Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Story of Ibbity

O NCE upon a time there was a little brown boy named Ibbity. He lived in a warm country where there are jungles and tigers and sandy deserts. Now Ibbity was always wondering about things, and one day he said to his mother:—

"I wonder, oh, I do wonder what is the strongest thing in the world."

But his mother could not tell him, so Ibbity started off by himself to find out.

He went a long, long way, and at last he came to a tree. Up the tree climbed Ibbity and looked abroad over the jungle and the desert for something very big and strong. But just then the top of the tree broke. Bump, down fell little Ibbity to the ground.

"Oh, Tree, you are the strongest thing, are you not?" cried Ibbity, sitting up and rubbing his head. "You are able to throw Ibbity to the ground."

"No, I am not as strong as the wind," sighed the tree, "it was the wind that broke my branch."

Then Ibbity ran far away to the place where the wind was blowing the sand in the desert, and he said:—

"Oh, Wind, the tree threw Ibbity, but you broke the tree. Are you not the strongest one?"

"No, I am not the strongest one," said the wind, "the hill is able to stop my blowing."

So Ibbity ran on and on, until he came to a high hill, and to the hill he said:—

"Oh, Hill, the tree threw Ibbity, and the wind broke the tree, but you are able to stop the wind. Are you not the strongest one?"

"Not I," said the hill. "At my feet lives a small mouse. She is cutting a tunnel straight through me."

So Ibbity went down the hill, and looked around in the bushes until he found a small brown mouse. To the mouse he said:—

"O Mouse, the tree threw Ibbity, the wind broke the tree, and the hill can stop the wind, but you have dug a tunnel through the hill. Are you not the strongest one?"

"No," said the mouse. "Cannot the tiger catch me?"

So Ibbity traveled to the jungle, where the tiger lives, and he said:—

"Oh, Tiger, the tree threw Ibbity, the wind broke the tree, the hill is able to stop the wind, and the mouse has dug a tunnel through the hill, but you can catch the mouse. Are you not the strongest one?"

But the tiger was caught fast in a net, and he said to Ibbity:—

"No, this rope is stronger than I."

And Ibbity said to the rope:—

"Oh, Rope, the tree threw Ibbity, the wind broke the tree, the hill can stop the wind, the mouse has dug a tunnel under the hill, the tiger is able to catch the mouse, but you have caught the tiger. Are you not the strongest one?"

"No," said the rope, "for the fire burns me."

So Ibbity ran and ran until he came to a fire, and to the fire he said:—

"Oh, Fire, the tree threw Ibbity, the wind broke the tree, the hill stops the wind, the mouse tunnels the hill, the tiger catches the mouse, the rope catches the tiger, but you are able to burn the rope. Are you not the strongest one?"

"No," said the fire, "my heat is less than that of the great sun."

Then Ibbity looked up at the sky, and he called loudly to the sun:—

"Oh, great Sun, the tree threw Ibbity, the wind broke the tree, the hill stops the wind, the mouse tunnels the hill, the tiger catches the mouse, the rope catches the tiger, the fire burns the rope, but your heat is greater than that of the fire. Are you not the strongest one?"

Then the sun winked its large yellow eye at Ibbity, and never a word did it say, for it was too far off to hear Ibbity's little voice.

So Ibbity clapped his hands and cried, "I have found the strongest one. It is the sun."

And little Ibbity went home again to tell his mother.


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