Ellen’s Lion

ellen's lion

Reading the story of Ellen’s Lion by Crockett Johnson to practic your English reading skill. The story is very nice with English level suitable to a begginer of English. The story is editted by Lightway Translation.

Crockett Johnson

Conversation and Song

HJllpn sat on the footstool and looked down thoughtfully at the lion. He lay on his stomach on the floor at her feet.

“Whenever you and I have a conversation I do all the talking, don’t I?” she said.

The lion remained silent.

“I never let you say a single word,” Ellen said.

The lion did not say a word.

“The trouble with me is I talk too much,” Ellen continued. “I haven’t been very polite, I guess. I apologize.”

“Oh, that’s all right, Ellen,” the lion said.

Ellen sprang to her feet and jumped up and down in delight. 

“You talked!” she cried. “You said something!”

“It wasn’t anything that important,” said the lion. “And watch where you’re jumping.”

“It was the way you said it,” said Ellen, sitting down again. “You have such a funny deep voice!”

“I think my voice sounds remarkably like yours,” the lion said.

“No, it sounds very different,” Ellen told him, speaking with her mouth pulled down at the corners and her chin pressed against her chest to lower her voice. “This is how you talk.”

“I don’t make a face like that,” said the lion.

“You don’t have to. Your face is always like that,” Ellen said. “It’s probably why you have the kind of voice you have.”

The lion did not reply.

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” said Ellen.

“I’m nothing but a stuffed animal. I have no feelings,” the lion said and, with a sniff, he became silent.

“I like your face the way it is,” Ellen said, trying to think of a way to cheer him up. “And you have got a lovely deep voice. Let’s sing a song.”

“What song?” said the lion.

Ellen thought of a cheerful song.

“Let’s sing ‘Old King Cole.’ ”

The lion immediately began to sing.

“Old King Cole was a merry old soul—”

“Wait,” Ellen said. “Let’s sing it together.”

“All right,” said the lion.

“Old King Cole was a merry old soul—” Ellen sang, and then she stopped. “You’re not singing.”

“And a merry old soul was he—” sang the lion.

“—was he,” sang Ellen, trying to catch up. “He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl—”

She realized the lion was not singing with her and she stopped again.

“And he called for his fiddlers three—” sang the lion.

“Can’t we both sing at the same time?” Ellen said.

The lion considered the question. 

“I don’t think we can,” he said. “Do you?”

“Let’s talk,” Ellen said. “It’s easier.”

“All right,” said the lion.

“Think of something to talk about,” Ellen said.

“All right,” said the lion.

Ellen waited. After a minute or two she looked at the lion. He lay motionless on the floor.

“He thought so hard he fell asleep,” she whispered as she left the playroom on tiptoe.

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Two Pairs of Eyes

I wish I had a drink of water,” said Ellen in the middle of the night.

“Well, get one,” said the lion, from the other end of the pillow. 

“I’m afraid,” Ellen said.

“Of what?” said the lion.

“Of things,” said Ellen.

“What kind of things?” said the lion.

“Frightening things,” Ellen said. “Things I can’t see in the dark. They always follow along behind me.”

“How do you know?” said the lion. “If you can’t see them—”

“I can’t see them because they’re always behind me,” said Ellen. “When I turn around they jump behind my back.”

“Do you hear them?” asked the lion.

“They never make a sound,” Ellen said, shivering.

“That’s the worst part of it.”

The lion thought for a moment.

“Hmm,” he said. 

“They’re awful,” Ellen continued.

“Ellen,” the lion said, “I don’t think there are any such things.”

“Oh, no? Then how can they scare me?” said Ellen indignantly. “They’re terribly scary things.”

“They must be exceedingly scary,” said the lion. “If they keep hiding in back of you they can’t be very brave.”

Ellen frowned at the lion. Then she considered what he had said.

“I guess they’re not very brave,” she agreed.

“They wouldn’t dare bother me if I could look both ways at the same time.”

“Yes,” said the lion. “But who has two pairs of eyes?”

“Two people have,” Ellen said, staring up at where the ceiling was when it wasn’t so dark. “I wouldn’t be afraid to go down the hall for a drink of water if I was two people.”

Suddenly she reached out for the lion, dragged him to her, and looked him in the eyes.

“Mine are buttons,” he said. “They’re sewn on. I can’t see very well in the dark.”

“Nobody can,” Ellen whispered, as she got out of bed. “But the things don’t know that.”

“How do you know they don’t know?” said the lion.

“I know all about them,” said Ellen. “After all, I made them up in my head didn’t I?” 

“Ah,” said the lion. “I said there were no such things.”

“But of course there are,” Ellen said. “I just told you I made them up myself.”

“Yes,” the lion said. “But—”

“So I should know, shouldn’t I?” said Ellen, putting the lion up on her shoulder so that he faced behind her. “Stop arguing with me and keep your eyes open.”

“They’re buttons,” said the lion, bouncing on Ellen’s shoulder as she walked across the bedroom. “My eyes never close.”

“Good,” said Ellen, and she opened the door to the hall. 

With a firm grip on the lion’s tail to hold him in place, she marched down the hall to the bathroom, drank a glass of water, and marched back to bed. She looked straight ahead all the way while the lion stared into the darkness behind her, and during the entire trip not a single thing dared bother either of them.

A Kind Of Silence

Ellen came in carrying a book with no pictures in it. As she sat down she turned to the lion on the footstool beside the big chair.

“Please be very silent,” she said. “I have a book I want to read.”

The lion, who had been silent anyway, became very silent.

“It bothers people who want to read, when somebody is talking all the time,” Ellen explained, patting the lion on the head. “You understand that, don’t you?”

The lion said nothing.

Ellen opened the book. After a moment she closed it, keeping her thumb in the page, and looked sidewise at the lion. Not a hair of his artificial fur stirred.

“You don’t have to exaggerate like that,” she said.

The lion continued to sit there silently. 

“There are all kinds of ways of being silent,” Ellen said. “Why can’t you be silent in a nice way?”

The lion kept silent in the same manner, with his button eyes staring straight ahead into space.

“You’re sulking,” said Ellen. “Just because I want a few minutes of peace and quiet, your feelings are hurt. Tell me now, honestly, aren’t you ashamed of yourself ?”

The lion told her nothing.

“You’re trying to annoy me,” Ellen said. “But I don’t care. I’m not paying the slightest attention to you.”

She opened the book again and settled back in the chair. For a long time she studied the print on the first page and paid no attention to the lion. But as she turned the page she happened to glance down at him.

“My!” she said. “You’re in a temper.”

She put the open book on the other arm of the chair and twisted herself over the arm beside the lion. He hadn’t moved. He sat rigid, staring unblinkingly at nothing.

“You’ve been sitting there all this time, seething with anger,” said Ellen.

The lion sat there.

“You’re speechless with rage, aren’t you?” said Ellen.

The lion didn’t speak.

“You’re wishing you were a real lion, so you could bite and scratch me,” said Ellen. “Don’t deny it.”

The lion didn’t deny it.

“Well!” said Ellen. “I can’t have a wild animal around that wants to bite and scratch me every time I ask him to do a simple thing like keep quiet for a few minutes.”

She shook her head in dismay.

“The house will be always full of doctors and nurses, putting bandage stickers on me,” she said. “And do you know what will happen to you?”

She pointed her finger at the lion but drew it back quickly before it could be scratched or bitten.

“They’ll give you rabies tests, that’s what.”

A new thought struck her, and her eyes widened in alarm. 

“And maybe some day you’ll get in such a terrible temper you won’t know what you’re doing,” she said. “And you’ll eat me all up!”

Ellen showed no surprise when the lion didn’t deny even that possibility. She shook her head hopelessly and looked very sad.

“Afterwards, when you’ve calmed down, you’ll look around for me and I won’t be there,” she said. “And then you’ll be sorry, when it’s too late.”

She put on her sorriest face for the lion, but nothing would make him change his attitude. Ellen sighed.

“Won’t you be sorry?” she said.

But the lion continued to stare silently off into space.

“You know, the least you can do is look at me when I’m talking to you,” Ellen said.

She reached down and picked up the lion, and she sat him on her lap facing her. She looked into his button eyes.

“Won’t you be sorry?”

“Yes, Ellen,” said the lion.

“That’s better,” said Ellen.

She put the lion back on the footstool.

“And you see that you’ve really got to learn to control your temper, don’t you?” she said.

“Yes, Ellen,” said the lion.

“I’m glad you realize it,” Ellen said, closing the book on the arm of the chair. “What shall we do 

now? Can you think of any games you’d like to play?”

“I’ll sit here and be silent, in a nice way,” the lion said. “You go ahead and read your book.”

“I don’t know how to read books without pictures in them,” said Ellen, giggling. “I was just pretending.”

“Oh?” said the lion.

“Yes,” Ellen said. “So you see? You made all that fuss over nothing at all.”

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