The Troll Who Went To War: A Fable

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Skogtroll,_1906_(Forest_Troll)Long ago, there was a troll who lived in a cave on a mountain. He had a head shaped like a pumpkin, a nose like a banana, skin as hard as a rock, and he was ten feet tall. His name was Thug, and he loved one thing more than anything else: He loved trees.

After the sun went down, Thug came out of his cave and talked to the trees. He ate the acorns on the oak trees and said, “You make me feel smart.”

He touched the soft bark of the birch trees and said, “You make me feel gentle,” and he smelled the needles of the pine trees and said, “You make me feel calm.”

Thug didn’t have a friend in the world, but he treated the trees on his mountain like friends.

If a tree had any dead branches, he pruned them by biting the branches off with his teeth. If a tree looked unhealthy, he peed on it to give it nutrients to grow. And if he felt lonely, he hugged a tree and didn’t let go until sunrise, when he went back to sleep in his cave.

Many miles from Thug’s mountain there was a kingdom ruled by a king named Greybeard. The king had long grey hair, a long grey beard, and he wore a grey robe and a silver crown. When he needed to think, he sat on his throne and pulled on his beard.

King Greybeard felt sad because his people were poor. His land was a barren land, and the people barely grew enough crops to survive. But one day, King Greybeard was sitting on his throne when he had an idea.

He summoned Simon, his Right Hand, who carried out his orders and gave him counsel. Simon was a bald man, 20 years younger than him.

Greybeard said to Simon: “Send men to Troll Mountain, and cut down the trees. Pay the men well, so they can provide for their families. We will trade the wood with other kingdoms, and increase our store of gold. I will make my kingdom great again.”

But Simon said, “Many men have gone to cut down the trees, but none have returned. It is said a troll lives on the mountain, and he eats men.”

“The troll is a legend,” King Greybeard said. “Do as I have commanded.”

And so, Simon sent 50 men to Troll Mountain, and after they arrived, they worked until sunset, cutting down many tall trees: oak, birch, and pine.

When Thug woke up, he came down the mountain, and to his horror, dozens of his beloved trees had been cut down.

He fell to his knees and wept. Then he said, “Men kill my trees. I will make them pay for what they have done.”

Thug returned to his cave and picked up his hammer. His hammer was huge, twice the size of his head. He waited until midnight; then he came down the mountain and smashed all the tents of the loggers while they were sleeping. However, one logger escaped.

The following morning, the logger appeared before King Greybeard, and told him what troll had done. The king was shocked and greatly dismayed.

Soon after, the families of the dead loggers gathered outside the castle, and demanded that the king kill the troll.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room, and asked him: “What should I do?”

“You must attack the troll and destroy him,” Simon said.

“I do not want war,” King Greybeard replied. “If we attack him, many more men will die.”

“If you do not attack the troll,” Simon said, “he will surely attack us. It is better that we fight him on the mountain before he comes here.”

King Greybeard thought it over, and pulled on his long grey beard. Finally, he said, “No, we provoked him by cutting down his trees. He killed the loggers to deter us from coming back. If we leave him be, he will leave us alone.”

A year went by, and the troll did not attack as Simon predicted. However, there was a drought, and the people became even more poor.

Every day, hundreds gathered outside the castle and demanded bread to eat.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

“Buy the people bread,” Simon said. “You have plenty of gold.”

“No,” King Greybeard said. “If I give them bread, they will become dependent on it. The people must create their own wealth. I only spend my gold for the defense of the kingdom, and to build roads and bridges.”

Simon thought for a moment, and then he said, “Troll Mountain has the best trees in the land. “They are by right your trees, for you are a king and can take whatever you want. Put men to work cutting down the trees, but also send your army to protect them. The troll will not attack an entire army.”

King Greybeard said, “It is a good plan. Carry it out.”

And so, Simon sent 50 more loggers to cut down the trees on Troll Mountain, and he also sent the king’s army of 100 men to protect them.

When Thug woke up, he came down the mountain, and to his horror, he saw that dozens more of his beloved trees had been cut down.

He fell to his knees and pounded his fists on the ground. Then he said, “Men have no respect for my trees. I will make them pay, so they will never cut down my trees again.”

Thug returned to his cave and got his battle axe. It was a massive axe, twice as big as his torso, and sharper than any sword. He waited until midnight; then he attacked the king’s army. The soldiers fired arrows, but the troll’s rock-like skin was too hard, and the arrows fell to the ground. Thug killed every man with his axe, chopping off their heads or cutting them in two.

As the loggers came out of their tents, Thug stomped on them and snapped their necks, but half of them escaped.

The next morning, when word reached King Greybeard that half of the loggers and all the men in his army were dead, he was filled with great sorrow.

Soon after, the families of the dead gathered outside the castle and demanded that the king kill the troll.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

“You must raise another army. And you must destroy the troll.”

King Greybeard thought for a while, and tugged on his long grey beard. Finally, he said, “Raise an army. But do not attack the troll. He slaughtered our army to deter us from cutting down his trees. If we leave him be, he will leave us alone.”

But Simon did not agree: “If you do nothing, the troll will see it as weakness. You must kill him before he attacks us. You must protect your people.”

“These are my orders,” King Greybeard said. “Follow them.”

Simon did as the king commanded. He raised a new army to defend the kingdom, but he didn’t attack the troll.

Another year went by, and there was another drought. The people became even more poor. Hundreds gathered outside the castle and demanded bread. They demanded justice for the dead loggers and soldiers. Finally, they demanded that if the king could not give them what they wanted, he should abdicate the throne.

King Greybeard summoned Simon to his throne room and asked him: “What should I do?”

“If you do nothing,” Simon said, “you will lose your throne. Therefore, you must send your army to destroy the troll. When the troll is dead, you can cut down the trees, and make your kingdom great again.”

King Greybeard sighed, “Many men will die, but I see no other choice. Send the army.”

Simon sent the army to Troll Mountain, but Thug was ready for them. After the sun went down, he ran down the mountain with his battle axe in one hand, and his hammer in the other, and he smashed half of the soldiers with his hammer, and the rest he beheaded with his axe.

After slaughtering the entire army, Thug went to the king’s castle and stood outside the defensive wall.

“I demand your king come out!” he thundered.

King Greybeard and Simon came to the balcony and saw the troll standing beyond the wall.

Thug raised his hammer and yelled, “I am Thug! You cut down many of my trees, but you will not cut down any more!”

Thug struck the wall over and over again until he made a hole in it. And then he stepped through the hole, walked to the castle, and stood below the balcony.

King Greybeard was trembling. He put his hands together and pleaded, “Great and mighty Thug! Have mercy on my people. It was I who ordered men to cut down your trees. Do not punish them because of me.”

Thug said, “You killed many of my friends.”

“Friends?” King Greybeard asked. “We killed no one.”

“The trees are my friends. You destroyed them!”

King Greybeard said, “I promise you, I will never send any men to your mountain again.”

Thug stared at the king, and scratched his head. And then he said, “I will make sure of that.”

Thug smashed his hammer against the castle, cracking the foundation, and then he smashed it again, and again.

King Greybeard said to Simon: “Evacuate the castle.”

Simon left and did as King Greybeard commanded. Then Greybeard tried to reason with the troll.

“Great and mighty Thug,” he pleaded. “Do what you will to my castle. Do what you will with me, but do not harm my people.”

“Never again!” Thug yelled. “You will never attack my trees again!”

The troll went on smashing and cracking the castle until the foundation was destroyed, and when the balcony fell, King Greybeard was buried in the rubble.

Victorious, Thug raised his hammer in the air and roared. Then he turned and trudged back to his mountain.

After the troll was gone, the people gathered outside the ruined castle, and mourned for King Greybeard. He had saved their lives by sacrificing himself.

The king, who had no sons or daughters, had named Simon his heir, and he was crowned king.

With Greybeard’s store of gold, he bought the people bread. And Simon was loved by all the people.

He also raised a new army to defend the city. But he didn’t send any soldiers to attack the troll. And he didn’t send any loggers to cut down the trees. He knew what would happen if he did.

The troll would destroy them all. And because of that, there was no more war.

Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=225211

The Three Lazy Pigs: A Short Story

three pigsThere was once an old sow who lived in a barn in New Brunswick. She gave birth to three piglets, but her boar-friend, who didn’t want to be a father, left her.

The old sow raised three sons all on her own: Big Snout, a black pig with a large nose; Curly Tail, a white pig with a long tail; and Barn Breath, a white pig with black stripes and a large mouth.

When Big Snout, Curly Tail, and Barn Breath became full-grown, they ate so much that their mother couldn’t afford to keep them anymore.

So one summer day, she opened her barn door and said, “The more I fill my fridge, the more food you eat! None of you have ever worked a day in your lives. It’s time for you to stop freeloading off of me, and start earning your own money.”

The three pigs knew better than to argue with their mother. Big Snout strapped his TV to his back; Curly Tail filled a bag with barley for them to eat; Barn Breath folded up their blankets; and as they walked out the barn door, they hugged their mother and kissed her on the cheek.

“I’ll miss you, Mother,” Big Snout said with a tear in his eye. “You’ve been good to us.”

“We’ll make you proud of us, Momma,” Barn Breath said with a smile.

“Yeah, cause we’ll be rich!” Curly Tail laughed.

“Lazy pigs don’t get rich,” the old sow sighed.

The three pigs said goodbye, and then walked to the Trans-Canada Highway, hitched a ride on a tractor-trailer truck, and travelled west to Saskatchewan.

Seeing a farmer bailing hay, they asked the truck driver to stop, and they hurried across the field to see the farmer.

“Please, Mr. Farmer,” Big Snout said, “We are homeless and have no money. Could you give us one hundred bales of hay? We want to build a house to give us shelter from the cold and the rain.”

The farmer frowned. “You want hay? Go get a job, and then pay me! I don’t give free handouts.”

The three pigs got down on their knees and begged, and the farmer said, “Alright, alright. You can work for me, and I’ll pay you in hay.”

For the next two weeks, the three pigs worked from sunrise until sunset, and when they were done, the farmer gave them all the hay they wanted, and they each got a bag of corn as a bonus. The pigs built a house of hay in the corner of the field; then they sat down, watched Big Snout’s TV, and ate like pigs.

“Brothers,” Big Snout said. “We must never do hard work like that again to get what we want.”

“Yeah, that was terrible,” Curly Tail groaned.

Barn Breath wiped his forehead. “We sweated like pigs.”

A few days later, a big bad wolf knocked on the pigs’ door. On the run from the police for killing three sheep, he needed a place to hide.

The wolf said, “Little piggies! Little piggies! I feel chilly. Please let me come in.”

“I’ll open the door if you give me fifty bucks,” Curly Tail promised.

The wolf slid fifty bucks under their door. Then he said, “Now please be nice pigs and let me come in.”

“No! Not by the peach fuzz on our cheeks and chins,” Barn Breath snorted.

The wolf threatened them: “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.”

“Ha, ha,” Curly Tail snickered. “We don’t believe you.”

The wolf said, “I’ll stomp on the roof of your house.” But he didn’t. Then he said, “I’ll kick down your door.” But he didn’t. He just took a deep breath and walked away.

“What a moron!” Curly Tail laughed as he folded the fifty dollars and put it in his pocket.

Big Snout said, “I don’t think you should have made fun of the wolf. He might come back and try to eat us.”

But Curly Tail and Barn Breath just laughed.

Later that night, while the pigs were sleeping, there was a great rainstorm, and the house of hay collapsed.

Barn Breath shouted: “Let’s get out of here before the wolf comes back!”

And so, Big Snout strapped his TV to his back; Curly Tail picked up their bags of corn; Barn Breath folded up their blankets, and the pigs left the farm.

The three pigs hitchhiked along the highway, got a ride with a man in a van, and went west to the Rocky Mountains. Seeing a logger cutting down trees, they asked the man in the van to stop, and hurried across the clear cut field to see the logger.

“Please, Mr. Logger,” Big Snout said. “We are homeless and have very little money. Can you give us some logs and nails? We want to build a house to protect us from the cold and the rain.”

“And wolves!” Barn Breath added.

The logger thought for a moment. Then he said, “OK. You can all work for me, and I’ll pay you each one log a day.”

“But we have no logging skills!” Barn Breath yelled.

“And we might get injured,” Curly Tail cried.

Big Snout said, “Given our inability to do this kind of work, if you won’t give us logs and nails, then we’ll sit and squat.”

“And hug every tree you try to cut!” Barn Breath blurted.

The logger put his hand on his gut, let out a loud laugh, started his chainsaw, and went back to work.

But the three pigs meant what they said. They all sat and squatted, and hugged every tree the logger tried to cut.

“OK, you tree-hugging pigs!” the logger thundered. “Take all the wood you want.” And then he handed them a hammer and a box of nails. “But don’t bother me again.”

The three pigs thanked the logger, and dragged dozens of logs to a meadow where they built a house. Then they wrapped themselves in their blankets, watched Big Snout’s TV, and ate like pigs.

A few days later, the big bad wolf knocked on the pigs’ door and said, “Little piggies! Little piggies! I feel cold. Please let me come in.”

“I’ll open the door if you give me fifty bucks,” Curly Tail promised.

The wolf slid fifty bucks under their door. Then he pleaded again, “Now please be nice pigs, and let me come in.”

“No!” Barn Breath boomed. “Not by the peach fuzz on our cheeks and backs!”

The wolf threatened them: “Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff. And I’ll blow your house down.”

“Ha, ha,” Curly Tail chuckled. “You’re not strong enough.”

The wolf threatened them: “I’ll rip the roof off your house.” But he didn’t. Then he said, “I’ll set your door on fire.” But he didn’t. He just breathed a heavy sigh and walked away.

Curly Tail laughed out loud and said, “What a big bluffer!” And then he folded the fifty dollars and put it in his pocket.

Big Snout said, “Brothers, you shouldn’t have made fun of the wolf. He might come back and try to eat us.”

But Barn Breath and Curly Tail just laughed.

Later that night, there was a great windstorm, and the house of logs fell down.

“This house sucks!” Barn Breath yelled. “Let’s get out of here before the wolf comes back!”

And so, Big Snout strapped his TV to his back; Curly Tail picked up their last bag of corn; Barn Breath folded up their blankets; and the pigs left the meadow.

The pigs walked until they reached the rail tracks, and jumped on board a train. When the train passed through a small town in British Columbia, the pigs jumped off the rail car, and wandered up and down the streets until they found a building supply store.

“We demand service!” Curly Tail squealed as soon as they went inside.

When the manager came to them, Big Snout said, “Please, Sir. We are homeless and have very little money. Can you give us some free bricks and plaster? We want to build a house to protect us from the cold and the rain.”

“And bacon eaters!” Curly Tail blurted.

“You want bricks?” the manager frowned. “You’ll have to pay, just like everyone else. We aren’t a charity.”

“I urge you to reconsider,” Big Snout said. “If you refuse to give us bricks and plaster, we’ll sit on the floor of this store.”

“And we’re dirty stinking pigs,” Barn Breath added. “You’ll lose a lot of customers.”

The manager rolled his eyes. “Yeah, right. Nobody smells that bad.”

But the three pigs meant what they said, and they sat on the floor of the store. Big Snout made nasty noises out of his nostrils; Curly Tail wiggled his tail, let out a lot of air, and Barn Breath belched.

All day long, every customer who came in the door yelled, “Pee-yew! This place stinks!” And they ran away.

The manager was furious. “OK, you filthy stinking pigs, I’ll give you a load of bricks and plaster. But I charge $100 for delivery.”

“That’s a deal!” Curly Tail said. And he gave the manager the money he received from the wolf.

The three pigs oinked in appreciation, and the manager delivered the bricks and plaster to the garbage dump. After the pigs built a house, they wrapped themselves in their blankets, watched Big Snout’s TV, and ate like pigs.

A few days later, the big bad wolf knocked on the pig’s door and said, “Little pigs! Little pigs! I’m freezing. Please open your door, and let me come in.”

Barn Breath snorted, “No! Not by the peach fuzz on our cheeks and butts.”

Big Snout said softly, “Brothers, I think we should let him in.”

But Barn Breath said, “No way, brother.”

And Curl Tail agreed: “Yeah, that would be stupid.”

The wolf threatened them: “If you don’t let me in, I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.”

“Ha, ha,” Curly Tail giggled. “You make threats, but you don’t follow through.”

“You can huff and puff all you want,” Barn Breath laughed. “We aren’t afraid of you.”

The wolf pounded his paws on their door, and howled, “You fat unfriendly pigs! I’ve had enough.”

“Woo-ooo!” Curly Tail yelled.

“Mr. Wolf sounds mad!” Barn Breath boomed.

The wolf said, “I killed three sheep, and I need a place to hide from the police. You take my money, but you won’t open your door for me. I’m going to destroy this house, and then I’m going to eat you!”

“Ha, ha,” Curly Tail snickered. “You can bluster all you want, but you’re full of—”

The wolf took a deep breath, and then he blew with all his might, and the house of bricks began to shake.

“Oh, no!” Curly Tail squealed.

“We’re dead meat!” Barn Breath cried.

“I told you not to make fun of him,” Big Snout sighed.

The big bad wolf continued to blow, and blow, and blow. And then, all of a sudden, the house of bricks fell down! The three pigs were out of luck.

The wolf chased after the pigs, and he ate them all up.

And do you know what? The big bad wolf wasn’t lying. He really did feel chilly. He put the brick house back together, wrapped himself in the pig’s blankets, sat down, and watched Big Snout’s TV.

Image Credit: http://pixdaus.com/three-pigs-animals-farm-pig/items/view/175306/

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 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 whenever 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 will 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, she 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 with a smile, “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 more of my eggs.”

“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.