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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Bronze Ring (8): Success


Have you ever been so desperate (without hope) that you would try anything to fix a problem? Or do you know someone who has felt that way?

A gardener's son wants to marry a princess. After he showed kindness to an old woman, she told him how he could heal a sick king.


[38] The young man followed the old beggar-woman's directions. On going out of the town he found the white, red, and black dogs, and killed and burnt them, gathering the ashes in three bags. Then he ran to the palace and cried:
[39] "A celebrated physician has just come from Janina in Albania. He alone can cure the King and give him back the strength of his youth."
[40] The King's physicians at first laughed at the unknown wayfarer, but the Sultan ordered that the stranger should be admitted. They brought the cauldron and the loads of wood, and very soon the King was boiling away. Toward mid-day the gardener's son arranged the bones in their places, and he had hardly scattered the ashes over them before the old King revived, to find himself once more young and hearty.
[41] "How can I reward you, my benefactor?" he cried. "Will you take half my treasures?"
[42] "No," said the gardener's son.
[43] "My daughter's hand?"
[44] "NO."
[45] "Take half my kingdom."
[46] "No. Give me only the bronze ring which can instantly grant me anything I wish for."
[47] "Alas!" said the King, "I set great store by that marvelous ring; nevertheless, you shall have it." And he gave it to him.


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. burnt: the past of "burn"; also spelled "burned"
b. a wayfarer: an old-fashioned word for a person who travels
c. to scatter: to spread or sprinkle
d. to revive: to wake up, to come back to life
e. a treasure: something valuable
f. take or give one's hand: can mean to get married; the king means "take my daughter's hand (in marriage)."
g. to set great store by something: to think of something as important or valuable
h. marvelous: very good, wonderful, perhaps magical
i. nevertheless: anyway, even so; a bit like "What I just said is not important."


Use one of the above terms in each of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. I was carrying some papers when the wind came and __________ them everywhere.
2. I know you don't like Marcia; __________, you need to work with her.
3. All of my books were __________ in the fire.
4. When I'm sleepy, taking a short walk around the office __________ me.
5. Daily exercise is a __________ way to keep fit.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Why do you think the king was willing to be boiled?
2. How do you think the "cure" worked? That is, what causes the king to revive?
3. Do you think the gardener's son is smart to refuse the king's many offers?


1 c scattered; 2 i nevertheless; 3 a burnt; 4 d revives; 5 h marvelous

This lesson is ©2011 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."


  1. whats the lesson or theme of the story??

    1. It's a fairy tale, where a clever man becomes successful, then loses everything, and then becomes successful again. But I'm not sure if that's what you want to know.