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A bedtime story for children by Luba Brezhnev.
"Chipper the Chipmunk" (by Luba Brezhnev)
Chipper sat in his favorite chair, crying salty tears. No one wanted to play with him.
He was so plump he could barely squeeze through his own front door. The young chipmunk dried
his tears and thought silently. "If it goes on like this, I won't be able to fit into
my own house. And I have enough food for five years here."
To ease his mind, he decided to take a stroll through his well-stocked pantry. Examining
his vast stores was his favorite pastime. He heaved a deep sigh. Then he set about counting
the shelves, with their even rows of boxes, jars, and packages -- all filled with good
things to eat. There were so many shelves that the young chipmunk soon tired of the
sport. Chipper returned to his beloved recliner and reflected. He felt low, even though he
had everything his heart desired -- and then some... He thought and thought. He couldn't
figure out why... So he waddled off to bed.
"I hope you all have great fun playing without me," he grumbled under his breath. He was
thinking about what had happened earlier in the day, when the other chipmunk boys had
refused to let him join the soccer team.
Chipper fell asleep and slept soundly, his paws clinging the pillow tightly.
Suddenly came the sound of something stirring in the room. Chipper woke up and listened
intently. "That mouse must have gotten into my cornmeal again," he thought. He was just
about ready to jump out of bed to chase away the thief, when he suddenly saw a strange
chipmunk. The stranger was chuckling, seated in a corner of the room in Chipper's recliner.
"Who are you?" asked Chipper, thoroughly befuddled. How had the intruder entered the room?
"I am Old Man Chipmunk."
"What are you doing here?" asked the young chipmunk in a stern voice. After all, he was
the rightful owner of the room and vast contents of his pantry!
"What I am doing is -- sitting in your favorite chair!" said the stranger, continuing to chuckle
as he spoke.
"But how did you get in the room?"
"Very simple. I came through the wall."
"There's no way you could have come in through the wall," said Chipper. He was sure he was
right about that. "That's a thick, strong wall, and no one can break through it."
"No one else can, but I can."
Seeing the visitor's fur-lined boots, he asked, "Why are you dressed so warmly? It's still
September, you know."
"I just flew in from way up north in Greenland. It's already chilly there!"
"Are you Santa Claus, by any chance?"
"No, I'm not Santa Claus, though I'm able to do many things. But don't you start making
wishes now!"
The young chipmunk was a bit disappointed: "Well, I did want to ask one favor."
"No use. I haven't the slightest intention of doing you any favors. I don't like you.
You are greedy and boring. I don't like that kind of boy."
"What kind of boy do you like?"
"A kind and happy boy."
"I am happy," said Chipper. But his voice wavered
"So who was sitting in this very same recliner two hours ago, sniveling and whining? No one
wants to play with you, and it serves you right."
Chipper was amazed: "How did you know all that?"
"My young friend, I know everything. You can't hide anything from me, no matter where you
try to go."
Chipper tried to argue, but his voice was uncertain: "I have a storage room. No one
can find me there..."
"No one else can, but I can."
"Why are you always boasting? Pride comes before a fall, you know."
"That's no boast. I really and truly can find you, even if you hide at the bottom of the
ocean," said the old chipmunk, laughing.
The young chipmunk shivered: "I don't want to go to the bottom of the ocean. It's cold
down there."
"You don't have to go there. We can have a talk right here, just as well."
"What's there to talk about?" asked Chipper. "You know what, it's my bedtime anyway."
"We do have things to talk about, and you'll have time later to get a good night's sleep.
What you need to do now is go over and make me a cup of tea."
"Wow," thought the proud owner of the well-stocked pantry. "First he asks for tea, and then he'll
want to eat, even though I hardly have enough for myself..."
"But I don't have any tea," Chipper said, as his face turned red.
"Don't you remember that I can see and hear everything? I even know what shelf the tea
is hidden on..."
"Oh, all right then, I'll serve you some tea, but there's nothing else.'
"What are you talking about? Your shelves are weighed down with food!" said Old Man
Chipmunk in an indignant voice. "What if you visited me and I put you on a starvation diet.
Would you like that?'
"I don't want to be anyone's guest. If you visit someone, then you have to invite them
back. It's what they call a -- what's the word? -- a return visit..."
"Now you see what I mean. When you come to me on a return visit, you'll get no food from
me, only a dirty look."
Chipper was agitated: "But I don't even have enough for myself. I only have enough food
here for five years. Then what will I do? Do you want me to starve?"
Chipper felt so sorry for himself that tears even came to his eyes.
Old Man Chipmunk was relentless: "Go ahead and eat all you want. But first figure out
exactly how much to eat each day for the next five years." Suddenly the old chipmunk raised
his voice to a yell. "So, light up that tea kettle before I spank you."
Chipper was so shocked that his mouth hung open. The old chipmunk stood up, went to the
young chipmunk, and helped him close his mouth.
"Now that's better," he said, sitting at the table and setting out the tea cups. "I just
came in from the cold, you know. I nearly froze! Tea is the only thing that will warm
me up."
Chipper stood up and grudgingly dragged himself to the kitchen to light the tea kettle. Then
he remembered that tea is usually served with sugar or jam. "I'll put the sweets as far
away from view as I can," he decided. He walked toward the pantry, when suddenly Old Man Chipmunk
called out from the living room: "What are you up to in there? Trying to hide the sugar?
You took the jam into the pantry... I already said you can't hide anything from me."
Chipper quivered and dropped a jar of jam onto the floor.
Chipper cried out, "Now look there! All that's left of a perfectly good jar of jam is a purple
puddle on the floor. And it's all your fault!"
"Don't get upset," said the visitor and hugged Chipper's shoulders. "Let's go to the kitchen,
my friend, and put the kettle on. After that, I'll tell you a story."
"What about the jam?" asked the young chipmunk, wiping away his tears.
"Forget about the jam, I'll cook up as much of that kind of jam as you want."
"Really?" said Chipper. He smiled: "And what else can you do for me?"
"Whatever you like, but I do have some conditions. First you have to meet those conditions. Then
you can make requests."
"I'll do what you say," said the young chipmunk uncertainly. He regretted his words at once.
What if the visitor asked for all his food? He would never be able to agree to that! Well,
maybe, but only if the older chipmunk promised to give him even more in return. That would
be a different story...
"What's going on here? Not getting ideas in your head about haggling, are you?" the visitor
inquired sternly. "I'm the one giving the orders around here, and you're the one who's
going to follow them!"
"Fine, I agree," said the young chipmunk.
"Well, since you agree, let's go heat up the kettle. And don't forget to serve plenty of
sweets along with the tea. We old folks like our treats, you know!"
Chipper said nothing and went to the kitchen to start the tea kettle. He also fetched cookies,
an unopened jar of jam, and crackers down from the shelves.
"What about the sugar?" asked the visitor.
"There's already enough sweet stuff on the table," said Chipper.
"I wouldn't know about that. Bring the sugar here!"
Chipper had no alternative but to fetch the sugar.
"You're certainly a big eater," said Chipper.
"I won't deny it. I have a healthy appetite, and I adore sweets!"
Chipper grumbled: "Everyone loves helping themselves to free stuff that actually belongs
to someone else!"
"Now there, don't get hurt feelings," said Old Man Chipmunk in a conciliatory tone. "Remember,
you and I already made an agreement. Your job is to listen and obey."
"Uh huh, but what do I get in return?"
Old Man Chipmunk chuckled: "You certainly think small, my boy! I offer you friendship
and then you turn around and forget what friendship is all about."
Chipper persisted: "What do I get out of friendship?"
The old visitor seemed surprised: "So you think friendship can be converted into money
or something?"
"I still want to know what I'm supposed to get!"
"Don't you know how to act without expecting any reward?" said the visitor.
"No," said Chipper, sighing.
"So you don't like to give, but you're a great one for taking, eh?"
"I guess that's the way it is. But I could end up giving away everything I have. Then
what would be left for me?"
"Don't worry about that. Give and you will receive twice as much back."
"Well... One of my neighbors is always giving things away, and he always has company, with
dances and happy times. But his house is empty, with nothing stored up in it. I can't be like
him."
"On the other hand, he doesn't spend his evenings weeping and moaning. Instead he hangs out
with his friends and laughs."
"I was crying earlier because I wasn't chosen for the soccer team."
"You really think it only has to do with soccer? How many friends does your neighbor have -- too
many to count! And what about you? Not a single friend in the whole forest. Suppose something
happens to you -- then what? Who will come help you? No one. So let's try to figure out
who is happier -- you with your well-stocked pantry or your neighbor, who finds fresh joy
in living every day?"
"Isn't there some way I could keep all the food in my pantry and also find some friends?"
"First you have to figure out what friendship is."
Chipper asked uncertainly, "Friendship is playing together on the same soccer team,
right?"
"Not just that. You can play soccer with anyone, but friendship is when two people are there
for each other. Think back to when your neighbor's shack caught fire, and folks came from all
around the forest to help. But if your fine, sturdy house were to catch fire, no one would
come to help put it out. Not only that, you can barely squeeze through the front door.
Pretty soon you won't even be able to go out of your house at all."
"But how can I lose weight if I have to sit home, eating up all my supplies?"
"That's your predicament. If you eat everything, then you won't be able to get through the
door. The house will have to be broken open."
"I don't want this house to be broken open," said Chipper, getting nervous. "It cost a
lot of money."
"Well then, you will have to go hungry. Your supplies will run out."
The owner of the pantry reflected. He didn't want to have to go hungry. He had been busily
storing food up all summer long, and going hungry was no part of his plans.
He thought for a long time. Meanwhile, Old Man Chipmunk drank his tea, ate sweets and
chuckled.
"So what do I do?" asked the young chipmunk.
"Now that's a different matter entirely," said the older chipmunk, brushing off his
whiskers with a napkin. "That is where our conversation should have started. Now, listen
carefully. Once upon a time I was a young lad just like you. Of course, that was a long
time ago, but it feels like yesterday." He paused and reflected.
Chipper was incredulous: "What are you telling me, that I will be old like you some day?"
The visitor smiled: "How could it be otherwise? All little boys grow up and become old. The
only thing that matters is how they lived their life. You, for example, are a miser
and you plan to remain one for the rest of your life. But what will you have at the end
of the road? Have you thought about that?"
"No," said Chipper softly. "I've never thought about old age. I thought I would always be
young."
"Well you'd better watch out!" said the uninvited guest, laughing. "Everyone wants to remain
young forever, but no one gets to. I advise the young to look at their grandparents more
often and imagine themselves that way."
"I never met my grandfather," sighed Chipper. "Mom says he was very frugal."
"What you really mean was that he was greedy. He shared with no one and had no friends.
At night he was miserable and all alone."
The younger chipmunk confirmed the old chipmunk's words: "They tell me that the last years of
his life, he never left the house. He couldn't fit through the door... So what should I do
to be healthy and happy?"
"Well, my young friend, that's a pretty big question. Some find the answer easily, but
others like you have to work real hard to figure it out."
"I agree..."
The visitor clapped his paws: "You do? Now there's a good lad! Let's hear it for Chipper...
So, let's give it a try. But you'd better not start sniveling, whining, or asking for
mercy. If you do, I'll disappear into thin air!"
"I won't whine," sighed Chipper. "What choice do I have now?"
"Now listen. First I am going to tell you about my own life. I was a greedy little chipmunk,
just like you."
"Really?" said the young chipmunk.
"True, true," said the visitor. "Now listen without interrupting. I remember how I couldn't
sleep nights whenever I had to give something away. It was so painful to part with anything
that I even cried. So that's how I lived. I didn't share my toys with other little chipmunks;
I ate my cookies on the sly, so other kids wouldn't see and ask me for some. When my
dad bought me a train set, I sat at home in my bedroom all alone and played with it. After
a few days passed, I got bored and felt like inviting another boy to join in. But I lay
awake in bed all night, trying to decide what to do. In my mind's eye I saw the other boy
smashing up my locomotive, which made me feel terrible... So I ended up inviting no one.
I liked to play different games, but who could I play with? You need a partner for checkers,
chess, or dominoes, but I never would invite anyone into the house. I was afraid they might
suddenly ask me for something. So that's how I lived -- bored and sniveling. No one asked
me to play soccer. I was awkward and greedy... Who needed someone like that?"
"So were you fat like me?" asked Chipper.
"Yes, my friend, yes I was. I was even fatter than you are. It got to the point where I
stopped going out of the house. For one thing, I couldn't fit through the door. Besides,
that, the other kids always teased my, saying things like He certainly can plow through,
everything on the table; and he'd eat a cow too, if only he were able."
"That can't be!" exclaimed Chipper. "That's exactly what they say about me!"
"No interruptions -- just keep listening. Once, misfortune hit our family. My Dad lost
his job and there was no money in the house, not even to buy food. Forget about toys....
I was sitting in my room, miserable. Suddenly the door opened and in came some kids from
the neighborhood, carrying toys. 'These are for you,' they said. I was so surprised. They
had brought me their very favorite toys!
"That evening I cried tears of joy. Now I had so many new friends! Not long afterwards
Dad found a new job. I went to the store with him and we bought sweets and all sorts of
delicious treats to share with the neighborhood. We held a big feast right there on the street."
"What happened after that?" asked Chipper cautiously.
"Then we became friends and we still are. I gave away all my toys and I emptied out
my pantry. All my cakes and candies went to make others happy. I have been living like
that for one hundred years, Chipper."
"How can that be?" said the young chipmunk. "So what are you doing nowadays?"
"Right now what I do is I fly around the world and teach silly children a thing or two. Just
like I have been trying to teach you... The way you have been living is all wrong, even
though you are basically a good boy."
"I am good," said Chipper, blushing with pleasure.
"Then go out and prove to me that you are good," said Old Man Chipmunk with a smile.
"Because guess what, it's time now for me to be on my way back home. And I have more
little misers like you on my visiting list."
"How can I prove that I'm good?"
"That's very simple. Tomorrow morning, send all your neighbors an invitation, and in the
evening hold a dinner party for everyone. Have music, to get your guests dancing. And
it wouldn't hurt for you to move your paws a bit. You've spent too much time sitting
around. Do as I advise, and you will understand."
"OK," said Chipper in agreement. "But what will I put on the table? If I give away everything
in my pantry, I will have nothing left for myself to eat."
"You don't have to put everything you have on the table. You can leave some for yourself,
but don't be greedy. Look at how long it took me to talk you into serving me tea. I was
even ashamed of you."
"I didn't know that you were nice," said the young chipmunk, trying to justify himself.
"Otherwise I'd have served you tea and chocolate right away."
"So do you have chocolate?" said the visitor, pretending to be surprised. "And why haven't
you given me any?"
"Well, you didn't ask for any," said the young chipmunk, turning red all over.
"You're thinking backwards, my boy! You expect a guest to provide you with a list? Learn
to have a generous heart, and then you can never go wrong."
"So will you be coming to dinner?" asked Chipper.
"Are you inviting me?"
"Of course," said Chipper with a smile. "You will be my most valued guest."
"Will you serve chocolate?" asked Old Man Chipmunk, with a sly smile.
"I will," said Chipper, laughing.
"Well all right then, I will come. But now it is time for you to go to sleep. I'm going
to curl up in this recliner."
***
Chipper went back to bed. Meanwhile, his uninvited visitor made himself comfortable in the recliner
and pulled out a sheet of paper to study. It held a list of greedy chipmunk boys and
girls who needed his help.
"Well, well," he said out loud. "We can cross out Chipper's name. He has grown up a bit,
thank God." He took a red marker and crossed out Chipper's address. "Chipper won't be a
problem any more. So... My next case is a greedy little girl a few miles from here.
They say she won't even share candy with her own grandmother. They say she grabs all her
little brother's toys and locks them in her big trunk. She needs urgent help. Soon it
will be too late..."
He hopped over to the little bed where Chipper lay, his paws clinging to the pillow. The
blanket had slipped out of place, and Old Man Chipmunk tucked it in. Then he kissed
the young chipmunk and disappeared into thin air.
Chipper woke up when the sun was already high in the sky. The ringing, chattering voices
of chipmunk children could be heard in the yard.
Chipper grumbled, "They won't let me sleep." He frowned.
Then he glanced at the table and saw a tea kettle and two tea cups. On the saucer lay
a partially nibbled cookie...
"Who's been eating my cookies?' he asked out loud. "Last night I put everything away, safely
out of sight."
Then Chipper remembered the previous night's uninvited visitor. He leapt out of bed, wiped
the sleep from his eyes, and went to the table. The cookies were still on the saucer; the
teacups were still lukewarm and had some tea left in them...
"So I wasn't dreaming. That means Old Man Chipmunk was really here," he thought.
Chipper quickly got dressed and ran over to check the shelves in his pantry. Everything
was in its place and intact. He sighed a sigh of relief. Then he went to the kitchen to
heat up the kettle. Candy wrappers and little bits of sugar were strewn on the kitchen table.
"Whaa-at? Did I serve him candy?" Chipper was in shock.
Then all the rest of the night's happenings came back to him -- the conversation with
the strange visitor, his promise to invite the neighbors to dinner...
He was dismayed: "What happened to me? How could I make a promise like that? I don't
even have enough food for everyone."
"You have plenty," said a voice from somewhere inside the wall. "Don't be so greedy. And
most important of all, keep your promises!"
"Who are you?" asked the young chipmunk, staring at the wall in fright.
"I am the visitor from last night," answered the voice.
"Is it true I served you tea last night and even opened up a jar of jam?" asked Chipper.
"That's right, son. And today you will be serving chocolate candy."
"But I don't have that kind of candy here..."
Old Man Chipmunk said helpfully, "The second shelf on the left. That package with pictures
of teddy bears. Now sit down quickly and write invitations to your neighbors."
"All right, I'm sitting down right now."
"Now that's more like it! I'm off now. I have plenty of work to do. But I'll be back this
evening, just as I promised."
Chipper sat down and began writing invitations.
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A bedtime story for children by Luba Brezhnev

8754 タグ追加 保存
力量 2014 年 11 月 13 日 に公開
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