Once upon a time, there was a young man, walking down the road. Suddenly, he found a pea. He was very happy about and started to think about planting this pea in his garden to grow.
He thought, after a long time, he could have a lot of peas and harvest them. But if he harvest every pea, he could not take them to the market.
He did not know what he can do and went to the king’s castle to ask the king. The king asked the young man what he wanted and the man told him about his problem. The king wanted to help him and gave him more than a thousand sacks to take the peas to the market, if they were grow.
After it, the king started to think that the young man must be very rich if he really had so many peas.
He looked at the man. He was nice, young, strong and beautiful. So the king thought that he can marry his daughter.
But what, if he was not rich?
The king had a plan. Really clever!!! At first, he asked the man to stay in his castle overnight. The young man was very surprised, but he found the king’s idea nice.
The king’s plan was very simply. If the young man was not rich, he could sleep in the straw. If he was rich he would sleep in a bed.
In the evening, after diner, the king and his visitor went to a room, where the young man had to stay overnight.
The king said: ” I’m sorry, but I have not got a bed for you, but here is any straw, you can sleep on it.
The king closed the door and listen at the keyhole. He thought: “If the young man is rich, he can not sleep on the straw….”
But the young man was very tired and wanted to sleep faster as possible.
But suddenly, the pea went out of his pocket, so he had to search the pea into the straw.
The king was content as he heard that the young man could not sleep.
“So he must be rich!”, thought the king.
The man searched the pea the hole night. Next morning, the man was tired, but he had got his pea.
At breakfast, the king asked the young man for married his daughter.
The king’s daughter was the most beautifullst women he had ever seen. So he was happy and said that he want to marry her.
But the king started to get confused. What, if the man lived in a small dirty house???
He asked the young man to see his estat. Now, the man looked away embarrass, but he said: “Okay, let us go!!!”
So the king asked his owner to bring a carriage and took the king, the princess and the man to his estat. As the owner was ready, they started to drive away from the king’s castle. The owner asked where he had to put them, but the man only said: “Straight on!”
After a few minutes, the king asked: “How long must we drive?”
“Only a few minutes!”, so the man said.
But after an hour (the king asked the man more than ten times when they would be arrived), the man asked the owner to stop the carriage and went for a pee. The king, his daughter and the owner waited in the carriage.
After pee, the man heard a sound behind him. He turned arround a saw a devil. The devil asked the man why he was so confused and the man told him about the king and the princess he wanted to marry.
The devil promissed him to help. He said that the man only had to drive along the road. “After two minutes, you can see a big house on the right. It is yours!”
“But…what do I have to do for you?”
“In three years, I will visite you in your new house. You must only answer me three questions. If you can not give me a right answer, you must die!”
“Okay. We can do it like this! Thank you.”
The man went back to the carriage and told the owner to straight on.
After two minutes, he saw the most beautifullst and biggest house, he had ever seen. “That is my estat, majestic!”, so the young man said.
The king was surprised, but very very happy.
As the carriage arrived at the house, an owner opend the door and said: “Welcome back!”
The young man smiled and the king said that he can marry his daughter.
Three years later, the young man get nervous.
The princess noticed it and asked him why he started to get nervous. The young man told her about the devil.
“When does he cames???”, asked the princess her husbend.
“Tomorrow”, so he said.
The princess was very clever and had an idea: “I’ll dress up tomorrow to look like you. Then the devil will think I am you and I can answer his questions for you.!
Next day, it knocked at the door and the devil come in.
He said “Hello” and started the questions.
“How long does it take to travel around the world?”
“Oh, that’s easy: 24 hours.”
“What, so quick? Why do you say 24 hours?”
“Well, it’s clear: the sun does it every day in 24 hours – so that is how long it takes!”
“Hmm, all right. But now my next question. How much money am I worth?”
“Oh, that’s easy: 29 pieces of silver.”
“What, so little? Why do you say only 29 pieces of silver?”
“Well, it’s clear: Jesus Christ was sold for 30, so you are worth just one less.”
“Hmm, all right. Last question: What am I thinking?”
“Oh, that is very simply, you think I am my husbend, but that is not right.”
She changed her dress and were the real princess.
The devil was surprised.
“Those were the questions, now, let us live in peace!”
The devil went away. And the princess and her husbend lived in peace till they died!
This text is © Stephanie Weyrich.
As well as being a storyteller, I am also a teacher of English as a foreign language. Over the years I have become convinced that storytelling is one of the most powerful and effective tools in language learning: naturally, I tell my classes a lot of tales.
In January 2007 I heard a version of this Transylvanian folk tale told by a great Austrian teller, Helmut Wittmann.
On the internet I found the version published in the 19th century by Josef Haltrich – and from those I have made my own version (mainly changing the final questions).
This morning in school I gave my class of 13-year-olds a grammar lesson. I began by listing on the blackboard all the good grammar phenomena I like to see them include in their free writing (different tenses, negatives, questions, adjectives, adverbs, etc. etc.)
Then I told them the story.
Afterwards they worked with a partner writing their own version, including as many of the grammar points from the list as they could.
Homework was to finish – and if they wished, I said I’d be happy to put one of them on my website.
Stephanie sent me hers this afternoon – and now here it is.
Stephanie’s class has been learning English for less than 18 months. We do use a textbook in the lessons, but the level of English which so many have achieved is due far more to the stories!
The teaching activity is © Richard Martin, 2004.
Permission for non-commercial classroom use with citation is granted.
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For those who are teachers: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling