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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Bronze Ring (20): The Mice Get the Ring


What does a sneeze sound like in your country? Usually, we think it sounds like "a-CHOO!"

Three mice, each with a physical problem, must try to get the bronze ring from the old magician who took it from the gardener's son.


[118] So the three mice made themselves a boat and set sail for the magician's country. When they reached the capital they landed and ran to the palace, leaving only the blind mouse on the shore to take care of the boat. Then they waited till it was night. The wicked old man lay down in bed and put the bronze ring into his mouth, and very soon he was asleep.
[119] "Now, what shall we do?" said the two little animals to each other.
[120] The mouse with the cropped ears found a lamp full of oil and a bottle full of pepper. So she dipped her tail first in the oil and then in the pepper, and held it to the sorcerer's nose.
[121] "Atisha! atisha!" sneezed the old man, but he did not wake, and the shock made the bronze ring jump out of his mouth. Quick as thought the lame mouse snatched up the precious talisman and carried it off to the boat.
[122] Imagine the despair of the magician when he awoke and the bronze ring was nowhere to be found!


Here is some vocabulary from the story:

a. to set sail: to begin to sail; for a ship to leave on a journey
b. wicked: evil; very, very bad (pronounced WICK-ud)
c. pepper: a very common seasoning for food, usually black; if too much is placed near the nose, it can make a person sneeze
d. to sneeze: to suddenly blow air out of the mouth and nose, as when one has a cold
e. shock: a sudden movement or hit, physical or emotional: "the shock of being hit by a car" or "the shock of learning a loved one has died"
f. quick as thought: as quickly as one can think; very, very fast
g. to snatch: to grab or take quickly
h. precious: valuable or expensive
i. talisman: a magic thing, like the ring in this story, or like a magic lamp, etc.
j. nowhere to be found: unable to be found anywhere; completely lost


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

1. Gold and silver are considered to be __________ metals.
2. When Fred hit Bill, the __________ knocked out Bill's tooth.
3. I must get on the ship before it __________.
4. I parked my car in a bad neighborhood; when I returned, it was __________.
5. The __________ old witch turned a man into a frog.
6. Be careful that someone doesn't __________ your bag in the train station.
7. I hate to __________ when there's something in my mouth.
8. I usually use salt and __________ on my food.


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 old man keeps the ring in his mouth?
2. Why does the old man sneeze "Atisha!" instead of the usual "a-CHOO"?
3. Why is it the lame mouse who carries off the ring, and not the one with cropped ears?


1 h precious; 2 e shock; 3 a sets sail; 4 j nowhere to be found; 5 b wicked; 6 g snatch; 7 d sneeze; 8 c pepper

This lesson is ©2012 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."

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