'100 Rooms' | Circle Round 40

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Think about the last time… you used your imagination.

Your creativity!

Maybe you drew a picture… or wrote a story… or you dreamed up an innovative way... to solve a problem.

That’s exactly what the main character in today’s story tries to do. In order to reach her goal, she needs to think outside of the box.

Our story is called "100 Rooms," and it traces its origins to Great Britain.

Voices in this episode include Elle Borders, Richard Epstein, Laura Gardner, Anne Undeland, Delores King Williams, Jacob Yeh, and Ed Asner.

Seven-time Emmy-Award winner Ed Asner - whom you grown-ups may know as Lou Grant from “The Mary Tyler Moore” show and Santa Claus from "Elf," and whom you kids might remember as Carl in the movie "Up," is currently starring in two plays, both of which are touring the country. Learn when his one-man show and his new political comedy are coming to a theater near you.

This story was adapted by Rebecca Sheir, and edited by executive producer, Jessica Alpert. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening
Let’s say you were given one gold coin and a very particular assignment: you must use that one gold coin to make the world a better place. What would you do? How would you use it?

Think about it, then talk it over with a grown-up in your life. After that, have your grown-up share what he or she would do!

Musical Spotlight: The Accordion

(Necz0r for Creative Commons)
(Necz0r for Creative Commons)

This week’s instrument is sometimes referred to as a “squeezebox.” Why? Well, to make music with it, you do a lot of squeezing! The accordion is a box-shaped instrument with pleated bellows in the middle. You push (or compress) and pull (or expand) the bellows while pressing buttons or keys. The reeds inside the accordion then vibrate to produce sound. The accordion is popular in many parts of the world. In Europe, many conservatories actually have classical-accordion departments, and in the United States, the piano accordion (i.e. the particular type of accordion we used in this week’s story) is the official city instrument of San Francisco, CA!

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: The morning of Frederic’s one-hundredth birthday, he woke up... with a smile.

He’d lived a long, happy life, working his way up to become a successful merchant, and raising three daughters whom he adored. Their names were: Harmony, Melody and Calliope.

Frederic had always loved music… but he was too busy buying, selling and trading to learn how to play an instrument. So he’d given his daughters musical names, in hopes that someday, one of them would become a musician.

Harmony, his oldest, didn’t seem very interested… nor did his middle child, Melody. But Calliope’s ears had always perked up at the opening notes of any song... and from a young age she was dabbling in all sorts of instruments, from the violin to the piano to the drums.

To celebrate Frederic’s one-hundredth birthday, his daughters threw him a big party at his grand mansion. All one-hundred rooms of the mansion were brimming with smiling, chattering guests. After the guests had gobbled up their cake and gone home, Frederic called Harmony, Melody and Calliope to his side.

FREDERIC: My daughters! Today was marvelous. Thank you for such a glorious party!

NARRATOR: Harmony, the eldest, had grown up to become a businesswoman.

HARMONY: You’re welcome, father! It was such a pleasure organizing the guest list and ordering all the supplies.

MELODY: And everything looked so perfect!

NARRATOR: Frederic’s middle daughter, Melody, was a hotel manager.

MELODY: The staff set up everything just as I requested: the tables, the chairs, the flowers... everything!

NARRATOR: Frederic smiled at his two older daughters.

FREDERIC: You both did beautifully.

NARRATOR: Then he turned his eyes to his youngest.

FREDERIC: And you - Calliope! Those musicians! Wherever did you find them? I’ve never heard such wonderful music in my very own house!

NARRATOR: Calliope blushed.

CALLIOPE: (humbly) They’re actually students at the music school where I teach. I’ve been rehearsing with them for months.

FREDERIC: And they were fantastic. Everything today was fantastic! But my daughters, that’s not the main reason I wanted to speak with you. You see, I’m an old man now. And I won’t be around forever.

MELODY: Oh, come now, father. You’re as spry as can be!

FREDERIC: That’s very sweet of you to say, Melody. But I’m one-hundred years old! Soon it will be time for me to move on. And here I am with this grand mansion… one-hundred rooms full of marble floors and wood-paneled walls… brick fireplaces and spacious balconies… and I can’t take any of it with me when I go. (beat) That’s why… when I do go… I’m leaving each one of you…

NARRATOR: He took a deep breath.

FREDERIC: (slowly) gold coin.

NARRATOR: Harmony, the businesswoman, cocked her head.

HARMONY: (confused) Um, father… with all due respect…why leave us just one gold coin?

NARRATOR: Melody the hotel manager was confused, too.

MELODY: Right! Like you said, you’re a wealthy man!

NARRATOR: Frederic’s lips curled into a smile.

FREDERIC: Ahhhhh... but I wasn’t always that way. When I started out, my pockets didn’t contain much more than one gold coin.

NARRATOR: His eyes shimmered at the memory.

FREDERIC: But... through years of innovation... and patience… I got where I am today.  So now, my girls, I’m asking each one of you to exercise those same skills. With just one gold coin, each of you... must buy something. Something that will fill up every room in this mansion… all one-hundred of them… wall to wall, floor to ceiling, corner to corner… all at the same time. Whoever does that… this entire place... is yours.

NARRATOR: Harmony, Melody and Calliope squeezed their father’s hands. Harmony spoke up first.

HARMONY: Don’t worry, father. When I win — and with all my business savvy, I’m sure to win — I can assure you I’ll take excellent care of this estate.

NARRATOR: Melody smiled sweetly.

MELODY: Don’t get ahead of yourself, Harmony. With everything I’ve learned at the hotel, I’m sure to come out on top. At which point, father, I guarantee: your home will be in the very best of hands.

NARRATOR: Now, unlike Harmony and Melody, Frederic’s youngest daughter, Calliope, didn’t have fancy degrees or a big staff at a hotel. What she did have was a warm smile, an even warmer heart, and the deep love of music she’d inherited from her father.

She leaned in to Frederic and kissed his cheek.

CALLIOPE: Father… if I am able to fill this house wall to wall, floor to ceiling, corner to corner… all at the same time... I promise I will give every single room the very best of care.  I also promise I’ll take care of my beloved sisters.

NARRATOR: Frederic held his youngest daughter’s gaze for a moment. It looked like he was about to shed a tear. Then, suddenly, he glanced at the big grandfather clock in the corner.

FREDERIC: Oh! It’s so late! Off you go, my children. It’s been a long day, and this old man needs his beauty sleep.

NARRATOR: That was the last time Harmony, Melody and Calliope heard their father’s voice. A few days after the funeral… just as Frederic promised… each of the daughters received one gold coin.

And they set off into the world... to carry out their quest.

[theme music in]

Will Harmony, Melody and Calliope find something to fill all one-hundred rooms of the enormous mansion… all at the same time?

We’ll find out… after a quick break.

[theme music out]


[theme music in]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “One-Hundred Rooms.”

[theme music out]

When we left off, a very wealthy — and very old — merchant named Frederic had just left each of his children one gold coin.

Before he died, he told his three daughters they must buy something that would fill every nook and cranny of all one-hundred rooms of his mansion… all at the same time. Whoever could make that happen… would inherit the estate.

Harmony… the eldest daughter… was a businesswoman. Soon after receiving the gold coin, she sat in her office chair and drummed her fingers on her big mahogany desk. Her colorful pet parrot was whistling and squawking in a cage in the corner.

HARMONY: (to herself, as parrot squawks) Okay, Harmony. You went to business school. Just do what you always do, and make a list. One: get the gold coin. Check! Two: take the gold coin home. Check! Three: figure out how to spend the gold coin. But how...? And where...?

NARRATOR: As Harmony racked her brain for ideas, her parrot’s whistling and squawking grew louder… and louder.

HARMONY: (as parrot squawking gets louder) Ugh. I can’t hear myself think with all this racket! Seriously, bird, if you get much louder, all your feathers will fall out!  That’s it! Feathers!

NARRATOR: So Harmony set off around the country, buying up bag after bag… of feathers. Really fluffy feathers: the kind you stuff into pillows and mattresses and comforters.

When she got to her father’s mansion, his advisors were there waiting. They all wore frowns; life just hadn’t been the same without Frederic around.

HARMONY: Okay, folks - wait til you see this!

NARRATOR: Harmony dashed through all one-hundred rooms, tossing handfuls of feathers into the air.

When she was finished, the advisors did a search, to see whether Harmony had indeed filled every room… wall to wall, floor to ceiling, corner to corner… all at the same time.

But by the time they reached the twenty-fifth room, they saw the feathers had settled to the floor. And so Harmony the businesswoman…

HARMONY: (groan of disappointment)

NARRATOR: ...would not be inheriting her father’s mansion.

Meanwhile, Melody the hotel manager was thinking hard about how she might complete her quest. During her dinner break, she sat alone at a small table in the hotel’s restaurant and poked at her food.

MELODY: (to herself) Alright, Melody. We’re all about managing, so let’s manage this problem. We have a gold coin. How do we spend it?

NARRATOR: Glancing around the restaurant, Melody thought about how beautiful the room looked, with its crystal glasses, lacy napkins and candles glowing on every table.

MELODY: (gasps) That’s it! Candles!

NARRATOR: Melody used her one gold coin to buy up as many candles as she could. The next night, she rushed to her father’s mansion, where his advisors were waiting. They still looked sad, from missing Frederic so much.

MELODY: Hey, everybody! Get a load of this!

NARRATOR: Melody strolled through the mansion and placed a candle in each room. Then she went back and… room by room... struck a match and held it to the candle’s wick. Each time she did, the room instantly was saturated with light.

When Melody was done, the advisors began their search. But by the time they reached the fiftieth room, they discovered the candles had burned down to puddles of wax. The rest of the rooms weren’t filled with light… they were filled with darkness.

And so… as with her older sister before her... Melody the hotel manager…

MELODY: (groan of disappointment)

NARRATOR: ...would not be inheriting her father’s mansion.

While all this was happening, Frederic’s youngest daughter, Calliope, was hard at work at the music school. Her students had a recital coming up, and she wanted to make sure they felt prepared.

In memory of her father, Calliope had composed a special song… one that she would perform, solo, at the end of the concert. She’d written the piece for the harmonica… one of her father’s favorite instruments. With the gold coin he’d left her, she went to her favorite music shop and bought a slender silver harmonica, small enough to fit in her pocket.

The day before the recital, Calliope told her father’s advisors she’d be visiting the mansion. When she arrived, she noticed how blue they all looked.

CALLIOPE: (gently) Hello, everyone. Look at your sad eyes! I know how you feel. I miss my father, too. This house feels so empty without him. Let’s see if I can find a way to fill it up again.

NARRATOR: With that, Calliope walked through the mansion, and opened every door. Then she went to the middle of the house and stood on the landing of the big, curved marble staircase. There… beneath a shimmering chandelier… she pulled her harmonica out of her pocket… and began… to play.

[harmonica music]

Beautiful notes began drifting through the rooms… bouncing off the marble floors and wood-paneled walls… filling up the brick fireplaces and spacious balconies.

Calliope played her father’s song over and over and over...

[harmonica music ends]

… and when she finished, she saw the all advisors’ frowns had transformed… in to smiles.

ADVISOR 1: Calliope!

ADVISOR 2: You’ve done it!

ADVISOR 3: You’ve filled the house!

ADVISOR 1: You’ve filled it with music!

ADVISOR 2: You’ve filled it with joy!

HARMONY: And what’s more… you’ve filled it with life.

MELODY: ...Just like when our father walked these halls.

NARRATOR: Calliope’s eyes widened as her two sisters climbed up the marble staircase.

CALLIOPE: Harmony! Melody! What are you doing here?

MELODY: The advisors called us as soon as you began to play. They told us you’d fulfilled our father’s mission.

HARMONY: So, we’re here to congratulate you, little sister. (beat) You’ve won.

NARRATOR: Calliope smiled.

CALLIOPE: No, Harmony. I haven’t won.

NARRATOR: She reached out and squeezed their hands.

CALLIOPE: We’ve all won, sisters! All three of us. We won every day of our lives: after all, we had the wisest, sweetest father in the world! And now, we’ll keep on winning, together. You see, I promised father that if I successfully filled all one-hundred rooms... just as he’d asked… I’d give each one of them the very best of care. I also promised I’d take care of my beloved sisters. And I intend to make good on both those promises.

NARRATOR: So… she did.

Calliope invited Harmony and Melody to come live with her in the mansion, and they gladly — and gratefully — accepted.

Once they were settled in, Harmony handled all the accounting… Melody managed the household… and as for Calliope… well? She opened her very own music school... right there in the mansion… and she and her young students made sure that all one-hundred rooms… wall to wall, floor to ceiling, corner to corner... were always filled... with music.

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Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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