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Children’s Story: The Old Man’s Hat
An old man does a kindness for a little bird, and he receives a kindness in return.
Some language stuff
In the second-to-last paragraph, the little birds “sing a song for the old man”, or “唱歌给老爷爷听” (chàng gē gěi lǎo yé ye tīng). You may notice that the characters for “give” (给 gěi) and the character for “listen” (听 tīng) are in there, but why? In Chinese, the way to say “to sing a song for (person)” is “sing a song and give (person) listen”.
In Chinese, actions are sometimes grouped together in the order in which they happened to express an entire concept. In paragraph two for example, we see 冻 (dòng), which means “to freeze” and 死 (sǐ), which means “to die”. If you stick them next to each other, you might guess that this means “freeze to death”, and you’d be right. In that same paragraph, we also see 吹走 (chuī zǒu), 吹 meaning “to blow” (like the wind), and 走 meaning “to go away”. Put them together, and you get “to blow away”, like “the wind blew it away”.
Here is the story in Chinese:
Here is the story in English:
Winter had come, the north wind blew whoo whoo, and the weather was very cold. There was a small pitiful bird, sitting on a tree branch so cold it was shivering.
An old man walked by, saw the little bird, and thought to himself: “This little bird is so pitiful, on a day as cold as this, it will surely freeze to death.” The little bird said to the old man: “The wind blew our nest away, we have no home.” The old man said: “Don’t worry, I’ll help you think of a solution.” The old man then used his own hat and gave it to the little bird to make a nest, the hat was very warm.
The little bird realized that in the forest there were still quite a few little birds who would soon freeze to death, so it called them all to come, and together they flew into the old man’s hat. They all profusely thanked the old man. Thereafter, the old man came every day to see the little birds, and each time the little birds sang a song for the old man.
One day the old man didn’t come, turns out he was ill. The little bird thought: “Surely [because] the old man gave us his hat, he caught a chill and got sick, let’s quickly make a hat for the old man.” So the little birds used their own feathers to make a hat and gave it to the old man. The old man profusely thanked the little birds, and his illness was quickly cured.
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