Module D – Lessons 41 to 50


Click here for Lesson 41
Click here for Lesson 42
Click here for Lesson 43
Click here for Lesson 44
Click here for Lesson 45
Click here for Lesson 46
Click here for Lesson 47
Click here for Lesson 48
Click here for Lesson 49
Click here for Lesson 50
Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.) 

More Stories And Fables 

Lesson 41 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Anansi, Anansi’s, Armageddon, Aso, Mmoboro, Nyame, Onini, Osebo, accounts, advised, affixed, ameliorate, angrily, appreciative, assuredly, bestow, bleating, blubbered, brawl, calamity, campfires, carps, cavils, clambered, clamor, clueless, comprehended, conferred, constituted, cooperated, cords, corral, criticizes, dangled, deteriorate, disturbing, elocution, ensnared, entreaty, erudite, evaluated, examined, exerted, exorbitant, expel, fisticuff, flabbergasted, functional, gourd, grouses, hankering, hereby, hollowed, hornet’s, hurtled, inadequate, indigent, intricately, invariably, juncture, knocks, kvetches, laced, listless, loggerheads, ludicrous, lunging, lunkhead, magnificent, mercilessly, mewl, monsoon, mooing, muttering, narratives, necessarily, nitpicks, noontime, overflow, overlaid, oy, parched, pausing, pensively, perturbed, phlegmatic, proven, prowl, python, questioning, rabbi, rabbi’s, revisited, roomy, sanguine, scorched, slithered, snared, sneakily, snippy, solemnly, speechless, squall, storyteller, stowed, strategize, strolling, superlative, surveying, thankfulness, torrid, tranquil, tussle, unendingly, unequivocally, unsalvageable, unsuitable, vey, vigilant, vivacious, wit’s, yawled

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
A wolf was on the prowl. He roamed around a flock of sheep. This went on night after night. He wanted to eat one of them. But the shepherd and his dogs were vigilant. They invariably chased him away.

But one day, the wolf found something. It was the skin of a sheep. It had been thrown aside. He thought of a way to use it. He pulled the skin over top of him. None of his fur showed under the white fleece. Then he returned to the flock. He strolled among them. The disguise was most effective!

The shepherd was clueless. He thought that the wolf was a sheep. He allowed the wolf to graze. He even let him sleep in the warm barn with the sheep.

This went on for many days and nights. The wolf ate and slept better than he ever had. But one day, his plan turned sour on him! The shepherd had made a decision. He’d head to market. He’d sell one of his flock.

He examined his flock. He chose the biggest, fattest sheep. He brought him to town. Can you guess which sheep it was? It was the wolf! His trick had cost him his life!

Moral: Things aren’t necessarily as they seem. You should not pretend to be what you are not. You might end up losing in the end.


The Fox and the Grapes
It was a torrid summer noontime. A fox was strolling along. His throat was parched. He noticed a bunch of juicy grapes. They were just turning ripe. But they hung on a vine high above. “Mmm! That’s just the thing I need. That would ameliorate my thirst,” he said.

He trotted back a few steps. Then, he hurtled forward. He jumped as high as he could. But he just missed the grapes. He turned around. He exerted himself and tried again. “One! Two! Three! GO!” he yelled. He went lunging at the grapes. He gave it all that he had.

But again, he missed. Again and again, he tried to pluck the grapes from the vine. But at last, he gave up. He walked away. He stuck his nose in the air. He said, “I didn’t want those old grapes anyway. I’m sure they are sour.”

Moral: You shouldn’t speak badly about something that you once had a hankering for, just because you can’t have it.


The Crowded, Noisy House
Once there was an indigent Jewish man. He went to speak with his rabbi. “Rabbi,” the man said. “You must help me. My life is unbearable.”

“I live with my wife, our five children, and my mother-in-law. There is only one room for the eight of us. The children, they cry and fight. My wife, she screams a lot. My mother-in-law, she kvetches about everything. It is crowded, noisy, and horrible, I tell you. Honestly, Rabbi. I don’t think it could be any worse!”

The rabbi rubbed his chin. He evaluated the man’s situation. “My son,” he said. “Please promise to do as I tell you. I know your life will get better. Will you solemnly swear to do this?”

“Yes! Yes!” said the man. “I promise.”

“Tell me,” said the rabbi. “Do you own any animals?”

“Yes,” said the man. “I have a goat.” Then the rabbi cut him off.

“Good!” said the rabbi. “Go home. Take the goat into your house. Let it eat and sleep with you. Do this for a few days.”


The man was flabbergasted. Take the goat into the house? The rabbi’s advice sounded like a ludicrous idea. But everyone knew the rabbi was a wise man. So, the poor man agreed to do what he said. He went home. He led the goat into his house.

Two days passed. The man revisited the rabbi. “Oy vey!” he said. “I did as you advised me to. I brought my goat into the house. But things are worse than before.”

“The children, they squall and brawl. My wife, she nitpicks to no end. My mother-in-law, she grouses mercilessly about everything. The goat, she butts us with her head. She knocks the dishes off the shelves. Help me, Rabbi. It’s so bad that I don’t think things could deteriorate any further! I’m at my wit’s end!”

The rabbi sat pensively for a brief juncture. Then he asked the man a question. “Do you have any other animals?”

“Yes,” said the man. “I have a cow.” Then the rabbi cut him off.

“Good!” said the rabbi. “Go home.” Take the cow into your house. Let it eat and sleep with you. Do this for a few days.”


Again, the man cooperated with the rabbi’s entreaty. He went home. He led the cow into his house. Two days passed. The man went back to see the rabbi.

“Oy vey!” he yawled. “I did as you said. I brought the cow into the house. Things are even worse than before. The children, they mewl and tussle. My wife, she carps 24/7. My mother-in-law, she cavils about everything. The goat, she butts us with her head. She knocks the dishes off the shelves. The cow, she eats our clothing. The house is like a barn! We can’t sleep. There’s all this bleating and mooing! Help me, Rabbi. I fear that our calamity is unsalvageable!”

The rabbi was speechless for a long time. Then he asked a question. “Do you have any other animals?”

“Well,” said the man, pausing. “I have a goose.”

Superlative!” said the rabbi. “Go home. Take the goose into your house. Let it eat and sleep with you.”

Two days passed. The man went back to the rabbi.


“Oy vey!” he blubbered. “Things are worse than ever! The children, they clamor and fisticuff. My wife is unendingly snippy. My mother-in-law, she criticizes us about everything. The goat, she butts us with her head. She knocks the dishes off the shelves. The cow, she eats our clothing. The goose, he honks and poops on the floor. I tell you something, Rabbi. It is unsuitable for a man to eat and sleep with animals. I think that our household is approaching Armageddon!”

“My son,” the rabbi responded with tranquil elocution. “You’re unequivocally right. Go home. Expel the animals from your house. You will find the answer.”

A few days passed. The man saw the rabbi at the market. He ran to him.

“Rabbi!” he cried. His face was beaming. “You have made life sanguine for me. I overflow with thankfulness for your advice. Now, all the animals are outside. Now, the house is so quiet, so roomy, and so clean! How magnificent things are!”


All Stories Are Anansi’s
Long ago, there were no stories on Earth. They all belonged to the sky god. His name was Nyame. He kept the narratives in a box. He stowed the box beneath his throne.

Thus, people had no accounts to share amongst themselves. So, the people of Earth just sat around their campfires. One day, Anansi the Spider was surveying the people from his web. He could see that the people were phlegmatic and listless. He decided he’d bring them something. It would make them more vivacious. It would help them pass the time.

Anansi stretched his eight legs. Then he wove a well-contrived, highly functional web. It reached all the way to the sky. He clambered up the web. He finally arrived at the throne of the sky god. Remember, Nyame was the keeper of all stories.

“Nyame,” he said. “You are the erudite one. You are the great god of the sky. Will you let me have the great box? I mean the one where you keep the stories. I’d like to take the stories to Earth. I’d like to give them to the people there.”


“I’ll bestow to you the box of stories,” said Nyame. He had quite a booming voice. “But the price is exorbitant. Many have tried. And all have failed at what I shall ask of you. You must bring me three things. First, bring me Onini. He’s the great python. He can swallow a goat. Second, bring me Osebo. He’s the mighty leopard. His teeth are as sharp as spears. Third, bring me Mmoboro. He’s the giant hornet. His sting burns like a needle of fire.”

“I will pay the price,” said Anansi.

Anansi swung back down to Earth on his web. He conferred with his wife, Aso. Together, they constituted a plan. They’d first capture Onini. He was the great python who could swallow a goat.

It was the next morning. Anansi sneakily walked into the forest. He was waving a big branch. He was talking to himself. “She’s wrong!” he said. He was pretending to be very perturbed. “I know she is. He’s much longer than this branch.”

Anansi approached the watering hole. A large snake rose up. It was Onini, the great python who can swallow a goat. “What are you muttering about?” asked Onini. “You’re disturbing my nap.”


“I’m at loggerheads with my wife,” said Anansi. “She says that you’re shorter than this branch. But I say you are longer. She won’t listen to me. I don’t see how I can prove that I’m right.”

That’s easy,” said Onini. “Lay your branch on the ground. I’ll lie next to it. Then you shall see that I am longer.” The great snake slithered over. He lay next to Anansi’s branch.

“It looks like you may be longer,” said Anansi. But his voice had a questioning tone to it. “But I can’t tell for sure. It’s because you’re not quite straightened out. Could I straighten you out a bit?”

Assuredly,” said Onini.

“Let me fasten your tail at this end,” said the spider. “That way, I can really straighten you out. And also here a little lower. And here by your head.” The python comprehended too late what Anansi was up to. The spider had spun a web. He’d used it to tie Onini to the branch!

“Now you’re snared!” said Anansi. With that, Anansi carried Onini the python to Nyame.

“That is one thing,” said Nyame in a loud, deep voice. “Two things remain.” Anansi went back to Earth. He began to strategize his next plan. He had to corral Osebo. He was the mighty leopard who had teeth as sharp as spears.


He dug a deep hole. It was on the path that Osebo used the most. He walked on it to get to the watering hole. The spider laid branches across the hole. He overlaid them with sticks, leaves, and dirt. Anansi was satisfied that the hole was well-hidden. He then scurried home. He went to sleep.

Osebo came out to hunt during the night. He fell right into Anansi’s trap. Anansi found him down in the hole the next morning.

“Osebo,” said Anansi. “What are you doing down in that hole?”

“You lunkhead!” said Osebo. “Can’t you see? I’ve fallen into a trap! You must help me get out.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” said the spider. He found a large willow tree. He bent the top of the tree over the pit. He spun two silky cords. He used them to fasten the tree. Then he spun another silky cord. He affixed it to the top of the tree. This third cord dangled down into the pit.

“Tie the cord to your tail,” said Anansi. “Then I’ll lift you up.” Osebo tied the web to his tail.

Anansi cut the cords that were holding the tree down. The tree sprang back to its original position. It was carrying Osebo with it. Osebo dangled from the tree. He was all tangled up in Anansi’s web-work.


“Now you’re ensnared!” said Anansi. He tightly tied the ends of the web. He dragged Osebo the leopard to Nyame.

Now the sky god was impressed. “That is two things,” said Nyame. “Only one thing remains.”

Anansi went back to Earth. Now he had to catch Mmoboro. That was the giant hornet whose sting scorched like a needle of fire. He cut a gourd from a vine. He hollowed out the inside. Then he filled the gourd with water. He went to the nest where Mmoboro the hornet made his home.

Anansi poured some of the water in the gourd over his own head. He looked as though he’d been drenched in a monsoon! Then he dumped the rest of the water on the hornet’s nest. Mmoboro the hornet came out. He was buzzing angrily. He saw Anansi standing nearby. The spider held a leaf over his head.

“Oh, my!” said Anansi. “The rainy season seems to have come early this year. It looks like you have no shelter from the rain. Why don’t you take shelter in my gourd? Just stay there until the rain goes away.”

“Thank you,” said Mmoboro the hornet. He then flew into the gourd.


“You’re welcome!” said Anansi. The spider closed up the opening in the gourd with his leaf. He fastened the leaf with his finest, most intricately laced web yet. “Now you’re caught!” Anansi proudly carried Mmoboro to Nyame.

“That is the last thing,” proclaimed Nyame. “You have succeeded, Anansi. So many before you have proven inadequate to the task. You have paid the price.” 

Then Nyame called out to the people of Earth. His voice was like thunder. “Listen to me! Anansi has paid the price. He has earned the stories of the sky god. I do hereby give the stories to him. From this day forward, all of the stories belong to Anansi. Here’s what you must do when you tell one of these stories. You must acknowledge that it is Anansi’s tale.”

Anansi took the box of stories back to Earth. He shared them with the people. They were appreciative to have the stories. They told them over and over to their children. They were told to their children’s children. They then told them to their own children, and so on. Even to this day, these stories are known as “spider stories.”

What happens at the end of many spider stories? The storyteller often says this. “This is my story, which I have related. If it be sweet, or if it be not sweet, take it elsewhere and let it come back to me.”


Lesson 42 – Prefixes 01 “UN-“

The prefix “UN-” means “not.” Examples: “unfriendly” means “not friendly”; “unsure” means “not sure.” Etc …     
NEW WORDS: Fi, Smiths, arthritic, burping, caboose, cameo, collards, consignment, crime’s, crockpot, docent, dress’s, eyesore, fabric’s, favors, flunkies, frayed, gaffe, garden’s, goals, hamster’s, hemline, incident, issues, kiwis, meat’s, mind’s, mob, morals, mulch, novel’s, number’s, objectives, patients, pear’s, plan’s, puled, railed, regime, resemblance, restock, road’s, scandal, sci, seatbelt, sewage, sheriff, shrink, sky’s, software, sowed, swing’s, tarpaulin, thought’s, trailer, treehouse, unAmerican, unacquainted, unaffected, unafraid, unanswered, unanticipated, unarmed, unashamed, unassigned, unattached, unattractive, unavailable, unaware, unbalanced, unbeaten, unbecoming, unbind, unbitten, unblocked, unbolted, unborn, unbought, unbounded, unbox, unbroken, unbruised, unbrushed, unbuckle, unbuckles, unbuilt, unbundle, unburned, unburnt, unbuttered, unbutton, unbuttoned, unbuttons, uncaged, uncalled, uncanny, unceasing, uncertain, uncertainly, uncertified, unchain, unchanged, uncharged, unchecked, unchewed, unchosen, unchristened, uncleaned, unclear, uncloak, unclothed, unclouded, uncoated, uncocked, uncollected, uncolored, uncombed, uncomplicated, unconfined, unconfirmed, unconnected, unconstitutional, uncontrolled, unconventional, unconvinced, uncooked, uncooperative, uncork, uncounted, uncouple, uncover, uncovering, uncovers, uncracked, uncritical, uncrowded, uncultivated, undecided, undeclared, undecorated, undefeated, undefined, undemocratic, undeserved, undesignated, undesired, undetected, undeveloped, undiscovered, undistorted, undivided, undoes, undrape, undraped, undressed, undressing, unearth, uneducated, unending, unenthusiastic, unethical, uneven, unevenly, unexplained, unexplored, unfaded, unfaithful, unfamiliar, unfasten, unfastened, unfed, unfocused, unfought, unfounded, unfree, unfrozen, ungerminated, ungifted, ungrateful, unground, unguided, unhand, unhappier, unhappily, unhappiness, unhatched, unhealed, unheard, unhitch, unhitched, unholy, unhook, unhooked, unhooks, unhurried, unidentified, unimpaired, unimportant, unimpressed, unimpressive, unimproved, uninformed, uninhabited, uninjured, uninspired, uninstall, unintelligent, unintended, uninterested, uninvolved, unironed, unjammed, unknowing, unlabeled, unlatch, unlevel, unlikely, unlimited, unlisted, unloaded, unloading, unloads, unlock, unlocked, unlocks, unloosens, unloved, unlucky, unmade, unmannerly, unmarried, unmask, unmasks, unmeasured, unmended, unmentioned, unmet, unmoved, unmown, unmute, unnatural, unnaturally, unnecessary, unneeded, unnoticed, unopened, unopposed, unoriginal, unpack, unpacking, unpaid, unpaved, unpeeled, unpinned, unpleased, unplowed, unplug, unpolished, unpopular, unpriced, unprocessed, unpublished, unpunished, unraked, unrated, unreached, unready, unreal, unrealized, unreasonable, unrecognized, unregistered, unreinforced, unrelated, unremarkable, unreported, unrepresented, unresolved, unrestricted, unrewarded, unrinsed, unripe, unroll, unromantic, unsafe, unsaid, unscramble, unscrambled, unscrew, unseal, unseat, unsecured, unseemly, unseen, unselfish, unsent, unsettled, unshaken, unshaved, unsold, unsolved, unsophisticated, unsound, unspoiled, unspoken, unstable, unstained, unstated, unsteadily, unstitched, unstrung, unsung, unsupported, unsure, unswayed, unsweetened, untalented, untamed, untapped, unteach, unteaching, unthread, unthrone, untidy, untitled, untold, untorn, untouched, untoward, untraced, untreated, untrimmed, untruth, untucked, unturned, untwist, untwists, unusually, unveil, unveils, unvexed, unwanted, unwarned, unwary, unwasted, unweeded, unwelcome, unwell, unwise, unworldly, unworn, unwrap, unwrapped, unwritten, unzipped, yard’s 

You’ll have unlimited 24/7 access to the site.

He flew into an unmeasured rage.

We’ve never had a more uncaring boss.

Dad untwists jars that I can’t open.

He unhooked the tractor from the trailer.

Unbind the dog from his leash.

Can you unfasten the back of my dress?

These towels are unused.

His flunkies threw undeserved praise at him.

He’s unlucky in love.

Her visit was unanticipated.

This food product is unprocessed.

My phone number’s unlisted.

That dress is unsuitable for this event.

That scifi movie was unreal!

Unlock the door.

His behavior in front of the Queen was unseemly.

This fabric’s uncoated.

Untamed beasts roam this jungle.

It’s unsafe to swim here.

We’re both “Smiths,” but we’re unrelated.

Their hamster’s uncaged.


The unplowed fields begged for rain.

What an unattractive beard!

That unbalanced jerk should see a shrink.

Your shirt’s untucked.

The cat’s unbrushed fur has mats.

Since you’re unassigned, join the team that you want to be on.

She’s got untapped gifts!

I’m uninterested in that game.

I untangled the Xmas lights.

The judge said, “That’s an unimportant fact.”

Unearth the coffin.

She roamed the museum, unguided by a docent.

I was unfocused during the test.

Though he was uneducated, he rose to the top.

I’m unsuccessful at golf.

We were unready for their team’s trick plays.

It’s an unwritten rule that we don’t do that here!

Unhand me, you brute!

He’s uncertified to practice law.

She unbuttoned her coat.

That clod is ungifted at sports.

It’s an unremarkable book.


Their Xmas tree’s undecorated.

Our plan’s still undefined.

I’m undecided on who I’ll vote for.

That case is still uncracked.

Gran’s been unwell for 2 weeks.

Sis is being uncooperative!

What uninspired acting!

Hand me that uncolored egg.

She came back from the beach unburned.

This film is unrated.

I love these unspoiled woods.

She was unaffected by the virus.

She unfolded the clothes.

This drug has undesired side effects.

Uncork this wine bottle.

What we all knew went unsaid.

Unbutton your shirt.

Much is undiscovered in our deep oceans.

Undrape the window.

Throw out those unmended socks.

Where are my unfaded jeans?

I’m unpleased with your work!


Doc will unthread these stitches.

The door’s unlocked.

She held her cup of tea unsteadily.

That crime’s unsolved.

All food goes unwasted in our house.

You ungrateful brat!

The magician undraped the box.

Dad’s unpacking the car.

Get unground, whole-bean coffee.

That couple is unmarried.

She’ll run to unseat the Senator.

Unhurried, he cleaned the room.

Till now, that thought’s been unexplored.

Unroll your sleeping bag.

Stay healthy for your unborn child.

I’m uncertain what you mean.

He seems unshaken by the wreck.

The sky’s unclouded!

Their parrot is unconfined in their sun room.

He swallows his food unchewed!

He climbed from the wreckage uninjured.

The cop let him go, uncharged.


What they tried to do had unintended results.

Their garden’s unweeded.

Even with new facts, my mind’s unchanged.

This sewage is untreated.

It’s uncomplicated to set this up.

That crook seems unbounded by morals.

Unteach my golf swing’s bad habits!

They unhitched their wagons.

You can’t undo a dumb sent email!

He talked for an hour, uninterrupted.

Let’s fix these unresolved issues.

That act was unethical.

He snuck into the party unrecognized.

Is it unnatural for dogs to like cats?

Any more clean-up is unnecessary.

People in that country are unfree.

He felt unloved by his dad.

Her hard work went unrewarded.

Ives wrote music called “The Unanswered Question.”

The road’s uneven here.

Perfect grilling dad, the meat’s unburnt!

Her hair was frayed and untrimmed.


Unscrew the light bulb.

Why’s the trash still uncollected?

I’ve got unrestricted access to the lab.

His teeth looked unnaturally white.

Unchain the prisoner.

Which key unlocks the front door?

This land is as yet uncultivated.

In this scene, he unmasks Spider-Man.

Unseal the tomb!

His biggest hopes went unrealized.

This pear’s unripe.

Unscramble their secret code.

Our voices are unrepresented!

They had an unspoken agreement.

I’m unacquainted with her books.

Their country is undemocratic.

I was uninformed about the facts.

His untruth swayed the crowd.

I must unpack my suitcase.

Watch how she unbuckles this seat belt.

This jar is unopened.

The cop was off duty, thus unarmed.


My novel’s still untitled.

Why are these items still unpriced?

That’s an unfounded rumor!

The troops were unreinforced.

She gave me the most unwanted chore.

They were forced to work, unpaid.

The trip was easy, unimpaired by storms.

He’s the most unpopular kid at school.

These mountains are uninhabited.

He’s unaware that he has bad breath.

After 90 days, your work is unimproved.

I’ll now unveil the plan.

He unloads the mulch using that truck.

I grew tired of her unending sob story.

I undressed and put on my PJs.

That phone call went untraced.

We must uncover who robbed the bank.

Your bad tennis serve needs unteaching.

That’s the undistorted truth!

He’s an unsung hero!

What an uncanny resemblance!

We’ve unscrambled their code!


That was an unneeded comment.

The crimes were unconnected.

Uncloak the space ship.

I’m unsure what you mean.

The unbroken silence was tense.

We have 10 more unpeeled kiwis.

They were unwarned about the coming attack.

I’m unconvinced that he can change.

His death is unconfirmed.

Why’s this gun lying around unsecured?!

Don’t cut down any undesignated trees.

She seemed untroubled by her gaffe.

He’s untalented at singing.

I hope she unveils our new boss to us today.

You seem unusually quiet tonight.

Their team’s still undefeated.

I was unmoved by his speech.

What an unintelligent comment!

She just turned five, but is still unchristened.

Watch how he unhooks the two rail cars.

Unmute your phone.

Burping on a date is unromantic!


What an untidy house!

They’re unloading the moving van.

Unhitch the wagons!

These are unevenly divided.

I was unimpressed with his magic trick.

I took some unsound advice.

Are the pets still unfed?

That good-looking guy is unattached.

These collards are unwashed.

I’d like unsweetened tea.

He was in an untoward car accident.

Uninstall this software.

He was an unknowing victim of a phone scam.

I’ve unjammed the printer.

The preacher railed against the unfaithful.

The diner was uncrowded.

I’m unfamiliar with that author.

The child was unseen and unheard, hidden in the closet.

The mom was unvexed by her baby’s crying.

Leave my toast unbuttered.


Mom’s undressing to take a bath.

They unhatched the cargo door.

This silver is unpolished.

I can’t unhook this necklace.

Dad unfastened his seatbelt.

Our car was undamaged by the hail storm.

Politics go unmentioned at our dinner table.

Is the steak unfrozen yet?

They unwrapped their gifts.

That’s an undeveloped nation.

They calmed down; thus, a battle went unfought.

I’ve unloaded the van.

I’ve stayed untouched by the flu bug.

That’s an unoriginal story.

I’m unsophisticated about fancy wines.

The accident went unreported.

Class, I need your undivided attention.

Unlatch the gate.

I’ve unturned the bedsheets.

Her college major is still undeclared.

My risky email is still unsent.

He’s unharmed from his minor car wreck.


It’s unlikely I can make your party.

Their unmown yard’s an eyesore.

Their team went unbeaten this season.

He puled about his unhappiness.

The dishes are uncleaned.

I was uninvolved with that incident.

Give the unsold food to the food pantry.

I saw a horror movie about unholy spirits.

This road’s unpaved.

That was unselfish to offer me some of your candy.

They’ve unveiled the President’s portrait.

Their regime is unstable.

I’m unafraid of that barking dog.

The sheriff uncocked his gun.

Unmask the superhero!

I was treated unfairly.

Unbox these used books.

I have too many unreached goals.

Unwrap this present.

She’s unwary that she’s being followed.

Restock these unbought items.

Unbuckle your seat belt.

He flew into an uncontrolled rage.


I’ve unrolled the tarpaulin.

Her thoughts went unstated.

My scab is unhealed.

We’re uncovering details of the crime.

Look at my pitiful uncombed hair!

If you’re unregistered for the trade show, go to that table.

My dress’s hemline has become unstitched.

I’ll put this unworn dress on consignment.

The bed’s unmade.

She slipped into the back of the class unnoticed.

She unpinned her cameo from her blouse.

His hands are arthritic, and he unbuttons things with difficulty.

I’m unenthusiastic about this book.

He’s charged with unconstitutional acts.

It’s unAmerican to not like hot dogs.

I was unprepared for the pop quiz.

She’s running for office unopposed.

Unbundle this pack of clean laundry.

I can’t untwist the top of this jar.

Shaggy walked into the haunted house uncertainly.

His speech was unimpressive.

They were attacked by an unworldly creature.

The lock is now unbolted.


Their tiff remains unsettled.

What’s in these unlabeled boxes?

I got back from the cave unbitten by bats.

He was mostly unclothed, waiting for the doc to come in.

He came to work unshaved.

My dad knows an untold number of jokes.

He makes unconventional chess moves.

Her behavior is unbecoming of a lady.

Unhappily, they got a divorce.

That comment was uncalled for!

That’s an unreasonable request.

My objectives are still unmet.

An unwelcome guest showed up.

Uncouple the caboose from this line of rail cars.

His odd actions remain unexplained.

The author left us one unpublished work.

They planted a bug in his room, undetected.

The seeds we sowed are still ungerminated.

What an unmannerly brat!

This table is unlevel.

I’m sick of her unceasing whining.

I’m unclear about what you mean.


I meant to be uncritical of him.

The angry mob roamed the streets unchecked.

That is unsupported by research.

These party favors were unchosen.

Toss me that untorn rag.

His crime won’t go unpunished.

I’m unbruised from the car crash.

Those dishes are unrinsed.

I hope she uncovers the truth about this event.

He became unstrung during the raging storm.

It’s unwise to do that!

These pennies are uncounted.

I’ve never felt unhappier.

I hope he undoes his mistake.


The boss is unavailable until 1:00.

Your pants are unzipped.

I’m unashamed about what I said.

We must unthrone the King!

This meat is uncooked.

This judge is unstained by scandal.

I have three unironed shirts left.

The doc examined patients, unprotected by a mask.

The victim is still unidentified.

We have the 2-by-4s, but the treehouse is still unbuilt.

Their unraked lawn looks awful.

Unplug the crockpot.

The road’s now unblocked.

I bet he unloosens his belt after that meal.

I was unswayed by her argument.

Beatrix Potter

The Roly-Poly Pudding

Lesson 43 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Foxx, Giles, Hutt, Jabba, Jove, Kleenex, Riggs, Tish’s, abide, abundant, adored, aftermath, aging, alcove, amend, analogy, antique, apropos, bathrooms, batty, beamed, beasties, blazer, cabinets, cadge, careened, catamount, cess, chambers, choky, churl, clamber, clangor, concerns, corpulent, crackle, craft, cubbyhole, dawdle, decrepit, dingy, displaced, distraught, empathetic, emphatic, ensconce, exchanged, existed, expansive, fetid, finetooth, foothold, footing, forthwith, fragrance, frazzle, gargantuan, glean, gravitated, grimalkin, grisly, grossly, gruffly, hacked, harrumphed, hateful, hillock, hogwash, hokem, humbug, imperative, impish, imprison, impudent, infestation, inspected, intrusion, investigated, jailhouse, jarring, jitters, jugs, ledge, liable, locking, marshmallow, meandered, menace, menagerie, mewed, mews, mildew, misery, misfortune, mold, moseyed, mysteries, nauseous, oblong, obscure, obsessed, obstinate, overlooked, oversight, peaked, peewee, pernicious, plethora, plummet, plundered, prod, prowled, psyche, puckish, quizzed, ratfink, readying, recommenced, redolent, reeked, reprove, resembled, retched, rodents, ruined, ruinous, rummaged, salutations, scoured, shingles, sideslip, singe, situated, skedaddled, smuggled, snooped, sparrows, spied, staircases, stammered, stench, sternly, tangibly, tarnation, taunted, tawny, timey, tottered, townsfolk, tracked, traversed, treatment, truant, twitch, uncontrollably, uneasy, unhealthily, unruly, utensil, veered, venue, vile, virtually, volcano, wayward, where’ve, whomp, wisp, wrested, wringing, yeast

It was once upon a time. There was an aging cat. The townsfolk called her a grimalkin. She was Mrs. Tish Twitch. She was a high-strung parent. Her kittens frequently veered astray. They were unruly. They were obstinate. They engaged in too much horseplay. They got into scads of trouble! What would they do next? She never knew. So unpredictable! They were fine one minute. They were disobedient the next! She could not trust her offspring. What could she do? 

It was Tish’s day to bake. She’d craft bread, cookies, and cake. She’d lock up her kittens! Then she would not fret. They’d be confined to the cupboard. Wasn’t this mean of her? Perhaps even cruel? Maybe! But the kids did this to themselves! They got what they deserved. They should amend their behavior. Then there’d be no need for this rough treatment.

She tracked their whereabouts. She caught Moppet. Then Mittens. But she could not espy Tom. He was truant. He’d gone AWOL. Where was he? Tish went up and down. She snooped all over. She searched the house with a finetooth comb. She mewed for Tom. “Where are you? Where could you be? Come out! Come out, wherever you are!”


She inspected all the rooms. She rummaged through the closets. She checked under the staircase. She searched the basement. She combed the attic. She prowled around the tool shed. But no Tom! She could not identify his location. She was distraught. She was distressed.

It was a decayed house. It was in need of abundant repairs. There were lots of dank halls. There was lots of mold and mildew. There were plentiful places to hide. The walls were four feet thick. There were noises in the walls. Were there secret chambers inside them? Maybe sequestered staircases? There were wee doors in the woodwork. Cheese and bacon disappeared at night! Were there ghosts? Were there grisly spirits? Were they being spied upon?

Tish got more upset. Her mews morphed into wails. But did Moppet and Mittens care? Nope! Not a bit. They left their mom to her pursuit. Then THEY became impish!

Tish had overlooked locking the cupboard door. That was unlike her. It was a hapless oversight. The kids could prod it open. They unfastened it. They exited their jailhouse. They knew it was mom’s day to bake. They smelled yeast. It was redolent to their nostrils. They adored its fragrance. It made their mouths water. They saw dough rising. It was in a pan. The utensil was in front of the fire.


The dough was all puffy. It was like an enlarged marshmallow. They patted it. They had soft, fluffy paws. Mittens asked this. “Shall we make muffins?” But just then, they had a scare. There was a door-knock. Moppet hurtled into the flour sack! Mittens skedaddled to the dairy. She concealed herself in a jar. It was on a stone shelf. It was next to the milk jugs.

Who’d knocked? It was Mrs. Riggs. She’d moseyed on over to cadge some eggs. Tish gravitated down the stairs. She was in a tizzy about Tom. “Salutations, Cousin. Come in,” she mewed. “Sit down. It’s a mess here.” She sobbed big tears. “I can’t find Tom. What if the rats got him?” She wiped her eyes with a Kleenex. She was tangibly flustered.

Riggs was empathetic. But she was also emphatic. “Tish! He’s a wayward lad. He was puckish when I last saw him. Do you remember? I had come to tea. He ruined my best hat. Such an impudent child. But we’ll deal with that later. So, Tish. Where’ve you looked for him?”


Tish sighed. “I’ve traversed each alcove in the house! And at each place, there existed a stark reminder for me. There are just too many rats here. Look at me. I have kids who get in trouble. And I have rats. Rats, rats, and more rats! My house is virtually a menagerie of rats. Those rodents drive me batty! They tug at my psyche. They’re loathsome! They’re unsavory beasties. I can’t keep up! There’s no way! I’m a hot mess!”

Riggs said, “I don’t get jitters from rats. I’ll help you. We’ll stumble upon Tom. Then we’ll reprove him!” Then she glanced across the room. “Oh, my! What’s all that soot? There’s a heap at the fireplace. It’s like the aftermath of a volcano. It’s a hillock of ashes.”

“That’s an apropos analogy. Yes, indeed! The chimney desperately needs an arrant sweep.” Tish then looked in the kitchen. “Oh, dear! Riggs! Just look! More news to add to my misery. Moppet and Mittens are gone! They’ve escaped the cupboard! The jailbirds have fled their coop.”


Riggs and Tish hunkered down. They got to work. They scoured the house afresh. They revisited every room. They foraged under beds. They scanned the cabinets. They ransacked the clothes chests. They looked in bedrooms. They peaked in bathrooms. They investigated the library. They roamed through the dining room. They’d left no stone unturned! But no luck! Just misfortune. The kittens were gone! They were invisible.

They heard a whomp. It was jarring. Then something careened down the stairs. Poor Tish had tears in her eyes. She was obsessed with her rat infestation. “My, oh, my! We have a plethora of rats. I caught six young ones three days past. They were in a hole. It was in the back kitchen. We feasted on them for dinner.”

“Once, I saw the old father rat. He was colossal! I lunged at him. He hissed. The hateful churl taunted me. He had sharp, tawny teeth. They had ample decay. It was disgusting. What a vile creature! And, oh, his noxious breath! He smelled like a sewer. He had the odor of a cess pool. I gagged uncontrollably. I almost fainted. I thought I’d die. But, whew! Then he whisked down the hole. I regained my composure. Humbug! Rats! They frazzle my nerves.”


Riggs and Tish kept at it. They heard something. A “roly-poly” noise. It was under the attic floor. But they could not see a thing.

They returned to the kitchen. “AHA! By Jove! Here’s one of ’em!” cried Riggs. She wrested Moppet from the flour sack. She looked like a snow catamount. They shook the flour off of her. It made the room dusty. Tish hacked. She coughed up a hairball.

They situated Moppet on the floor. Tish and Riggs looked sternly at her. She was fearful. “Oh! Mom! There’s been an old woman rat here,” stammered Moppet. “She stole some dough!”

The two adult cats ran. They studied the dough pan. There were signs of intrusion. They saw scratching finger marks. And a lump of dough was gone! “Which way? Where did she go? We’ll smoke her out.”

Moppet did not know. She’d been too scared to peep out of the sack. Riggs and Tish took her with them. Now she’d be safe. She’d be in sight. They recommenced with their search.


First, to the dairy. They found Mittens, forthwith! She’d hidden in an empty jar. They tipped it over. She fell out. She tottered to her feet. “Oh! Mom!” puled Mittens. I spied an old man rat here. He’s gargantuan! He’s dreadful! He’s hideous. He’s grossly rotund. He’s unhealthily corpulent. He resembled Jabba the Hutt.”

Riggs quizzed her. “Who in tarnation is that?”

Mittens rolled her eyes. “You know! From Star Wars.”

Riggs harrumphed. She gruffly replied, “Oh! Your science fiction hogwash. It’s all hokem, if you asked me. Can’t abide the stuff. Anyway, what did the ratfink do?”

She said, “He plundered some butter. A mighty chunk of it! Then he smuggled away the rolling pin. He reeked of a most fetid stench! He smelled like manure. It made me nauseous. I almost retched.”

Riggs and Tish exchanged looks. “Hmm! Rolling pin. Butter! My poor Tom!” yelled mama Twitch. A pernicious sense of doom came over her. She was wringing her paws. She was shaking her head. She was pulling her hair. She was biting her claws. She was beside herself.


“HMM! A rolling pin, eh?” said Riggs. “I smell a rat. No pun intended. What did we just hear? It was a roly-poly noise! It was in the attic. It’s when we looked in that chest.”

They made haste. They bolted out of the room. They rushed upstairs. They heard the roly-poly clangor! It was as clear as a bell! They knew exactly where it came from. It was under the attic floor. “This is a big deal, Tish,” said Riggs. “It’s a huge red alert. There’s a menace in this house. No question about it. Send for Giles Foxx! NOW! We can’t tarry! We can’t dawdle! He must bring a saw. That’s imperative.”

Now, we transfer ourselves to a new scene in our story. Here is Tom’s tale. We need to glean his perspective. It will explain some mysteries that we’ve mentioned up to now. What had Tom been up to?

I’m uneasy about telling you this. But poor Tom! He had displayed a perilous lack of wisdom. It’s unwise to ascend the insides of a chimney. It’s worse if it’s in a decrepit house! And their house was just such a beat-up antique. One must be cautious in such a chimney. You can’t find your way. And menacing rats are liable to be there!


But you know Tom. He did not want to be shut up. Not in a cupboard! He saw his mom readying to bake. He knew what she’d do. She’d lock him up! She’d imprison him. So, he looked for a new venue. He would ensconce himself there.

Such a cubbyhole should be convenient. But it should be an obscure location. You know. Hard to find. He thought of an exemplary hideaway. “Why not the chimney?” The fire had just been lit. It was not hot yet. There was just a white choky smoke. It was just a wisp. It was from the green sticks. Tom got on the fireplace’s metal guard. That’s called a “fender.”


He looked up. It was an old-fashioned fireplace. The chimney was expansive. A man could stand up in it. And one could walk in it. There was lots of room. Even more room for a peewee Tom Cat. He vaulted into the fireplace. He balanced on the iron bar. That’s where the kettle hangs. Tom took a second leap off the bar. He had strong hind legs. He descended upon a ledge. It was high up in the chimney. He displaced some soot. It floated down like dingy snowflakes. It meandered onto the fender.

Tom coughed. The smoke choked him. He heard the sticks. They’d begun to crackle and burn. He considered what he’d do next. He’d clamber to the top. He’d get on the slate roof shingles. He’d find a good foothold. He’d watch for birds. He’d catch sparrows.

But he had some concerns. He talked to himself. “I can’t go back. What if I lose my footing? What if I sideslip? I might plummet into the fire. I’d singe my gorgeous tail. It would be ruinous to my cyan blazer.”

That old-timey chimney was cavernous. It was from the old days. That’s when folks burnt logs of wood on the hearth. The chimney stack stood up above the roof. It was like a dwarf-sized stone tower. The oblong shingles kept out the rain. The daylight shone down from the top. The light beamed under the slanting shingles.

Beatrix Potter

The Roly-Poly Pudding

Lesson 44 – Part Two

NEW WORDS: Bain, Hobbes, Holmes, Houdini, Hyde, Jekyll, Krakatoa, Marie, Pickens, Samuel, Sherlock, Twitch’s, Vesuvius, advertising, agape, allergic, amateur, antagonist, appetizing, arachnid, artistic, arugula, ascot, asparagus, avail, baffled, balderdash, baubles, befuddled, bellyache, bestial, blithely, blubber, bluebottle, boohoo, breadcrumbs, brewer’s, brutish, buckteeth, budged, bulbous, bulging, carping, cascaded, chintzy, claustrophobic, cleansed, coils, compartment, complement, confinement, conscience, consequence, contracted, cooperative, coops, cranny, critically, dauphine, decorators, demon, dilled, disarranging, disarray, discharge, distracted, dozens, driblet, dual, durst, emerged, employment, enfolded, enraged, entree, fee, felines, festooned, figment, filch, flavor, floundered, forenoon, frenzied, fruitless, fusty, futures, gamey, garishly, gaudy, gawking, gazillions, getaway, gewgaw, gimlet, gnawing, gorge, gormless, grimaced, grimy, gristle, grumbled, grunted, harpy, hauling, haymow, heights, heinous, hightail, hourglass, hovel, hovered, howdy, indigestible, inhaled, inmate, interstice, invaded, irritated, jowls, junky, keister, kitsch, knots, lath, locale, loosened, lowlife, manhandled, masterful, mincemeat, mocked, moisten, molten, motley, mulling, mumsy, mysterious, nebula, neutral, niggling, nonsense, noticeable, offensive, outfitted, overbite, pangs, panted, parcels, partners, pattering, persuaded, phobia, pierced, pilfer, plaintive, plumes, prevarication, primary, prolonged, properly, protagonists, pungent, pustule, quarters, quivered, rafter, rafters, random, rasping, rathole, raucous, regretted, relatives, remorse, sawing, secluded, separately, serpent, shadowy, sinister, skirting, skull, smog, smut, smuts, snivel, sociopath, somersaulted, speedy, spewed, splayed, stashed, strident, stuttered, subsequent, substantial, sup, surroundings, swarthy, tasteless, thieves, tiptoed, tones, toppled, torso, township, tramped, transformed, trifles, trinkets, trundling, tumultuous, unclean, uncomfortably, unsightly, venomously, vertigo, vinaigrette, visage, wainscot, walkway, warfare, whacked, whimper, whiner, wickedness, wizened, writhed, yammered

Tom was now goosepimply! He was afraid of great heights. So, he had vertigo. He tiptoed up, and up. He had to wade sideways. He trudged through mounds of soot. He was like a chimney sweep, himself. And he looked the part. His fur was becoming blacker by the minute. He’d transformed into a swarthy-looking cat. He resembled a black panther now. He was terribly unclean.

It was confusing in the dark. One flue led to another. Where was he? Where was he headed? There was less smoke now. But Tom felt baffled. He was befuddled. He was all aflutter. His nerves were frayed.

He scrambled up. The top was still a ways away. But he came to an odd place. There was a loosened stone. It was in the wall. He whacked at it. It budged. He nudged it till it fell out. There was an opening there.

Oddly, mutton bones were scattered about. “Strange,” said Tom. “Who’s been gnawing bones way up here? I wish I’d never come! Dumb and dumber. I’m so gormless. I’m such an idiot! And what a putrid smell! It’s something like ‘mouse.’ But not quite. It’s dreadfully pungent. It makes me sneeze. ACHOO!”


He squeezed through the hole. He dragged himself along. He was in an uncomfortably tight passage. He had to slither like a serpent. There was scarcely a driblet of light there. He groped his way along. He was cautious. He inched a few yards. He was at the rear of a skirting board. That’s in the attic. There’s a small mark in the picture there.

All at once, his walkway collapsed. He somersaulted head over heels. Down an interstice he went. He floundered down, headlong. He’d created quite a commotion. He landed on his keister. He was atop a heap of filthy rags. He was overcome with the stench. He picked himself up. He looked about. He’d never been here. Yet he’d thought that he’d known every nook and cranny in the house. But not this mysterious locale!

Tom loved detective stories. He fancied himself an amateur Sherlock Holmes. So, he examined his surroundings. He looked for clues. This was a claustrophobic compartment. It was stuffy and fusty. It was a rathole. It was a dump. It was a junk heap. It was a snake pit. It was in complete disarray.


There were boards. There were rafters. There were cobwebs. There was lath and plaster. There were random decorations. It was all gewgaw. Junky. Gaudy. Useless. A mishmash of trifles, trinkets, and baubles. The decorators were tasteless. They had no artistic sense. It was all kitsch. These quarters were totally unsightly!

Then Tom’s heart stopped. He perceived wickedness in the room. He became aware of a spooky visage. He viewed a shadowy figure. It was NOT a figment of his imagination. It was across the room. EGADS! It was an enormous rat! An odious looking hulk of a rat!

The bestial troll was garishly outfitted. Chintzy jewelry hung from his torso. He was festooned with it. He wore a snooty-looking ascot. He had an ugly pustule on his left cheek. A nebula of smog hovered about him. He was smoking a pipe. The tobacco scent permeated the room. The rat took a deep puff. He wheezed. He snorted.

Then he spoke. Blithely, he said, “Howdy-do!” He paused. Then, he turned instantly from Jekyll to Hyde! He spat, venomously, towards Tom.


“GADZOOKS! What’s this unwelcome intrusion?!” The rat’s bulbous jowls wobbled as he bellowed. “You’ve invaded my privacy. You’ve caused a calamity. You’ve toppled onto my bed. You disgust me. You’re a feline. You’re an enemy. You’re an antagonist. You’re an adversary. You’re covered with smuts. You smell of soot. And I’m allergic to your fur.”

“No one treats Samuel Whiskers like this! Especially a lowlife CAT! Abominable creatures, felines. My primary life goal is to battle with the feline species!” His teeth chattered as he yammered. He had bulging ebony eyes. They were nearly popping out of his skull. Tom had never seen a creature this irate and enraged! What was next? Would billows of smoke discharge from his ears? Would plumes of molten lava shoot from his mouth? Would he be like Mount Vesuvius? Would he be like Krakatoa?

Tom quivered with fear. He stuttered. “Please! Sir! The chimney needs sweeping.” But his prevarication was of no avail to him.

“Ann-Marie!” squeaked the rat. Drool splayed from his maw. His voice was a raucous, high-pitched shrill. It was grating to the ear. Then, there was a pattering noise. A wizened old woman rat arrived. She had a wicked overbite. Crooked buckteeth hung from her gums. She poked her head around a rafter. Then there was a feverish frenzy!


All at once, she rushed upon Tom. Before he knew it, she had manhandled him. It happened too fast for him to react. She was experienced at this! His coat was pulled off. He was enfolded in a bundle. She commenced to tie him with string. The twine was in hard knots. They were being firmly tied. There was no escape. Tom was now their prisoner!

Ann-Marie did the tying. The old rat observed her. He inhaled a pinch of snuff. She finished her task. The rats both sat gawking at him. Their mouths were agape.

Then the old rat grimaced. It was a most sinister look. He looked like a demon. “Ann,” he called out. “Let’s sup on the cat. Make a scrumptious kitten dumpling roly-poly pudding.”

“Hmm! What should accompany our entree? Cook up a delectable Henry Bain sauce. That will best complement the meat. Start with an arugula salad. Then a light lemon vinaigrette to moisten it. How about dilled asparagus? And potatoes dauphine? And let’s finish with a tart mincemeat pie. Vanilla ice cream, a la mode, of course. That will make for us a gourmet dinner. I’m famished!”


Ann responded. “That requires dough. And a substantial pat of butter. And a rolling pin.” She was studying Tom. She’d cocked her head to one side. She was mulling over how she’d cook him.

Balderdash!” yowled Sam. “Make it properly. Use breadcrumbs.”

Nonsense! Butter and dough,” replied Ann. The two rats consulted. A few minutes passed. They departed. Sam left through a hole in the wainscot. He tramped boldly down the front staircase. He skulked to the dairy. There, he stole butter. He did not encounter a soul.

Sam made a subsequent journey. This was for the rolling pin. He thrust it in front of him with his arthritic paws. He was like a brewer’s man trundling a barrel.

He heard Riggs and Tish. But they were busy. They were lighting a candle. They didn’t look into where he was. They did not notice him.

Ann went down. She went by way of a skirting board. And through a window shutter. She invaded the kitchen. There, she stole the dough. She pinched a saucer. She scooped up the dough with her paws. No one observed her, either.


Meanwhile, Tom was isolated. He was sequestered away. He was in solitary confinement. He was under the attic floor. He was an inmate in the rats’ secluded hovel. He wriggled about. But he was tied up in taut, unyielding knots. Even Houdini would have failed to free himself from these coils! He mewed for help. But his mouth was imbued with soot and cobwebs. No one could possibly hear him. He was way out of earshot. He was frantic. Panic set in. His situation was hopeless.

A spider appeared. It emerged from a crack in the ceiling. It examined the knots critically. It kept a safe distance. It was a good judge of knots. That’s because it had a habit of tying up bluebottle flies. Oh, the poor, unfortunate flies! The arachnid did not offer to assist Tom. It was a neutral party to this warfare.

Tom wriggled. Tom squirmed. Tom writhed. He was exhausted. Presently, the rats came back. They set to work. Tom pleaded with them. He begged, with a plaintive voice. “Please don’t roast me! Please don’t eat me! I’m too young to die. I have my whole life before me. My family will miss me.”


He prolonged his fruitless argument. “Look! I won’t taste good! I’ll have a gamey flavor. You’ll get a stomachache! I’ll be all gristle. I’ll be too chewy. I’m wiry. My muscles are all sinewy. Your jaws will be sore. You’ll regret eating me! Have mercy! Please let me go!”

Sam mocked Tom. “Boohoo, grouse! Bellyache, whimper. Gripe, snivel, blubber! Such a baby. Cat? Didn’t your mumsy tell you? Life is nasty, brutish, and short. So claimed Thomas Hobbes! Ann, ignore this whiner. I’m starving.” Sam had no conscience. He offered no remorse. He was a sociopath!  

Now, they began to make him into a dumpling. First, they smeared him with butter. Then, they rolled him in the dough. Sam was having some doubts. “Won’t the string be indigestible?” inquired Sam.

Ann said, “No.” She thought that it would be of no consequence.

She kept preparing their dish. But she wished that Tom would hold his head still. He kept disarranging the pastry. He was NOT cooperative. (Good for him! That bought him some time.) But she laid hold of his ears. Her razor-sharp claws almost pierced his skin.


Tom bit. Tom spit. He mewed. He grunted. He wriggled. He caterwauled. The rolling pin went, “roly-poly, roly. Roly-poly, roly!” The rats each held an end. Sam complained. “His tail is sticking out! You did not procure enough dough.”

Ann replied. “I fetched as much as I could haul.”

Sam grumbled. “I’m no longer sure. It might not be an appetizing pudding.” He furrowed his brow. He stared intently at Tom. “He smells sooty. The offensive smell will seep into the meat.” Ann was about to argue the point. But a fracas stopped them. There was a cacophony. The strident sounds were above them. They heard the rasping noise of a saw. They heard a dog. The canine was scratching. He was yelping like a crazed zombie!

The rats dropped the rolling pin. Their antennae were up! They listened attentively. Sam was irritated. He spewed, “DRAT! CURSES!” He snarled, “GRR! We’re discovered. We’re interrupted. We’ve got to hightail it out of here! PRONTO!”

“Collect our property. We must depart at once. We shall be obliged to leave this pudding. I know my opinion is contrary to yours. But I’m persuaded that I’m right. The knots would have proved indigestible. Yes! Definitely troublesome for the stomach.”


Ann spoke up. “Come now, at once. Help me. Tie up some mutton bones. Let’s wrap them in a counterpane. I’ve also got half a smoked ham. I stashed it in the chimney.” The heinous rats made their speedy getaway. They were breathless. They panted. Their tongues hung out. They scuttled away in a frenzied hurry-scurry.

Tom was flabbergasted by all of this. What a tumultuous hurly-burly! But he was relieved! Apparently, he’d be no one’s dinner. Thank goodness!

The sawing went on. Giles Foxx finally got the plank up. They found Tom. They saw the rolling pin. Alas, Tom looked ridiculous. He’d been rolled into a grimy dumpling! But there was a noticeable smell of rats. Giles spent the rest of the morning sniffing and whining. He wagged his tail. He went ’round and ’round the hole. He looked like a gimlet tool. At last, he was satisfied. He nailed the plank down. He put his tools in his bag. He descended the flight of stairs.

The cats had recovered. They invited Giles to dinner. The dumpling had been peeled off of Tom. They made it separately into a bag pudding. They added currants. This was to hide the little pieces of smut.


They’d been obliged to put Tom into a hot bath. That melted the butter off of him. He felt nicely cleansed, now.

Giles smelt the pudding. It gave him hunger pangs. But he regretted that he could not dine with them. He had just made a wheelbarrow. It was for Miss Potter. He had deliver it to her. And she’d contracted with him to build dual hen coops.

What a forenoon it had been! Things calmed down. The day passed. I was going to the post office. It was late in the afternoon. I noticed something. I saw it from the corner of my eye. It was Samuel Whiskers. He was with his wife. The partners were on the run. They had big bundles. They were on a little wheelbarrow. It looked just like mine. Had they stolen it? Thieves! They were turning at a gate. That was Farmer Pickens‘ barn.

Sam was puffing. He was out of breath. Ann was carping at him in shrill tones. What a harpy! What a shrew! It all seemed to be about niggling matters. She seemed to know her way. She was hauling a large quantity of luggage. I really think that it was MY wheelbarrow. I never gave them permission to use it!

They went in the barn. They bound their parcels with string. They tied them to the top of the haymow.


After that, there were no more rats at Tish Twitch’s. What about at Farmer Pickens’? The poor man! He’s been driven nearly distracted. Gazillions of rats moved to his barn. They’re all over it! They gorge themselves on the chicken food. They filch the oats. They pilfer the bran. They champ at the meal bags. They’re all relatives of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Whiskers. Some are their children. Some are their grandchildren. Some are their great, great grandchildren!! There’s no end to them! And it’s quite a motley crew!

Now, I wager that you are curious. How would our protagonistsfutures unfold? Much time passed. Much sand had cascaded through the hourglass. Moppet and Mittens grew up. They came to be superb rat-catchers. They go out rat-catching in the village. They find plenty of employment! They charge a reasonable fee for a dozen rats caught. They earn a comfortable living. They hang up the rats’ tails. They exhibit them to the public. It’s masterful advertising! They’re arranged in a row on the barn door. This shows the township how many they’ve ensnared. There are dozens of them!

But what about Tom Kitten? His unpleasant experience gave him a phobia. He has always been apprehensive about a rat. Now, he never durst face anything that is bigger than a mouse!


Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.) 
Colonial Towns And Townspeople 

Lesson 45 – Part One 

NEW WORDS: abided, additory, announcements, bargained, bartering, boatloads, bustling, butchered, characterized, chiefly, chitchat, clumps, coact, commonly, container, conveniences, conveying, countryfolk, cumulated, entailed, errands, excursions, expectations, expertise, fabricate, fatty, faucets, flashlights, haggled, happenings, hatter, hinterlands, horseshoes, imaginary, indispensable, intensive, intermix, junket, laborious, leftover, malls, mills, mollycoddled, munchkins, necessitate, normally, nucleus, patching, prattle, prerequisite, presumable, prevailing, prevented, profusion, proportions, purveying, relied, retrieve, revisit, rustics, salient, sewers, slathered, smokehouse, soured, specialist, specialists, splurged, squirreled, stoves, supermarkets, swapped, tedious, thoroughgoing, townspeople, tradesfolk, tradespeople, tradesperson, uncared, untended, unwonted, urgency, visualize, volumes, waterwheel  

Chapter One: The Country Family
Let’s take an imaginary trip. We’ll revisit a time long past. Visualize that it’s 300 years ago. We’re at an early American farm. Back then, you abided in the countryside. Who did most of the work that was indispensable for survival? It was your family! You did it all. You did it right at home. Houses were far apart from each other. So, you could not rely on neighbors or stores for each thing that you’d need. You made most things at home. Think about what you had to worry about, purveying for yourself! Food to eat. Water to drink. Water to use to cook and clean. Lighting to help you see, after dark. Heat when it turned cold. You made your own clothes. Each family member had volumes of work to do! Even young munchkins had to help out! There was so much work to do!


There was no electricity. There were no electric lamps or lights. There were no flashlights! How did you see once it got dark? You lit candles. And you made those candles at home. There were no electric ovens or stoves. You built your own fire. That would heat your home. That would cook your meals. There were no sinks or faucets with running water. You fetched your own water. And it had to be enough for drinking, cooking, AND cleaning. You’d retrieve it from a nearby creek. Or you might have a well outside. There weren’t malls with clothing stores. You made your own clothes. There weren’t supermarkets. You grew your own vegetables. You milked your own cows. You made your own cheese. Imagine all of that intensive labor! And you had boatloads of work each day! What if you were sent back to that time? You’d REALLY miss our modern conveniences!

Here’s how a day in the country began. The first urgency was heat. A woman would fetch some wood. Then she’d start the fire in the hearth. The hearth was the most salient place in the home. Most of the chores required fire. That was especially so in the winter. Each person stayed close to the hearth. That’s because it provided the only heat in the house.


So, the fire was now blazing. What was next for a country woman? She’d likely bake bread. Sometimes she’d make her own flour. She’d grind corn kernels or wheat. They’d turn into a fine powder. Then she’d intermix this flour and water with yeast. The dough would rise for many hours. When ready, it would be put into an iron pot. That would have a tight lid on it. The pot would be hung over the hearth to bake.

There was one imperative daily task. It had to be done twice a day. That was milking the cows. It was tedious work. And it took a long time. It was commonly left for the children to do.

The milk would be cumulated. They’d drink what they needed. Then, there might be leftover milk. It was transformed into either cheese or butter. Making cheese entailed a slow, laborious process. You’d boil and cool the milk. That produced small curds. These were clumps of soured milk. They looked sort of like cottage cheese. These curds were then pressed into forms. That made the final cheese product.


How about the butter? Milk was left to sit. A while would pass. The fatty cream would float to the top. Then the cream was poured into a tall, wooden container. That was a “churn.” A child normally had to pump the handle of the churn. That was the “dasher.” He or she would pump it up and down for a long time. At some point, the fat in the cream separated into butter. The leftover liquid was buttermilk. That was used for cooking or drinking.

What did country folks eat? They ate chiefly vegetables and grains. They rarely ate meat. That was only if the men or nearby neighbors had butchered one of their animals. Of course, there were no refrigerators. So, the meat had to be preserved. That way, it would not spoil. This was done by hanging it in strips above the fire. Or it might be squirreled away in a separate shed. That was a “smokehouse.” The smoke from the fire dried out the meat. That prevented it from spoiling. Other foods were preserved in lots of ways. They might be slathered with salt. They might be canned. They might be stored in a cool, dark cellar.


There was no rest for the weary! Additory chores laid in wait! Now, it was time for sewing. In colonial times, women had to fabricate their own thread and cloth. That was a prerequisite for sewing anything. Men and boys picked cotton from the fields. Or they sheared the sheep. The women cleaned and dyed this cotton or wool. They then took the cotton or wool. They made it into thread or yarn. After that, they’d weave the yarn into cloth. Girls were taught to sew and weave. It was not unwonted for them to be good sewers before the age of ten! That way, they could help to make their own clothes. It was thoroughgoing work to make clothes. And it was expensive to buy new clothes in town. So, much of the sewing work was patching or fixing old clothes. It didn’t matter that clothes become worn out. It didn’t matter that they had holes or tears. They would continue to be mended. They’d make them last as long as possible.


High expectations were set for the children. They were not mollycoddled! They worked hard to coact with the family chores. So, they did not have a lot of time to play. They had few toys. Any that they had, they likely had to make themselves. Sometimes girls made dolls. They might use parts of a corn plant to do so. Sometimes boys carved small toys out of wood. Most boys worked the farm alongside their fathers. They’d take over the family farm when they were older. The family might live near a large town. Those boys might live at home till they were 11 or 12. Then, they were expected to learn a trade. They’d become an apprentice for many years. They’d work with a master tradesperson in town. They’d learn his job. The country family in colonial times worked hard each day. Sometimes a trip into town was a welcome relief from their daily tasks. In town, the family was able to trade or buy things. That way, they could save the time and effort it took to make them. The next chapter is about such a trip into town!


Chapter Two: A Trip To Town
So, we’re back at your country farm. You’ll go to the nearest town. That’s not an everyday event! It was three hundred years ago. There were no cars or trains! You’d go by horse and wagon. It was slow going. Why were excursions to the township rare? You did not want things at home untended for long. Your animals relied on you for care. Your crops could not go uncared for.

What might necessitate a junket into town? We’ve learned about lots of things that you made on your own. But some things you just could not make! Other folks could do that better. And you had to balance your time and money. You might need iron nails. You might need a new pair of shoes. It made sense to make your own flour. It made sense to make your own clothes. But you could not do it all! Fortunately, there were tradespeople in town. They were specialists. They did jobs that made no sense for you to do. They made products that you did not have the expertise to make.


How would you pay them? You’d see farmers conveying a load of goods to sell. Or they might have bargained one good for another. Maybe they’d trade eggs. Maybe they’d trade butter. That might get them some cloth to make clothes. With bartering, you swapped or traded. You would not use money. You haggled in a friendly way. Then, you’d exchange things. You may have brought vegetables or chickens to trade.

Where was your first stop in town? Here’s what’s likely. It would have been at the town square. (That was even more presumable in a large town.) That’s where most of the shops and key buildings were. This was unlike the country. Remember, out in the hinterlands, homes were far apart. But town buildings were close to each other. It was easy to visit a profusion of shops. You could do it all on the same day.

The town square was a key nucleus. Lots of happenings took place there. The mayor and town leaders made speeches there. Key announcements were made there. Townspeople met there. They’d chitchat and prattle with their friends. This was how folks stayed up-to-date with the prevailing news.


So, you’d complete your town square errands. Then, you’d head on. You’d likely go to the nearby trading post. Or there might be a general store. Lots of farmers might be there. You could buy, sell, or trade all kinds of things. You’d trade your vegetables, grains, or dairy products. You’d leave with tools, cloth, or supplies. Your trip would have been a success. You’d have gotten what you needed.

We’ve just characterized a normal colonial town. That’s where your day-trip would end. Most smaller towns had only one general store. A very large town was different. You could see and do much more. The town might be on a river. You may have seen a mill. That’s a place where wheat was ground. It was put between large stones. It would be crushed and ground. A mill could make large proportions of flour. Mills were almost always on the river. That’s because flowing water was needed. It would turn the huge waterwheel in the mill. That would make the large, flat stones inside turn. That’s how the wheat was ground. You might have visited the miller. No doubt, you would have brought freshly harvested wheat or corn. That came from your own farm! The miller would grind it into flour. You took it home. You’d bake bread, cakes, and other good things to eat.


Next, you may have stopped in the baker’s shop. Perhaps you bought freshly baked rolls and bread. What a treat for your family!

What if you were a rich farmer? You may have gone to the hatter for a new hat. You may have gone to the dressmaker. You’d might have bought a new dress for your daughter. You might have splurged. Maybe you did not buy cloth. Maybe you bought a new shirt from the tailor. And you would have had to visit the all-important cobbler. He would have made you a new pair of strong, leather shoes.

The blacksmith was a key specialist in town. He had his own set of tools and skills. He built fires so hot that they melted iron. He’d pound melted iron into different products. He made horseshoes. He made nails. He also made lots of metal tools. You’d use some of those back on your own farm.

These towns were bustling. The tradesfolk and merchants there had something special to offer the countryfolk. And the rustics had much-needed fresh food to offer back. Soon, we’ll learn more about these special people.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.) 
Colonial Towns And Townspeople 

Lesson 46 – Part Two 

NEW WORDS: allotted, alternatively, apposition, bagels, beige, carder, carders, chapati, colonized, comparatively, concomitantly, conjoined, consistency, constituent, customarily, customers, daunting, detruded, diets, dyeing, edged, efficacious, ensuing, entwine, evolved, existent, farmsteads, fibril, finalized, flax, garnering, gears, globally, granulate, granulated, gride, grinding, grindstones, gustable, humungous, inaugurate, ingredients, inserted, interweave, introducing, kibbling, kingsize, kneading, levigate, localized, machine’s, matzo, millers, millstones, morsels, multicolored, offering, optimal, patrons, pedal, pod, pressing, pulverized, purchasing, queued, readiness, replicated, rotate, shuttle, spindle, spindles, spinner, spinners, stauncher, stretching, stringlike, structures, suchlike, termed, textile, thickness, tortillas, tradesman, tradesmen, treadle, treadling, twisting, utensils, variant, variegated, vendor, vestments, vibrant, watermill, weaver, weavers, whitish, woman’s, workflow 

Chapter Three: The Bread Makers: Millers and Bakers
Bread has long been an indispensable constituent of many people’s diets. That goes for the entire world. And it’s been this way for thousands of years. In almost every culture, people make bread, or foods like bread. In Mexico, they eat tortillas. In India, they eat chapati. In Israel, they eat matzo. And in the U.S., we may eat any of the above. We also eat bagels, muffins, biscuits, and sliced bread.

In colonial times, most breads were made from wheat or corn. Where did the wheat and corn come from? Right! The farmer! But it was a long process from the farmer’s field to the baker’s shop. Today we’ll learn about what, and who, was involved with making bread.

First, the farmer planted his crops. Then he harvested the wheat or corn when they were fully grown. Next, the farmer had to separate out the seeds, or grains, from the plant. Then the seeds had to be ground into flour.


Back then, people did their own grinding. They’d grind their own wheat grains or corn kernels. They used big stones. These were called “grindstones.” Early grindstones were used by native people globally. One stone was larger than the other. It was either flat or bowl-shaped. The other stone was customarily small. You could hold it in your hand. The person grinding would spread some grains on the larger stone. Then they’d gride them with the smaller stone.

Imagine kibbling two stones together all day long. You’d get just a wee bit of flour. You could make just one loaf of bread. It was daunting work! Eventually, people found a more efficacious way to do the job. Introducing the “mill!”

Mills were existent in Europe long before people colonized America. A mill replicated a person with a grindstone. It pulverized the grains of wheat between two stones.

The stones in a mill were called millstones. They were humungous. They were far too large for a person to lift. Now, a person would no longer have to grind the stones together. A kingsize machine would grind the heavy millstones together. The bigger the millstones, the more grain the mill could granulate into flour.


Water mills were the prevailing type of mill in early America. They were localized right on the rivers. The fast-flowing water made the big wheel turn around. The wheel was conjoined to gears. The gears made the millstones inside the building rotate. The heavy weight of the stones was detruded to levigate the grains.

The tradesman in charge of the mill was termed a “miller.” The miller would charge farmers money. Then he’d grind their wheat or corn into flour. The farmer might alternatively pay by offering the miller some grain. The miller would grind the grain into flour. He’d then collect the flour into bags. A miller with a watermill could grind and bag lots of flour in a day. That’s more than a farmer with a grindstone could grind in weeks.

The flour would be granulated. Then the miller would sell some of it to the baker. The baker made bread, muffins, and cakes out of that flour.

How did the baker make dough? He mixed a lot of flour with a little bit of water. He tossed in a little bit of salt. He also added a special ingredient. That’s called “yeast.” The yeast made the bread puff up and rise when it was baked.


Next, the baker kneaded the dough. Kneading dough is like pressing and stretching the dough together. You do this in lots of different directions. That makes sure that the ingredients are all evenly mixed. You knead back and forth for quite a while. When you’ve finalized that task, the dough has the optimal consistency, or texture. Certain kinds of bread had to be kneaded for a very long time.

Next, the baker shaped the dough. He might pat it with his hands. He might roll it with a rolling pin. Then it was time for the bread to be inserted into the oven. Ovens back then were brick or stone structures with a fire inside.

The bread would turn just the right shade of brown. Then the baker took it out of the oven. He’d let it cool for awhile. Mmm, can’t you just smell that gustable aroma? That’s freshly-baked, warm bread, ready to eat!

Has bread-making evolved much in 300 years? Not really. It’s still made in much the same way. The first step is making the dough. Bakers have to get up extra early. Sometimes, they’re up at two or three o’clock in the morning! They make their dough. They start baking bread. They have to be in readiness for their first early-morning customers. You’ll see this scene today, all over the world. It’s first thing in the morning. Hungry patrons are queued up outside the bakery door. They’re ready to buy their bread and other breakfast treats. There’s nothing better than fresh-baked morsels to inaugurate your day!


Chapter Four: The Cloth Makers: Spinners and Weavers
Hundreds of years back, farmers made their own textile. They used materials that they were garnering from their own farmsteads. Most farmers sheared wool from their own sheep. On a few farms, cotton was grown. Farmers picked cotton from cotton plants that grew in their fields. The farmers’ wives cleaned, combed, and dyed the cotton or wool. Then they’d spin it into fibril before weaving it into cloth. But this took lots of time. So, what if they had several vestments to make? They’d give their cotton or wool to specialist tradespeople. They’d interweave the cloth for the farm family. Today we’ll learn about spinners and weavers. These were two types of tradesmen in town. They had tools that helped them make more cloth in bulk. They made more than a farmer’s family could make by themselves.

Lots of farmers used their sheep’s wool to make cloth. First, they’d let the sheep’s coats grow to a deep thickness. Then, they’d shave or shear off the wool with a razor-edged blade. The wool would grow back. Thus, the sheep were ready to be sheared again the ensuing spring.


Let’s take a close look at cotton. That’s a plant that was grown on farms in the Southern colonies in apposition to the coast. The cotton first had to be planted. Then it was hand-picked from the plant. A cotton boll is the seed pod of the cotton plant. Farmers plucked the white, stringlike fibers found inside the cotton boll. They also used the stalk of another plant called “flax.” That could be picked apart into fibers, as well. That cloth was called “linen.” Whether cotton or flax, farmers needed to clean the fibers. That would remove the seeds and dirt from these plant parts. They had to do that before using them to make cloth.

What’s the first step in making cloth? It’s to make the cotton, flax, or wool into thread. There were utensils the farmer had that helped him do this. First, the cotton, flax, or wool was cleaned. Then it had to be combed with a tool called a “carder.” Hand carders look suchlike cat or dog brushes. Women would use two carders concomitantly. They’d brush the wool until all the fibers lined up in the same direction.

The combing process would be completed. Then, the women might dye the cotton or wool variant colors. They’d use the juice from variegated plants or berries. They dipped the cotton or wool in the dye. They allotted plenty of time for it to soak up the vibrant juices. Dyeing was hard work. And it took a long time. So, farmers usually skipped this step if they were making cloth at home. Thus, clothing sewn at home in those days was generally plain. It was likely just a whitishbeige color. It was an unwonted treat to buy multicolored cloth in town.


Here’s the next step in the workflow. Women then used small wooden
”spindles.” These would entwine the clean fibers into thread. Women turned the spindle by hand. That would make yarn that was much stauncher than a single fiber of cotton, flax, or wool.

A few farmers could afford a spinning wheel. The spinning wheel turned fibers into yarn or thread by twisting them together very tightly. It could spin wool into thread much more quickly than a hand spindle. There were rare cases when a farmer was comparatively wealthy. Often, you’d see him purchasing cloth from a spinner. This was a vendor who turned cotton, flax, or wool into thread using a spinning wheel.

The spinning wheel not only has a spindle attached to it. It also has a big wheel and a foot pedal called a “treadle.” The spinner would step on the treadle to make the big wheel spin. This was called “treadling.”

See the thread between the woman’s left hand and the spindle? It’s been spun into thread. It’s ready to be collected on the spindle. A large spinning wheel turned the spindle around quickly. That allowed the spinner to make a lot of thread or yarn in one day. There was one way that farm families could save time. They’d buy yarn or thread from the spinner. Then they’d weave it into cloth by hand at home. They might save even more time and effort. They’d visit another tradesperson, the weaver. The weaver would make the cloth for them.


Let’s say that the spinner has made the yarn or thread. Then, the weaver took over. His job was to weave yarn or thread into cloth. Look at the clothing you’re wearing now. You’ll see that the cloth is made up of lots of little rows of threads. Some of these rows go up and down. Others go across. To do this, the weaver used a tool called a “loom.”

A typical loom had pedals. The weaver used them to control the machine’s parts. The weaver used a special piece called a “shuttle.” It would carry the strings back and forth. They’d go from one side of the loom to the other. The newly made cloth was rolled up on a bolt. That was underneath the loom.

Today, cloth is made in factories. It’s made by machines. But these machines spin and weave just like the tradespeople did long ago. So, now you know how cotton, flax, and wool were woven into cloth. You know how it was done by hand. And you know how it was done by the spinners and weavers in town.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.) 
Colonial Towns And Townspeople

Lesson 47 – Part Three

NEW WORDS: abiding, accomplished, amazingly, anomalous, attire, bareheaded, benefits, blacksmith’s, bonnets, brawniest, breeches, bricklayer, bricklayer’s, bricklayers, brims, builders, candleholders, carpenters, chisel, chisels, clarified, classifications, cobblers, concrete, conjure, cooled, cornerstones, correctly, crucially, decorative, deemed, designing, diagram, diligent, disjunct, dressmakers, edges, embroidery, erected, especial, exacting, exclusively, fancier, farmplace, fastens, fastidiously, figuring, fitting, flawlessly, forges, foundation, foundations, fructuous, gadgets, handled, handmade, harden, hardens, hatmaker, hatmakers, hatters, hinge, impervious, impolite, inconvenience, inescapable, ironwork, jaunting, jigsaw, kettles, limestone, lowest, malleable, manufacturing, mason, masons, masterly, measuring, milliner, millinery, moldable, molds, moreover, notably, outerwear, painstaking, partial, patched, pits, pliable, postpone, potpourri, preponderance, racks, rarities, reshape, resourceful, scars, secondary, shaping, similarities, singular, sizzling, smite, smites, snugly, spaces, specialized, stonemason, styles, superheat, superstore, toughest, travail, trowel, undeniably, underside, ungentlemanly, unladylike, unloath 

Chapter Five: Dressmakers, Tailors, Hatters, and Cobblers
Here we are back in Colonial America. Most people made their own clothing. This was undeniably true for the preponderance of farmers. They had everything they needed to make clothes on their farms. Now, making clothes was hard work. So, most people had only two outfits! One was a set of work clothes. The other was a set of fancier clothes to wear on Sunday. That was it! People did not get new attire until their old clothes wore out.

Some farmplace families had the money to buy clothing. They did not need to make it themselves. So, they went jaunting to town when they needed new clothes. There, they would find several specialists to help them dress well. These were the dressmaker, the tailor, the hatter, and the cobbler.

Back then, there were no racks full of dresses for women to try on. It took a lot of time for a dressmaker to make a dress. So, she had to make sure someone would buy each dress made. Now, it cost a lot of money to buy a dress. So, a farmer’s wife would choose the singular color and style she wanted. The dressmaker might display one or two dresses in the shop window. But most dresses had to be made-to-order. Very wealthy women were rarities. Some of them might even order a dress from England.


A woman would come in looking for a new dress. The dressmaker might show her some patterns. They might discuss designs that were according to the latest fashions. The woman could choose the pattern and fabric that she was partial to.

The dressmaker would then use a measuring tape. She’d measure the woman’s arms and legs. And she’d measure her chest, neck, and waist.

The measurements clarified how much cloth was needed for the dress. The dressmaker would then cut the cloth into pieces. They were cut according to the shape of the patterns. She’d finish cutting all the pieces. Then she’d hand stitch or sew the pieces together. She accomplished that using a fine needle and thread. Back then there were no electric sewing machines like we have today. So, this was slow, painstaking work.

Finally, the dressmaker might add decorative finishing touches. Often, they’d add hand-knitted lace or embroidery. This could be around the collar or hem of the dress. It would sometimes take weeks to make a new dress!


Tailors did the same kind of work as dressmakers. But they made clothes for both men and women. You’d visit a tailor and have your measurements taken. The tailor would make a shirt, or a pair of “breeches,” to order. Breeches were often worn in colonial times. They were knee-length pants with long, woolen stockings.

Almost everyone in early America wore a hat. In fact, it was deemed anomalous or impolite to walk around bareheaded. And you didn’t want folks thinking of you as ungentlemanly or unladylike! Men wore hats with brims. Women wore soft bonnets. Wearing a hat also offered some benefits.  It kept your head warm and dry. It kept the sun out of your eyes. It protected the expensive wigs that were customarily worn by many.

People who made men’s hats were called hatmakers, or hatters. (Here’s a fancier way to describe it. “Millinery” is the designing and manufacturing of hats. A hatmaker can be called a “milliner.”) What were men’s hats made of back then? They were made out of beaver skin, wool, or camel fur. Yes! Really! Camel fur! They were fastened together with glue. The hatter mixed the glue himself. Hats took time to make, just like clothes. You didn’t walk out of the shop, on your initial visit, with a hat on your head. Instead, a customer chose the style of hat that they wanted. They had their head measured by the hatter. They came back days or weeks later, when the hat was done.


Out of all classifications of their outerwear, shoes were the hardest for farmers to make themselves. So, what did a farmer do when he needed a new pair of shoes? He’d visit the “cobbler,” or “shoemaker.” The cobbler would make shoes to order. This was the same as with the dressmaker, tailor, and hatter.

Most folks had just one or two pairs of shoes. Lots of people had no shoes at all! In poor farm families, no one wore shoes for most of the year. What if a farmer did have shoes? He might wear the same pair of shoes each day for months. As a result, shoes wore out quickly. Most farmers could not often afford to buy a new pair of shoes. So, they would take their old shoes to the cobbler. They’d have them patched, or repaired. Cobblers spent as much time fixing old shoes as they did making new ones.


The shoemaker used many specialized tools for his trade. In early America, most shoes were made out of leather. That comes from the dried hide or skin of a cow. There were two parts to a shoe. There was the sole and the upper. Both were made from leather. The sole was the underside of the shoe. The upper was the top part. The shoemaker would take measurements of your feet. He’d cut the leather. He’d then use a needle and thread to sew the pieces together.

Making clothes, hats, and shoes was diligent travail. Farmers who could afford it were unloath to pay others for these products. Today, it’s much easier to buy clothes. We can choose from a potpourri of styles that are already sewn. We don’t have to get measured. We don’t have to postpone having our needs met for weeks, abiding to get our new clothes. And we don’t have the inconvenience of going to four disjunct tradespeople. We can just go to one department store or superstore!

The Elves and the Shoemaker (N/A: This has already been covered in an earlier AOCR version.)

Chapter Six: The House Builders: Bricklayers, Masons, and Carpenters
How were homes built in Colonial American towns? Most people erected their own homes! They would get the help of their neighbors. However, there were some townspeople who were wealthy. They could hire tradespeople who had particular expertise in building. There were three of these types of tradespeople back then. And these jobs still exist in modern times. These hard workers were the bricklayer, the mason, and the carpenter.

The bricklayer builds walls and houses using bricks. Bricks are made from clay. That’s extremely fine, red soil that comes from the earth. A long time ago, people discovered what you could do with clay. You mix clay with a little water. You shape it into a block. Then you bake it in the hot sun. It dries out and hardens into an impervious brick.


In this picture, you’ll see a bricklayer laying bricks. That’s the way it was done three hundred years ago. He’s using a special tool. That’s called a “trowel.” With the trowel, he spreads the “mortar.” Mortar is a really gooey, sticky material. It’s kind of like glue for the bricks. Mortar is made of sand, water, and a type of crushed rock called lime. (That comes from crushed limestone. Lime is also essential for making concrete.) The bricklayer would spread the mortar evenly with his trowel. Then he’d add another brick to the wall. A good bricklayer’s wall will be straight and strong. And it will last for many, many years.

A “stonemason” is called a “mason” for short. He builds walls and houses with stones. He has some things in common with the bricklayer. For instance, the mason can use mortar to stick stones together. Can you see the mortar in the spaces between the stones in this chimney? Now, bricks are mostly the same size and shape. But stones come in all shapes and sizes. The mason has to be very careful. He has an exacting task. He has to make sure that each piece fits together closely with the pieces next to it.


Look at the stones in this wall. They’ve been carefully fitted together. It’s like fitting the pieces correctly in a jigsaw puzzle. How would a mason fit the stones together so well? He’d have to chip away at them with a hammer and a sharp chisel. He’d patiently and fastidiously reshape the stones. That way, each one would fit perfectly into its space next to the others. In fact, these stones would fit together amazingly well. The mason did not even need to use mortar to keep them in place!

Back then, many masons were asked to build the foundations of houses. The foundation is the base of the house. It’s the lowest part on which the rest of the house stands. The stones in the foundation must fit together snugly. You don’t want them to ever move or crack. The stones on each of the corners of the house are called “cornerstones.” They are crucially important. Strong cornerstones make a strong foundation. They make for a sturdy house that won’t fall down!


Finally, what other material is used to build houses? That’s right, wood. And who works with wood? Yes, the carpenter. Most carpenters start with a diagram of what they plan to build. This tells the carpenter how long, wide, and thick each wooden board should be. And, it shows how the pieces need to be fitted together. Sometimes, carpenters do something else to save money and time. They don’t use smooth wooden boards. Instead, carpenters would use rough logs to build houses.

The carpenter uses a lot of special tools. This picture shows a carpenter measuring a board. He’s using a special kind of ruler called a square. That’s good for measuring angles and straight edges. The carpenter makes a mark on the board with a pencil. That shows him where to cut. Carpenters have to get their measurements exactly right. It’s not good if they cut the wrong sized piece of wood. And it’s not good if they cut it at the wrong angle. Then, the pieces will not fit together correctly. The house will not stand up properly!


Most good carpenters measure their boards twice before they cut. That’s to make sure that they’ve marked them flawlessly. That’s why carpenters have a saying. It’s, “Measure twice. Cut once.” It’s to remind themselves to double-check their measurements before they cut. Once they cut a board, they can’t uncut it!

The carpenter gets out his saw. He cuts the boards to the sizes he needs. He then fastens them together with his hammer and nails. So, what’s another key tool that a carpenter uses? He uses a tool called a “level.” That helps him to make sure that everything is straight and even.

A carpenter builds a house from the ground up. He begins by building the house’s frame. The frame gives the house its shape. It holds everything together. It holds up the walls, the roof, the doors, and the windows.

A good carpenter not only builds a beautiful house. It’s also a house that keeps rain and wind out for years. Many early American house builders were true experts at their trades. We know that because many of their buildings are still standing today! They are as straight and tall as ever.

Today, bricklayers, masons, and carpenters still build our homes. We might call them “construction workers.” Modern homes can have similarities to colonial homes. We still build with mixes of brick, stone, and wood. But we have an advantage over colonial tradespeople. Today, home builders use electric power tools to make their work much easier to accomplish.


Chapter Seven: The Blacksmith
Blacksmiths were notably important tradesmen in town. They made all the tools people needed to be fructuous with their jobs. They made chisels for masons. They made hammers and nails for carpenters and cobblers. They made household items like kettles, cooking pots, and candleholders. And they made lots of other utensils. Some of these were horseshoes, hinges, knives and swords, and locks and keys. So many gadgets that people used in daily life came out of the blacksmith’s shop!

To do his work, a blacksmith needed five basic things. He needed some metal to work with. He had to have something to heat the metal in. He had to move the hot metal from one place to another. He had to have something to put it on. Finally, he had to have something to hit it with. Blacksmiths in early America worked almost exclusively with iron. Iron is a very strong metal. But when it’s heated in a fire, it becomes soft and pliable. That means it can be shaped into whatever shape the blacksmith wants. Another great word for this is that iron is “malleable” after heated.


To superheat the iron, a blacksmith used an especial oven called a “forge.” Most forges were simply open fire pits. There, the blacksmith could work closely and easily with the metal he put in the fire. The important thing was that the fire burned hot. It was so sizzling hot that it could melt metal!

The forge would get hot enough. Then the blacksmith would put a piece of iron in it. Since the forge was so hot, he had to use “tongs.” Tongs have two long metal arms connected by a hinge.

He’d squeeze the two arms together. Then he could grab things without using his own hands. You can see the blacksmith using tongs in this picture. Tongs were an essential tool for the blacksmith. They were almost like a secondary pair of hands for him!

The blacksmith left the iron in the forge until it was red hot. It got so hot that it turned bright red in the fire. Then he’d pull it out. He’d use his tongs again, to keep from burning his hands.


He’d quickly remove the red-hot piece of iron from the fire. He’d place it on the anvil. Then he’d bang away at it with his hammer. In this picture you can see the anvil. It’s the big block of metal on which the blacksmith shaped the iron. The blacksmith had to work quickly. The metal was only soft and moldable when it was red-hot. Once the iron cooled, it would harden.

While he kept the metal hot, he could shape it however he liked. He could make the metal longer or shorter. He could make it thicker or thinner. He could bend and mold it into special shapes. In this picture you can see how the blacksmith is shaping a horseshoe. He’d be satisfied with the size and shape of whatever he was making. Then he’d let the iron cool off. Sometimes he’d plunge it into a bucket of cold water. It would harden after a short time.

Now, a blacksmith lifted hammers and heavy iron pieces all day long. So, he was one of the brawniest, toughest men in town. He likely had more than his share of scars and burns. Those were inescapable due to all of the hot metal that he handled each day.


Blacksmiths were often thought of as clever and resourceful people. They were masterly at figuring out how to fix things and to make things work. What if a person needed a special tool for a special job? Chances were that the blacksmith could figure it out. He’d conjure up whatever was needed.

Where did the name blacksmith came from? Well, the word “smith” comes from the word “smite.” That’s another word for “hit.” And, iron is black in color. So, a blacksmith is a person who smites black metal for a living.

Today, machines do the work of blacksmiths. They melt iron in large pots. They pour the hot metal into molds, or shapes. For example, there’s a mold for horseshoes. The good thing about using a mold is that no one gets burned. Moreover, all the horseshoes come out with the same high quality. But we still appreciate the handmade ironwork of the blacksmiths from years ago. No town in early America was without a blacksmith. He was the essential tradesman in every town.

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

(Review guidelines for publishing Core Knowledge (R) materials at the bottom of this page-view. This lesson is a “READ-ALOUD” Core Knowledge (R) passage that has been rewritten to be at a lower-grade independent reading level complexity than the original, largely by shortening and simplifying sentence structures while maintaining the richness of the text content.) 
Colonial Towns And Townspeople

Lesson 48 – Part Four

NEW WORDS: Lucas, Shetland, abrupt, afore, armload, attitudes, ballad, bedevil, bemoaning, bewailing, bushels, byway, canvassed, carpenter’s, cathedral, cauldron, chirruping, chortling, cider, clippety, comestibles, confessed, conjectured, consolation, consumed, countrysides, crusty, curvet, dewdrops, discharged, disenchanted, disheartened, dismissive, dismount, dissatisfied, ditties, downcast, downhill, eavesdropping, elderly, erect, espying, fantastico, faultless, fluent, flush, foodstuffs, forefeet, forefoot, forspent, furnishing, glancing, goodhearted, groundless, grousing, halted, hamlets, hammered, hammering, harshly, hassle, hindfeet, honorable, hoofs, hostilities, hungering, huzzah, impelled, indebted, infantrymen, inquiring, inquisitive, jolliest, jubilance, labors, lassie, laughable, lea, leeks, lumps, magnifico, marketplace, nourishing, nutriment, obligatory, oddments, oregano, parsnips, perfectamente, perfunctory, persevering, pinkish, piqued, pivoting, platters, plodding, pony’s, populace, posit, pottage, profess, rarefied, realizing, rosemary, scrounging, servant’s, sorrowfully, sovereignties, stomachs, storekeeper, surveilling, tabernacle, thyme, topnotch, townies, townspeople’s, tramping, treaded, truce, trudging, tumbrel, unfit, uphill, victuals, voluntarily, wartime  

Chapter Eight: The Little Gray Pony
There was once a man who owned a little gray Shetland pony. In the morning, the dewdrops were still hanging on the pinkish clover in the lea. The birds were chirruping their morning ditties. Each morning, the man would curvet onto his pony. He’d ride away, “clippety, clippety, clap!”

They rode along the flush pike byway. The pony’s four small hoofs played the jolliest ballad on the pavement. The pony’s head was always high in the air. The pony’s two little ears were always pricked up. He was a merry gray pony. And he loved to go, “clippety, clippety, clap!”

The man rode to nearby hamlets and through the varying nearby countrysides. He rode to a cathedral, to a tabernacle, or to the marketplace. He went uphill and downhill. One day, he heard something fall. It landed with a clang on a stone in the road. Glancing back, he saw a horseshoe lying there. And when he saw it, he cried out. “What shall I do? What shall I do, if my little gray pony has lost a shoe?”


He decided to dismount from the pony in a great hurry. He looked at one of the pony’s forefeet. But nothing was unfit. He lifted the other forefoot. But the shoe was still there. He moved to inspect one of the hindfeet. He began to think that his theory was groundless. But when he looked at the last foot, he cried out again. “What shall I do? What shall I do? My little gray pony has lost a shoe!”

Then he made haste to go to the blacksmith. When he saw the smith, he called out to him.

“Blacksmith! Blacksmith! I’ve come to you. My little gray pony has lost a shoe!” But the blacksmith answered, “How can I shoe your pony’s feet, without some coal, the iron to heat?” The man was downcast when he heard this. But he left his little gray pony in the blacksmith’s care. Then he hurried here and there to buy the coal.

First of all, he went to the store. When he got there, he called out. “Storekeeper! Storekeeper! I’ve come to you. My little gray pony has lost a shoe! And I want some coal, the iron to heat. That way, the blacksmith may shoe my pony’s feet.”


But the storekeeper answered him. “Now, I have apples and candy to sell. And there are more nice oddments than I can sell. But I’ve no coal, the iron to heat, that the blacksmith may shoe your pony’s feet.”

Then the man went away bewailing. “What shall I do? What shall I do? My little gray pony has lost a shoe!?”

By and by, he met a farmer. He was coming to town with a tumbrel full of healthy comestibles. He called out, “Farmer! Farmer! I’ve come to you. My little gray pony has lost a shoe! And I want some coal, the iron to heat. That way, the blacksmith may shoe my pony’s feet.

Then the farmer answered the man. “I’ve bushels of corn, and hay and wheat. Something for you and your pony to eat. But I’ve no coal, the iron to heat, that the blacksmith may shoe your pony’s feet.”

So, the farmer drove away. He left the man standing in the road, bemoaning. “What shall I do? What shall I do? My little gray pony has lost a shoe!”


In the farmer’s wagon he saw corn. This made him think of the mill. So, he hastened there. He called out to the dusty miller. “Miller! Miller! I’ve come to you. My little gray pony has lost a shoe. I want some coal, the iron to heat. That way, the blacksmith may shoe my pony’s feet.”

The miller came to the door in surprise. He heard what was needed. He responded back. “I have wheels that go round and round. I have stones to turn till the grain is ground. But I’ve no coal, the iron to heat, that the blacksmith may shoe your pony’s feet.”

Then the man turned away sorrowfully. He sat down on a rock near the roadside, grousing. “What shall I do? What shall I do? My little gray pony has lost a shoe!”

After a while, an elderly woman came down the road. She was driving a flock of geese to market. She came near the man. She halted and was inquiring about his trouble. He told her all about it. When she had heard it all, she found his tale laughable. Her geese even joined in with a cackle as she was chortling. She responded to him this way. “Don’t you know where the coal is found? You must go to the miner. He works in the ground.”


Then the man sprang to his feet. He told the woman he was indebted to her for her sage advice. He ran to the miner. Now, the miner had been plodding away and scrounging for coal for many a long day. He abided down in the mine, under the ground. It was so dark there that he had to wear a lamp on the front of his cap. That would light things where he worked. He had plenty of black coal ready. He gave great lumps of it to the man. The man then took them in haste to the blacksmith.

The blacksmith lit his great red fire. He hammered out four, fine new shoes. He did this with a “cling!” and a “clang!” He fastened them on with a “rap!” and a “tap!” Then away rode the man on his little gray pony. “Clippety, clippety, clap!”


Chapter Nine: Stone Soup
Thank goodness, wartime had ceased. A truce had been signed, and hostilities between sovereignties had ended. Three soldiers, Henry, George, and Lucas, were tramping home from the war. They had been trudging along for many days, and they conjectured that they’d march many more afore they finally made it home. They were cold and forspent, but most of all, they were hungering.

“Look, just over those trees!” Henry said, pointing. “I see a church steeple. There must be a town over there. Perhaps the goodhearted inhabitants there will offer up to us some of their foodstuffs.”

“Good idea,” said George.

“Let’s go,” said Lucas.

The three soldiers treaded toward the town, holding their stomachs and hanging their heads because they were so hungry. They weren’t realizing it, but a little lassie was espying them coming. She turned and ran to the blacksmith’s shop. She banged on his door.

“Blacksmith! Blacksmith!” she called. “Three soldiers are coming. They look hungry. We must offer them something nourishing.”


The blacksmith didn’t turn his head. He continued hammering on the big iron pot he was making. Clearly piqued, he responded to her with a dismissive tone. “I have no time to be offering food to hungry soldiers. It’s a pressing matter for me to get this pot finished, or I will not get paid. If I do not get paid, I cannot buy food, and my family and I will be hungrier than those soldiers.”

The girl was dissatisfied by this response. “If you say so,” she sighed. Then she ran to the carpenter’s shop and banged on the door.

“Carpenter! Carpenter!” she called. “Three soldiers are coming. They look hungry. We must offer them nutriment.”

The carpenter gave the girl but a perfunctory glance. Then he continued staring at the level he had just placed on top of a table. “Hungry soldiers,” he said, without much consolation. His tone with the girl was abrupt. “I have no time to be furnishing food to three hungry soldiers. It’s obligatory that I get this table done, or I will not get paid, and then I will not have enough food to feed my family.”

The girl was disheartened by this response. “If you say so,” she sighed. Then she turned and banged on the baker’s door.


“Baker! Baker!” she called. “Three soldiers are coming. They look hungry. We must offer them some victuals.”

The baker didn’t turn his head. He continued pulling fresh loaves of bread out of his oven. He spoke to the girl harshly. “Humph,” he said. “I suppose you posit that I’m going to voluntarily give those three soldiers some of my fresh bread. I will sell it to them, but I will not give it away for nothing. I must eat, too, you know.”

The girl was now quite disenchanted with her townspeople’s attitudes! But she had a persevering spirit. She kept on, and she went from shop to shop to shop. She asked everyone in town if they could feed three hungry soldiers. But they were all too busy doing their own jobs to offer any help. They told the girl that they did not have enough to feed their own families, let alone the three soldiers.

Finally, Henry, George, and Lucas stumbled into the town square. They were colder, more tired, and hungrier than ever. They looked around. Nobody had come out to see them.


“Hello,” said the girl, who had been surveilling the infantrymen from across the town square.

As the three soldiers were pivoting to see her, Lucas said, “Aha! Are you the welcoming committee?”

“I am so sorry,” said the honorable young girl, who had a servant’s heart. “I’ve canvassed the town’s entire populace. But right now, everyone in town is all consumed with their own labors. They cannot feed you.”

“Well, then,” said Lucas. “We shall have to feed ourselves.” He reached down to the ground and picked up a large stone near his feet. “We shall make Stone Soup. We make it all the time where I come from.”

“Stone Soup?” asked the girl. “But you can’t make soup from nothing but stones.”

“Of course, you can,” said Lucas. “Stone Soup is the world’s most topnotch soup, and the best part is that all we need to make it are three large stones and a large pot of water.”

“Here’s a stone,” said George.

“And here’s another,” said Henry.


Perfectamente,” said Lucas, who was fluent in Spanish, too. “Then if we could just find a large iron pot, we could make the soup ourselves, and we wouldn’t bedevil anyone.”

“I know where we can get a pot,” said the girl. She ran to the blacksmith’s shop. But she didn’t even have to knock. The blacksmith had been eavesdropping through his door.

“I’m impelled to profess that I’m inquisitive about this Stone Soup,” he said. “I’ll lend you a pot.” He and the girl carried it out to the town square.

Fantastico,” said Lucas. “Now, we just need to fill this pot with water, and we’ll start our Stone Soup cooking. We won’t have to hassle anyone else.”

Several people popped out of their houses and shops carrying buckets of water. They discharged the water into the cauldron.

The carpenter popped out of his shop. “Do you need some firewood?” he asked. He carried an armload of wood to the square and began building a fire.

George, Henry, and the girl each dropped a stone into the pot. Everyone stood watching Lucas stir the soup.


“Mmm,” said Lucas. “It already smells so delicious. And we really don’t need anything else. But!”

“But what?” asked the girl.

“This Stone Soup looks a tad rarefied,” confessed Lucas. “Stone Soup is best when it has a bit of barley and some meat in it.”

“I have some barley,” said the baker, popping out of his shop. He brought a bowl full of barley and tossed it into the soup.

“I have a side of beef that I just sundered,” said the butcher. He came out with two platters piled high with cubes of beef and dropped the meat into the pot.

“Ah,” said Lucas, stirring and sniffing. “The soup looks much better now. But, oh dear!”

“What?” asked the townies.

“This Stone Soup would be even better with a little onion, or leeks, and a bit of salt.”

The grocer brought onions, leeks, and salt. Other townspeople turned up carrying a few items from their homes. They brought potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, and celery. They also brought some herbs. They had some thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and they added it to the pottage. All of these were chopped up and tossed into the pot.


Magnifico,” said Lucas. He stirred, sniffed, and then took a little taste. He stood up, erect. All the townspeople watched and waited. Finally, Lucas said, “It is faultless.” The townspeople sighed with jubilance. “Except,” said Lucas, “I forgot one very important thing.”

“What? What? What?” the townspeople asked.

“Stone Soup is best when it is shared.”

The townspeople shouted, “HUZZAH!” They brought out tables and chairs. They brought out bowls and cups and spoons. They brought out fresh apple cider, loaves of crusty bread, and fig pies. They talked and laughed with the soldiers and ate and ate and ate.

They ate every last bit of Stone Soup. That’s all except for the three stones, which sat at the bottom of the pot.

“Thank you for teaching us to make Stone Soup,” said the girl. She peered into the pot. “But the stones are still there. Why didn’t they get cooked into the soup?”

“That’s odd,” said Lucas. He winked at the girl and whispered, “Perhaps you were right in the first place. Perhaps you can’t make soup from stones, after all.”

With their stomachs full and spirits raised, the three soldiers waved goodbye to the little girl and the townspeople, and they continued on their long march home.


Lesson 49 – Beatrix Potter

The Tale Of Jemima Puddle Duck

NEW WORDS: Kep, alighted, awe, beautifully, brushwood, burdened, bushy, clumsily, coattail, collie, conscientious, elegantly, escorted, foxgloves, foxhound, gobbled, greeny, howls, limping, nestful, sackful, skimmed, snippets, squealing, suffocating, uneasily, woodshed

What a funny sight this is. A brood of ducklings with a hen! Listen to the story of Jemima Puddle-duck. She was quite annoyed. That’s because of the farmer’s wife. She wouldn’t let her hatch her own eggs.

Her sister-in-law is Mrs. Rebecca Puddle-duck. She was perfectly willing to leave the hatching to someone else. “I don’t have the patience to sit on a nest for twenty-eight days. And you don’t, either, Jemima. You would let them go cold. You know you would!”

Jemima Puddle-duck quacked at her. “I wish to hatch my own eggs. I’ll hatch them myself.” She tried to hide her eggs. But they were always found. Then they were carried off. She was desperate. She decided to make her nest away from the farm.

She set off on a fine spring day. She waddled along the cart road that leads over the hill. She was wearing a shawl and a blue bonnet. She reached the top of the hill. There, she saw some woods in the distance. She thought that it looked like a safe, quiet spot.

Now, she was not much in the habit of flying. She ran downhill a few yards. She was flapping her shawl. And then she jumped into the air. She flew beautifully when she got a good start.


She skimmed along over the treetops. Soon, she saw an open place in the middle of the woods. The trees and brushwood had been cleared there. Jemima landed rather clumsily. Then she began to waddle about. She went in search of a convenient, dry nesting place. She rather fancied a tree stump that she spied. It was amongst some tall foxglove flowers.

But, someone was seated upon the stump! She was quite startled to see this. It was an elegantly dressed gentleman. He was reading a newspaper. He had black pointy ears. His snout showed off sandy-colored whiskers.

“Quack?” said Jemima Puddle-duck. Her head and her bonnet were tilted to one side. “Quack?”

The gentleman raised his eyes above his newspaper. He looked curiously at Jemima. “Madam? Have you lost your way?” said he. He had a long bushy tail. He was sitting on it, as the stump was somewhat damp.

Jemima thought him mighty civil. Handsome, too. She explained that she had not lost her way. She said that she was trying to find a convenient, dry nesting place.


“Ah! Is that so? Indeed!” said the gentleman. He still looked curiously at her. He folded up the newspaper. He put it in his coattail pocket.

Jemima complained of the annoying hen we talked about earlier. He said, “Indeed! How interesting! I wish I could meet with that fowl. I would teach her to mind her own business! But as to a nest? There is no problem. I have a sackful of feathers in my woodshed. No, my dear madam. You’ll be in no one’s way. You may sit there as long as you like.”

He led the way. They walked to a very old, dismal-looking house. It rested among the foxgloves. It was built of branches and grass. There were two broken pails. One was on top of another. They acted like a chimney.

“This is my summer residence. You would not find my winter house so convenient,” said the hospitable gentleman. There was a tumbledown shed. It was at the back of the house. It was made of old soap boxes. The gentleman opened the shed door. He showed Jemima in.


The shed was almost full of feathers. It was almost suffocating! But it was comfortable and very soft. Jemima Puddle-duck was rather surprised at what she saw. She wondered how he had found such a vast quantity of feathers. But it was very comfortable. So, she made a nest. It was no trouble at all for her.

She finally came out. The sandy-whiskered gentleman sat on a log. He was reading the newspaper. At least he had it spread out. But he was looking over the top of it. He was so polite. He seemed almost sorry to let Jemima go home for the night. He promised to take great care of her nest. She told him that she would come back again the next day.

He said that he loved eggs and ducklings. He should be proud to see a fine nestful in his woodshed. Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon. She laid nine eggs in the nest. They were greeny-white. They were all very large. The foxy gentleman admired them immensely. He used to turn them over and count them. That’s when Jemima was not there.

At last, Jemima told him her plans. She intended to begin to sit the next day. “I will bring a bag of corn with me. That way, I’ll never need to leave my nest until the eggs are hatched. They might catch cold,” said the conscientious Jemima.


“Madam, I beg you not to trouble yourself with a bag. I will provide oats to you. But let’s do one thing before you commence your tedious sitting. I intend to give you a treat. Let’s have a dinner party, all to ourselves! May I ask you to bring up some herbs from the farm garden? They will help to make a savory omelet. Sage and thyme. Mint and two onions. And some parsley. I’ll provide lard for the omelet,” said the hospitable gentleman with sandy whiskers.

Alas, Jemima Puddle-duck was a simpleton. Not too bright! Not even the mention of sage and onions made her suspicious. She went around the garden. She nibbled off snippets of the many different sorts of herbs that he had asked for. She didn’t know it. But these types of herbs are used for stuffing a roast duck! Poor Jemima Puddle-duck!

So, she waddled into the kitchen. She got two onions out of a basket. The collie dog Kep met her coming out. He asked some questions. “What are you doing with those onions? Where do you go every afternoon by yourself, Jemima Puddle-duck?”


Jemima was rather in awe of the collie. She told him the whole story. The collie listened intently. He kept his wise head turned to one side. Then, he grinned when she described the polite gentleman with sandy whiskers. Kep smelled a rat!!!

He asked many things about the woods where she was nesting. He asked about the exact position of the house and shed. Then he went out. He trotted down to the village. He went to look for two foxhound puppies. He was going to ask for their help. There they were. They were out on a walk with the butcher.

Jemima Puddle-duck went up the cart road for the last time. It was on a sunny afternoon. She was rather burdened with bunches of herbs. And the two onions in a bag were heavy. She flew over the woods. She alighted opposite the house of the bushy, long-tailed gentleman.

He was sitting on a log. He sniffed the air. He kept glancing uneasily around the woods. Jemima landed. He quite jumped. “Come into the house as soon as you’ve looked at your eggs. Give me the herbs for the omelet. Come quickly!”


He was rather abrupt. Jemima Puddle-duck had never heard him speak like that! He had been so polite all the time. She felt surprised and uncomfortable. She was inside the shed. Then, she heard pattering feet round the back of it. Someone with a black nose sniffed at the bottom of the door. And then he locked it! She couldn’t get out!

Jemima became much alarmed. A moment afterward there were the most awful noises. She heard barking, baying, growls and howls, squealing and groans. Then the noise stopped. Oddly, nothing more was ever seen of that foxy-whiskered gentleman!

Presently, Kep opened the door of the shed. He let out Jemima Puddle-duck. Unfortunately, the two puppies rushed right in. They gobbled up all the eggs before he could stop them. The dogs looked a bit hurt. Kep had a bite on his ear. And both the puppies were limping. Jemima just didn’t get it. They had saved her life! Why was the shed full of feathers? Because that fox had roasted many an unwary duck!

Jemima Puddle-duck was escorted home in tears. She was so sad to have lost those eggs. But, she laid some more in June. She was permitted to keep them herself, this time. But only four of them hatched. Jemima Puddle-duck said that it was because of her nerves. But she had always been a bad sitter!

Core Knowledge (R) Independent Reading 

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Sir Gus

Lesson 50 – Part One

NEW WORDS: Alfred, Gus’s, absentminded, ack, agony, crackling, dajesty, darkened, dold, fearless, generous, groaning, guffumffffff, itching, knight’s, majesty, neared, nevermind, nightfall, relaxing, reluctant, snnniccck, snnnniccck, snnnuummm, snnnuuuummmm, swollen, thumping, thunderous, troll’s, trolls

Introduction: Sir Gus and His Stuff
This reader tells the tale of Sir Gus, a knight. In the past, there really were knights like Sir Gus. Knights helped kings and queens keep their lands safe. Here are some of the things a knight would have used. Lance, Shield, Spear, Sword.

Knights rode on horses and helped defend castles. Knight, Castle. Sir Gus.


Chapter One: The Beginning
Long before you were born, in a place we can no longer find, there was a king. King Alfred was his name. King Alfred was in charge of a large land that stretched from the dark forests of the north, to the sea in the south. The people of this land were very happy with him as their king. King Alfred liked to have fun. He liked parties and feasts. He was fair and kind, and he kept his people safe.

King Alfred could not do this all by himself. He had twelve knights to help him keep his lands peaceful and his people safe. These brave knights — well, sometimes they were brave — helped to keep bad things from happening.


The most well-known knight of all was Sir Gus the Fearless. The king himself had given Sir Gus the name “Fearless.” This was an odd name, for Sir Gus was not entirely fearless. In fact, he had a lot of fears.

Sir Gus was scared of the dark. He was scared of mice and bats and spiders. He did not like boats, and he could not swim. Shadows and loud noises made him faint. In fact, lots of things made Sir Gus faint.

Sir Gus had all the things a knight must have. He had a shield and a lance. He had a spear and a sword. But Sir Gus liked a long soak in a bathtub better than a fight.

Cats and horses made Sir Gus itch. Sometimes the itching was so bad that he would start jumping up and down. Sir Gus was rather absentminded. He got lost a lot and could rarely tell which way to go. Sir Gus found it difficult to get up in the morning. He liked to sleep in, so he was late most of the time.

All in all, Sir Gus was a rather odd knight. But King Alfred did not see this. What he saw was that Sir Gus always served him well.


Chapter Two: The Thief
One dark and stormy night, while King Alfred was sleeping, a thief crept into his bedroom and stole the king’s golden ring. The next morning, when the king woke up, he saw that his ring was gone! The king was very sad.

“Someone stole my ring!” he cried in agony. “It was my father’s ring, and his father’s before him. It is a king’s ring. I must have it back!” King Alfred was so upset in the morning; he could not eat his herring on toast.

King Alfred summoned his twelve brave knights. Eleven of them came at once on horseback. Sir Gus the Fearless came later, on foot. Sir Gus explained why he was late. He explained that he had lost his horse.

“Why, good sir,” said the king, “you will not get very far on foot!”

“Yes, my lord. I mean no, my lord,” replied Sir Gus. “The problem is, your majesty, that when I am on my horse, I itch. I had such a bad itch last night that I fell off my horse, and it ran off.”


“Well, you must stop itching then,” said the king.

“Yes, indeed,” replied Sir Gus, trying very hard not to itch.

Then the king told the knights what had happened. He told them he was counting on them to recover his ring. The next day, at sunrise, eleven of the knights galloped off to find the thief. Some time after lunch, Sir Gus was awakened by the king himself. “Not up yet?” asked the king.

“Pardon me, my lord,” stammered Sir Gus. “I was just . . .”

Nevermind!” said the king. “There’s no need to explain. Why should you be up at the crack of dawn? For what can a knight do without a horse? But never fear! I have a gift for you. You may take my horse. But you must be careful, Sir Gus. My horse is the fastest in the land.”

Sir Gus got out of bed. He stretched and yawned loudly. Then he got dressed. “Do not fear,” said Sir Gus, as he mounted the horse. “I am an — ” And with that, Sir Gus was carried off. The king’s horse had shot off like an arrow.


Chapter Three: All’s Well That Ends Well
Sir Gus rode the king’s horse out into the country. He galloped over green land and lovely rolling hills. All was well, until he began to itch. He scratched his leg. He scratched his neck. He tried to scratch his back and nearly fell off the horse. Nothing seemed to help. At last Sir Gus told himself that he had better stop, lest he scratch himself right off of the king’s horse!

Sir Gus stopped in front of a farmhouse. Near the farmhouse was a stone well. Standing near the well was a young, strong-looking man. Sir Gus spoke to the young man politely. “Pardon me, good sir,” he said, “may I drink from your well?”

“Yes, you may,” said the young man.

Sir Gus went to draw water from the well. He grabbed the rope and began to tug on it. But then he felt the need to scratch. He let go of the rope and started itching himself. Soon, he was scratching himself so hard that he started jumping up and down. He jumped up and down so much that he fell into the well and landed with a splash at the bottom. “Ack!” cried Sir Gus. “What have I done?”


It was a good thing that Sir Gus was tall. The water in the well only came up to his chest. The young man peered down into the well. “Have no fear!” he shouted to Sir Gus. “I will help you. I will drop the bucket down. Take hold of it, and I will lift you up.”

Sir Gus waited nervously at the bottom of the dark well. He did not like the dark or the cold water. His legs began to shiver and shake. The bucket came down the well. Sir Gus grabbed the bucket and held on tight. Slowly, the young man began to bring Sir Gus up out of the well.

As Sir Gus reached the top of the well, the young man offered the knight his hand. “Young man,” said Sir Gus, as he stepped out of the well, “I am touched by your generous deed. I would like to thank you for helping me. What is your name?”

“My name is Robin,” replied the man.

“Well, then, Robin,” said Sir Gus, “I thank you.”


“You are welcome,” said Robin. The two men shook hands. Robin clasped the knight’s hand so tightly that water dripped from his glove. Robin smiled. “Come into my house,” he said. “I will find you some dry clothing.” Sir Gus went inside. “Sit down,” said Robin. “I will fetch you some dry clothing and something to drink.” Robin left the room.

Sir Gus sat down on a wooden chair. As he did so, a large black cat jumped onto his lap. At once, Sir Gus began to itch all over. He got up and started jumping up and down. He jumped so hard that he knocked over a chair and bumped into a shelf. Some things fell off the shelf. As he bent down to pick these things up, Sir Gus spotted a ring. It was the king’s ring! Robin was the robber!

Sir Gus stood thinking for a moment. “There is no point fighting with the man,” Sir Gus said to himself. “That would be dangerous. I can tell by his grip that he is very strong.” Sir Gus grabbed the ring. Then he tiptoed quietly out of the house. He mounted his horse and rode back to see the king.


Chapter Four: The Hungry Troll
King Alfred was delighted when Sir Gus gave him his ring. “How did you find it so quickly?” he asked.

Sir Gus shrugged and said, “It was nothing, sire — just a bit of good luck.”

“I see that you are not only brave and clever,” said the king. “You are modest, as well!”

The king slipped the ring back on his finger. Then he had all his other knights come to a meeting. “Knights,” he said, “brave Sir Gus has recovered my ring. You may all go home.”

The knights rode off to their homes in the country. They carried with them the story of Sir Gus and the king’s ring. The story was told far and wide. Sir Gus became a very famous knight.

For a long time, all was well. Each day the king would hunt, fish, and eat. Each night he slept peacefully in his bed. Months passed. Then one snowy winter morning, there came the sound of thunder. Except it was not thunder. It was the thunderous cry of a troll.

The troll had woken from a long sleep. It was very hungry. A troll is a monstrous beast. It will eat a lot of things, but it is very fond of people. King Alfred was frightened. He woke up when the troll cried out. He feared for the safety of his kingdom. He sent for his knights.


At once, eleven brave knights came. They, too, were woken by the loud cry of the troll. However, Sir Gus the Fearless did not come. The cries of the troll had not woken him. He was still tucked up in bed snoring. At last, the king could wait no longer. He sent one of the other knights to fetch Sir Gus.

Sometime after lunch, Sir Gus came. He was tired and hungry. He had a bad cold. His nose was swollen and red. “What kept you?” asked the king. “Did you not hear the sound of the troll?”

“Doe, your dajesty,” said Sir Gus, “I did dot. I have a dold in my doze,” replied Sir Gus.

“Well, it must have stopped up your ears, too!” said the king. “Hear me, knights! I am concerned. We must do something to stop this monstrous troll! We must keep this loathsome beast from eating all of the people in my kingdom! Who has a plan?”

“If I may, your majesty,” said the knight known as Sir Tom, “I know that trolls are scared of fire. We could make a fire near the troll’s home and scare it.”

“I like it!” said the king. “See that it is done!” Eleven of the knights went to get torches. Then they rode off to find the troll. Sir Gus, however, did not ride off at once. He crept into the king’s kitchen and helped himself to a big slice of pie.


Chapter Five: Fire!
It was not hard to find the troll. Trolls cry when they are hungry. The knights simply followed the sound of loud sobs and eating. As nightfall neared, the knights arrived at the foot of a large hill. The troll had spent all day eating the rocks and plants on the hill. All that was left on the hill were some prickly plants and some old, dying trees.

Near the top of the hill was a cave. Scary troll sounds were coming from inside the cave. The knights met in a grove at the foot of the hill. They knelt down and made a plan. “When it is dark we will light our torches,” said Sir Tom. “Then we will creep up the hill. The sight of the flames will scare the troll, and it will go back to its home beneath the ground.”

“And what if that plan fails?” asked Sir Ed. “I don’t care to be the troll’s dinner.”

“Well, do you have a better plan?” asked Sir Tom. Sir Ed said nothing. The other knights were quiet, as well. At that very moment came the sound of a horse trotting nearby.

“Found you at last!” said Sir Gus, as he rode up to the knights. “So, my fellow knights, tell me, have you devised a plan of attack to defeat this monstrous troll?”


“Yes, we have!” said Sir Tom. “We have agreed that our bravest knight will creep up the hill with a torch and frighten the troll away.”

“Splendid idea!” said Sir Gus. “And who is going to attempt this brave deed?” he asked, looking around.

“You!” said Sir Tom and Sir Ed together.

“But, but . . . well . . . I . . . er . . . um . . .,” said a reluctant Sir Gus. It was no good trying to get out of it. Sir Tom handed Sir Gus a lit torch. Then he pointed at the cave.

Sir Gus went up the hill alone. By the time he reached the mouth of the cave, it was pitch black. The lit torch cast shadows on the ground. Sir Gus looked around him. He saw shadows dancing on the ground. He was afraid. But he pressed on.

From inside the cave came alarming troll sounds. “Snnniccck, Snnnuummm, Guffumffffff!” The troll was eating bits of rock with its sharp teeth, then spitting out the bits it did not like. Sir Gus approached the cave. Small pieces of rock came flying out. Some of them landed at Sir Gus’s feet. Sir Gus jumped back, trying to avoid the flying pieces of rock.


Suddenly there was a thumping sound. Thump! Thump! Thump! The troll was coming out of the cave! As the troll got closer, the sounds got louder. “SNNNNICCCK, SNNNUUUUMMMM, GUFFUMFFFFFF!”

Sir Gus was afraid. He started to feel weak in the knees. At last he fainted. His torch fell to the ground. It landed on some dry, prickly plants near the mouth of the cave. The plants caught on fire. The flames got bigger quickly. From inside the cave came a scream. Then came the thumping sound of a large beast running away. Soon, all that remained was the sound of crackling flames.

Sir Gus lay on the ground for a while. At last, the heat from the fire woke him. He got up and ran back down the hill. When Sir Gus appeared, the knights shouted, “Hooray! Brave Sir Gus lit the fire! He has driven away the troll! Hooray for Sir Gus!”


Chapter Six: The Boat Trip
Word of how Brave Sir Gus had driven away the troll went across the kingdom. The tale soon reached King Alfred. The king was so grateful to Sir Gus that he changed his name from Sir Gus the Fearless to Sir Gus the Utterly Fearless. Sir Gus was given a splendid, but rather large, red robe to keep as a symbol of his bravery.

To celebrate the defeat of the troll, the king invited his knights to go hunting with him. Eleven of the knights rode off with the king to hunt for red deer and wild pigs. Sir Gus, however, didn’t go. He did not like hunting. It was far too dangerous. Rather than go hunting, Sir Gus took a long, relaxing bath. Then he went to the kitchen to see what tasty foods were being prepared.


The next day, King Alfred decided to go sailing on his boat. He insisted that his knights all go with him. And so, right after lunch, the knights made their way south to the coast. One by one, they stepped onto the king’s boat. Sir Gus wanted to tell the king that he did not like boats or water. In fact, the two together made him very sick, indeed. But he didn’t want to upset the king, so he joined the party.

It was a nice afternoon when the boat set sail. The sun shone. The water was calm. There was not a cloud in the sky. The king appeared on deck. “Isn’t this wonderful?” he said. “Sir Gus, I trust you are having a wonderful time?”

“Yes, indeed, I am,” replied Sir Gus, lying.

Then, late in the afternoon, the sky darkened. The wind began to blow. Large waves began to beat on the side of the boat. Sir Gus began to feel ill. The king was alarmed. He and eleven of the knights had to fight to keep the boat afloat in the strong winds and rising waves.

As for Sir Gus, he was so sick he no longer cared if the boat floated or sank. He couldn’t stand up. He lay in the bottom of the boat moaning and groaning. And that is why no one saw the large pirate ship approaching.

Click on this link to move forward to Module D, Lessons 51 – 60


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