The Sheep Who Refused To Fight: A Fable

sheep-goatA goat herder bought a herd of young goats and raised them in a field that he owned. But he was mean and cruel, and enjoyed yelling at them, and chasing them around the field. Then one evening, he left the gate open, and when he came back the next morning, the goats were gone.

The goats had fled to a grassy plain where they could graze. They enjoyed their freedom and had plenty to eat. However, one night, after the goats went to sleep, they were attacked by a wolf. No matter where the herd went, the wolf followed them, and every night the goats wondered which goat he would eat next.

A nanny goat decided to do something about the wolf. She waited until sunrise (when the wolf went to sleep), then she tip-toed away, and walked all day until she came to a flock of sheep.

“A wolf has eaten nearly half of my herd,” the nanny goat said to the sheep. “Can you send your strongest and bravest rams to help us?”

The sheep, both ewes and rams, all replied, “We are peaceful sheep and don’t believe in fighting. But if any goats want to come and live with us, they are welcome here.”

The nanny goat pleaded with the sheep; however, no matter what she said, they would not change their minds, so she kicked the ground and left them.

When the nanny goat returned home, to her great surprise, the young billy goats had grown horns.

That night, she gathered the billy goats together, and they rammed the wolf in the head until he dropped dead.

Several days later, a ewe lamb came to the goats and said, “A pack of wolves has attacked our flock. Can you send your strongest and bravest billy goats to help us?”

The billy goats shook their heads. “No; it’s not our fight.”

The nanny goat reminded her, “None of your rams came when we needed help.”

The ewe lamb pleaded with the goats, yet no matter what she said, she could not change their minds. So she kicked the ground and left them.

When the ewe lamb returned home, she bleated and cried. The wolves were gone, and all that remained of her flock was bits of wool and scattered bones.

The Rabbit That Wasn’t Right In The Head: A Red Riding Hood Story

grey rabbitLong ago, a young girl went for a walk through a dark forest. She wore a red coat with a red hood, and because she wore it all the time, everyone called her Red Riding Hood.

As she turned a corner on the path, she came face to face with a rabbit. The rabbit looked at her; she looked at the rabbit, and the rabbit started to run.

“Don’t be afraid!” Red Riding Hood called out. “I won’t hurt you!”

She ran after the rabbit, weaving around trees and bushes, and they both jumped over a stream.

The rabbit ran as fast as he could; however, Red Riding Hood was the fastest girl alive. (The previous summer, she ran away from a wolf.) She caught up with the rabbit, reached to grab him, but he leaped into a bush—and bam! He smacked head-first into a boulder, fell on the ground, and did not move.

Red Riding Hood dropped to her knees and sighed, “Oh, my! I’m so sorry. I only wanted to be your friend.”

Picking up the rabbit in her arms, she hurried home to her Grandma. They lived in a house a mile from the forest’s edge.

When Red Riding Hood reached the house, she opened the door, and found her Grandma sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea.

“My goodness!” Grandma said with wide eyes. “Did you kill a rabbit for dinner?”

“No,” Red Riding Hood said sadly. “I ran after him, and he hit his head.”

Then Red Riding Hood started to cry.

“Don’t worry,” Grandma reassured her. “We’ll help him get better.” She folded a blanket, placed it in a wooden box, and Red Riding Hood laid the rabbit down.

A week went by, and they nursed the rabbit back to health. When the rabbit was feeling better, he and Red Riding Hood became good friends, and she named him Thump. They played tag, had running races, and when they were both tired, they sat by the garden and ate carrots and celery.

Then one day Thump said, “I miss my two friends.”

Red Riding Hood took a deep breath and tried to smile. “I’ll take you back to the forest tomorrow.”

The next morning, Red Riding Hood walked with Thump to the forest. When they reached the forest’s edge, she got down on her knees and hugged her friend.

“I’ll miss you,” Red Riding Hood said sadly.

“I’ll visit you again,” Thump promised.

Red Riding Hood waved as he hopped away and disappeared into the trees.

When Thump found his friends, they were happy to see him.

“We thought you were dead!” his best friend said.

“I hit my head on a boulder,” Thump explained. “And then I was rescued by a girl, and she and her Grandma took care of me.”

“What?” his second friend said, “I don’t believe it. People are bad.”

His best friend said, “Yeah, they want to eat us.”

But Thump said, “No; that’s not true. People are good. The only reason they don’t like us is we run away from them. That makes them feel rejected.”

Thump’s best friend said, “That’s crazy talk! People love killing animals. They think it’s a good thing.”

No matter what Thump said, he couldn’t convince his friends that people were good, so he said, “I’m going to prove it to you.”

The next day, Thump and his friends hid in a bush beside the forest path until a boy walked by. Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

And the boy said, “Hello there.”

“Would you like to pet me?” Thump asked.

“Okay,” the boy replied. And Thump sat still while the boy petted him on the head.

After the boy was gone, Thump said to his friends, “I told you! People are good if you are good to them.”

But his best friend said, “That was just a child. Big people are bad.”

So Thump said, “Alright. Let’s wait for a big person.”

The rabbits hid in the bush again, and waited until a young woman walked by.

Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

And the woman said, “Hello to you,” and smiled at him.

Thump smiled back and asked, “Can I have a carrot?”

The woman reached in her bag and gave him a carrot. Then she said, “Have a nice day.” And she walked away.

After the woman was gone, Thump said to his friends, “Do you believe me now? People are good.”

But his second friend said, “Okay. Maybe women are good. But not men.”

His best friend agreed: “Yes; men are evil.”

Thump sighed and said, “You don’t know people like I do. Let’s wait for a man.”

Thump’s friends didn’t want to, but they agreed to hide in the bush one more time.

The rabbits waited until an old man walked by; then Thump jumped up out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

“Hello, rabbit,” the old man replied.

“My friends are afraid of you,” Thump said. “But I’m not.”

The old man, who was a hunter, held a rifle in his hand, but he had forgotten to load it. “Don’t run away, rabbit. Just sit still.”

“Why would I run?” Thump said with a smile. “If I’m nice to you, you’ll be nice to me. I believe animals and people should be friends, not enemies.”

“That’s beautiful,” the hunter replied. “I couldn’t agree more.” He hadn’t eaten all day, and his hands trembled, which made it difficult for him to load his rifle. He dropped one of his bullets on the ground.

Thump said, “I love people, and I love you!”

The hunter finished loading his rifle. “And I love rabbits!” He raised his rifle, took aim, and shot Thump in the head.

The two rabbits in the bush were horrified. Their friend was dead, but they didn’t have time to cry. They both ran for their lives.

The hunter took aim at the running rabbits, fired several shots, but he missed, and the rabbits escaped.

“Oh well,” the hunter sighed. “At least I got one.” Then he rubbed his belly. “I’m starving!”

He picked up the dead rabbit, put him in his knapsack, and when he got home, he made a big pot of rabbit stew.

The Greedy Goose that Laid Golden Eggs: A Fable

greylagIn a kingdom long ago, a Greylag goose, after eating certain flowers and grasses, laid a golden egg in her nest. She lived on an island in the middle of a lake, and built her nest in the reeds.

Every day the goose ate the same flowers and grasses, and every day she laid a golden egg until she had a clutch of five eggs. She sat on them all day long, and when she left her nest to eat, she covered them with sticks.

On the sixth day, a young man rowed his boat to the island. As he walked through the reeds, he saw the goose sitting in her nest.

“Get out of here!” the young man yelled. “I’m taking your eggs.”

The goose stretched out her neck. “No, you’re not!” she cried. “I made them, and they’re mine. I’m not leaving.”

The young man drew his sword. “Then I’ll have eggs and goose for dinner.”

“Oh my!” the goose sighed.

The young man started waving his sword, and the goose, fearing for her life, flew away.

The goose was so upset at being robbed, she flew straight to the king’s castle. But when the guard took her to the throne room, the king was asleep. So she honked until the old man woke up.

“A young thug stole my eggs!” the goose said sadly, bowing before the throne.

The king, whose name was John, shrugged his shoulders. “My people are poor and need to eat.”

“But these aren’t eggs you can eat. They are golden eggs.”

King John’s eyes opened wide, and he ran his fingers through his long grey hair. “Real gold you say?”

“Yes; if I eat certain grasses and flowers, I can lay an egg made of pure gold.”

King John thought for a moment; then he ran his fingers through his long grey beard. “I’ll help you if you help me.”

“You can get my eggs back for me?” the goose asked.

“Probably not,” King John admitted. “But I can protect you from thieves. You can build a nest in the turret of my castle, and my guards will bring you grass and flowers to eat.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at the king. “What do you want in return?”

King John smiled. “Only one out of every ten eggs that you lay.”

The goose looked into the king’s eyes. They were dark, swollen, and half-open, and she didn’t know if she could trust him. She thought long and hard; then finally she said, “Okay. One tenth sounds fair to me.”

And so, King John let the goose live in the turret of his castle where she built the largest nest a goose has ever made. (It was five feet wide and two feet deep.) The guards brought her flowers and grass to eat, and every day she laid a golden egg. She sat on them, stared at them, and sometimes, when no one was looking, kissed them with her beak.

When summer came to an end, the goose had laid one hundred golden eggs, and she gave ten to King John.

The following spring, when the goose started to lay eggs again, she was summoned to see the king. A guard escorted her to the throne room, and when he opened the double doors for her, she bowed her head and walked to the throne.

“My dear goose,” King John said, stroking his long grey beard. “My people are poor, and I need you to give a little bit more to help me provide for them.”

The goose raised her head. “But we agreed to one tenth.”

“That was last year. Times have changed, and I need you to give a little bit more.”

“How much?” the goose asked.

“One fifth.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at King John. “What if I say no?”

“Then you can go back to your island and take your chances with thieves.”

The goose loved her eggs, and didn’t want to lose them, so she agreed to the king’s terms.

The following spring, the goose was summoned again before the king, and he asked her for one fourth. And the year after that, one third.

The fifth year, a guard came to turret and took the goose to see King John. But when she entered the throne room, she did not bow her head.

“Let me guess,” the goose said. “You want to renegotiate with me.”

“Yes, goose,” King John said sternly. “You have much more gold than you need. My people are poor, and I need you to serve the greater good.”

“How much do you want now?” the goose asked.

“Half.”

The goose thought for a moment. “No; that’s too much. I’ve spoken to another king, and he will let me live in his castle for much less.”

“You greedy goose!” King John shouted, his face red with anger.

The goose stretched out her neck. “I made my eggs, not you!” she said defiantly. “And I’ll do whatever I want with them.”

King John turned to the guard. “Seize her and lock her up!”

The guard chased the goose around the throne room, but he couldn’t catch her. Then he drew his sword, but she flew over him, escaped the castle and fled to another kingdom.

With the goose gone, King John took all the eggs that the goose left behind, kept a dozen for himself, and used the rest to provide for his people. However, when the gold ran out, the people were just as poor as they were before.

Why a Woman Won’t Marry an Idle Man: Hands Across the Table (1935)

hands-across-the-tableIdleness is “an inclination not to do work…”1 Synonyms include laziness, indolence, and sloth.In Mitchell Leisen’s Hands Across the Table (1935), Theodore Drew III (Fred MacMurray) is an idle man who has never worked to earn a living. An important theme in the film is that a woman will not marry a man who refuses to get a job.

One reason why Theodore doesn’t want to work is he is a man-child. When Regi Allen (Carole Lombard) first meets him, he is playing hopscotch in the hallway. Later, when she lets him stay in her apartment, he asks to be tucked into bed. Years earlier, he joined the navy, but his father pulled him out. Theodore is a man-child because his father never taught him to be responsible for his own financial needs.

Theodore’s refusal to work forces him to choose between marrying for money or marrying for love. Before he met Regi, he planned to marry Vivian Snowden (Astrid Allwyn) and live off of her wealth. However, when he falls in love with Regi, he wants to break off his engagement, and be with her, but she refuses.

There are two unstated reasons why Regi sends Theodore away. As a manicurist, she is a low-income earner, and doesn’t want to remain poor by marrying a man with limited job prospects. She tells him he’ll have to “scratch for a living.” Secondly, she may fear that she will have to support him financially.

In the end, Regi agrees to marry Theodore because she realizes how much she loves him, and he promises her that he will find work. The film suggests that a man must take financial responsibility for his own life if he wants to attract a wife. This was true in 1935 and is still true today.

According to a 2011 survey by ForbesWoman and YourTango, 75% of female respondents said they would never marry a man who was unemployed.3 Women today may not want a man to financially provide for them, but they are reluctant to marry a man they will have to provide for, especially if he is healthy and able to work.

While there are valid reasons for a man being unemployed including health issues, raising children, and the need to retrain for a career, if a healthy, able-bodied man refuses to work, he may ruin his chances of getting married. Women (on average) earn less money than men do,4 and hence are less likely to want to financially support a husband. Therefore, if an idle man wants a wife, he should start looking for a job.

Notes

  1. Merriam Webster, s.v. “Idleness,” accessed February 12, 2017, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/idleness
  2. Ibid.
  3. Megan Gibson, “Study: 75% of Women Wouldn’t Marry A Man Who Was Unemployed,” Time, June 23, 2011, http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/06/23/study-75-of-women-wouldnt-marry-a-man-who-was-unemployed/
  4. “Women’s earnings 83 percent of men’s, but vary by occupation,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 15, 2016, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/womens-earnings-83-percent-of-mens-but-vary-by-occupation.htm