'The Noblest Tale' | Circle Round 100

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

When’s the last time you did a good deed?

Maybe you donated books to your local library, or you said something nice to a sibling. Perhaps you just cleaned your room when your grown-up asked you to!

In today’s story, we’ll meet some characters who don’t just set out to do good deeds; they set out to do noble ones. The noblest ones of all, in fact!

Our story is called “The Noblest Tale”; it marks the 100th new episode of Circle Round! Versions of this folktale originally come from Mexico.

Voices in this milestone episode include Mike DelGaudio, Kimberly Schraf, Chris Tucci, Laura K. Welsh, Delores King Williams, and singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb. Lisa Loeb released her fifteenth studio album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, earlier this year. You kids might be familiar with Lisa’s five children’s albums, including Feel What U Feel, which won the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Children’s Album. She also started The Camp Lisa Foundation, which sends underserved children to summer camp.

Coloring Page

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram, 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

Have you ever listened to the stories on Circle Round and been inspired to tell your own?

Well, now here’s your chance!

We’d like you to make up your own tale, then tell it in the Circle Round style — complete with a narrator, and whatever character voices you’d like!

Have a grown-up record you telling your taleand please make sure your story is three minutes or less. After you record, ask your grown-up to send the recording to us, using whatever file-sharing app they prefer; options include Dropbox, Google Drive, WeTransfer and Hightail. Our email address is

Our team will listen to all the stories we receive, then we’ll build a special episode later this summer that incorporates a piece of each one. So we’ll all tell a new tale… together!

Musical Spotlight: Clarinet

This member of the woodwind family makes sound with help from a thin piece of bamboo called a ‘reed.’ Most clarinets are made of painted wood, and have silver keys so the player can change notes. You’ll find a number of different-sized clarinets, each with its own note range. This episode features the B-flat model (the most common type of clarinet), along with the larger and low-voiced bass clarinet (which you can also hear in our season-one story, “The Happiest Person in the World”).

About clarinet player Ben Redwine:

(Andrew Boyd, courtesy Ben Redwine)
(Andrew Boyd, courtesy Ben Redwine)

In addition to his virtuosic performance in our Circle Round theme music, Ben Redwine is an accomplished teacher, film-score composer and jazz-ensemble leader in New Orleans, LA. He also plays classical music, and performs with the Louisiana Philharmonic and Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestras.


NARRATOR: Once upon a time… in a deep green valley… there was a village.

It was a charming village, with winding cobblestone streets, brightly-colored houses, and a lively market where vendors peddled fruits and flowers, paintings and pottery.

But life in the village wasn’t always peaceful.

You see, the village was set among towering, majestic mountains that reached all the way to the sky. One mountain was so high that it was always covered with clouds. And on that cloud-covered mountain there lived… a dragon. A scaly green dragon, who often swooped down and swept through the cobblestone streets, huffing flames out of his nose and sending the villagers running.

Among the villagers was a white-haired old woman named Antonia. Antonia lived in a snug little cottage at the edge of town with her three daughters: Evelyn, Isabel, and Luna.

One evening, as Antonia rocked in her favorite chair and watched the sun go down behind the mountains, she called her three daughters to her side.

ANTONIA: Evelyn! Isabel! Luna! Please — come here.

EVELYN: Yes, Mother? Do you need us to bring you something? More tea, perhaps?

ANTONIA: No thank you, Evelyn. I have plenty of chamomile in my cup.

ISABEL: Another blanket then?

ANTONIA: No thank you, Isabel. I’m as warm and cozy as can be.

LUNA: What is it then, Mother? What can we do for you?

ANTONIA: Well, Luna… you and your sisters can sit down… and listen.

NARRATOR: So, they did. The three women settled down on the creaky wood floor and perked up their ears as their mother began to speak.

ANTONIA: My children. I have lived a long, glorious life — made all the more glorious by having the three of you in it! (beat) But look at me. My hair is as white as a spider’s thread... and my bones are so rickety and crickety I can barely hobble across the room! (beat) I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be around, my dears. And when I go, I don’t have much to leave you three... other than the pots and pans and hodge-podge of furniture you see in this house. (beat) But... I also have...

NARRATOR: She held up a small blue box.


NARRATOR: Antonia lifted the box’s lid. All at once, Evelyn’s jaw dropped...


NARRATOR: ...Isabel’s eyes grew wide...

ISABEL: My, my!

NARRATOR: ...And Luna could hardly speak.

LUNA: Mother! What…?? How…?

NARRATOR: The papery skin around Antonia’s eyes crinkled as her face broke into a grin.

ANTONIA: I thought you would be surprised! All these years we’ve been living together in this tumbledown cottage in the valley... who knew your very own mother had such a spectacular gold necklace hidden away?

EVELYN: It is spectacular, Mother!

ISABEL: Stunning!

LUNA: But where did it come from?

ANTONIA: Excellent question, Luna! This necklace was given to me by my mother… who passed it on from her mother… who passed it on from her mother, years and years ago. I’ve been keeping the necklace safe, in hopes of someday passing it on myself. The problem is, there’s only one necklace… and three of you.

LUNA: That’s okay, Mother! Evelyn, Isabel and I can share it!

EVELYN: Luna’s right!

ISABEL: It can be all of ours!

ANTONIA: Oh, my daughters, you’re every bit as good and kind — and noble — as I raised you to be! (beat, slowly) And that is how I will decide which one of you gets this gold necklace.

NARRATOR: The daughters exchanged a quizzical look.

ANTONIA: Here’s the deal. Each of you has one week to go out and do something noble in the world. When that week is up, I want you to come back and tell me your story. Whoever has performed the noblest deed of allyou will be the one who gets the gold necklace.

NARRATOR: Evelyn, Isabel and Luna were intrigued by their mother’s challenge.

And excited.

And worried.

EVELYN: But Mother — while we’re gone, who will protect you... from the dragon?

ISABEL: Yes! The dragon!

LUNA: We can’t leave you alone when that fierce creature is roaming about!

NARRATOR: Antonia smiled.

ANTONIA: I appreciate your concern, my dears. But fear not; I’ll be fine. (beat) Now, off with you. The world is waiting!

NARRATOR: The next morning, as the sun’s first rays streamed through the cottage windows… Evelyn, Isabel and Luna ate a hearty breakfast, packed their bags, then headed out into the world, to see which one of them could come back with the noblest tale.

[theme music in]

NARRATOR: What will Antonia’s daughters do?

What would you do if you were in their shoes?

We’ll find out what happens, 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 “The Noblest Tale.”

[theme music out]

NARRATOR: Before the break, we met Antonia and her daughters — Evelyn, Isabel and Luna. The women lived in a village near a fierce dragon, who’d often  dive down from the cloud-covered mountains and scare the villagers out of their wits!

Antonia was growing older, and she didn’t have much to leave her daughters other than a gold necklace that had been in the family for generations. So she sent Evelyn, Isabel and Luna out into the world to do a good deed. Whoever performed the noblest act would get the cherished necklace.

After a week, the daughters returned to the cottage and hurried over to Antonia’s rocking chair.

LUNA: Hello, Mother!

ISABEL: Were you okay while we were gone?

EVELYN: Did the dragon return?

ANTONIA: Actually, I didn’t see that dragon once! Somehow he stayed away from the village the entire time you were away! (beat) But now that you’re here, I’m excited to hear your tales. (beat) Evelyn? Would you like to go first?

NARRATOR: Evelyn nodded her head.

EVELYN: I’d be happy to, Mother.

[SOT: music/sound denotes flashback/story being told]

EVELYN: Last week, when Isabel, Luna and I went our separate ways, I walked and walked until I came to an inn. It was getting late, so I stopped inside for a bite of supper, and a room to spend the night. Well, after supper, when the waiter brought the check…

WAITER: Here you go, Miss!

EVELYN: ...I noticed that he had undercharged me for my meal! I had ordered a salad, a bowl of stew, and some bread; he had only charged me for the bread! So I called the waiter over and told him what happened. Well, it turns out a man at a nearby table had witnessed the entire thing. And after I paid the bill, the man approached me with a small wooden chest in his hands.

MAN IN INN: Excuse me, miss. What you did just now… most people wouldn’t have told the waiter the truth! They would have just waltzed on out of here, without paying for their full meal! (beat) Clearly, you are someone I can trust!

EVELYN: Next thing I knew, the man was handing me the small wooden chest. He told me he had to leave town unexpectedly, and he wanted to leave the chest in my keeping.

MAN IN INN: This chest contains all of the savings that I own — some money, some jewels... I don’t know anyone in this town, and I need someone I can trust to watch my valuables until I return.

EVELYN: So… I did! All week long I kept an eye on that chest. And when the man came back, I returned it. All of it. Someone else might have pinched a few coins, or pocketed a bracelet or two, but not me. I gave back the chest just as I had received it. I never even looked inside!

[SOT: music/sound fades out or comes to smooth end]

NARRATOR: As Evelyn finished her story, she flashed Antonia a grin.

EVELYN: So, tell me, Mother… was this not a very noble deed?

NARRATOR: Antonia stroked her chin as she rocked in her chair.

ANTONIA: Hmmmm… Your deed, Evelyn... was honest. Conscientious. On the level. (beat) But you only did what was right... and nothing more. Giving this man his full savings was your duty, and you did it. It was an act of integrity… not nobility. (beat) Wouldn’t you say?

NARRATOR: Antonia leaned over and gave Evelyn a kiss on the cheek.

Then she turned to Isabel.

ANTONIA: Isabel. Why don’t you tell us your story?

NARRATOR: Isabel’s face lit up.

ISABEL: I’d be delighted to, Mother!

[SOT: music/sound denotes flashback/story being told]

ISABEL: Now, I never told any of you this, but I’ve managed to save up quite a few silver coins over the years. Last week, when Evelyn, Luna and I set out to do something noble in the world, I got to thinking as I wandered around — what if I divide my savings in half… then give half of it away? Just then, I heard someone call out to me.

MAN ON ROAD: Excuse me, miss?

ISABEL: Sitting by the side of the road was a poor, grizzled man. He was skinny as a rail.

MAN ON ROAD: Sorry to bother you, miss, but can you spare a morsel of food?

ISABEL: Well, I didn’t have any food with me, but I did have my silver coins! So I reached into my satchel and offered the man a handful.

MAN ON ROAD: Thank you, miss! Thank you!

ISABEL: I did the same when I came upon a poor peddler, who was trudging home after not selling one item all day.

PEDDLER: Oh my! Look at these coins! Thank you!

ISABEL: All week long…

PERSON 1: Thank you!

ISABEL: ...I found people who were nowhere near as fortunate as I was…

PERSON 2: Thank you!

ISABEL: ...and I gave them my silver coins…

PERSON 3: Thank you!

ISABEL: ...until half of my savings was gone!

[SOT: music/sound fades out or comes to smooth end]

NARRATOR: As Isabel wrapped up her story, she gazed at Antonia with hopeful eyes.

ISABEL: So, tell me, Mother… was this not a very noble deed?

NARRATOR: Antonia brought a cup of tea to her lips and took a sip.

ANTONIA: Well… Your deed, Isabel... was kind. Charitable. Giving. (beat) But taking care of those less fortunate than us is something we all should do, if we’re able. It’s an act of duty… not nobility. (beat) Wouldn’t you say?

NARRATOR: Antonia leaned over and gave Isabel a kiss on the forehead.

Then she turned to Luna.

ANTONIA: Luna. Why don’t you tell us your story?

NARRATOR: A gentle smile crossed Luna’s lips.

LUNA: It would be my honor, Mother.

[SOT: music/sound denotes flashback/story being told]

LUNA: When Evelyn, Isabel and I left the cottage last week, all I could think about was you, Mother… and how I feared that the dragon would come tearing down from the clouds and go roaring through this house, snorting and huffing fire! I wandered around all day, lost in my thoughts. As the sun set, I realized I had meandered far into the mountains, to a windy cliff overlooking the valley. And that was when I heard somebody…

DRAGON: (ad-lib crying)

LUNA: ...crying!

DRAGON: (ad-lib crying)

LUNA: I squinted my eyes to see who it was. And there… at the edge of the cliff… was the dragon!

[SOT: music/sound denoting flashback/story being told abruptly stops]

EVELYN: Um, hang on a minute, sister!

ISABEL: The dragon?!???

LUNA: Yes, Evelyn and Isabel! The dragon!

ANTONIA: Girls! Please! Let Luna finish.

[SOT: music/sound denoting flashback/story being returns]

LUNA: When I crept closer, I saw that the dragon’s enormous green body was writhing around on the ground, and tears were flowing from his eyes like a waterfall.

DRAGON: (ad-lib crying)

LUNA: As the powerful creature thrashed this way and that, I noticed he kept shaking his back right leg. And when I crept over to get a closer look, I saw he had a thorny branch stuck in his back right foot!

DRAGON: (ad-lib crying)

LUNA: At first, I thought I should run away and save myself from this menace that’s been terrorizing our village! (beat) But… I didn’t. Instead, I called out to the dragon. When he heard my voice, he stopped crying, and swung his big scaly head in my direction. His red eyes were gleaming.

DRAGON: (not friendly) What do you want?

LUNA: I told the dragon that, if he’d let me, I could take the thorn out of his foot. All I asked in return was that he stop tearing through our village and frightening all the people. That he leave us alone, in peace!

DRAGON: Okay, okay. I hear what you’re saying. But here’s the thing. My family has been terrifying you villagers for generations! Before me, it was my mother and father. Before them, it was their mother and father. Before them, it was their mother and father. Freaking out you humans… it’s basically our job! It’s what we do! It’s all we dragons know! (beat) Listen… you can take out the thorn if you want. But I can’t guarantee that I’ll change.

LUNA: I looked at the dragon. I looked at his foot. And I knew what I had to do.

[SOT: music/sound denoting flashback/story being told abruptly stops]

EVELYN: And what was that?

ISABEL: Yeah! What did you have to do?

ANTONIA: Girls! She’s getting to that. (beat) Please, Luna — go on.

[SOT: music/sound denoting flashback/story being returns]

LUNA: First, I took a deep breath. Then, I reached out my hand... grasped the thorny branch... and gave it a tug.

DRAGON: (ad-lib expression as thorn gets pulled out) Yikes!

LUNA: Now that the branch was out of the dragon’s foot, he leapt into the air. Then he lunged toward me, peering at me with those glittering red eyes. For a moment I thought he might open his mighty jaws and swallow me whole. (beat) But instead, he cocked his scaly head, snapped his pointy teeth, and said two words I will never forget.

DRAGON: (slow, sincere) Thank you.

LUNA: Then he spread his massive wings... and flew away.

[SOT: music/sound fades out or comes to smooth end]

NARRATOR: As Luna ended her story, she looked deep into Antonia’s eyes.

LUNA: So, that’s my tale, Mother. (beat) What do you think?

NARRATOR: Antonia was quiet for a moment. Then the old woman held out a frail hand, and placed it on top of Luna’s.

ANTONIA: That was a beautiful story, Luna... and a beautiful action! You reached out and helped your enemy. Someone who had struck fear in your heart… and the hearts of those you love… and may very well keep doing so, for all we know! Yet you showed kindness... and compassion… all while risking your life. (beat) That is an act of nobility.

NARRATOR: She gave Luna’s hand a squeeze.

ANTONIA: Wouldn’t you say?

NARRATOR: As Antonia let go of Luna’s hand, Luna looked down at her palm. And do you know what she saw glittering there?

You guessed it!

The gold necklace!

From that day forward, Luna cherished that necklace...until it was time for her to pass it on to her daughter… who then passed it on to her daughter... and so on and so on.

As for the dragon, well, he never terrorized the villagers again. Instead, he stayed up on his cloud-covered mountain and kept watch over the village.

And when he got older and had little dragons of his own, he was more than happy to tell them the story... of why.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Circle Round’s executive producer, Katherine Brewer. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

Headshot of Rebecca Sheir

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



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