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'Granny’s Leather Bag' | Circle Round 8923:47
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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
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Have you ever heard the expression, “What goes around comes around?”

What comes to mind when you hear that phrase?

Well, in today’s story, that saying comes to life with help from three talking animals, two very different sisters, and one bag of treasure!

Our story is called “Granny’s Leather Bag.” Versions of this tale come from England, Scotland and Ireland, countries off the coast of continental Europe. You’ll also hear variations in parts of the United States.

Voices in this episode include Mae Hedges, James Konicek, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Alexia Trainor, Chris Tucci, Anne Undeland and Orla Brady. Grown-ups, you can see Orla in Star Trek: Picard on CBS All Access, and Into the Badlands on AMC. And for you grown-up listeners in the UK and Ireland, be on the lookout for Orla’s new film, Rose Plays Julie, in May 2020.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Virginia Marshall. Circle Round’s executive producer is Katherine Brewer. Circle Round’s 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 FacebookTwitterInstagram 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

Speaking of “what goes around, comes around,” think about a time you did something positive, something that put good out into the world… and then something good happened to you!

Find a piece of paper and divide it into two sections. On one side of the paper, draw a picture of you doing your positive action. Then, on the other side of the paper, draw a picture of what “came around” as a result. Share your picture with a grown-up, and — if you’d like — share it with us! Ask your grown-up to take a photo of your drawing, then email it to circle-round@wbur.org.


Musical Spotlight: Irish Flute

(Eric Shimelonis for WBUR)
(Eric Shimelonis for WBUR)

If you’ve listened to traditional Irish folk music, you’ll recognize the pure, mellow notes of this three-piece wooden instrument. Unlike classical flutes, where you press keys to change notes, the Irish flute has open holes. To change notes, you cover up certain holes with your fingers  — not unlike the recorder you might learn to play in music class at school!


Script:

NARRATOR: Long ago…in the emerald-green countryside of Ireland… there lived two sisters: Abigail and Bridget.

Abigail was younger, Bridget was older, and the two couldn’t have been more different. While Abigail was a hard-working lass, Bridget never lifted a finger. And while Abigail was always thinking of others, Bridget thought of no one but herself.

The sisters shared a cozy blue farmhouse with their Mother and their Granny. Granny worked hard every day of her life, growing crops and fixing up the house. And when her days came to an end... and her tired lungs breathed their last breath... she left a special gift for her daughter and granddaughters: a big leather bag brimming with silver coins.

After the funeral, Mother hung Granny’s leather bag on a shiny brass hook by the door.

MOTHER: Well, daughters, it breaks my heart that we won’t be seeing your Granny again. But how generous of her to leave us such riches! Thanks to the silver coins in this bag, the three of us will never go hungry. Never.

NARRATOR: Well, as we’re about to hear…Mother may have spoken a bit too soon.

You see, not long after Granny left this world, Mother was up late, sewing by the light of the fire, when she heard a knock at the door.

[SOT: knock, open]

NARRATOR: Standing in the doorway was a frail old woman clutching a long white cane.

WOMAN: Sorry to disturb you... but I’ve been wandering about and the wind is howling something fierce! Might I warm myself by your fire?

MOTHER: But of course! Please, come in!

NARRATOR: Mother led the woman to the fireplace, then went to the kitchen to make a pot of tea. But when she came back, she noticed the front door was open…

MOTHER: (ad-lib surprise) Ooooh!

NARRATOR: ...the old woman was gone…

MOTHER: (ad-lib surprise) Oh my!

NARRATOR: ...and Granny’s leather bag was nowhere to be seen! The shiny brass hook where it usually hung... was empty.

MOTHER: (ad-lib distress) Oh no!

NARRATOR: The next morning, after a sleepless night, Mother told Bridget and Abigail that Granny’s leather bag had disappeared… and with it, all of their savings.

MOTHER: Bridget… since you’re the oldest, why don’t you go out into the world and find your fortune? Abigail and I will stay here at the house, and if we don’t hear back from you, we’ll know you made it big.

NARRATOR: So Bridget set out across the countryside. The sky was gray as slate, and before long, it began to drizzle… then rain… then pour. Bridget was soaked to the bone when she stumbled upon a tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof. With a trembling hand, she knocked on the splintered wooden door.

And who should answer that door...

WOMAN: May I help you?

NARRATOR: ...but the old woman with the long white cane! The same woman who’d run off with Granny’s leather bag!

But Bridget didn’t recognize the woman! After all, Bridget had been asleep when the mysterious stranger stole the bag from the farmhouse. So, through chattering teeth, Bridget asked if she could stay the night.

WOMAN: Well… I don’t let anyone stay here for free. If you promise to cook my dinner and clean my house when I go out tomorrow, I’ll let you sleep on my couch. (beat) Buuuut...

NARRATOR: The old woman leaned in so close, Bridget could count her straggly nose hairs.

WOMAN: (slowly, slightly menacing) ...You must never, ever look up my chimney. Not ever! (beat) Now get some rest. You have a lot of work tomorrow.

NARRATOR: By the time Bridget woke up the next morning, the old woman had gone out.

BRIDGET: Uch. I can’t believe I promised that woman I’d do all her cooking! And cleaning! (beat) My baby sister, Abigail, would love this job. Me? Not so much.

NARRATOR: Bridget found a broom and half-heartedly began sweeping the floor. As she pushed a pile of cinders around the fireplace… she thought about the old woman’s words.

WOMAN: (same clip as before, with reverb to denote flashback) You must never, ever look up my chimney. Not ever! 

BRIDGET: Hmmm. I wonder what could be up that chimney of hers? (beat) Well, there’s no harm in taking just one eensy-weensy look… Is there?

NARRATOR: Bridget craned her neck and squinted up into the dark, drafty flue.

BRIDGET: Wow! Would you look at that?!? It’s Granny’s leather bag of silver coins! Hanging right there in the chimney!

NARRATOR: Now, if you were in Bridget’s shoes, what would you do? Would you leave the bag where it was? Or would you reach up and grab it... and take it back to your family?

Well... as we’re about to hear, Bridget didn’t do either of those things.

We’ll find out what she did do, after a quick break.

[MIDROLL]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “Granny’s Leather Bag.”

When we left off, Bridget did something she’d been told not to do: she looked up the chimney of a tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof. The cottage belonged to an old woman… the same old woman who’d stolen Granny’s leather bag of coins from Bridget’s family!

And now, as Bridget peered up inside the chimney and saw that very bag… she decided to take it for her own.

BRIDGET: I mean, Mom did tell me to go out and find my fortune… Who knew it would be so easy to find? (little laugh)

NARRATOR: Bridget reached up, seized the bag, then dashed out the door and down the road.

She hadn’t gotten very far when she came upon a brown cow grazing in a field.

COW: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and milk me?

NARRATOR: Bridget blinked her eyes.

BRIDGET: (annoyed, intrigued) I’m sorry — Did you just say something?!?

COW: I said, could you please stop and milk me! I haven’t been milked in seven long years, and I’d truly appreciate it if you could --

BRIDGET: Oh, I don’t have time to go around milking every cow I see! I have more important things to do! Like run off with my newfound fortune! (ad-lib devilish laughter)

NARRATOR: Then she continued on her way, leaving the brown cow behind.

Before long, Bridget came upon a grey sheep standing in a meadow.

SHEEP: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and shear me?

NARRATOR: Bridget threw up her hands.

BRIDGET: (annoyed) What?!?? You need something, too?

SHEEP: All I’m asking is if you could please stop and shear me! I haven’t been sheared in seven long years, and it would mean so much if you could --

BRIDGET: Oh, I don’t have time to give a sheep a haircut! I have more important things to do! Like spend this big bag of silver on something fancy! (ad-lib devilish laughter)

NARRATOR: Then she continued on her way, leaving the grey sheep behind.

Bridget was running out of steam when she came upon a black horse near a willow tree.

HORSE: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and brush me?

NARRATOR: Bridget slumped her shoulders.

BRIDGET: (annoyed, tired) Oy, not another talking animal! What do you want?

HORSE: I’m wondering if you could please stop and brush me! I haven’t been brushed in seven long years, and I’d be absolutely grateful if you could --

BRIDGET: (getting more tired) No! Forget it! I’m not milking any cows, I’m not shearing any sheep, and I’m certainly not brushing any horses! I have more important things to do! Like start my brand new life as a wealthy woman! (beat) Buuuut...

NARRATOR: Bridget yawned, and eyed a soft patch of grass beneath the willow tree.

BRIDGET: ...maybe a quick nap wouldn’t hurt.

NARRATOR: Then she plopped down on the ground, flung one arm over Granny’s leather bag, and fell fast asleep.

Meanwhile, back at the tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof... the old woman came home to an uncooked dinner and a filthy house. A filthy, empty house! Bridget was gone. And so was the leather bag!

The old woman grabbed her long white cane, stormed out the door, and went along the road until she came to the brown cow grazing in the field.

WOMAN: Hey you, there! Cow! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The cow blinked its eyes and thought about how unhelpful Bridget had been.

COW: Actually, I did! If you’re looking for her, she went that-a-way!

NARRATOR: The cow flicked its tail to one side, and the old woman hurried off.

Soon, she came to the grey sheep standing in the meadow.

WOMAN: Hey you, there! Sheep! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The sheep nodded its head and thought about how rude Bridget had been.

SHEEP: Actually, I did! If you’re wondering where she went off to, she headed that way!

NARRATOR: The sheep pointed a hoof, and the old woman hurried off.

Before long, she came to the black horse near the willow tree.

WOMAN: Hey you, there! Horse! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The horse straightened its shoulders and thought about how impolite Bridget had been.

HORSE: Actually, I did! If you’re wondering where she is, she’s snoozing under that tree right there!

NARRATOR: The old woman shuffled over and lifted her long white cane high in the air. Then she tapped Bridget’s shoulder two times… and just like that, Bridget turned into stone!

The old woman cackled as she pulled the leather bag out of Bridget’s cold, grey arms. Then she hobbled back to her tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof.

Now… back at the cozy blue farmhouse, Mother and Abigail were struggling. Their crops weren’t growing, their roof was leaking, and no matter how many odd jobs they took on, they simply couldn’t make ends meet. After weeks of empty bellies and frowning faces, Mother made a decision.

MOTHER: Abigail, it’s time you followed your older sister and went off to find your fortune.

ABIGAIL: But Mom! I want to stay here, and help you!

MOTHER: (sweetly, sincerely) No, lass. It’s time.

NARRATOR: So Abigail gave her mom a hug, and set out across the countryside. There was a breeze in the air, and before long, that breeze became a draft, then a gust, then a gale! Bridget was trying not to get blown over, when she found herself knocking on the splintered wooden door of a tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof.

And who should answer that door…

WOMAN: May I help you?

NARRATOR: ...but the old woman with the long white cane!

But remember: Abigail had no idea who the woman was. Like Bridget, she’d been fast asleep when the old woman stole the leather bag.

So, as Abigail stood there shivering in the wind, she asked the old woman if she could stay the night. The woman said yes, provided she cook dinner and clean the house.

WOMAN: And one more thing. You must never, ever look up my chimney. Not ever! (beat) Now go to sleep. You have a lot of work to do tomorrow.

NARRATOR: The next morning, while the old woman was out, Abigail baked bread, whipped up a stew, and swept, dusted and scrubbed the cottage high and low. Remembering the old woman’s warning, she squeezed her eyes shut as she scoured the inside of the chimney. But then...

ABIGAIL: (ad-lib surprised sound as bag tumbles down) Oh!

NARRATOR: … something came tumbling down the flue, before landing on the ground with a thud. Abigail popped her eyes open and smiled.

ABIGAIL: Could it be? Granny’s leather bag?!! (beat) I must take it home to Mom! She’ll be so relieved!

NARRATOR: Abigail picked up the bag, then sped out the door and down the road.

She hadn’t gotten far when she came to the brown cow grazing in the field.

COW: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and milk me? I haven’t been milked in seven long years, and I’d truly appreciate it if you could help me out.

NARRATOR: Now, remember how Bridget responded to the cow... saying how “she had more important things to do”? Well… guess how Abigail responded when the cow asked to be milked?

ABIGAIL: Oh, you poor dear! Of course I’ll milk you!

NARRATOR: Then generous Abigail stopped, milked the cow, and continued on her way.

Before long, she came to the grey sheep standing in the meadow.

SHEEP: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and shear me? I haven’t been sheared in seven long years, and it would mean so much if you could help me out.

ABIGAIL: Oh, you poor thing! Of course I’ll shear you!

NARRATOR: So helpful Abigail stopped, sheared the sheep, then continued on her way.

Next, she came to the black horse near the willow tree.

HORSE: Please, miss! Could you stop for a moment and brush me? I haven’t been brushed in seven long years, and I’d be absolutely grateful if you could help me out.

ABIGAIL: Oh, you poor creature! Of course I’ll brush you!

NARRATOR: So kind-hearted Abigail stopped and brushed the horse. Suddenly, the young woman realized how exhausted she was — it had been quite a morning! Spying the willow tree, she decided she’d take a rest beneath its branches.

ABIGAIL: I might even lie next to that strange, grey stone over there. (beat) Funny… if I didn’t know better, I’d say that stone looks just like a woman sleeping!

NARRATOR: Then Abigail stretched out beneath the tree, and nodded off.

Meanwhile, back at the tumbledown cottage with peeling paint and a crooked roof... the old woman came home to a scrumptious dinner and a spotless house. A spotless, empty house. Abigail was gone. And so was the leather bag!

The old woman grabbed her long white cane, stomped out the door, and went along the road until she came to the brown cow.

WOMAN: Cow! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The cow chewed its cud and thought about how generous Abigail had been.

COW: Don’t you think I have better things to do than pay attention to every single person who passes by? Go ask someone else!

NARRATOR: The old woman grunted and went on until she came to the grey sheep.

WOMAN: Sheep! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The sheep cocked its head and thought about how helpful Abigail had been.

SHEEP: Don’t you think I have better things to do than pay attention to every single person who passes by? Go ask someone else!

NARRATOR: The old woman grumbled and went on until she came to the black horse.

WOMAN: Horse! Did you see a young woman go by just now? Carrying a big leather bag?

NARRATOR: The horse snorted and thought about how kind-hearted Abigail had been. Then it opened its mouth and began...

HORSE: Neeeeeeeigh! 

NARRATOR: … to neigh!

HORSE: Neeeeeeeigh! Neeeeeeeeigh!

NARRATOR: Just as the horse hoped, the commotion jerked Abigail wide awake.

ABIGAIL: What’s going on?

HORSE: (urgently calling out to Abigail) This woman, Abigail! She’s going to tap you with her magic cane and turn you into stone! Just like she did with your sister!

NARRATOR: Abigail gasped. Suddenly she understood why the stone next to her looked like a sleeping woman. It was actually Bridget!

Abigail sprang to her feet. She thrust out her arm, yanked the long white cane from the woman’s gnarled hands, then tapped her bony shoulder two times. Just like that, the old woman turned into stone!

Abigail breathed a sigh of relief. Then she bent down and tapped the sleeping stone next to her. Immediately, Bridget came back to life.

BRIDGET: (waking up, confused) What - what happened? Where am I?

NARRATOR: Abigail slung Granny’s leather bag over her shoulder and explained everything that had happened to her. Then Bridget got to her feet and explained everything that had happened to her.

With tears in her eyes, the older sister apologized for trying to steal Granny’s leather bag.

BRIDGET: (apologetic) I’m sorry, little sister! I was acting no better than the old woman, when she first swiped Granny’s bag from our house! (beat) And now look at her.

NARRATOR: The sisters gazed down at the woman, silent and still and cold and gray. And they realized the old saying was true: what goes around comes around… especially when you have a heart of stone.

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