’re the fearless friend.
When you look like something, you look the same as something. When I was a child, I had thick brown hair and black glasses, and everyone said that I looked like Harry Potter. Now I have long hair and nice glasses, and I don’t look like Harry Potter—I look much better.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Red Mountain
Once, there was a horrible king. He loved killing people. If someone bothered him, he said, ‘Fight me!’ and made the person fight him. He always won the fight, and the floors of the castle always had blood on them. Everyone was afraid of him. His family was afraid of him, his friends were afraid of him, and the people of his country were afraid of him. When the King was not there, they called him King Heartless, but if someone said that name when the King was there, he fought them and killed them.
King Heartless had become king after his brother died. His brother’s wife, the Queen, was alone, and the man came and spoke to her.
‘You will marry me,’ he said.
‘My husband has just died. How can I marry you?’
‘If you do not marry me, I will kill you.’
‘But then the country will have no queen! My daughter is not ready to be queen.’
‘So, marry me!’
Finally, she agreed to marry King Heartless. She was afraid of being killed, but really, it was the only thing she could do. She loved her daughter too much, and she knew that King Heartless would be horrible to her if she was not there. So they got married.
The Queen’s daughter, who she had with her first husband, was called Moonlight, and she was as beautiful as the light of the moon. All the princes of the all the other countries wanted to marry her. Everyone spoke about how beautiful she was, and they wanted her to be happy.
But King Heartless did not want Moonlight to be happy. Over the years, he started hating the girl. Everyone was afraid of him, but everyone loved her. Because people were so afraid of him, nobody said bad things to the King anymore. He could never fight and kill people, because everyone did what he said. So over time he grew weak, and his hate of Moonlight grew bigger and bigger.
King Heartless began to be afraid of Princess Moonlight. She was an adult now, and she was ready to get married. If she married a strong man and had a child, he could come and kill the King. He had to make sure that no prince would come and take away his country.
So King Heartless sent Moonlight and her mother on a ‘holiday’. But really, it was not a holiday. As they travelled, the King’s men jumped on them, and they took the Princess and the Queen to a tall tower in the forest. They threw them in the tower and shut the door.
‘Help, help!’ said the Queen. They hit the door again and again. But it did not matter. There was only one key to open the door, and King Heartless always carried it with him. The door was too hard to break, and there was only one window in the tower, at the top. If they jumped out, they would die.
‘Now they cannot fight me,’ said the King.
Over the years, the King thought about killing the Queen and the Princess, but they were not making problems, so he decided not to. In the tower, they had food and books, and wasn’t that enough for anyone? He left them there, and told the people of his country that they had died. He paid men to stand outside the tower, but it was boring work, so the men left their job and didn’t tell the King. It didn’t matter, because nobody went into that part of the forest.
So the King sat alone in his castle. Nobody wanted to speak to him, because they were afraid of him, and nobody wanted to marry him, because he was heartless. He grew old and sad.
One day, a knight was travelling through the forest. He was lost, and he came to a tall tower. He heard two women talking inside.
‘Don’t cry again, Mother, please. One day, the King will die. Someone will find us, and we will be free.’
‘I don’t believe it… How long have we lived here? We will die in this tower, my love.’
‘You have to believe, Mother. Someone will find us!’
The knight knocked on the door of the tower. ‘Hello?’
The two women stopped talking. For a minute, there was no sound. Then the younger woman spoke.
‘Who is there?’
‘I am a knight. I got lost in the woods. Who are you?’
The two women spoke quietly to each other, and then the younger answered. ‘I am Princess Moonlight, and I am here with my mother.’
‘Princess Moonlight! But the King said you were both dead!’
‘No!’ said the older woman. The two women moved to the window . ‘He is a horrible man. He was afraid that my daughter would marry a prince and that he would kill him. He put us in this tower so that we cannot do anything.’
‘I will free you!’ said the knight.
‘You cannot!’ said Princess Moonlight. ‘The door is too strong. We have tried, but it will not break.’
‘There is no door that does not break,’ said the knight.
He tried breaking the door with his weapon, but it was too hard. They were right.
‘Can you jump down?’ he said.
‘It is too far!’ said the Princess. ‘We have thought about it, but we would die.’
‘Hmm. I have an idea!’
The knight went and found a tree. He pulled it out and took it to the tower.
‘Climb down the tree!’ he said.
So the Queen and the Princess climbed down the tree and out of the tower.
‘Oh, thank you, thank you!’ said the Queen, crying.
Princess Moonlight jumped up and kissed the knight. Then she went red.
‘Sorry! I have been up there a long time.’
‘No, I liked it. I am not a prince, but I am strong, as you can see, and I am afraid of nobody. I will look after you always. Princess Moonlight, will you marry me?’
The Princess laughed. ‘Yes, yes, you are the man of my dreams!’
So the Princess, the Queen and the Fearless Knight went and found a place to live. They went to the home of the Queen’s mother, an old castle. They lived quietly there, and for many years, King Heartless did not know what had happened.
But one day, one of his men came with news from the forest: the Princess and Queen were not in the tower.
‘What?! Are they dead?’
‘No, they live! They are in the castle of the Queen’s family, near the mountain to the south. The Princess has married a “Fearless Knight”.’
The King was very angry. ‘Is he a king?’
‘No, but he is the strongest knight in the country, and he is afraid of nobody. I hear that the Princess and the knight have just had a child.’
‘No!’ shouted the King. ‘I will not have this!’
King Heartless did not sleep that night. He thought and thought about what to do. The next day, he spoke to his men.
‘Take a message to the castle of this “Fearless Knight”. Tell them I am sorry about what I did to the Princess and the Queen. Tell them I want to be friends with them again. Tell them I want to meet my grandson.’
So the King’s man went and took his message to the old castle. Princess Moonlight did not believe it.
‘It cannot be true! He never loved me or you. He says that he wants to be friends “again”. We were never friends before!’
‘My love, what if he has changed? It has been such a long time.’
‘How can you say that, Mother? You never wanted to marry him.’
‘I know, but in that tower I learned something. We cannot always think about the past and the future. He is saying sorry. We must listen.’
‘Fine, Mother, I will do it for you. But he cannot bring any weapons.’
So they sent a message to the King, asking him to come to the castle. The King did as they asked, coming without weapons and only a few men. But he did bring lots of presents, for Moonlight and for his grandson.
It looked like the message was real. The King was kind, and it looked like he had really changed. Princess Moonlight could not believe it, but she was happy to see that he had really changed.
Finally, the Fearless Knight and Princess Moonlight said, ‘We want you to live here with us. You are all alone in that old castle. Come and live with your family!’
The King said, ‘Ah, yes! It will be so lovely. I can play with my grandson every day.’
So they lived together happily, and every day the King played games with his grandson. It looked like the King had really changed, and everyone was happy.
But one night, when everyone was sleeping, the King went into the room of the little Prince.
‘Wake up!’ he said quietly.
‘Huh? Grandpa? What’s happening?’
‘Shh! Don’t wake up the others. Be quiet and come with me.’
‘Where are we going, Grandpa?’ asked the child, following the King.
‘I said be quiet! We are going to play a new game. It’s going to be really fun, OK? It will be a surprise for your mother and father.’
‘What kind of surprise?’
‘Oh, you will see. Now, close your eyes and follow me. Don’t open your eyes until I say you can.’
So the little Prince closed his eyes and followed his grandfather. They walked and walked and walked. They walked out of the castle and into the forest. The Prince didn’t know where they were going, but his grandfather had told him to not open his eyes, so he did as he was told.
‘Why are we in the forest?’ he said.
‘It is a game! We are going to go somewhere, and then your mother and father will have to find you. It will be very fun, believe me.’
‘But how will she find me?’
‘Don’t worry, my child.’
But it was hard to walk with his eyes closed, and the Prince fell down. He opened his eyes, and saw that they were on the top of a high mountain. He had never been so high up before.
‘Grandpa, I’m afraid! Why are we climbing this mountain? We could fall off.’
‘I know!’ shouted the King, and laughed. ‘That’s the game!’
Then he picked up the Prince and threw him off the mountain. The Prince screamed and fell down.
The King looked down at the Prince. He sniffed. ‘Ah, blood! I love blood. Now nobody will take my country away from me! Good night, Little Prince!’ And he laughed and laughed and laughed.
In the morning, the knight and the Princess woke up and saw that the sky was red, and that there was a strange light coming from the mountain near the castle.
‘What’s happening?’ said Princess Moonlight. ‘Where is my son?’
They went together to the mountain. The whole mountain was red, red like blood.
‘What is happening?!’ said the Princess. ‘This is all so strange!’
And then they looked down and saw their son.
Princess Moonlight screamed.
She knew immediately who had done this: King Heartless. They went and took their son’s body back to the castle.
‘The King,’ said Princess Moonlight. ‘He is probably already running back to his castle. My love—’
‘I know what I need to do,’ said the Fearless Knight.
He took a horse and went into the forest. It did not take long to find the King. King Heartless laughed when he saw the knight.
‘How fearless are you now, oh Fearless Knight? Your son is dead!’
‘And soon you will be, too!’
The two fought, but King Heartless was old and weak. The knight quickly won the fight, and he stood ready to kill the King.
‘Please, please don’t kill me!’ said the King. ‘I am just an old man!’
‘How many people have you killed? You have killed old men and young women. You took their lives, and now I will take yours.’
So the knight killed King Heartless and came home.
After that day, the mountain was always red, red with the blood of the little Prince who had died there. Even now, people call it Croda Rossa, which means Red Mountain in Italian.
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