The Big Black Dog: A Fable

Cane Corso Dog 3A little old lady built a chicken coop in her backyard. She painted it red, and in the evening, when the paint was dry, she went to see a farmer and bought twelve hens and a rooster.

After loading the chickens into the back seat of her car, she drove down the highway, and they all flew into the front seat! It was like a tornado!

When the little old lady got home, she put the chickens in the coop, closed the door, and locked it with a hook.

“What a long day!” she said.

She felt so tired, she went straight to bed.

The next morning, the little old lady collected the eggs that the hens laid in the nesting boxes.

She fried two eggs for breakfast, and the rest, she put in a carton. “When I have a dozen,” she said, “I’ll sell them to my neighbour.”

The following day, when the little old lady delivered the eggs, her neighbor wanted to give her a dog: a poodle with white, curly hair. “I don’t have time to take care of him,” he said.

But the little old lady didn’t know if she wanted a dog.

The poodle promised, “I’ll stand guard each night and protect your chickens.”

The little old lady smiled. “You’re a good poodle—and brave.”

Then she took the poodle home with her.

A week went by without incident, but early one morning, the chickens were frantic. The hens were clucking outside the coop, and the rooster was crowing on the roof.

The little old lady counted them, and one hen was missing!

“What happened to my hen?” she asked the poodle.

“I slept with one eye open,” the poodle replied, “but I saw nothing, and I heard nothing.”

A hen named Martha was hysterical. “A large paw opened the door and grabbed Bertha. It was a big black dog!”

Then Martha fainted.

The poodle shook his head. “Dogs are kind and caring animals, and would never hurt a chicken.”

The little old lady agreed: “Yes. It must have been a fox.”

In the afternoon, she put a chicken-wire fence around the coop. And before she went to bed, she closed the coop door, and locked it with a hook.

The next morning, when the sun came up, the chickens were in a frenzy, running and flying around the yard.

The little old lady went to the coop and counted them, and another hen was missing!

“Did you watch the hens last night?” she asked the poodle.

“I saw a fox jump over the fence,” the poodle confessed, “but I was so afraid I couldn’t even bark.”

The rooster, named Roger, said sadly, “I was awake when its paw reached inside. It was a big black dog, and he stole Henrietta—the chicken I loved.”

The poodle shook his head. “Dogs are friendly and loving animals. They would never hurt a chicken.”

The little old lady knew what to do. That night, she closed the coop door and locked it with two hooks. Then she went to her bedroom, turned out the light, and sat by the window.

At midnight, when the moon hid behind a cloud, she saw a black figure climbing over the chicken-wire fence.

It made its way to the coop and slowly lifted one of the hooks with its paw.

With her heart pounding and hands trembling, the little old lady grabbed her broom, ran outside and threw open the gate.

The creature had a hen in its mouth. BAM! She hit it on the head until it let go of the hen.

It was the poodle!

The little old lady grabbed him by the collar and yelled, “You killed two of my chickens! Why?!”

The poodle answered weakly, “Because I’m a dog.”

The next morning, the little old lady was in a much better mood.

She fed the poodle as many eggs as he wanted for breakfast. Then she put on his leash and took him for a walk.

And gave him back to her neighbour.


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The Donkey King: A Political Fable

donkeyThere was once a farmer who had 50 donkeys. He used them to till his fields, and he sold the fattest and healthiest as pets

The farmer, who was called “the Master”, worked the donkeys too hard and fed them too little, so they decided to do something about it: They chose one donkey to be their king.

It was the duty of the Donkey King to visit the Master every week and demand better living conditions: more hay and less work. The Master, however, had no patience for a demanding donkey, and often punished the king by kicking him.

The Donkey King was granted special benefits for making demands of the Master. He taxed the other donkeys by taking a small portion of their hay; he slept in the largest stall in the barn; and because he was royalty, he attracted a pretty jenny to be his mate.

One spring day, the Master sold the Donkey King to be someone’s pet, and it was time for a new king to be chosen. Two jacks wanted the crown, and on Saturday night, after a week of hard work, they gave their speeches in the barn.

The first jack, whose name was Grey, said, “If you choose me as your king, I will ask the Master to increase our portion of hay. I will also ask that he reduce our workload in tilling his fields. But I will be honest. The Master is a stubborn man and is unlikely to change his mind. Nonetheless, I will go to him every week no matter how hard he kicks me.”

The donkeys stared at each other. No one was excited by Grey’s speech.

The second jack, whose name was Sunshine, delivered his speech: “If you choose me as your king, I will persuade the Master to double our portion of hay. I will also ensure that only the 10 strongest donkeys work in the fields. The rest of you will no longer have to do hard labour.”

Hearing this, the donkeys got excited, and the sound of “Hee-haw!” filled the barn.

Sunshine continued, “I know that the Master is a stubborn man, but by engaging him in a positive and open dialogue, I will change his mind.”

A vote was then taken, and all the donkeys—except the 10 strongest who would have to labour in the fields—elected Sunshine to be their king.

The next morning, Sunshine went to the Master’s house and sat on his lawn until the old man came out.

“Good morning,” Sunshine said with a smile. “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”

The Master, who did not speak donkey, wondered, why is that jackass sitting on my lawn?

Sunshine said confidently, “I am the new king, and I believe it is in your self-interest to give us twice as much hay to eat. If the donkeys eat more, they will work harder, and it will increase our value as pets because no one wants to buy a skinny, sickly-looking donkey.”

The Master stared at Sunshine, and then he frowned.

Sunshine continued, “I also want to renegotiate our labour agreement. The 10 strongest donkeys have volunteered to till the fields. Starting tomorrow, the other 39 will be given rest from hard labour. This will allow them to grow fatter, and then you can sell more of them as pets.”

The Master had heard enough. He walked up to the braying donkey and gave him a swift kick in the rear end.

Sunshine, realizing that his demands were rejected, returned to the barn and told everyone: “The Master is considering my request for a double portion of hay, and I am hopeful that we will see a workload reduction in the near future.”

The following Sunday, Sunshine went to the Master’s house and made a similar speech. But that day, and every Sunday after, the result was the same: Sunshine got a swift kick in his hindquarters, and sometimes two or three.

By mid-summer, all the donkeys were angry because nothing had changed on the farm.

In late fall, after their last day of labour in the fields, they gathered together in the barn and demanded that Sunshine abdicate his throne.

One donkey yelled, “You lied to us!”

Sunshine, however, refused to give up his crown. “I have been truthful to you from the start,” he said. “I am in negotiations with the Master, and I am hopeful that there will be an increase in our portion of hay and a workload reduction by next spring.”

Grey shouted, “You broke the promises you made!”

Sunshine thought carefully for a moment, and then he said, “No, when I campaigned to be king, I set two major goals, but I didn’t set a deadline for achieving them.”

After this, the donkeys became very quiet. They stared at each other; they stared at Sunshine, and then the sound of “Eeyore!” echoed throughout the barn. They evicted Sunshine from his stall, ate his extra stock of hay, and made so much noise that the Master could hear them in his house.

Moments later, he entered the barn with a whip, started cracking it, and the donkeys opened their eyes wide in fear.

The next day, they were still in pain from their wounds, but they were happy when the Master sold Sunshine to be someone’s pet.

All the donkeys (except for Grey) were filled with hope. They would soon elect a new Donkey King, and a new king brought the possibility of positive change.


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The Pig Who Loved Mud Wrestling: A Fable

muddy-pigLong ago, a young boar named Bart went to a Swine Party. In villages and towns throughout the land, a Swine Party—usually held in a large barn—is where young single pigs went to meet.

As soon as Bart walked through the front door of the barn, one sow standing alone in the corner caught his eye. She had pink ears, a pink snout, a perky pink tail, and she was wearing a pretty pink dress. Her name was Wilma.

Bart walked up to her and asked, “Will you dance with me? You’re the prettiest pig I’ve ever seen!”

Her heart racing, Wilma blushed and said, “Sure I will!”

Then Bart walked her to the dance floor.

In the center of the barn, a three-boar band was playing hillbilly music with a banjo, fiddle, and drums. A dance floor encircled the band, and dozens of sows and boars were stomping and swinging to the beat.

After dancing for seven straight songs, Bart and Wilma were sweating from head to hoof.

“I need to take a break,” Bart said, out of breath.

“Okay,” Wilma laughed. “You sit down, but I’m just getting started!”

Bart sat on a bench beside several other boars, and watched Wilma dance, shaking her body and stomping her hooves on the dance floor.

After that night, nature took its course, and six months later, Bart and Wilma got married.

For their honeymoon, Bart took Wilma to a resort with hot springs and mud baths. On their first night, when they were sitting up to their necks in mud, Wilma said, “Ever since I was a little pig, I’ve wanted to be a mother.”

Bart smiled and said slyly, “Ever since I met you, I’ve wanted to make some little piggies!” And then he grabbed Wilma, carried her out of the mud bath, and took her to their mud hut.

When they returned from their honeymoon, Wilma and Bart bought a barn just outside their village. It was a small barn with four bedrooms and a loft, but big enough for them to start a family.

Bart had a job in a corn mill, grinding corn with his feet ten hours a day. Wilma stayed at home, made the meals and planted a garden. Three months after they were married, she gave birth to twelve healthy piglets.

Bart and Wilma were a happy family. Bart worked hard and was promoted to boss-hog. Five years went by, and their piglets became full-grown. And then, as all young pigs must eventually do, they moved out, got married, and lived in their own barns.

The day after the last pig left, Wilma said sadly, “Our barn feels so empty without our little piglets.”

“I know,” Bart sighed. “What’s life all about? What’s the meaning?”

Wilma thought for a moment and said, “We’ll both grow old together, go for long walks, and enjoy each other’s company.”

“Yes,” Bart said, forcing a smile. “Until death do a pig part.” But in his heart, that didn’t sound very exciting.

One Friday after work, Bart was walking home, when Fred, a boar he worked with, caught up with him. Fred was middle-aged and divorced.

“Hey, Bart! You want to go to mud wrestling tonight?”

Bart shook his head. “I don’t think Wilma would approve.”

“She doesn’t need to know. Just make up an excuse.”

Bart thought it over and grinned. “What the heck? Every boar deserves to have a little fun now and again.”

Fred slapped Bart on the back. “You got that right! You won’t be the same pig after tonight.”

Bart went home, and after supper, he told Wilma: “I’m going to play cards tonight with Fred and some of the boars from work.”

“Okay,” Wilma said. “But please be home by eleven. You know I get worried if you’re out too late.”

“I’ll be home on time,” Bart promised, and then he and Wilma rubbed their snouts together.

After dinner, Bart met up with Fred at a place called The Mud Pie. It was a sand pit with a large pool of mud in the center and stadium seating on one side. A hundred other boars were there, and most of them were drinking swill. Fred bought tickets for the front row, and Bart bought two bottles of hogwash from the canteen.

Not long after Fred and Bart sat down, a massive boar, holding a hammer, struck a bronze gong beside the pool of mud, and the first match began. Two young sows came out of separate tents in the corner of the pit. They were both very beautiful, had shaved bodies, and weren’t wearing any clothes.

Fred said excitedly, “Look at the ham on the short one! Oh, yeah!”

“I like the tall one better,” Bart blurted. “I love her thick shanks!”

The two sows walked around the pool of mud, taunting each other with angry stares, and when they wiggled their rumps, all the boars roared.

The two young sows pushed, slapped, and tried to trip each other until they both fell down and rolled around in the mud. Each sow scored a point when they pinned their opponent. The match lasted for a half an hour, and Bart enjoyed every minute of it. He felt like a young boar again, grunting and squealing at the top of his lungs.

After that, there were three more matches. When the wrestling was over, Bart thanked Fred for inviting him and hurried home to Wilma.

He found her sitting on the bench in the living room, pigging out on a bowl of buttered corn. “Did you have a good time with your boar friends?” she asked.

“I sure did!” Bart said, his face beaming.

Then he grabbed Wilma, and tried to pick her up, but she was too heavy. So, offering her his forearm, he walked her to the bedroom, and they made wild pig love.

The weeks went by, and every Friday, Bart went with Fred to mud wrestling. One night, after he got home, he said to Wilma: “I think we should start exercising.”

Wilma asked, “Why? Do you think I’m fat?”

Bart and Wilma’s jowls had tripled in size since they first met. They were both fat pigs.

“Not at all,” Bart replied. “But we’re getting older. If we don’t exercise, we might get — heart disease.”

Wilma exploded in anger. “I work hard in the garden, walk to the market every day, and you think I’m a fat, lazy pig! I hate you!”

Bart tried to stay calm. “That’s not what I said, Wilma.”

“That’s what you’re thinking.” Then Wilma started crying, ran to the bedroom, and locked the door.

No matter what Bart said, Wilma wouldn’t change her mind. She didn’t want to exercise, and she got angry every time Bart suggested it.

So Bart exercised on his own. He lifted sacks of corn, lost a lot of weight, and became really buff.

The weeks went by, and Bart continued to go to mud wrestling with Fred. One Friday, after the final match, he was about to go home when Sally Strong—the number-one wrestler—sashayed up to him. She wore a beautiful red dress, and reminded him of Wilma when she was younger.

“Hi there,” Sally said. “I see you here every week.”

“I come to see you!” Bart said with a big grin. “You’re an amazing wrestler.”

“You should be a wrestler. You’ve got the muscles for it.”

“Yeah, I’ve thought about it,” Bart said offhandedly, “but I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a boss-hog at the corn mill.”

“I like a boar who can command other boars,” Sally said, fluttering her eyes.

“I am a powerful pig!” Bart boasted. “Look at these.” And then he flexed his muscles.

Sally giggled. “Ooh! My tail is wiggling!”

Bart and Sally talked for a while, and then she asked, “Do you want to get a glass of swill?”

“Sure I do!” Bart said with a big grin.

They went to the Wild Boar Inn, sat at the bar, and drank several glasses of swill. Then, at one in the morning, Bart realized how late it was.

“Whoa, I gotta go!”

“Oh,” Sally said, disappointed. “Will I see you again?”

“Maybe. Probably. I’m not sure.” And then Bart put money on the table and ran home.

When he unlocked the barn door, Wilma was sitting at the kitchen table, wrapped in a blanket. “Where were you?!” she asked angrily.

“I—uh… Fred and I had a few glasses of swill at the Wild Boar.”

“Is that the truth?”

“Yes, what did you think I was doing?”

Wilma frowned. “You can sleep in the loft tonight.”

“If that’s what you want.”

“It’s what you deserve—for being so inconsiderate.”

Then Wilma trotted to the bedroom and locked the door.

The next morning, Bart and Wilma didn’t eat breakfast together, and when Bart came home after work, they barely talked to each other.

That night, he decided he would sleep again in the loft.

“I think I’ll sleep better tonight if I have my own bed,” he explained to Wilma. “I’m getting older, and I toss and turn from sore muscles.”

Wilma sighed. “Sleep wherever you want.”

For the rest of the week, Bart continued to sleep in the loft. Then on Friday, after the first wrestling match at The Mud Pie, he said to Fred: “I’ve got to be honest with Wilma.”

“Are you crazy? She’ll kick you out of the barn. That’s what my wife did.”

Bart shook his head. “I’m not going to tell her about mud wrestling.”

“What are you going to tell her?”

Bart didn’t answer Fred. He got up and left, and as soon as he got home, he went into Wilma’s bedroom. She was sitting on the bed in her pink pajamas, reading a book.

“You’re home early,” she said.

“Wilma, I’ve decided something.”

“Oh? What is it?”

“I want to live on my own.”

“What?!” Wilma said, her face stricken. “Why?”

“We’ve grown apart. I don’t love you anymore.”

“You’re seeing another sow!” Wilma yelled. “Who is she?”

“I’m not seeing anyone,” Bart said, and then he left the room and packed his things in a sack.

Before Bart left, he went back to Wilma’s bedroom and said, “I’ll send you some money—until you can make it on your own.”

“I don’t need anything from you!” Wilma said with contempt, but after Bart was gone, she broke down and cried.

The next day, Bart rented a small barn; he started seeing Sally, and he soon discovered that she was totally different than Wilma.

Bart and Wilma often went for walks in the woods, but Sally liked to run through the fields and wrestle with him, and he got a sore back.

On weekends, Bart and Wilma went to bed at midnight, but Sally liked to drink swill until sunrise, and Bart felt exhausted when he went to work on Monday.

When Bart got home from work, Wilma always had a hot supper waiting for him—corn, potatoes, or onions—but Sally didn’t know how to cook, so they went to a cook-house to eat.

Although Sally earned a lot of money as a wrestler, she wasn’t a smart shopper like Wilma, and didn’t save anything. She often asked Bart if he could buy her new clothes.

The weeks went by, and Bart woke up one morning and realized how much he missed Wilma. So that same day after work, he went to see her and knocked on her door.

Wilma opened the door and said calmly, “Hello, Bart.”

“Hi, Wilma,” Bart replied, and then he just stood there, not knowing what to say.

“Is there something you want?” Wilma finally asked.

“Wilma, I made a mistake.” Bart said sadly. “I love you, and I’d like to come back. Will you forgive me?”

Wilma frowned. “It’s too late for that.”

An old boar with white hair came to the door and put his arm around Wilma.

“Bart,” Wilma said. “This is William.”

Bart was shocked. “You have a boar-friend?”

“Yes,” Wilma said with a smile. “We met a month ago.”

“At a Senior’s Swine Party,” William said.

“But he’s old,” Bart said, wide-eyed.

“Yes; and I’m fat,” Wilma said.

“She makes me feel young again,” William said with a big grin. “She’s full of energy and spunk.”

Bart couldn’t argue with that. So he left, went back to his barn, and asked Sally to move in with him. Day after day, he tried to change her, but she was who she was.

And six months later, Wilma married William, an old boar who loved her just as she was.


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The Troll Who Went To War: A Fable

Theodor_Kittelsen_-_Skogtroll,_1906_(Forest_Troll)Long ago, a troll 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 it 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 his cave to sleep.

Many miles from Thug’s mountain, there was a kingdom ruled by a man 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 barren, and the people barely grew enough crops to survive. But one day, he 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 the king.

King Greybeard ordered him: “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 prosperous again.”

But Simon reminded him: “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.”

King Greybeard scoffed. “The troll is a myth. Do as I have commanded.”

And so, Simon sent 50 men to Troll Mountain. 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 trees had been chopped 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 logger’s tents while they were sleeping. However, one logger managed to escape.

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

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

“If you do not attack the troll, 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 destitute.

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. You have plenty of gold.”

“No,” King Greybeard said, clenching his fist. “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 nodded his head and smiled. “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 many more of his trees had been axed.

He fell to his knees and pounded his fists on the ground. Then he chomped his teeth and 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 massive, 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 or strangled them; however, half of the men 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 go to war with 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 long 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 shook his head. “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 firmly. “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 hopeless. 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 his throne.

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

Simon scratched his head, and then he said, “If you do nothing, the people will rebel against you. Therefore, you must send your army to destroy the troll. When the troll is dead, you can cut down the trees. Your people will no longer be poor.”

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 many times 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. “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 sadly, “You killed many of my friends.”

“Friends? We killed no one.”

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

King Greybeard put his hands together and pleaded, “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 turned to Simon: “Evacuate the castle.”

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

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

“Never again!” Thug thundered. “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, Simon bought the people bread. And because he was generous, the people loved him.

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.


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