Now, the VOA Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.

Our story today is called Rainbabies. It was written by Laura Krauss Melmed. Here is Barbara Klein with the story.

An old woman and her husband lived in a small house in a green field. They had plenty of food and a good roof over their heads and the river ran close to their door. But the thing they wanted most was the thing they lacked - a child to call their own.

The Rain Babies by Laura Krauss Melmed
The Rain Babies by Laura Krauss Melmed

One spring night, the couple was asleep when a broad ribbon of white light slid across the old woman's pillow. Her eyes flew open. She could hear the steady rainfall on the roof top. Yet her eyes met the white face of the full moon looking through her window. The old woman shook her husband. "Wake up old man. I have heard that the moon shower brings good luck to everyone it touches." The old man rose and followed his wife outside. She was surprised at what she saw in the wet grass. There were 12 shiny drops of water, each holding a tiny baby no larger than her big toe.

Very carefully the couple gathered up the small babies and brought them into the house. The woman dried them gently and set them on a soft cloth on the kitchen table. There were 12 perfect little ones all in a row. The old couple smiled and cooled until the babies began to yawn and rub their eyes with tiny fists. Then the woman wrapped the rain babies in pieces of cloth and laid them to sleep in a drawer.

Day after day the old couple cared for the rain babies. When they were tired or wanted to be held they cried out in tiny voices and reached up with their little arms. Then the old man and woman held the rain babies in the palms of their hands or they rocked them to sleep in a pair of wooden shoes. The old man and woman would carry the babies in a straw basket as they went about their work.

One morning the family set out in their wooden boat with fishing poles to catch some supper. The woman placed the basket at her feet in the boat. The rain babies soon fell asleep because of the gentle row of the river. But suddenly the river became wild. A mighty wave rose up and over the side of the boat. Before the old man and old woman could stop it, the basket of babies was swept out of the boat. The old man jumped into the river. Round and round he swam trying to reach the basket. The old woman threw him a fishing pole so he could catch the handle of the basket. As he lifted the basket from the water, the river immediately became calm. The couple hugged each other and rode home, forgetting about catching fish.

A few days later the wind began to blow about their fields. "The peaches have ripened and should be picked, wife", said the old man, "Let us gather them now before the wind does our work for us." So the old woman carried the basket of babies to the orchard where the peach trees grew. The old man climbed a ladder, picked a peach and handed it to his wife. Suddenly the sky turned dark. A crash of thunder sounded as a bolt of lighting struck the ground close to the basket where the rain babies slept. Flames quickly surrounded the basket in a perfect ring of fire. The woman torn off her apron and tried to beat out the fire with the cloth. But as soon as she put out the flames they rose again. So the old man leaped across the barrier of fire and seized the basket. As he handed the basket to his wife, a sudden rush of cool rain put out the fire. The rain babies were unharmed.

The next day the sky was blue and clear. The husband went early to the river to fish. The wife went to work in the vegetable garden. She put the basket of babies on a blanket in the shade of a chestnut tree. An animal called a weasel saw the silvery pink babies and thought they were weasel babies. The weasel came closer but the babies sensing danger cried out. The old woman came running, still holding a turnip, freshly dug from the earth. She reached the blanket just in time to see the weasel run off with a tiny rain baby hanging from its mouth. The old woman ran after them putting the turnip in her pocket. The woman and the weasel ran around and around the fields. Finally she could run no more. Then she remembered the turnip in her pocket. She tossed it over the weasel's head hitting the ground in front of the surprised animal. The weasel dropped the frightened rain baby and ran off. The old woman grabbed the baby and returned to find the others safely in their basket.

That night after supper the old couple sat sleepily by the fire. The rain babies slept soundly in their drawer. A loud knock awaken the old man. As he pulled the door open, a cold rain rushed into the kitchen almost sweeping him from his feet. A tall stranger wrapped in a heavy coat came into the house. Then the stranger threw off his hood. He was a handsome young man. His hat posed securely over his hair. He walked across the room and placed on the table a basket woven from silver.

The old woman asked "Who are you?"

"I'm a messenger sent by lady Curd Declair, a woman of extreme riches." said the young man. He pulled something from his coat. It was a shiny white jewel stone on a silver chain. The stone was the size and shape of a hen's egg. The couple stared. "My lady has huge wealth", continued the messenger, "But in one thing she is poor. She has been blessed with neither sons nor daughters and she wants these more than anything else. Therefore she offers you this precious moonstone in exchange for the 12 babies. Give her the babies and live your remaining days in comfort and riches for the moonstone is worth many bags of gold."

The old woman moved closer to the sleeping rain babies. "Thank you!" she said, "but the babies will stay with us." The old man put his arm around her shoulder.

"So be it", said the young man. He slipped the silver chain over his hat. No sooner had the moonstone touched his chest than the coat and hat fell away. And in his place appeared a woman of great beauty.

"My dear old man and woman", she said. "I'm Mother Moonshower on the night of the last full moon I gave my rain babies into your care. What loving care-takers you have been. You protected them from the dangers of water, fire and earth. You refused the offer of great riches to keep the babies with you. You have proven yourselves the worthiest of parents. But know I have to come to take the rain babies away with me."

"You must not", the old woman cried. "Please understand", said mother moon shower," The rain babies can not grow properly without me. I will love them as you did and do not fear. I will not leave you lonely. See what I have brought for you.

They went to the table and lifted the cover of the silver basket. Inside was the most beautiful baby girl the old couple had ever seen. she had hair like the midnight sky,and she smiled up them with shining gray eyes.As the old man lifted the little girl in his arms, Mother Moonshower put the rain babies into the silver basket. "Wait", cried the old woman. She bent over the basket touching her lips softly to the forehead of each sleeping rain baby. Each one smiled in turn without waking. As the woman kissed the last tiny head, Mother Moonshower and the rain babies disappeared.

The old man and woman named their daughter Raina. Like all children she brought her parents great joy. She brought them some heartache too. But never such adventures as the rain babies. Raina grew stronger and more lovely with each passing year. She picked the sweetest peaches from the orchard and caught the fastest fish. Her laughter warmed the small house. Some nights when the full moon shone, the couple stood at the window. They watched their daughter dancing gracefully across the moon-lit field, her hair floating in the soft air and the old couple felt themselves truly lucky for their happiness was complete.

I heared this story when I was a small child and I love it very much.The old couple have gotten a beatiful child finally just as they had wished because of their kindhearted maternal love and fatherhood.It is very sweet.
too long,
A sweet story. I like the rainbabies. How lucky the couple is!
It is a good story,but it's to long.I don't think I can get it. So I must serious learn English!
作者:Nancy Hu
How interesting and fascinating!
Fairy story. Now I can't be immersed in fairy tale any more. Undeniable, the words the author used are very vivid and impressive.
The story is a little different from what I heard when I was a little girl.......hehe~
A beautiful story!
quite good
Why Mother Moonshower doesn't bring them leave together?
sweet story, Kind people will have a perfect whole life, this is fair.
The story is too beautiful .
Children's happiness and sadness are all happy
I love this interesting story.