Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The "Tall Tale" of Paul Bunyan. Listen and Read.

ANNOUNCER: Now, the Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.


ANNOUNCER: Today we tell a traditional American story called a “tall tale.” A tall tale is a story about a person who is larger than life. The descriptions in the story are exaggerated – much greater than in real life. This makes the story funny. Long ago, the people who settled in undeveloped areas in America first told tall tales. After a hard day’s work, people gathered to tell each other funny stories.

Each group of workers had its own tall tale hero. Paul Bunyan was a hero of North America’s lumberjacks, the workers who cut down trees. He was known for his strength, speed and skill. Tradition says he cleared forests from the northeastern United States to the Pacific Ocean.

Some people say Paul Bunyan was the creation of storytellers from the middle western Great Lakes area of the United States. Other people say the stories about him came from French Canada.

Early in the twentieth century, a writer prepared a collection of Paul Bunyan stories. They were included in a publication from the Red River Lumber Company in Minnesota. It is not known if the stories helped the company’s sales, but they became extremely popular.

Here is Shep O’Neal with our story about Paul Bunyan.


STORYTELLER: Many years ago, Paul Bunyan was born in the northeastern American state of Maine. His mother and father were shocked when they first saw the boy. Paul was so large at birth that five large birds had to carry him to his parents. When the boy was only a few weeks old, he weighed more than forty-five kilograms.

As a child, Paul was always hungry. His parents needed tens cows to supply milk for his meals. Before long, he ate fifty eggs and ten containers of potatoes every day.

Young Paul grew so big that his parents did not know what to do with him. Once, Paul rolled over so much in his sleep that he caused an earthquake. This angered people in the town where his parents lived. So, the government told his mother and father they would have to move him somewhere else.

Paul’s father built a wooden cradle -- a traditional bed for a baby. His parents put the cradle in waters along the coast of Maine. However, every time Paul rolled over, huge waves covered all the coastal towns. So his parents brought their son back on land. They took him into the woods. This is where he grew up.

As a boy, Paul helped his father cut down trees. Paul had the strength of many men. He also was extremely fast. He could turn off a light and then jump into his bed before the room got dark.


STORYTELLER: Maine is very cold for much of the year. One day, it started to snow. The snow covered Paul’s home and a nearby forest. However, this snow was very unusual. It was blue. The blue snow kept falling until the forest was covered.

Paul put on his snowshoes and went out to see the unusual sight. As he walked, Paul discovered an animal stuck in the snow. It was a baby ox. Paul decided to take the ox home with him. He put the animal near the fireplace. After the ox got warmer, his hair remained blue.

Paul decided to keep the blue ox and named him Babe. Babe grew very quickly. One night, Paul left him in a small building with the other animals. The next morning, the barn was gone and so was Babe. Paul searched everywhere for the animal. He found Babe calmly eating grass in a valley, with the barn still on top of his back. Babe followed Paul and grew larger every day. Every time Paul looked, Babe seemed to grow taller.

In those days, much of North America was filled with thick, green forests. Paul Bunyan could clear large wooded areas with a single stroke of his large, sharp axe.

Paul taught Babe to help with his work. Babe was very useful. For example, Paul had trouble removing trees along a road that was not straight. He decided to tie one end of the road to what remained of a tree in the ground. Paul tied the other end to Babe. Babe dug his feet in the ground and pulled with all his strength until the road became straight.


STORYTELLER: In time, Paul and Babe the Blue Ox left Maine, and moved west to look for work in other forests. Along the way, Paul dug out the Great Lakes to provide drinking water for Babe. They settled in a camp near the Onion River in the state of Minnesota.

Paul’s camp was the largest in the country. The camp was so large that a man had to have one week’s supply of food when walking from one side of the camp to the other.

Paul decided to get other lumberjacks to help with the work. His work crew became known as the Seven Axemen. Each man was more than two meters tall and weighed more than one-hundred-sixty kilograms. All of the Axemen were named Elmer. That way, they all came running whenever Paul called them.

The man who cooked for the group was named Sourdough Sam. He made everything -- except coffee -- from sourdough, a substance used in making sourdough bread.

Every Sunday, Paul and his crew ate hot cakes. Each hot cake was so large that it took five men to eat one. Paul usually had ten or more hot cakes, depending on how hungry he was. The table where the men ate was so long that a server usually drove to one end of the table and stayed the night. The server drove back in the morning, with a fresh load of food.

Paul needed someone to help with the camp’s finances. He gave the job to a man named Johnny Inkslinger. Johnny kept records of everything, including wages and the cost of feeding Babe. He sometimes used nine containers of writing fluid a day to keep such detailed records.

The camp also was home to Sport, the Reversible Dog. One of the workers accidentally cut Sport in two. The man hurried to put the dog back together, but made a mistake. He bent the animal’s back the wrong way. However, that was not a problem for Sport. He learned to run on his front legs until he was tired. Then, he turned the other way and ran on his back legs.


STORYTELLER: Big mosquitoes were a problem at the camp. The men attacked the insects with their axes and long sticks. Before long, the men put barriers around their living space. Then, Paul ordered them to get big bees to destroy the mosquitoes. But the bees married the mosquitoes, and the problem got worse. They began to produce young insects. One day, the insects’ love of sweets caused them to attack a ship that was bringing sugar to the camp. At last, the mosquitoes and bees were defeated. They ate so much sugar they could not move.

Paul always gave Babe the Blue Ox a thirty-five kilogram piece of sugar when he was good. But sometimes Babe liked to play tricks. At night, Babe would make noises and hit the ground with his feet. The men at the camp would run out of the buildings where they slept, thinking it was an earthquake.

When winter came, Babe had trouble finding enough food to eat. Snow covered everything. Ole the Blacksmith solved the problem. He made huge green sunglasses for Babe. When Babe wore the sunglasses, he thought the snow was grass. Before long, Babe was strong and healthy again.

One year, Paul’s camp was especially cold. It was so cold that the men let their facial hair grow very long. When the men spoke, their words froze in the air. Everything they said remained frozen all winter long, and did not melt until spring.

Paul Bunyan and Babe left their mark on many areas. Some people say they were responsible for creating Puget Sound in the western state of Washington. Others say Paul Bunyan and Babe cleared the trees from the states of North Dakota and South Dakota. They prepared this area for farming.

Babe the Blue Ox died in South Dakota. One story says he ate too many hot cakes. Paul buried his old friend there. Today, the burial place is known as the Black Hills.

Whatever happened to Paul Bunyan? There are lots of stories. Some people say he was last seen in Alaska, or even the Arctic Circle. Another tradition says he still returns to Minnesota every summer. It says Paul moves in and out of the woods, so few people ever know that he is there.


ANNOUNCER: You have just heard the story of Paul Bunyan. It was adapted for Special English by George Grow. Your narrator was Shep O’Neal. Join us again next week for another American story, in Special English, on the Voice of America. This is Faith Lapidus.

The Seven Wonders of the World

This is a picture of "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon" which was located in present day Iraq. It was one of the original "Seven Wonders of The World". In this broadcast, Voice of America's Special English series tells us about those original wonders. Click on the player, listen, and read.


This is Faith Lapidus.


And this is Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we present the first of three programs about some of the most interesting, beautiful and unusual places on Earth. We begin with a list of what have been called the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.


People have always felt the need to create lists. Lists are records of important ideas, places, events or people. About two thousand five hundred years ago a Greek historian named Herodotus is said to have made a list of what he thought were the greatest structures in the world. His list of places became known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Herodotus only wrote about places he knew. He did not know much about Asia. North and South America were completely unknown. Six of these ancient places no longer exist. We can only guess what they really looked like. But here is the list of those seven ancient Wonders of the World.


The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

We begin with one that existed in what is now Iraq. It was called the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar the Second probably built the gardens about two thousand six hundred years ago. Ancient historians say they were a huge system of gardens with trees and flowers.

Also on this list is the Colossus of Rhodes. It was a huge bronze metal statue of the Greek sun god Helios. The Colossus was about thirty-seven meters tall. It was built near the harbor on the Greek island of Rhodes about two thousand three hundred years ago. This ancient statue was destroyed in an earthquake.


Next on our list is the statue of the Greek God Zeus in a temple at Olympia, Greece. It was the most famous statue in the ancient world. Records say it was about twelve meters tall and made of ivory and gold. An earthquake probably destroyed the temple. The statue was removed and later destroyed in a fire.

The Pharos of Alexandria was an ancient lighthouse. A fire burning on the top of the lighthouse made it easier for ships to find the great harbor of Alexandria, Egypt. Records say the lighthouse was about one hundred thirty meters tall. It stood for one thousand five hundred years before it was destroyed by an earthquake.


The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus is another ancient wonder of the world. It was built to honor a Greek goddess. It was one of the largest and most complex temples built in ancient times. The temple was built in what is now Turkey about two thousand five hundred years ago.

Number six on our list was also built in what is now Turkey. It was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The huge marble burial place was built for King Mausolus of Caria. It was so famous that all large burial places, or tombs, became known as mausoleums. An earthquake destroyed the structure.


The last of the seven ancient wonders are the oldest. Yet they are the only ones that still exist today. They are the three Pyramids of Egypt, near the Nile River at Giza. The pyramids were built about four thousand five hundred years ago as burial places for ancient kings. The largest is called the Great Pyramid. It is almost one hundred forty meters high. It covers an area of more than four hectares. The Greek historian Herodotus said more than one hundred thousand men worked for more than thirty years to build the Great Pyramid. The great pyramids of Egypt will probably continue to exist for many years to come.



Now we will tell about several other ancient wonders that still exist today. We cannot tell about all of the great structures built in ancient times. There are too many. However, if Herodotus had known about the Great Wall of China we feel sure he would have included it on his list of wonders of the world.

"Great Wall of China"
Photo by Xiang Li

The Great Wall was begun more than two thousand years ago. It was built to keep out invaders. It extends about six thousand seven hundred kilometers across northern China. Today, the Chinese government is working to repair parts of the wall and protect as much of it as possible. The Great Wall of China is one of the largest building projects ever attempted. It is also the only object built by people that can be seen from space.


One of the oldest structures ever built by people also belongs on a list of ancient wonders. It is a circle of huge stones on the Salisbury Plain in southwestern England. It is called Stonehenge. Experts believe work began on Stonehenge about five thousand years ago. It was added to and changed several times until it became the structure we see today. We know very little about Stonehenge. We do not even know how these huge stones were moved to the area.

Some experts believe the stones were cut from solid rock about 380 kilometers away in Wales. One of the huge stones weighs as much as forty-five tons. Experts say Stonehenge may have been built as some kind of ceremonial or religious structure. Much has been written about Stonehenge, but experts say they still are not sure what it was used for.



Another famous ancient structure is the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. It was built almost two thousand years ago. The ancient Roman sports center could hold fifty thousand people who gathered there to watch public events. Experts say it is one of the finest examples of Roman design and engineering.

The city of Machu Picchu in Peru should be on most lists, too. Experts say it includes some of the best stone work ever built. The ancient Inca people built Machu Picchu high in the Andes Mountains, northwest of the city of Cuzco. Machu Picchu is about thirteen square kilometers.

Historians say it might have been one of the last places of safety for the Incas who were fleeing invaders from Spain.


India is famous for its temples and buildings. The most famous is the Taj Mahal, considered one of the most beautiful buildings every constructed. The fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, ordered it built in Agra in sixteen thirty-one. He built it as a burial place in memory of his wife.

The Taj Mahal has tiny colorful stones inlaid in white marble. The structure seems to change color during different times of the day and night. Experts say it is one of the most perfect buildings ever constructed. They say nothing could be added or taken away to improve the beautiful Taj Mahal.

Comprehension Check. Choose the correct answer.(MUSIC)


We will end our program today in Egypt. Any list of ancient places must include the two temples at Abu Simbel. They were built to honor an ancient king of Egypt, Ramses the Second, and his wife, Nefertari.

Abu Simbel was built more than three thousand years ago. It is about two hundred eighty kilometers south of Aswan on the western bank of the Nile River.

It took an army of workmen and artists more than thirty years to cut the huge temple into the face of a rock mountain. In front of the main temple are four huge statues of Ramses the Second. Each statue is about twenty meters high. Nearby is another temple that honors his wife, Nefertari. It too is beautifully carved out of solid rock.

The Nile River has always made life possible in the desert areas of Egypt. However the Nile also made life difficult when it flooded. The modern Egyptian government decided a dam could control the Nile to prevent both floods and lack of water. Work began on the Aswan Dam in nineteen sixty.

However, when plans were made for the dam experts quickly discovered that the great temples at Abu Simbel would be forever lost. They would be under water in the new lake formed by the dam. Egypt appealed to the United Nations agency UNESCO for help. UNESCO appealed to the world.

The governments of the world provided technical help and financial aid to save the great temples. In nineteen sixty-four work began to cut the temples away from the rock mountain. Each large piece was moved sixty meters up the mountain to a safe area. Then the huge temples were carefully rebuilt. The work was finished in nineteen sixty-eight.

Today Abu Simbel is safe. It looks much the same as it has for the past three thousand years. It will continue to honor the ancient king and his queen for many years to come. And it will honor the modern world’s efforts to save a truly great work of art.


Next week we tell about some of the natural wonders of our world. This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. This is Faith Lapidus.

And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.


1. The only man made object that can be seen from space is ___________ .
a. The Greek God Zeus.
b. The lighthouse at Alexandria.
c. The Great Wall of China.
d.The Colosseum.

2. The following ancient wonder of the world was not destroyed by an earthquake:
a.The Colossus of Rhodes.
b.The Great Pyramid.
c.The Pharos of Alexandria.
d.The Temple of Artemis.

3. Which of the following was not on Herodotus's original list of the Seven Wonders of The World?
a. Stonehenge.
b.The statue of Zeus.
c.The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
d.The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

4. Herodotus didn't include The Great Wall of China on his list of Wonders because he didn't know much about ___________________
b.Central America.

5. One of the most complex of the ancient temples was built to honor ___________
a.the Greek historian, Herodotus.
b.the city of Cuzco.
c.the goddess, Artemis.
d.the rising and setting sun.

6. It was easier for ships to find the harbor at Alexandria, Egypt because______________
a.they had good navigation equipment.
b.they had at least one Egyptian sailor.
c.the fish jumped near the coast.
d.they could see the fire on top of the lighthouse.

7. The Colosseum in Rome _____________________
a.was destroyed by an earthquake.
b.was built as a temple to honor a goddess.
c.was constructed to host sporting events.
d.was a place to calculate the sun's movements.

8. The temples of Abu Simel were threatened because the Egyptian government ____________
a.wanted to replace them with apartments.
b.wanted to build a dam.
c.wanted to move them to another location.
d.wanted to sell them to the United States.

9. This story is mainly about ____________________
a.the 7 ancient wonders of the world.
b.precious monuments destroyed by earthquakes.
c.the ancient wonders that would have been on the list if Herodotus knew about them.
d.The seven ancient wonders and other ancient wonders as well.

10. Another name for this story could be_____________________
a."The world list of ancient wonders."
b."The list of destroyed ancient monuments."
c."The life of Herodotos."
d."Famous temples of the ancient world."

Vocabulary Check. Fill the blanks, then check your answer.

1. The most famous statue in the ancient world was the Greek God .

2. The word comes from a huge ancient marble burial place built to honor a deceased king.

3. It took more than one hundred thousand men working 30 years to build the .

4. "The Hanging Gardens of " were located in present day Iraq.

5. A Greek historian named made a list of what became known as the Seven Wonders of the World.

6. The Pharos of was an ancient lighthouse. It was destroyed by an earthquake.

7. The of China was built more than two thousand years ago.

8. Experts think that in England was a ceremonial or religious structure.

9. If Herodotus had visited Peru, would have been included in his list of the Seven Wonders of The World.

10. The , in India, was built as a burial place in memory of Shah Jahan's wife.

1.2. 3.
4.5. 6.
7.8. 9.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dreams and Dreaming. Listen and Read.

This painting is a surrealist work by the famous Spanish painter, Salvador Dali. It is his 1931 painting entitled, "The Dream". Enjoy this fascinating discussion of dreaming from Voice of America's Special English series.

(MUSIC) then:


I'm Steve Ember.


And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Do you dream? Do you create pictures and stories in your mind as you sleep? Today, we are going to explore dreaming. People have had ideas about the meaning and importance of dreams throughout history. Today brain researchers are learning even more about dreams.


Woman sleeping VOICE ONE:

Dreams are expressions of thoughts, feelings and events that pass through our mind while we are sleeping. People dream about one to two hours each night. We may have four to seven dreams in one night. Everybody dreams. But only some people remember their dreams.

The word "dream" comes from an old word in English that means "joy" and "music." Our dreams often include all the senses – smells, sounds, sights, tastes and things we touch. We dream in color. Sometimes we dream the same dream over and over again. These repeated dreams are often unpleasant. They may even be nightmares -- bad dreams that frighten us.


Artists, writers and scientists sometimes say they get ideas from dreams. For example, the singer Paul McCartney of the Beatles said he awakened one day with the music for the song "Yesterday" in his head. The writer Mary Shelley said she had a very strong dream about a scientist using a machine to make a creature come alive. When she awakened, she began to write her book about a scientist named Frankenstein who creates a frightening monster.


People have been trying to decide what dreams mean for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed dreams provided messages from the gods. Sometimes people who could understand dreams would help military leaders in battle.

In ancient Egypt, people who could explain dreams were believed to be special. In the Christian Bible, there are more than seven hundred comments or stories about dreams. In China, people believed that dreams were a way to visit with family members who had died. Some Native American tribes and Mexican civilizations believed dreams were a different world we visit when we sleep.

In Europe, people believed that dreams were evil and could lead people to do bad things. Two hundred years ago, people awakened after four or five hours of sleep to think about their dreams or talk about them with other people. Then they returned to sleep for another four to five hours.


Sigmund Freud


Early in the twentieth century, two famous scientists developed different ideas about dreams. Austrian psychiatrist Sigmund Freud published a book called "The Interpretation of Dreams" in nineteen hundred. Freud believed people often dream about things they want but cannot have. These dreams are often linked to sex and aggression.

For Freud, dreams were full of hidden meaning. He tried to understand dreams as a way to understand people and why they acted or thought in certain ways. Freud believed that every thought and every action started deep in our brains. He thought dreams could be an important way to understand what is happening in our brains.

Freud told people what their dreams meant as a way of helping them solve problems or understand their worries. For example, Freud said when people dream of flying or swinging, they want to be free of their childhood. When a person dreams that a brother or sister or parent has died, the dreamer is really hiding feelings of hatred for that person. Or a desire to have what the other person has.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung worked closely with Freud for several years. But he developed very different ideas about dreams. Jung believed dreams could help people grow and understand themselves. He believed dreams provide solutions to problems we face when we are awake.

He also believed dreams tell us something about ourselves and our relations with other people. He did not believe dreams hide our feelings about sex or aggression.



Today we know more about the science of dreaming because researchers can take pictures of people's brains while they are sleeping.

In nineteen fifty-three, scientists discovered a special kind of sleep called REM or rapid eye movement. Our eyes move back and forth very quickly while they are closed. Our bodies go through several periods of sleep each night. REM sleep is the fourth period. We enter REM sleep four to seven times each night. During REM sleep, our bodies do not move at all. This is the time when we dream. If people are awakened during their REM sleep, they will remember their dreams almost ninety percent of the time. This is true even for people who say they do not dream.

Salvador Dali's 1931 painting "The Dream." His paintings were often influenced by unusual dream-like images.


One kind of dreaming is called lucid dreaming. People know during a dream that they are dreaming.

An organization in Canada called the Dreams Foundation believes you can train yourself to have lucid dreams by paying very close attention to your dreams and writing them down. The Dreams Foundation believes this is one way to become more imaginative and creative. It is possible to take classes on the Internet to learn how to remember dreams and use what you learn in your daily life.

There is a great deal of other information about dreams and dreaming on the Internet. There is even a collection of more than twenty thousand descriptions of dreams called the DreamBank. People between the ages of seven and seventy-four made these dream reports. People can search this collection to help understand dreams or they can add reports about their own dreams.


Scientists have done serious research about dreams. The International Association for the Study of Dreams holds a meeting every year. At one meeting scientists talked about ways to help victims of crime who have nightmares. Scientists have also studied dreams and creativity, dreams of sick people and dreams of children. The group will be meeting next month in Chicago, Illinois. An Australian professor named Robert Moss will talk about how dreams have influenced history.

For example, he says Harriet Tubman was able to help American slaves escape to freedom because she saw herself flying like a bird in her dreams. Mister Moss also teaches an Internet course to help people explore and understand their dreams.



Scientists who study dreaming often attach wires to the head of a person who is sleeping. The wires record electrical activity in the brain. These studies show that the part of the brain in which we feel emotion is very active when we dream.

The front part of the brain is much less active; this is the center of our higher level thinking processes like organization and memory. Some scientists believe this is why our dreams often seem strange and out of order.

Researcher Rosalind Cartwright says the study of dreams is changing because scientists are now spending more time trying to understand why some people have problems sleeping. Miz Cartwright says for people who sleep well, dreaming can help them control their emotions during the day. Researchers are still trying to understand the importanceof dreams for people who do not sleep well and often wake during the night.


Other researchers are studying how dreaming helps our bodies work with problems and very sad emotions. Robert Stickgold is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Doctor Stickgold says that when we dream, the brain is trying to make sense of the world. It does so by putting our memories together in different ways to make new connections and relationships. Doctor Stickgold believes that dreaming is a biological process. He does not agree with Sigmund Freud that dreaming is the way we express our hidden feelings and desires.

Scientists believe it is important to keep researching dreams. Doctor Stickgold says it has been more than one hundred years since Sigmund Freud published his important book about dreaming. Yet there is still no agreement on exactly how the brain works when we are dreaming or why we dream.



This program was written by Karen Leggett and produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Barbara Klein.


And I'm Steve Ember. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports at Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Now, the Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.


Our story today is called "Rappaccini’s Daughter." It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We will tell the story in two parts. Here is Kay Gallant with the first part of our story.



Many years ago, a young man named Giovanni Guasconti left his home in Naples to study in northern Italy. He rented a small room on the top floor of a dark and ancient palace. Long ago, the building had belonged to a noble family. Now, an old woman, Signora Lisabetta, rented its rooms to students at the University of Padua.

Giovanni’s room had a small window. From it he could see a large garden that had many plants and flowers. “Does the garden belong to you?” he asked Signora Lisabetta one day.

“Oh no!” she said quickly. “That garden belongs to the famous doctor, Giacomo Rappaccini. People say he uses those plants to make strange kinds of medicine. He lives in that small brown house in the garden with his daughter, Beatrice.”

Giovanni often sat by his window to look at the garden. He had never seen so many different kinds of plants. They all had enormous green leaves and magnificent flowers in every color of the rainbow.

Giovanni’s favorite plant was in a white marble vase near the house. It was covered with big purple flowers.

One day, while Giovani was looking out his window, he saw an old man in a black cape walking in the garden. The old man was tall and thin. His face was an unhealthy yellow color. His black eyes were very cold.

The old man wore thick gloves on his hands and a mask over his mouth and nose. He walked carefully among the plants, as if he were walking among wild animals or poisonous snakes. Although he looked at the flowers very closely, he did not touch or smell any of them.

When the old man arrived at the plant with the big purple flowers, he stopped. He took off his mask and called loudly, “Beatrice! Come help me!”

“I am coming, Father. What do you want?” answered a warm young voice from inside the house. A young woman came into the garden. Her thick, dark hair fell around her shoulders in curls. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were large and black.

She seemed full of life, health and energy as she walked among the plants. Giovanni thought she was as beautiful as the purple flowers in the marble vase. The old man said something to her. She nodded her head as she touched and smelled the flowers that her father had been so careful to avoid.

Several weeks later, Giovanni went to visit Pietro Baglioni, a friend of his father’s. Professor Baglioni taught medicine at the university. During the visit, Giovanni asked about Doctor Rappaccini. “He is a great scientist,” Professor Baglioni replied. “But he is also a dangerous man.”

“Why?” asked Giovanni.

The older man shook his head slowly. “Because Rappaccini cares more about science than he does about people. He has created many terrible poisons from the plants in his garden. He thinks he can cure sickness with these poisons.

It is true that several times he has cured a very sick person that everyone thought would die. But Rappaccini’s medicine has also killed many people. I think he would sacrifice any life, even his own, for one of his experiments.”

“But what about his daughter?” Giovanni said. “I’m sure he loves her.”

The old professor smiled at the young man. “So,” he said, “You have heard about Beatrice Rappaccini. People say she is very beautiful. But few men in Padua have ever seen her. She never leaves here father’s garden.”

Giovanni left professor Baglione’s house as the sun was setting. On his way home, he stopped at a flower shop where he bought some fresh flowers. He returned to his room and sat by the window.

Very little sunlight was left. The garden was quiet. The purple flowers on Giovanni’s favorite plant seemed to glow in the evening’s fading light.

Then someone came out of the doorway of the little brown house. It was Beatrice. She entered the garden and walked among the plants. She bent to touch the leaves of a plant or to smell a flower. Rappaccini’s daughter seemed to grow more beautiful with each step.

When she reached the purple plant, she buried her face in its flowers. Giovanni heard her say “Give me your breath, my sister. The ordinary air makes me weak. And give me one of your beautiful flowers.” Beatrice gently broke off one of the largest flowers. As she lifted it to put it in her dark hair, a few drops of liquid from the flower fell to the ground.

One of the drops landed on the head of a tiny lizard crawling near the feet of Beatrice. For a moment the small animal twisted violently. Then it moved no more. Beatrice did not seem surprised. She sighed and placed the flower in her hair.

Giovanni leaned out of the window so he could see her better. At this moment, a beautiful butterfly flew over the garden wall. It seemed to be attracted by Beatrice and flew once around her head. Then, the insect’s bright wings stopped and it fell to the ground dead. Beatrice shook her head sadly.

Suddenly, she looked up at Giovanni’s window. She saw the young man looking at her. Giovanni picked up the flowers he had bought and threw them down to her. “Young lady,” he said, “Wear these flowers as a gift from Giovanni Guasconti.”

“Thank you,” Beatrice answered. She picked up the flowers from the ground and quickly ran to the house. She stopped at the door for a moment to wave shyly to Giovanni. It seemed to him that his flowers were beginning to turn brown in her hands.

For many days, the young man stayed away from the window that looked out on Rappaccini’s garden. He wished he had not talked to Beatrice because now he felt under the power of her beauty.

He was a little afraid of her, too. He could not forget how the little lizard and the butterfly had died.

One day, while he was returning home from his classes, he met Professor Baglioni on the street.

“Well, Giovanni,” the old man said, “have you forgotten me?” Then he looked closely at the young man. “What is wrong, my friend? Your appearance has changed since the last time we met.” It was true. Giovanni had become very thin. His face was white, and his eyes seemed to burn with fever.

As they stood talking, a man dressed in a long black cape came down the street. He moved slowly, like a person in poor health. His face was yellow, but his eyes were sharp and black. It was the man Giovanni had seen in the garden. As he passed them, the old man nodded coldly to Professor Baglioni. But he looked at Giovanni with a great deal of interest.

“It’s Doctor Rappaccini!” Professor Baglioni whispered after the old man had passed them. “Has he ever seen your face before?”

Giovanni shook his head. “No,” he answered, “I don’t think so.”

Professor Baglioni looked worried. “I think he has seen you before. I know that cold look of his! He looks the same way when he examines an animal he has killed in one of his experiments. Giovanni, I will bet my life on it. You are the subject of one of Rappaccini’s experiments!”

Giovanni stepped away from the old man. “You are joking,” he said. “No, I am serious.” The professor took Giovanni’s arm. “Be careful, my young friend. You are in great danger.”

Giovanni pulled his arm away. “I must be going,” he said, “Good night.”

As Giovanni hurried to his room, he felt confused and a little frightened.

Signora Lisabetta was waiting for him outside his door. She knew he was interested in Beatrice. “I have good news for you,” she said. “I know where there is a secret entrance into Rappaccini’s garden.”

Giovanni could not believe his ears. “Where is it?” he asked. “Show me the way.”



You have just heard part one of the story called "Rappaccini’s Daughter." It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and adapted for Special English by Dona de Sanctis. Your storyteller was Kay Gallant. Listen next week for the final part of our story. This is Shep O’Neal.

Rappaccini's Daughter, Part Two

Announcer: Now, the Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.


Today, we complete the story "Rappaccini’s Daughter." It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Here is Kay Gallant with the second and final part of “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”


Storyteller: Many years ago, a young man named Giovanni Guasconti left his home in Naples to study in northern Italy. He took a room in an old house next to a magnificent garden filled with strange flowers and other plants.

The garden belonged to a doctor, Giacomo Rappaccini. He lived with his daughter, Beatrice, in a small brown house in the garden. From a window of his room, Giovanni had seen that Rappaccini’s daughter was very beautiful. But everyone in Padua was afraid of her father.

Pietro Baglioni, a professor at the university, warned Giovanni about the mysterious Doctor Rappaccini. “He is a great scientist,” Professor Baglioni told the young man. “But he is also dangerous. Rappaccini cares more about science than he does about people. He has created many terrible poisons from the plants in his garden.”

One day, Giovanni found a secret entrance to Rappaccini’s garden. He went in. The plants all seemed wild and unnatural. Giovanni realized that Rappaccini must have created these strange and terrible flowers through his experiments.

Suddenly, Rappaccini’s daughter came into the garden. She moved quickly among the flowers until she reached him. Giovanni apologized for coming into the garden without an invitation. But Beatrice smiled at him and made him feel welcome.

“I see you love flowers,” she said. “And so you have come to take a closer look at my father’s rare collection.”

While she spoke, Giovanni noticed a perfume in the air around her. He wasn’t sure if this wonderful smell came from the flowers or from her breath.

She asked him about his home and his family. She told him she had spent her life in this garden. Giovanni felt as if he were talking to a very small child. Her spirit sparkled like clear water.

They walked slowly though the garden as they talked. At last they reached a beautiful plant that was covered with large purple flowers. He realized that the perfume from those flowers was like the perfume of Beatrice’s breath, but much stronger.

The young man reached out to break off one of the purple flowers. But Beatrice gave a scream that went through his heart like a knife. She caught his hand and pulled it away from the plant with all her strength.

“Don’t ever touch those flowers!” she cried. “They will take your life!” Hiding her face, she ran into the house. Then, Giovanni saw Doctor Rappaccini standing in the garden.

That night, Giovanni could not stop thinking about how sweet and beautiful Beatrice was. Finally, he fell asleep. But when the morning came, he woke up in great pain. He felt as if one of his hands was on fire. It was the hand that Beatrice had grabbed in hers when he reached for one of the purple flowers.

Giovanni looked down at his hand. There was a purple mark on it that looked like four small fingers and a little thumb. But because his heart was full of Beatrice, Giovanni forgot about the pain in his hand.

He began to meet her in the garden every day. At last, she told him that she loved him. But she would never let him kiss her or even hold her hand.

One morning, several weeks later, Professor Baglioni visited Giovanni. “I was worried about you,” the older man said. “You have not come to your classes at the university for more than a month. Is something wrong?”

Giovanni was not pleased to see his old friend. “No, nothing is wrong. I am fine, thank you.” He wanted Professor Baglioni to leave. But the old man took off his hat and sat down.

“My dear Giovanni,” he said. “You must stay away from Rappaccini and his daughter. Her father has given her poison from the time she was a baby. The poison is in her blood and on her breath. If Rappaccini did this to his own daughter, what is he planning to do to you?”

Giovanni covered his face with his hands. “Oh my God!” he cried. “Don’t worry, the old man continued. “It is not too late to save you. And we may succeed in helping Beatrice, too. Do you see this little silver bottle? It holds a medicine that will destroy even the most powerful poison. Give it to your Beatrice to drink.”

Professor Baglioni put the little bottle on the table and left Giovanni’s room. The young man wanted to believe that Beatrice was a sweet and innocent girl. And yet, Professor Baglioni’s words had put doubts in his heart.

It was nearly time for his daily meeting with Beatrice. As Giovanni combed his hair, he looked at himself in a mirror near his bed. He could not help noticing how handsome he was. His eyes looked particularly bright. And his face had a healthy warm glow.

He said to himself, “At least her poison has not gotten into my body yet.” As he spoke he happened to look at some flowers he had just bought that morning. A shock of horror went through his body.

The flowers were turning brown! Giovanni’s face became very white as he stared at himself in the mirror.

Then he noticed a spider crawling near his window. He bent over the insect and blew a breath of air at it. The spider trembled, and fell dead. “I am cursed,” Giovanni whispered to himself. “My own breath is poison.”

At that moment, a rich, sweet voice came floating up from the garden. “Giovanni! You are late. Come down.”

“You are a monster!” Giovanni shouted as soon as he reached her. “And with your poison you have made me into a monster, too. I am a prisoner of this garden.”

“Giovanni!” Beatrice cried, looking at him with her large bright eyes. “Why are you saying these terrible things? It is true that I can never leave this garden. But you are free to go wherever you wish.”

Giovanni looked at her with hate in his eyes. “Don’t pretend that you don’t know what you have done to me.”

A group of insects had flown into the garden. They came toward Giovanni and flew around his head. He blew his breath at them. The insects fell to the ground, dead.

Beatrice screamed. “I see it! I see it! My father’s science has done this to us. Believe me, Giovanni, I did not ask him to do this to you. I only wanted to love you.”

Giovanni’s anger changed to sadness. Then, he remembered the medicine that Professor Baglioni had given him. Perhaps the medicine would destroy the poison in their bodies and help them to become normal again.

“Dear Beatrice,” he said, “our fate is not so terrible.” He showed her the little silver bottle and told her what the medicine inside it might do. “I will drink first,” she said. “You must wait to see what happens to me before you drink it.”

She put Baglioni’s medicine to her lips and took a small sip. At the same moment, Rappaccini came out of his house and walked slowly toward the two young people. He spread his hands out to them as if he were giving them a blessing.

“My daughter,” he said, “you are no longer alone in the world. Give Giovanni one of the purple flowers from your favorite plant. It will not hurt him now. My science and your love have made him different from ordinary men.”

“My father,” Beatrice said weakly, “why did you do this terrible thing to your own child?”

Rappaccini looked surprised. “What do you mean, my daughter?” he asked. “You have power no other woman has. You can defeat your strongest enemy with only your breath. Would you rather be a weak woman?”

“I want to be loved, not feared,” Beatrice replied. “But now, it does not matter. I am leaving you, father. I am going where the poison you have given me will do no harm. Good bye to you, Giovanni.”

Beatrice dropped to the ground. She died at the feet of her father and Giovanni. The poison had been too much a part of the young woman. The medicine that destroyed the poison, destroyed her, as well.


Announcer: You have just heard the story "Rappaccini’s Daughter." It was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and adapted for Special English by Dona de Sanctis. Your storyteller was Kay Gallant. This is Shep O’Neal.