The Storyteller

The Storyteller Summary

The story opens on a hot summer day with three small children and their aunt sitting in a railway carriage on the way to Templecombe. Together with them in the carriage is an unknown man who observes their behavior. The children are bored and ask their aunt various questions. She tells them to observe the surroundings, but that encourages even more curiosity. In order to keep the children quiet for a while, the aunt decides to tell them a story. She comes up with a conventional, moralistic tale which fails to capture the interest of the children and creates even bigger discontent. As he also heard the story, the unknown man decides to point out its flaws. The aunt takes it as an offense and challenges him to tell a better story.

The man invents a story that begins like the previous one. He tells the children about a girl named Bertha who is so "horribly good" that she even has three medals for that. One day the prince notices how good Bertha has been and decides to reward her. Bertha is allowed to take a walk in the prince's gardens, where normally no children are permitted. She enjoys her walk until the wolf shows up. Bertha hides behind a myrtle bush and almost manages to escape, but her medals clicking against each other give her away and the wolf eats her at once.

The children love this story, even though in the beginning they thought it would be horrible, as it started like their aunt's story. They appreciate the realness of the story that lacked in the tale of their aunt. The aunt, however, finds the story "most improper" to tell to young children. The man points out, that unlike her, he was at least capable of keeping the kids silent for ten minutes.