A Biscuit, A Basket
Nov 06, 2023
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Think about a time you offered help.
Maybe you offered to help a grown-up with a chore, or a classmate with a project.
We’re about to meet a hardworking woman who offers to help someone… and in return, she gets a gift that keeps on giving!
Our story is called “A Biscuit, A Basket.” Versions have been told by people across Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America. We’ve taken most of our inspiration from versions told in India.
Voices in this episode include: Amy Brentano, Joe Hernandez, Erika Rose, and Saara Chaudry, who stars in The Muppets Mayhem on Disney+ and Holly Hobby on Hulu. She also stars in the award-winning animated film The Breadwinner.
This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Nora Saks. 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, 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
Helping someone doesn’t just brighten their day; it can brighten yours, too! Here’s a fun game to show you how.
Did it take longer with or without help? How did it feel to have help?
Pretty good, right?
Now that you know how great it can feel when someone helps you, think of one way you can help someone else this week. Then go out and make it happen!
How are you going to help someone? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected]!
Musical Spotlight: Bulbul Tarang
The name of this instrument from the northern India state of Punjab translates to “waves of nightingales.” It’s thought to have evolved from the Japanese harp known as the taishōgoto.
To play the bulbul tarang, you press down on keys; as you’ll see from the photo, they look a lot like typewriter keys! The keys then press down onto a set of strings — all of which are tuned to the same note, except for the “drone” string. This action of the keys hitting the strings pushes the strings down on the fretboard. This pushing-down action shortens the strings, thereby changing the pitch — much like what happens when one’s fingers “fret” a guitar or banjo. In fact, many people refer to the bulbul tarang as the Indian or Punjabi Banjo!
NARRATOR: Myra and her mother lived in a tumbledown farmhouse in the countryside. Mother was getting older and frailer by the day, so Myra worked hard to support them both. Each morning she rose bright and early to gather eggs from the chickens…
MYRA: Good morning, ladies! How did we do last night?
NARRATOR: …then she sold the eggs in the nearest village.
MYRA: Fresh eggs! Farm-fresh eggs here!
NARRATOR: But one summer, the chickens stopped laying eggs. Myra tried everything: she changed their food, she put softer straw in their nests… but she and Mother were dismayed to find it was all in vain.
MOTHER: Myra! Now that the chickens aren’t laying any eggs, what are we going to do? We can’t afford to buy a new flock – but we can't afford to starve either!
MYRA: I know, Mother. I know! So how about I journey to the big city and find myself a job? I’ll make a bit of money, then I’ll come back home and we can get back on our feet!
MOTHER: That sounds like a fine plan, Myra! You’ve always been such a hardworking, kindhearted girl. Good luck, my dear!
NARRATOR: The big city was far away from Myra’s tumbledown farmhouse. To get there, she crossed rolling plains and rushing rivers, she walked through grassy fields and meadows. And as she was passing through a thick, jungly forest, she suddenly heard…
NARRATOR: …a voice!
TIGER: Someone, help me! Please! I can’t move!
NARRATOR: Myra tried to find where the voice was coming from. She walked this way and that, and in the middle of a sun-dappled clearing, what should she encounter but…
MYRA: … a tiger!???
NARRATOR: Indeed! A large female tiger was splayed out on the ground, her big striped body tangled in a big rope net!
TIGER: Oh! I’m so glad you've come by! I’ve been caught in this hunter’s trap for hours and I have hungry cubs who need me! They’ll never survive if I don’t come home. Can you please help free me?
NARRATOR: Myra’s kind heart urged her to set the tiger free. But her sensible head thought twice.
MYRA: I could absolutely free you. If you promise you won’t turn around and eat me!
TIGER: Eat you?
NARRATOR: The tiger’s yellow eyes sparkled.
TIGER: I promise I won’t eat you! Instead, if you save my life – and my cubs – I will reward you. (beat) With something you can use for the rest of your life.
NARRATOR: Myra was intrigued; times were so hard lately, perhaps it was worth seeing what the tiger had in mind…? So she pulled a pocket knife from her knapsack, held it to the rope trap, and slashed the trap open. Immediately, the tiger sprang to her feet!
TIGER: (gasp!) I’m free! I’m freeeee!
NARRATOR: She leaped up and bounded behind a thicket of bushes. When she came out again, balanced on her head was… a basket.
TIGER: This basket… is for you!
NARRATOR: Myra noticed that the basket was plain but sturdy, expertly woven from strong, thick bamboo.
MYRA: Thank you, tiger! I’m sure this basket will come in very handy to hold things. Not that Mother and I have many things to hold in our tumbledown farmhouse, but – (gets interrupted)
TIGER: (interrupting) Oh no! This basket isn’t for holding things! (beat) What’s your name?
TIGER: Okay, Myra. Brace yourself… and watch this!
NARRATOR: The tiger flicked her head, and sent the basket sailing into the air. It flipped upside-down as it flew… and Myra flipped out!
MYRA: What?!?? No way!!!!!
NARRATOR: Because the moment the basket turned over, what should come pouring out… but a shower of biscuits! Myra watched in wonder as sweet, buttery biscuits – what some of us might call cookies – collected in a pile on the ground. When the basket landed, right-side-up, the stream of biscuits stopped.
MYRA: (shocked) Ummmm… did that really just happen? Did that basket just magically produce this big pile of biscuits?
TIGER: It did! And it will do the same for you, Myra. Turn it upside-down and all the biscuits you wish will come pouring out. Turn it right-side-up, and it will stop. You can eat them, you can sell them… either way, you and your mother will never go hungry again!
MYRA: This is amazing, Tiger. Thank you!
TIGER: And thank you, Myra. Now I must go. My cubs await!
NARRATOR: As the tiger raced away, Myra’s heart fluttered like a hummingbird’s wings.
MYRA: My goodness! Now that I have this magic basket, I don’t need to go find work in the city! I can go straight home to Mother and we can turn our life around! (beat) But it’s getting late – and cold – and I don’t want to spend all night traveling. I’ll head out of the forest and find myself a room somewhere.
NARRATOR: To Myra’s delight, near the edge of the forest was an inn. When she walked through the door, basket in hand, the innkeeper greeted her with a grin.
INNKEEPER: Welcome to my humble establishment! May I help you?
MYRA: Yes, please! I would like to rent one room for the night.
INNKEEPER: One room? No problem! That’ll be ten copper pieces.
MYRA: Okay! (beat) Oh, wait!
NARRATOR: Myra felt her heart drop. How could she forget?
MYRA: You’re not going to believe this, but I don’t have any cash.
INNKEEPER: No cash?
NARRATOR: The innkeeper’s grin quickly turned… to a glare.
INNKEEPER: (glaring) No cash, no room!
NARRATOR: Myra frowned. What was she to do?
And then she remembered:
MYRA: Um, tell me, sir… Instead of money, how about I pay for my room… with biscuits?
NARRATOR: The innkeeper arched an eyebrow.
INNKEEPER: How many biscuits are we talking about?
MYRA: As many as you want! Your inn has a restaurant, right?
INNKEEPER: It does!
MYRA: Well then, I’ll give you enough biscuits to feed all of your customers tomorrow.
INNKEEPER: But how?
MYRA: That’s not important. Just trust me. I’ll be right back.
NARRATOR: Myra didn’t want to give away her secret, so she went out to the courtyard and hid behind a clothesline draped with towels, blankets, and sheets. She found an empty laundry bag, then used her basket to fill the bag with biscuits.
MYRA: That tiger told me this basket would come in handy, and look! It’s earning me my room and board! I’ll spend just one night at this inn, then I’ll take the basket home to Mother - and we’ll never go hungry again!
NARRATOR: Little did Myra know, but she wasn’t alone in the courtyard. The innkeeper had secretly followed her, and was watching everything from a shadowy corner!
INNKEEPER: (GASP!) Look at all those biscuits! (beat) I could make a fortune with that wondrous contraption – selling boundless amounts of biscuits, or selling the basket itself and retiring with more gold than a king! (beat) Either way, I shall make it my own!
NARRATOR: What do you think will happen with Myra’s new basket?
We’ll find out, after a quick break.
NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir. Welcome back to Circle Round. Today our story is called “A Biscuit, A Basket.”
NARRATOR: Before the break, Myra was planning on paying for her stay at the inn … with biscuits from her magic basket!
Hiding behind a clothesline, she filled a laundry bag til it was plump with biscuits. Little did she know, but the nosy innkeeper was watching her every move!
The innkeeper raced back to the front desk – just as Myra returned with the laundry bag.
MYRA: Here you go, sir! This bag contains enough biscuits to feed all of your restaurant customers tomorrow!
INNKEEPER: Thank you! (beat) But before I give you your room key, I wanted to say… that basket you’re holding there? It just so happens I’ve been looking for one exactly like it. How much would you sell it for?
MYRA: Sell it?
NARRATOR: Myra shook her head.
MYRA: This basket isn’t for sale, sir.
INNKEEPER: Are you sure? I’ll give you anything for it. Name your price!
MYRA: With all due respect, I’m not selling my basket. (beat) But I will take my room key. I’ve been traveling all day and I’m so very tired.
INNKEEPER: Very well then. Here’s your key. See you in the morning.
NARRATOR: Myra was so exhausted from her travels, she drifted off the moment she lay down. Come midnight, she was sleeping so deeply that she didn’t hear her door creak open…
NARRATOR: … and she didn’t see the innkeeper come tiptoeing into her room! Silently, he seized Myra’s magic basket and replaced it with an ordinary basket that looked exactly the same. Then, with Myra’s basket tucked under his arm, he crept back into the hall and closed the door.
A few hours later, as the sun’s first rays came streaming into the room, Myra woke up.
MYRA: (ad-lib yawn and stretch) What a beautiful morning! I suppose I could stop at the inn’s restaurant for breakfast… but I’m too excited to show my magic basket to Mother! I’ll just gather my things and be on my way!
NARRATOR: Myra grabbed her knapsack – and what she thought was her magic basket – then set off toward home. She passed through the thick, jungly forest, she walked through grassy fields and meadows, she crossed rolling plains and rushing rivers… and when at last she reached her tumbledown farmhouse, she wrapped Mother in a hug and told her how the story of how she had met a tiger in the forest, and set her free.
MYRA: …And then, to show her gratitude for being freed from the trap, she gave me this basket! But it’s no ordinary basket. Check this out!
NARRATOR: Myra was smiling from ear to ear as she took the basket and turned it upside-down. But then…
NARRATOR: …her smile vanished.
MYRA: No biscuits are coming out! This basket is supposed to magically produce biscuits! Let me try again.
NARRATOR: So, she did. But still…
MOTHER: Myra, I’m not seeing any biscuits. Perhaps the basket got damaged during your journey? And lost its powers?
MYRA: I don’t see how it could have! But there must be some explanation. Let me think…
NARRATOR: Myra’s mind and heart raced as she thought back to everything that happened. The tiger gave her the basket, then she stopped at the inn, then she used the basket to give the innkeeper some biscuits, then he begged her to sell him the basket, but she said no, and then…
MYRA: (gasp!) Oh dear! (beat) Mother! I think I know what happened! The innkeeper must have stolen my basket! And replaced it with one that looks just like it! (beat) I must return to the inn and get back my magic basket. I won’t be gone long. I promise.
NARRATOR: But when Myra reached the inn, and demanded that the innkeeper give back her basket…
MYRA: Innkeeper? Give me back my basket!
NARRATOR: …the greedy man gave her nothing but a blank look.
INNKEEPER: ‘Give you back your basket’? I could have sworn I saw you leave with a basket in your arms!
MYRA: Yes, but that one wasn’t – (gets interrupted mid-sentence)
INNKEEPER: (interrupting) Look. I’m a busy man. I don’t have time for any nonsense. So if you aren’t going to rent a room… and you aren’t going to eat at my restaurant… then you’d better get off my property before I call the police and have you fined for trespassing!
NARRATOR: Myra didn’t know what to do. So with tears in her eyes and anguish in her heart, she hung her head and trudged out the door.
Soon she found herself back in the thick, jungly forest. She heaved a sigh, then plunked down on a log, and began…
NARRATOR: …to cry!
MYRA: (continue crying)
NARRATOR: But then… all of a sudden…
TIGER: Myra? Is that you?
NARRATOR: Myra looked up. And there was the tiger!
TIGER: Why are you crying? What happened?
NARRATOR: Myra choked back tears as she told the tiger everything.
TIGER: Hmmm… so that greedy innkeeper stole your basket, did he? Well, I know a way to make things right. Hang on.
NARRATOR: The tiger flicked her striped tail and leaped behind a bush. When she came back out, balanced on her head was another bamboo basket. It looked exactly like the first one.
MYRA: Oh wow, tiger! Is that another magic basket?
TIGER: It is! (beat) But this basket isn’t for you. (beat) It’s for the innkeeper.
MYRA: For the innkeeper?!? You seriously want me to give this magic basket to that lying, cheating scoundrel?!?
TIGER: I do! (beat) But it’s for him and him alone. So don’t you go trying to use its magic.
NARRATOR: Myra was confused. But she trusted her new feline friend.
MYRA: Alright then! I’ll give the basket to the innkeeper. (beat) Thank you, Tiger!
TIGER: My pleasure, Myra!
NARRATOR: And with that, the Tiger bounded away, and Myra went barreling back to the inn. When the innkeeper saw her, he glowered.
INNKEEPER: You again? I suppose you’re going to demand to get your basket back?
MYRA: Actually, no! I’ve found another one. A very special one.
NARRATOR: Myra held out her new basket.
MYRA: And I’d like to swap this very special basket for a room.
NARRATOR: The innkeeper’s eyes lit up. Considering what the last basket could do, who knew what magic powers lay inside this one? He thrilled at the thought. But he pretended to play it cool.
INNKEEPER: You’d swap your basket for a room…? (beat) Alright. Fine. That deal works for me.
MYRA: Wonderful! Here you go. (beat) Good night now!
NARRATOR: As Myra walked down the hall to her room, the innkeeper decided he’d wait until all his guests were sleeping before he took his new basket for a spin.
So hours later, once everyone had turned in for the night, the innkeeper went into his office and shut the door.
INNKEEPER: Oh, I can hardly wait to see what will come streaming out of this new basket! Will it be biscuits again? Or coins, perhaps? Or jewels? (beat) There’s only one way to find out!
NARRATOR: The innkeeper’s hands trembled with anticipation as he held the basket up high. Then he flipped it over… and do you know what he saw?
Well… he didn’t see a stream of biscuits, or coins, or jewels.
NARRATOR: …he saw a swarm… of mosquitoes!!!!
NARRATOR: He felt them too, as the hungry little critters bit and nipped him all over.
INNKEEPER: Ouch! Ow! Ugh!
NARRATOR: The commotion woke up Myra, who’d been fast asleep. She sprinted to the office, threw the door open, and found the innkeeper writhing on the floor. Beside him was the basket, turned upside-down and sending out an endless stream of mosquitoes.
All at once, Myra understood the tiger’s plan. She jumped out of the room, shut the door, then called out from the hallway.
MYRA: Hey, innkeeper! You wanted this new basket, and now you’ve got it! But… if you’d like my little friends to “buzz off” (heh heh), then you’d better give back the first basket you stole! Now!
INNKEEPER: You want your first basket back? Ouch! Alright, fine! Ugh! I’ll give it back! Yow! Just make these – eeek! – mosquitoes go away! Ah! Ow! Oh!
NARRATOR: Myra took a breath, then opened the door. Quick as a wink, she turned the basket right-side-up…
NARRATOR: …and the mosquitoes disappeared inside, as if sucked back in by a vacuum. The innkeeper lay on the floor, his chest heaving, his fingers scratching.
INNKEEPER: (exhausted/scratching itches) Alright, missy. Ouch! Get off my property and – ooo! – take both of those baskets with you! Ah! I don't want to see you – oy! – or another one of your magic baskets – aiy! – for as long as I live!"
NARRATOR: And so… Myra hurried home with both baskets. And once she got back to her tumbledown farmhouse, she and Mother used the first basket to their heart’s content – eating and selling biscuits.
MOTHER: And now we’ll never go hungry again, Myra! All thanks to you! (beat) But what should we do with your second basket?
NARRATOR: A sly smile crossed Myra’s lips.
MYRA: Well… at first I was tempted to get rid of it. But how about we stash it away somewhere safe, just in case we need it?
NARRATOR: Mother agreed. And wouldn’t you, too? After all, as you make your way through this spacious and surprising world, you never know when something might come back… to bite you!ADULTS!Things To Think About After ListeningMusical Spotlight: Bulbul TarangStory TranscriptNARRATOR: MYRA:NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR:MOTHER:MYRA:MOTHER: NARRATOR:TIGER:NARRATOR:TIGER:NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR: TIGER:NARRATOR: MYRA: TIGER: NARRATOR:TIGER:NARRATOR:TIGER: NARRATOR:TIGER:NARRATOR:MYRA: TIGER:MYRA: TIGER: NARRATOR:MYRA: NARRATOR:MYRA: TIGER:MYRA:TIGER:NARRATOR: MYRA:NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:MYRA:INNKEEPER:MYRA: NARRATOR:MYRA: INNKEEPER:NARRATOR: INNKEEPER:NARRATOR:MYRA: INNKEEPER:NARRATOR: INNKEEPER:MYRA:INNKEEPER:MYRA:INNKEEPER:MYRA: NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:NARRATOR:NARRATOR:NARRATOR:MYRA:INNKEEPER:MYRA:NARRATOR: MYRA: INNKEEPER: MYRA:INNKEEPER:NARRATOR: NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR: MYRA: NARRATOR: MYRA: NARRATOR: MYRA: NARRATOR: MOTHER:MYRA: NARRATOR: MYRA:NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:MYRA: INNKEEPER: NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR:MYRA:NARRATOR: TIGER:NARRATOR: TIGER:NARRATOR:TIGER: NARRATOR: MYRA: TIGER:MYRA: TIGER:NARRATOR:MYRA:TIGER:NARRATOR:INNKEEPER: MYRA:NARRATOR:MYRA: NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:MYRA: NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:NARRATOR: NARRATOR: INNKEEPER:NARRATOR:INNKEEPER: NARRATOR:MYRA:INNKEEPER: NARRATOR: NARRATOR:INNKEEPER:NARRATOR:MOTHER:NARRATOR:MYRA: NARRATOR: