Thursday, August 18, 2005

Olde donkey

This is a rewrite of an old story, set in medieval times,
and to change the original spiteful ending.



Baron Aldebern could here the clamor from the village even at his mill in the foothills. One might have thought an enemy band was attacking, but sentries were well posted and the church bell rang in summand rather than alarm. Sonvald the tanner came to fetch him but added confusion by saying, "everyone is wrong and everyone is right -- there is going to be trouble!" Thus, Aldic hastened to the fray, not knowing if he was to serve as Baron, miller, soldier, games-keeper or friend.

A large crowd had gathered around a pit at the edge of Silva's farm. It was an abandoned well, actually, and one that the town had requested be filled for safety for those now encroaching upon the farm's ancient boundaries. Dangerous! Silva had received no offers of help, however, and had this day brought an aging donkey with him to assist in the task. But alas, the donkey had fallen into the well and was even now braying its discontent. Hee Haw! All attempts to draw up the animal had either choked it or drawn the would be helper dangerously close to personal peril. Caution! The towns people offered advice, then laughter, then jibes and finally, angry shouts to end the incessant noise.

"Let's throw Silva down there too -- two donkeys are better than one."

"Let us just bury the donkey and fill the well too."

"Yea, if we leave it to starve it will be just as dead -- but the noise."

At this point, Aldic intervened. He asked, "Silva, would not you have paid for help to fill in the well?" "Yes, was the stammered reply." The Baron continued to the crowd, "Would you not agree that to have Silva kill the donkey would be most unjust and a source of guilt?" They had to agree.

"So here is what we shall do," proclaimed the Baron sternly.

"Silva, you will give the donkey to the village so that its noise is their problem alone."

"Good people, you shall each fetch a spade or bucket. Gather up the refuse from the ditches and streets and bring it here. Empty it into the well. If the donkey dies, then no one will know what load did the sorrowful deed and no guilt will sustain. The well will be filled and the streets clean as never before. Heigh to it now!"

The people did as directed and with each shovel full the wailings of the helpless animal became more strident. But soon the noise stopped, to be replaced with stomping and the miller's coaching words. "Come to me," he said.
As each bucket of soil and garbage tumbled down, the donkey shook it off from its back and tread it all beneath its tiny hooves. As the well filled, the animal rose up -- higher -- higher, until it could finally scramble from the pit. The enthusiastic crowd continued the village clean-up until a mound was formed and all cheered at the result.

The Baron raised his hand for attention. "At odds you accomplished nothing. Together, each has pride and the entire village has prospered. But I ask you to ponder on the simple donkey. When matters could not have been worse it accepted the garbage that life piled on its back and turned it to advantage. Is not our own future perhaps found in simple acts and dealing with strife rather than in squabbling and fighting?"

He left them there is silence. Only the laughter of children climbing the mound to ride their new donkey blended with the whisper of the wind praying in the trees.


At 5:08 AM, Blogger Imogen Crest said...

Faucon this was a lovely, wise piece that I am so glad had a happy ending. Could this also be one of the stories you use to teach your spirit class of the future, along with Thoreau???


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