Once upon a time there was a fool who stood looking down into a deep, deep well.
“I wonder,” said the fool to himself, “just how deep that well goes. Oh, if only there was some way to test it!”
Just then, a scampering old hen walked by, and clucked out, “You fool! Why do you stand at the mouth of an old well, looking down into the darkness? Why, you could set me up on the chopping block, cut off my head, pull my feathers, clean my gullet, and have yourself a handsome dinner instead!” (One would of course think that the hen would be rather overjoyed at the prospect of NOT being eaten thusly; but, it never pays to read too much into the motivations and desires of other people. Or, at least, other barnyard fowl, at any rate.)
To this the fool beat his breast and gnashed his teeth and moaned and groaned, and exclaimed, “Oh, Mrs. Hen, I have just been here since sunup try9ing to decided just how deep this very deep well really is! And I have sounded it with a stone, and I have let down a line…but neither have been of much help. Oh! If only there was a way I could find out for certain, and ease my troubled mind; which, once it has fastened on some thorny problem, cannot very well just let it go!”
Suddenly, the fool’s face lit up with a stupid expression, as a terrible idea blossomed in his rather befuddled head.
“I know!” he exclaimed, raising one finger into the air, pointing straight above him with his forearm extended just as he had seen the local school master do, dozens of times. “I will simply toss you in, old hen! And, when you finally get to the bottom, I’ll let down the bucket, and you climb inside. Then, I will pull you back up and you can tell me just how deep this very deep well really is!”
And the hen, not liking this idea very much, clucked and flapped, but, before she knew what was happening, the fool had picked her up and tossed her down the mouth of the well. She clucked up a panicked storm,a nd feathrs flew everywhere, but, down the mouth of the well she went!
And down, and down, until finally–Splat!
“Hello? Mrs. Hen? Have you discovered how deep this very deep well is?”
There was no answer.
“Hm. It seems that Mrs. Hen does not answer me, ” said the fool to himself. “That is most curious. I wonder why.”
He put his finger to his bottom lip and pulled, which was a habit he had when lost deep in concentration. Soon, a fox came creeping up tot he fool at the well, and asked “Have you seen that hen? I’ve been looking all over the barnyard for her, and I cannot find her.”
The fool thought to himself a moment, before asking, “And why, may I ask, have you been looking for Mrs. Hen?”
To which the fox replied, “I’ve been looking for her so I could EAT HER UP. I’m a fox, you see, and she’s a hen, and I’m feeling HUNGRY. Oh! Just point the way to where she’s gone, and I’ll be on my way!”
And the fool thought about this for a moment, before saying, “Well< I'm afraid you'll have to go down the mouth f that well, as that's where she's gone. You see, I wanted to see how deep this very deep well was, so I tossed in the hen, and promised to haul her back up by the bucket when she had finally sounded the depth. But, as you can see for yourself, she does not answer my call."
And the fox, who was a very greedy, hungry fellow at any rate, thought I'll use this fool for my own purposes. If I go down for the hen, I'll get my meal, and then have him haul me back up in the bucket. Very well. That is the proper caper. I'm glad my mother didn't raise a fool.
And so he told the fool, "You must let me down in the bucket, so I can rescue Mrs. Hen, and then pull both of us back up when we are ready. And, while I am down there, I will find out for you just how deep is this very deep well."
And the fool, being delighted by this plan, said, "Oh! That is a wonderful plan, Mr. Fox. Here, jump in the bucket, and I'll let you down so you can get Mrs. Hen, and then, when you both give the signal, I'll pull both of you back up. Agreed?"
And since the fox was, of course agreed to this (since he was the one who had thought of it in the first place) he eagerly jumped in the bucket, and, smiling a wide, foxy grin, said, "Ready when you are, thou fool!"
And so the fool began to let down the rope of the bucket, and the fox disappeared down the dark mouth of the well.
But, just then, something unexpected happened. The rope, being very old, and not being able to support the weight of the fox (who was actually quite lean, but still too heavy for what he was doing) began to unravel, until, finally–it snapped!
The fool was so shocked by this he jumped back, put his hands to his cheeks, and exclaimed "Oh no! The bucket with the fox has fallen into the well, and the rope is broke Now, not only will I not be able to pull the fox and the chicken back up, but I will never know just how deep is this very deep well!"
And, because he didn't know what else to do, he began to cry.
Soon, the farmer came along, carrying his rifle. He saw the fool at the well, and curious, asked him, "Fool, what are you crying about?"
And the fool said, "Oh, sir! It is terrible! A most unfortunate set of events has come about! I simply wanted to know how deep this very deep well really was. So, I tossed in the hen, thinking she might find out for me, and simply fly from the well when she had found out But, she has not made a sound since I threw her down there! So, then I made a deal with the fox, that if he went down and found out just how deep was this very deep well, I'd pull him and the chicken back up to safety after they were done. But, as I was lowering the bucket, the rope broke, and the bucket must have tumbled to the bottom. Where, I know not, as I heard no splash of water. Do you think they could both still be falling? After all, for all I know, this very deep well might be bottomless; for, I have yet to find out just how deep this very deep well really is!"
And at this, the old farmer roared with laughter, and said, bending over with his hands on his knees (for he was really laughing very hard), "Oh, you poor, miserable fool! Hens can't fly! And foxes don't rescue birds; they gobble them whole. And the reason you haven't heard either animal make a single peep is because they are both DEAD. They hit the bottom of that well, which has been bone dry for years, and broke every bone in their bodies. Why, I don't know how anyone could be so stupid as you seem to be, fool, but, damn it, I should throw YOU in the well next!"
And the fool, not liking this last suggestion one bit, turned and tried to find a place to hide from the farmer, whom he thought really did mean to send him down the mouth of the well. But the farmer stopped him suddenly, saying, "Well, if you really do mean to find out just how deep is this very deep well, I tell you what I'll do: I'll tie a stout bit of rope around your waist, and attach the other end to a tree. I'll take up the slack, let you down easy, and you can see for yourself now just how deep is this very deep well. Okay?"
And the fool thought to himself for a moment, and decided that that, finally, might lay the issue to rest. So he stood still with his arms raised while the framer went to retrieve his rope.
When he came back, he had a stout length of rope, with the end tied in a peculiar fashion. The fool raised his arms, and the farmer said, "Here, jsut let me tie this around your aist. The other end is attached to a tree out yonder. I'll throw the slack up over the cross beam where the old bucket once hanged. Then, I'll let you down into the well!"
And the fool was quite agreeable to this. He perched at the edge of the well, with the rope tied around his waist, and, preparing to dive into the darkness like a swimmer, did just that.
The farmer, not ready for this sudden dive into the mouth of the well by the careless fool, had yet to untangle the rope which had become wound, quite by accident, around his legs. He was pulled, with a terrible scream, into the blackness below, with the fool.
Ad both of them hit the rocky, dried-out bottom, crushing the bones of their bodies. And that is where they both are, to this very day,
And the moral of this story is: NEVER trust the word of a fool, his actions, deeds, or ideas, lest you be rendered as foolish as he, and come to a sorrowful end.