Books, Cults, Fables, Hindu, Holographic Universe, Humor, Krishna Das, Mystic, New Age, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

Lord Krishna’s Mouth

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There is a story told of Lord Krishna. When he was a toddler at Brindavan, he liked to steal butter and cream. He was roundly scorned for this, and his mother told him he should take care never to do it again.

So, the next time the little Lord set about playing at the homes of his young friends, instead of making off with the butter, he grabbed a baby fistful of mud, ramming it into his mouth. His young friends, seeing what the baby had done, were offended, and went to tell his mother, Yashoda.

When he returned home, Lord Krishna’s mother said to him, “You awful, unthinking child! I will teach you never to put filthy mud into your mouth again!”

And she started to enact his punishment. Perhaps she was going to make him suck on a sour lemon, or even a cake of soap. We are not told. Whatever the case, though, when Lord Krishna opened his mouth, his mother was treated to an astounding sight:

She saw hills and valleys, trees and fields, rushing rivers, and vast craggy peaks. She saw mountainous rises and shallow dips, the twinkling, starlit array of diamonds in the black, vaulted firmament of heaven. She saw the planets, each with its own life, and the suns burning brightly in wonder, and the forgotten depths of the ocean floors, and even the raging waters of other worlds.

She, indeed, beheld the universe in the suckling infant’s mouth.

Lord Krishna’s mother fell to weeping, as she realized that Vishnu had come to earth in the form of her son.

(We imagine that, after that, he was treated to all the butter and cream he liked.)

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Books, Fables, Fiction, Ghosts, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Young Adult

50 Famous Fables and Folktales, Collected from Around the World – Tom Baker

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Enjoy a collection of classical stories, culled from the greatest storytellers of all time, offering up tales of animals and other enchanted creatures to delight readers young and old. As fables, each story demonstrates a moral lesson or a piece of advice for readers―some of whom may be struggling with related problems, difficulties, and stumbling blocks addressed by the lessons in each tale. Whether it’s a rousing tale of stone soup, a tortoise and eagle, country and city mice, or foxes, hens, and farmers, readers of all ages will be entertained by the fresh story approach of Aesop, Robert Dodsley, Phaedrus, and others, some retold from tales of cultures as diverse as those of Native Alaska, Africa, Arabia, the Far East, and more.
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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

The Bird Who Stole Happiness

Once, long ago, a little girl was saying her prayers one night when she heard a curious sound outside of her window. Going to the window and throwing open the sash, she was astounded to see a sad, lonely whippoorwill sitting on a tree branch, crying out in low, mournful tones the saddest song she had ever heard.

The little girl, suddenly not feeling quite as cheery as she had when she had come upstairs to bed, asked the bird, “Mr. Whippoorwill, why are you so sad?”

And, to her surprise, the bird suddenly poked its beak in her direction and exclaimed through muffled tears, “Oh, it is the same as it has always been! I am a whipporwill, you see, and so must sing a low, mournful, weeping tune! I was born to sing this sad song, and never know happiness, and flit and fly about under the moon, alone!”

And with that, the whippoorwill let out such a torrent of weeping and wailing that the little girl soon found she was crying too. Just then, an idea popped into her head.

“Oh, Mr. Whipporwill, since you are so sad, and have never known happiness, I tell you what I will do. I will give you all of my happiness to take with you! Oh yes, I’ll wrap it up in a little silk rag, tied with a bow, and you can carry it with you in your beak. Build it into your nest, and, someday, when you are done with it, and wish to return to being what you were before, you can come flying back, and return it to me! Does that make you happy to think of, Mr. Bird?”

And the sad bird answered, “Oh, delightful! I shall be so glad to have your happiness with me wherever I go, hither and yon! And, I promise you, I shall take good care of it until I return!”

And so, wiping her eyes, the little girl (who, of all the little girls int he world, was always quite cheery and pleasant, even when she dropped her ice cream ont he ground), went to her dresser, and took out a silk hanky and a piece of blue ribbon. Then, screwing her eyes shut, she managed to take all the happiness swirling around inside her head, and wad it up in the little square of silk, tieing it securely with the length of blue ribbon before racing back to the window and offering her present to the bird.

“Here you go, Mr. Whippoorwill! Please, take good care of it, and be careful not to lose it! I don’t know what I should do if I lost my happiness forever!”

And with that, the bird bowed, thanking her for her graciousness and generosity, and, with the little silk bundle hanging from his beak, flew off, into the night. The little girl strained ot see him go, but eventually lost sight of him as he was framed against the bright, fat moon.

In a few moments, as the girl crept back to bed, she began to notice a change steal over her. She felt heavier, slower; more glum. More tired. And everything seemed to take on the same shade of dismal, dingy grey.

“Oh!” she said to herself, “I do so hope the whippoorwill returns with my happiness soon! I suppose in the state I am in, even a rainbow would look dull, and dirty, and grey!”

And she then burst into tears, burying her face in the pillows and crying herself to sleep.

It was not a day or two later that her mother began to become very concerned for her little girl. She did not brighten when she ate her desert, nor even when presented with an angelfood cake (which was her favorite). Nor did playtime seem to amuse her; nor did new toys; sunshine; bright days; fluffy white clouds; or her pet kitten.

She no longer skipped rope, or drew hopscotch, or dilly-dallied amongst the dandelions, instead preferring to sit in her room in a gloopy, gloomy mess, weeping silently while staring at the four walls and complaining that the light of the sun, or even a lamp, hurt her eyes!

Her father, taking her to the carnival, found that this did not cheer her, either. Her mother, planning a special party for her with little friends from the neighborhood, found that her daughter sat in the center of the big table, amongst a little legion of happy, shouting, laughing, jostling little girlfriends and boyfriends, and wept silent tears.

Furthermore, the mother noticed the little girl continually staring out the window, as if expecting someone or something to come flying up to the great tree outside.

Finally, after weeks of her daughter’s solitary mourning, the exasperated mother put her fists on her hips and said, “Oh daughter of mine, whatsoever troublest thou? For, have we not done everything in our power to make thee merry and glad? And yet, thou weepest when thou shouldst laugh, and frown when thou shouldst, by rights, smile and be of good cheer! What, on Earth, couldst thou possibly be tormented by, that thou shouldst carry on in suchlike manner?”

And, at hearing this, the little girl burst into tears again, saying, “Oh, Mother! It is dreadful, but, one night, I heard the Whippoorwill outside of my window, singing his mournful tune. And, feeling sorry for him, I wrapped all of my happiness into a silk kerchief, and, tying it with a bow, gave it to him, allowing him use of it until he returns. And so, I have no happiness left, and all my pleasant feelings have vanished. Now, it seems as if the cursed bird shall never return, and thus never again shall I laugh, or smile, or feel merriment and joy!”

And she began to boo hoo very loudly. Her mother, horrified at what she heard, put her hands to her head in panic, and exclaimed, “Foolish child, what hast thou done! Thou hast given away all they smiles and gladness in the world to a conniving old bird, who has surely made haste with it to some far-off land, wherein he may enjoy the fruits of thy happiness, while you are drowing in tears!”

And, not knowing what else to do, the mother went straightaway to the conjure woman, an old crone who lived in the woods and had a bad, sinister reputation.

The ugly old crone croaked, “There is only one thing to do: Thou must bake thee a pie, in the center of which wilt thou bake four and twenty blackbirds…and a single snake. And then thou must set the pie upon the ledge below thy window, and wait! Soon, the whippoorwill will come, and the thing will right itself.”

And so the mother made the pie crust, carefully rolling the dough, and filling the center with four and twenty blackbirds. Then, she went out into the yard, and pulled from the weeds choking the edge of the garden a single snake. Into the pie went THAT as well. Then, she set it to bake.

After it was done, she set the thing on the window seal and sat down with her gloomy daughter to wait.

The smell of the pie was quite strong, and, in time, they heard the whippoorwill come flying up, resting on the old branch of the old tree. Curiously, he was still singing the same gloomy tune, although he had stolen all of the little girl’s happiness.

The whippoorwill pecked and poked his beak into the pie, smelling the delicious smell of cooked blackbird. As soon as he got his beak in the crust, however, the snake reared up, bared its fangs, siezed upon the luckless whippoorwill, and swallowed him up!

The little girl’s mother then sprang up from her chair and, like a bolt of lightning, had the snake collared with one huge hand, squeezing it’s long skinny body so that it could not bite her.

She then began to pound the head of the snake against the floor, until its blood and brains oozed out from between her fingers. And, also, quite a lot of blackbirds.

The little girl rooted around in the blood and carcasses on the floor. Finally, her little hand fell upon what she was looking for: it was the little bundle of silk with all her happiness tied up, with the same blue ribbon, inside.

She quickly snapped the ribbon, releasing her happiness so that, forever after, she wore a smile on her face, and had a spring in her step, even when she was at last old and grey.

And the moral of this story is: Look before you leap. Or, before giving everything to a stranger, make sure you have considered your own needs first. Or, make sure your charity and pity for others will not hurt you, in the end.

Or, never put much trust in a flighty character. It’s for the birds.

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Monsters, Short Stories, Uncategorized, Young Adult

The Man Who Took a Log as a Wife

Once, there was a foolish, raggedy man who entered a village. He worked hard for a stupid master, but after earning a little money, quickly set himself up in business as a costermonger, but soon became lonely for the comforts afforded by a wife.

One day, while trundling his cart along the village square, he spied a plump, stupid girl with a bucket of milk. Pushing his cart up to her, he asked her her name.

“Myrtle,” she replied. “Myrtle Wormhead.”

To which he replied, “Oh, my! That is the loveliest name that ever I heard! We should be married!”

And the plump, stupid girl consented immediately. Off they went to the village priest, but, bot having the money for a wedding, and the girl having no dowry, were soon turned away.

Down cast, the foolish costermonger said, “We shall run away together, and seek our fortune on the continent. Then, when we have suffcient funds to arrange a wedding, we shall return, be married. And live happily ever after!”

And so the two luckless fools went out of their village, walking the weed-choked paths through the forest, until they became hungry, and settled in a dark place.

Now, close by lived a vicious ogre, and his wife, a deadly witch. Climbing through the brush, he spied the two hapless fools walking, and said to himself, “My, she is fat and plump, and would make a juicy morsel for me and my wife. I will capture her, and steal her away, and put her ina cage to fatten her up. The man I do not want, as he is too lean and tough-looking.”

And so he followed them stealthily, and soon they came to a place where there was a little cave, and the fool said to his wife, “We can live here in this cave! It will shelter us from the rain and the scorching sun, when it is too hot.”

And the foolish girl, thinking this a wonderful idea, set about making their home in the cave.

Now, it so happened that a terrible hermit lived in a cave nearby, and he had a terrible appetite for human flesh. He came upon the fool and his wife while they were out gathering firewood one day, and he said to himself, “Mm, that young girl looks as if she would be delicious to eat! I will steal her, and take her back to my cave, and keep he in a cage! Then, I will fatten her on cream until she is ready to be gutted and stewed!”

And so the terrible, crazed hermit hid int he bushes, waiting, and watching. Finally, seeing his chance, as the fool told his wife he was going deeper int he woods–“To gather more wood for the fire, as what we have been able to find out her, so far, is mostly wet!”–he left his foolish wife alone.

Very quietly,t he hermit crept from his hiding place amid the bushes and shrubs, and, going sneakily down to where the foolish girl sat on a rock byt he tream, picking flowers, said to her, “And how now, my pretty one! Where do you come from, and where are you going?”

And the foolish girl, startled by this, looked up, but dare not turn around for fear fo what she would see standing behind her.

“Oh,” she said, “I come from yonder village, and I live in yonder cave. Who art thou to ask such questions?”

And to this the terrible hermit replied, “I am one who has admired you from afar. But now, I am close, oh so close to you!”

And to this, the foolish girl replied, “Oh! And how close art thou?”

And to this the hermit said, “Clsoe enough to smell your sweet scent!” and then said, “…and it smells delicious!”

And the foolish girl said, “Oh, my, whatever can you mean by that? How, in fact, does it smell?”

And the terrible hermit replied, “Like broasted beef on a summer day!”

And the foolish girl giggled, and said, “Oh, that is mere foolishness! How can I smell so? Tell me truthfully, how does my scent strike thee?”

And the hermit said, “Like succulent lamb on a winter morn!”

And the foolish girl said, yet again, “Oh! That is nonsense! How can my scent be compared to succulent lamb! Tell me truthfully, how does my scent strike thee?”

And the hermit finally said, “Like the stew I will make of thy flesh, the bread of they bones, and the wine of thy blood! Now, come!”

And with a cry he reached forward,a nd grabbed her in his hairy, dirty arms, carrying her away as she cried for her husband.

The hermit put his hand over the foolish girl’s mouth, but her husband (who was picking and poking around amid the trees, not far away) heard some rustling in the bushes. He got the distinct feeling (despite the fact that he was so foolish), that his wife migth have met with some trouble, perhaps with a wild animal. So, dropping the kindling he was carrying, he raced back through the trees to the mouth of the old cave.

The hermit had carried off the unfortunate young woman, kicking and screaming. He tied her with vines, thrust some old rags in her mouth, and told her to wait for him (what else could she do?). Then, he went back to where he had found her and, a sudden idea striking him across his big hairy noggin, scouted around in the bushes until he found a log that was quite in the shape of a young woman. He placed this log where he had taken the foolish man’s wife, and waited until the young man came bounding back through the trees.

“What ho!” exclaimed the young man. “Where is my wife?”

The hermit, clasping his hands in front of him, said, with tears glistening down his cheeks.

“Oh it is terrible sir, terrible! I happened along when, seeing the Old Witch if the forest, I hid behind a tree to see what she would do. Well, your wife was busy picking boison berries, and when the Old Witch approached her, she asked for the little basket of berries! Oh, your wife was very loath to give it up, and told the witch so. So, in anger the witch turned her into…into this log!”

And the devious old hermit began to weep and sob. The young fool raised his hands to his head in anguish, exclaiming, “Oh! How terrible. Oh, love of my life! How terrible a fate you have suffered for a little basket of boison berries. If only I could find some way to turn you back into a living woman. Alas! I am no great wizard, and know not where one can be found!”

He wept bitterly at what he thought must be the unhappy death of his wife. Then, a thought possessed the fool. He wondered if, just because she was turned into a log, she might not still, in some manner, be considered “alive.”

“For,” he said to himself, “I do not know of a powerful wizard who could reverse this evil spell, BUT IF I DID, sould she not simply change back into her former self, and be as good as ever she was before?”

And, thinking that, he realized she was still, after all, his wife, and must be treated as such. So he took the log into his arms, and, huffing and puffing and sweating, carried the thing back to town.

He went back to his former master, and, imploring him for his old job back, was grudgingly let in the door, still carrying his log.

The old master looked puzzled at what the young fool was carrying in his arms,a nd, after a time, straightaway asked him, “Fool, why are you carrying that log in your arms?”

To which the fool replied, “Oh, this? This, I am afraid, is no mere log. It is my wife! An evil witch happened upon her while she was picking boison berries, and, because she would not give her the basket, turned her into this log. But, for all that, she is still a rather wonderful wife, wouldn’t you agree?”

The fool’s master, thinking the man quite mad, simply nodded his assent and said, “Why, yes. Of course! She is a most excellent wife for a man such as yourself!”

And the fool, somewhat mollified now, went about doing his master’s bidding. During the day, he carefully dressed the log up in an old dress and bonnet, and, carrying her about in one arm, took her with him to the market, and to the pub, and even to church.

Everyone who met the man thought him quite mad; but no one wanted to risk angerign such an obviously mad man. So they always pretended to respect and recognize the log as his wife, each and every oneof them.

When he had friends over to dinner, the log, dressed in her plain old wrap of a dress, was seated at table just as if it had been a real, livign and breathing woman. The fool even took to feeding it, and asked it if it would like some more gravy, or another helping of pot roast, and would then answer for it in a shrill, weird, womanly voice.

And the guests got to where they expected this strange ritual, and took very little notice of it when they came over for impromptu dinners and gatherings. It even got so that the fool found himself quite a popular gent, a sort of local curiousity, and some folks were quite eager to get a chance to have dinner with “The Man Who Took a Log as a Wife.”

Well, unbeknownst to the fool, his actual wife was locked up in the hideous cave of the old hermit, who passed her porridge and delectable vittles, and which she always refused.

“All the better to fatten you up, my dear! You are much, much too thin!”

The old hermit would lick his withered lips, and with drool dripping down his chin, would pace around the cage, muttering to himself about buttered parsnips and boiled potatoes, and wondering just how big of a broiler he would need for the fool’s wife.

The fool’s wife, realizing just why the hermit wanted her to gin weight, let the dishes pile up until she was starving. The hermit, seeing this, grew angry, exclaiming, “You’ll eat soon enough! Why, even that fool of a husband could see how skinny and hungry you are!”

And with that, the hermit stormed out one day ina huff, and did not immediately return, leaving the fool’s wife to ponder just how she could ever hope to free herself from her cage.

Well, as the sun came down, she lifted her weeping eyes to heaven, and prayed, “Oh Lord, please let me find a way from this terrible cage and back to my husband! For, I do not wish to die as the dinner for some terrible old man!”

It was just then that the fool’s wife spied the pots of slipper, slimy mush that had accrued, uneaten, day after day since she’d been imprisoned by the hermit. THey were sitting there on the floor of the cage, uneaten, stinking and drawing flies. She bent over, dipped her fingers in the mush. It was slippery as butter. She then looked at the lock of her cage. An idea came to her.

She carefully began to work the slippery, nasty stuff into the lock, between the bars, and greased the cage down until the mechanism of the lock became quite slippery and loose.

“Incredible!” she exclaimed to herself. “It is a miracle!”

Indeed, it did seem to be a miracle. She pulled at the door of the cage, heard the bars slip and slide, and. suddenly, the door popped…open!

She carefully looked out into the darkness of the cave. It seemed as if the hermit was still out for the night.

“He is probably out gathering roots or herbs for his potions!”

And, in truth, he was doing just that. The poor girl slipped from the mouth of the dark cave, and made her way across hill and down thorough dipping valley, and across the dark ravine, and through the thick shrubs and trees until,a t long last, she found herself at the gates of the town, and begged and pleaded withe the guard to le her in.

He, seeing no threat involved, did just that, and the terrified girl made her way down the quiet, deserted main street, until she came to he house of the fool’s former master, who was inside snoozing. The fool was in his attic room, curled up in bed next to the log. The girl, not wanting to wake the master, picthed pebbles up at the fools window until, his eyes cloudy with sleep, he came over and, throwing open the wondow, yelled below, “Hello down there! Do you have any ide what time it is?”

To which his wife replied, “Thou fool! Worry not about the time, for it is I, your wife, come home to you from being imprisoned by a fiend!”

At this the fool goggle and, throwing a glance back over his shoulder at the log in his bed, turned again tot he window and exclaimed, “How can this be? For, were you not changed into this log by the Old Witch of the Forest? And have I not kept this log with me, day and night, and cared for it as if it were thee, oh wife of my bosom? And so, how canst thou be standing there, int he flesh, and be, at the same time, a log lying in my bed?”

and, at hearing this, the fool’s wife spat, “Oh, cursed am I that I should have married such a fool! I haven’t time to explain to thee! But, here: so that we will not wake the master of the house, make a rope of knotted sheets, and throw it down, and I will climb up to thee!”

And so he did. In a short time, the fool and his wife were reunited at the window overlooking the street. Unbeknownst to them, however, as they stood there, the mad hermit had followed the fool’s wife back to town, and right to the door of the house where they were presently reunited. Shouting from below, he exclaimed, “Ha! You thought to get away from me, dod you! Well, I’ll show you! Just as soon as I climb up this rope made of tied-together old sheets, I’ll kill one and carry the other back to my lair! And then, when you’re good and fat, I’ll EAT YOU FOR DINNER WITH TURNIPS AND BUTTER! Do you hear me? TURNIPS AND BUTTER!”

And the mad old hermit began to climb. The fool, for once in his foolish life suddenly thinking of the right thing to do, rushed over to the bed, grabbed the log, and rushed back to the window. With a heave and a ho, he sent the log hurtling out the window and straight into the wrinkled old forehead of the mad hermit. The blow brained him, killing him instantly. He fell to the ground in great gush of blood.

Later, the fool and his wife told everyone that the spell had finally worn off.

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Young Adult

Tale of the Spanish Dancer, or One True Love!

Once upon a time there lived a poor girl in Barcelona, who envied the rich and well-dressed girls who sauntered by in the promenade.

“Oh,” she said to herself, “if only Papa could afford to buy me such fine and beautiful dresses as all of those rich, spoiled girls have, why, I would count myself the luckiest girl in the world!”

But of course, her Papa did NOT have such money, and so she went about in rags.

One day, as she was walking through the market, carrying her basket of goods. she saw a gypsy dancing for pennies in the square. She went over to watch the men, who were pitching the coins at her, and were obviously quite taken with her looks.

The gypsy had the most beautiful dress she had ever before seen. It looked as if it had been woven of beautiful wild flowers, and it made the poor girl weep with envy to see it.

Instantly, the gypsy stood beside her, and asked, “Girl, why are you weeping so?”, to which the girl replied, “Oh, I am weeping because you look so beautiful dancing, and I am but a poor girl who could never afford such a beautiful dress!”

And the woman laughed and smiled, and said, “Well, girl, I’ll tell you what: I’ll let you wear my dress, and dance for me here, and give me a well-deserved rest. But, you must be careful to clean the dress every night with this special brush, and place it carefully in your closet, and take the best care of it. For, this dress is an enchanted dress, and the wearer of this dress shall find her true love, by and by!”

And with that, the young girl was exceedingly glad, and clapped her hands, and said, “Oh thank you M’lady, thank you! I shall do all that you say, and take the most wonderful care of your dress, and wear it with pride as I dance all day, and dance all night!”

And the lady laughed, and said, “Very well! Here–”

And, to the amazement of the young girl, the lady snapped her fingers, and suddenly, the two had traded clothing. Now, the lady was wearing the young girl’s tattered rags, and the young girl was wearing the beautiful gypsy dress. And each fit the other perfectly.

“Now,” said the strange woman, “I must be off. Remember what I told you, take special care of my dress while I am gone!”

And with that, the strange girl ran off into the crowded market, and was lost from sight. The young girl, delighted to be wearing the beautiful dress, immediately went into the town square, and began to dance.

Young men, some of whom asked to be her suitors, came and pitched coins at her as she went. Her dancing was divine, and she felt as if her toes were drifting on the wind as she went. And she danced and danced the whole day and night, and the next day, and hardly slept a wink in all that time, until she was exhausted.

Finally, she realized she deserved a rest, and she went home, carefully taking off the dress, and taking out the brush…but, she was so tired from all that dancing that she suddenly yawned and said to herself, “Oh, I am so tired, I shall just die if I don’t lie down for a moment! I shall look after the dress after I get up from my nap! The lady wont mind; after all, she is so kind and generous to allow me to borrow her beautiful dress!”

And so the foolish young girl laid down upon her bunk, and was soon fast asleep. It was not long however before she was awakened by what she took to be a flickering flame. She wondered if the sun had started to come up, when she opened her eyes, and saw the mysterious lady with the dress, standing in a circle of glowing fire!

She now saw the terrible truth of who the lady really was, and the young girl trembled from head to toe to realize that she was in the presenc of the living, breathing Devil himself!

“Foolish girl,” cried the devil, pointing one long, scaly finger at the trembling girl! “I told you never, never to fall asleep without first carefully combing out my dress, and making sure it was washed and hung up properly! Now, you will pay the price for your indolence and lack of care!”

And with that, the Devil snapped his fingers, and the dress flew from the couch upon which it had been carelessly tossed, and the Devil said, “Now, you must wear this dress day and night, forever and ever, and you will not be able to take it off! And you will dance and dance and dance, and you will never, ever stop dancing! And anyone who sees you will dance, too! And if you meet your true love, he must not look upon you, or he will turn to stone!”
And with that, the Devil shrieked with laughter and delight, and disappeared in a cloud of flame and smoke. The young girl was horrified to find the dress wrapped around her; and indeed, struggle as she might, she could NOT get the dress off!

A curious thing then happened: the young girl began to shudder and shake, so that she could not sit still! Her arms began to wiggle, and her legs began to wobble, and she soon found herself on her feet, hopping and skipping and jumping about.

Her mother came in, and saw what was happening, and exclaimed, “Oh my! You have been bewitched, and now cannot stop your dancing! You must go out of this house, at once, lest you dance a hole through the floor, or break all of our furniture flailing about!”

And with that, the young girl was thrust out of doors, where she found herself dancing down the road. It was not long before she had danced her way, like a crazed maniac, all the way to the town square.

Well, when the people saw her, they were quite taken with her, and said, “Oh look! It is the dancing girl from the other day! My, look at her go! It’s as if she cannot help herself!”

And then, as if a mania swept through the gathering crowd, those that beheld her strange, maniacal dancing, began to dance themselves. They gyrated,a nd twisted about, and pulled their hair, and gnashed their teeth, and wagged their tongues and clucked their heads and exclaimed, “Oh my! it is as if we were bewitched!”

And another yelled, “No, it is worse! It is like a legion of devils inside my pants!”

And still another said, “it is as if we have been bitten by the tarantula!”

And so the crowd began to roar and gyrate, and fell upon the dusty ground, and danced through the street, and ripped their clothes,a nd tore their hair, and soon, the village priest came by.

Seeing such brazen, sinful behavior, he quickly exhorted the people to stop what they were doing.

But they simply replied, “We cannot! it is as if our bodies are moving but our minds are asleep!”

And then they told him, “It all started when we watched the little girl in the dress dancing! She has bewitched us! Oh, can’t you do anything to help?”

And the priest, realizing that such an enseemly display was sinful,a nd must not be allowed to continue, thought for a moment, before commanding a few men to go and fetch him a tent. Then, he carefully told them, “You must raise this tent around yon girl. But take car that you do it with your back turned, and do not look at her, or else you will end up just like all of these other poor souls!”

And, with his back turned, the priest pointed at the young dancing girl who had started all the commotion, and the men, with their back turned, slowly put up the cloth barrier between the morning market crowds and the girl.
Soon, no one could see her, and consequently, the dancers soon ceased to dance.

“Good!” said the priest. “That seems to take care of one problem, at least!” But, as to what to do with the girl, now hidden behind the folds of the tent, he could not say. So, he quickly decided to go back to his study and meditate on the matter.

It was not many hours before a dashing young man rode up on a horse. He was a man quite taken with tales of chivalry, and was on a search for his “one true love”; and, so when seeing the strange striped tent in the middle of the street, he became quite curious.

“Ho stranger! And what, pray tell, is the reason for that tent being pitched in the center of the road, where it blocks the traffic?”

And the man said, “Of sir! Behind the flaps of that tent is a young girl who has been bewitched, so that she cannot stop dancing! And, worse, anyone who looks upon her begins dancing as well, and cannot stop! So the village padre has commanded that a tent be put up around her, so that she is hidden. But, as to what else can be done about it, who can say?”

And the man, who was rather stupid, shrugged his shoulders and wandered off. The young squire, overtaken with heroic feelings of chivalry and daring, conceived a plan whereby he might save the girl from her bewitchment.

He decided to go to the door of the tent, with his back turned, and looking at the girl only in the polished surface of his shield.

“For, if I do not look directly at her, the bewitchment cannot effect me as it did the others.” Or, so he reasoned.

So, dismounting, he carefully went to the dark opening of the tent, where, inside, the exhausted girl was still flinging herself about madly, dancing and sending up great clouds of dust in the darkness.

“Oh, kind sir!” exclaimed the girl. “I have angered the Devil himself, who gave me this dress so I might become a great dancer! Alas, in his vengeance, I have been condemned to wear this dress, which causes me to dance and dance! Oh, if only there were some way you could relieve me of this burden, and I would surely go with you, and be your wife!”

And so the bold young man said, “Never fear, my dear! Your salvation is near!”

And, scooting backwards on his heels, with his shield held up before his face, he made his way to the wildly gyrating girl–no easy feat, as she could not stop moving!

Cautiously, he put out a gauntleted hand, and prepared to rip the dress from her body when, viewing her face more clearly in the polished surface of his shield, he suddenly exclaimed–

“Wait! I know thee! I have beheld thee in a dream. Thou art my ONE TRUE LOVE!”

And, forgetting that he could not look directly upon the girl, he turned suddenly. The dancing girl put her hands to her cheeks and screamed in terror, but it was too late!

The young man fell to the earth, stone dead.

Aghast, the young girl decided she could no longer go on. She danced from the tent, through the streets, and to the bridge above the river. It was here she cast her dancing body into the water–which was no easy feat, as she kept moving back and forth, away from the edge!

No, one was sorry to see her go.

(If there is a moral to this story, we haven’t found it yet. Except, perhaps: don’t fall asleep without hanging up your clothes.)

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

Three Little Pigs

Once, there were three pigs, and they all lived their little piggy lives in a great, stinking hovel, hidden in the middle of a dense forest.

One day, the eldest pig said, “I am fed o the teeth with living, day in and day out, in this stinking hovel, an d never seeing any new sights, or having any new adventures. I declare, I am going into the city, where I will be able to live ina manner fitting a pig of my undeniable breeding and stature!”

And with that, he slowly began to make the preparations to depart. His younger brothers, aghast at his plan, implored him to stay, saying “Oh! Do not leave us, do not leave us! For, surely, you’ll never come back to us, as danger is sure to befall you in the city, and there are many rogues and cutthroats just waiting for a tender young morsel such as yourself to come along, so they can devour him!”

But the eldest pig would have none of it. He put on his best little piggy-suit, grabbed his valise, and, waving a hoof goodbye, trotted down the road toward the city and his fate.

Well, his brothers were sobbing and squealing, sorry to see him go, and certain no good would come of it, and, most especially the youngest brother, who said to himself, “He can go anywhere he likes, but I’ll not leave my safe, comfortable, quiet little hovel, with its blanket of flies and its sweet-smelling manure mound.”

And, so saying to himself, he lay down on his piggy knuckles, and fell to musing.

Well, the eldest brother, omce he actually entered the gates of the city, was a little afraid, but he soon contented himself that he was dressed in fancy finery, and thus looked the part of a gentleman. (Or, rather, gentlepig?) He trotted along, trying to put the best, most confident face he could on his visit, but was soon very tired and hungry.

In time, a strange man came up to him in the streets, and said, “Oh, brother pig! I see that you have come a long way, and are most tired and hungry! Come, I am a kind man, known for my kindness to strangers, and I will give you something to eat in my shop, and then let you lie down for awhile!”

And at that, the pig was delighted, saying to himself, “My! This fellow is most hospitable! I certainly am glad I decided to leave the boring old hovel in the forest to journey to the city, even though I do miss the blanket of flies and the sweet-smelling manure mound a little.”

And so the pig followed the man around the corner to the door of his little shop, and the man said, “Here, here is an apple! Better put this in your mouth, eh!”

And then the man produced a silver platter, and said, “Here, here is a place you can lie down! You must be very tired after your long journey, and require lots of rest!”

And the pig said, “My, it doesn’t look very comfortable!” But, he put the apple in his mouth, and lay down upon the platter, as he was instructed, and then asked, “Is this what you had planned for me?”

And the strange man said, “Not quite! For it is very drafty in here, and I wouldn’t want you to catch cold. Here! It is ever so much warmer in here!”

And with that, the strange man threw open the door to a great stone oven, and before the pig cpuld even squeal a squeal of surprise, the man thrust him inside, where he was roasted and broiled and then served up, chop by chop, to the strange man’s customers.

Well, back home in the hovel, the other brothers waited and waited, and waited some more, but seeing that the eldest brother was never going to return, they soon forgot all about him, pigs not having such a long memory, after all.

Soon, the middle brother began to feel, just as his eldest brother had, that he was somehow missing out in life, and that his purposes would be better served if he went out from the forest, to seek his fame and fortune.

“I will not make the mistake that our elder brother has, though, and journey to the city. Instead, I will keep to the countryside, where people are simple and friendly, and there is little to fear!”

And so, getting on his best little piggy suit, he grabbed his valise, and, telling his youngest brother goodbye, went about his way.

The youngest pig, who had seen all of this before, rested his piggy snout on his little piggy trotters, and said to himself, “Hm. My eldest brother has gone to the city, and never returned. Now my other brother has left to wander the countryside. I am certain he will never return, either! I will just stay here in my familiar old hovel, with my blanket of flies and my sweet-smelling manure pile, and I will be nice and safe.”

And so he did.

His brother, meanwhile, wandered the roads and the pleasant country lanes until he came upon a farm. The farmer was a great, burly, bearded chap who exclaimed to him, “Come, Brother Pig! You must be hungry and tired after such a long journey! Come, and I will feed you, and give you a sweet-smelling manure pile upon which to recline!”

And so the pig said to himself, ” Oh, I was right in leaving the old hovel, for the people of the countryside are generous and kind! Why, this man barely knows me,a nd already he is offering to fatten me up!”

And so the pig went with the farmer to the pig sty, and there he found blankets of delicious flies and sweet-smelling manure aplenty, and a trough with delectable leavings floating in a thick, soupy muck. So he put his snout down in the trough and began to feed.

The farmer said, “There, there, Mr. Pig! You just eat to your heart’s content, and I will go and fetch a special present with which to welcome you to our humble home. Why, you’re such a handsome fellow, I’d like to have you for dinner!”

At the prospect of being invited inside for dinner (for this is what he thought the old farmer meant) , the young pig raised his dripping snout and squealed with delight. Then, curiously, he saw that the farmer was concealing something behind his back.

“Say, friend,” asked the curious pig, “what is that you’re hiding behind your back?”

And, as if in answer, the farmer produced a huge wooden club, and brought it down with terrible force right between the poor porker’s piggy eyes.

His brains flew out of his piggy ears, and he died in a moment.

The farmer did indeed have the pig for dinner then–as the main course!

Well, the youngest pig waited,a nd waited, and, seeing that his brothers were never going to return, contented himself by remembering how very wise he had been to simply sty where it was nice and familiar, and not to go off and try to see and do things a pig should not, logically, try to see and do.

“Hm. My eldest brother went to the city, and has not returned. He is surely dead, but I have remained safe, right here. Then my other brother left to wander the countryside, and has not returned. He is, also surely dead. But I am still safe and sound, enjoying the clouds of flies and the warm, sweet manure pile here in my little hovel in the forest.”

And so he slowly forgot his brothers and their sorry fate.

It was nto long after that the last surviving pig was awakened by a strange sound, like a horn blowing in the distance.

Not knowing what that sound was, and thinking it was some sort of animal he had never before seen, he poked his piggy snout out the door and looked around.

He was pierced between the eyes by an arrow. Around him, dogs danced, as two hunters came riding up–

“Hark! It seems it is a good day to hunt wild pig! This one is good and fat, and will make a tender morsel for our feast!”

And so all the pigs died, no matter where they did, or didn’t go.

All of which is to say, one should never fear death, for it is inevitable, by and by.

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Uncategorized, Young Adult

The Blind Man, the Ox, and the Three Fools

Once, a fool was sent away from his master for his foolishness. Knowing he had no place to go, and would surely starve and die, the fool began to weep and curse his sorry lot in life.

“Oh, woe is me! Curses, curses upon my foolish head! For, the master has ssen fit to turn me out of doors, and I have no place to go, and shall surely perish of want!”

And he sat down at the edge of the road, waiting for he knew not what.

Soon, a beggar came passing by, and inquiring why the fool was weeping, was told, “Oh curses! Curses! Woe is me! The master has seen fit to turn me out of doors, and without a single gelder to sustain me! Now, I have nothing to eat and no place to go, and shall surely die!”

And the beggar (who no doubt made a very good living begging) said, “Why, that is the most sorrowful tale out of all the most sorrowful tales ever told!” And, forthwith, he sat down beside the fool, and began to weep as well.

Soon, they were joined by a third man, a leper, who crawled about in the dirt on his hands and belly, for his legs had rotted off. And the leper asked, “Why are you gentlemen crying so?”

And the leper was told , “Oh! It is so sad, so very sad! This fool was turned out by a cruel master, who gave him neither a crust of bread nor a single gelder to sustain him! Now he has no place to go, and will surely die of hunger and cold!”

And at this the leper said, “Oh my! That is the most sorrowful tale in all the sorrowful tales ever told!” And the leper (who could not sit, as he had no legs upon which to rest) crawled over to his fellow fools, and began to weep as well.

In time, they were joined by an immense Ox, who lumbered over from his hiding place, where he was avoiding the lash of his cruel master. Seeing the fool and the beggar and the leper weeping, the Ox was curious, and asked, “Oh gentleman, what could possibly be the matter? Why are the three of you weeping so?”

And the Ox, who was lashed mercilessly by his cruel master, and who spent his days eating nothing but grass, and pulling a heavy yoke, and swishing as pesky horseflies with his tail, was told by the leper,”Oh my! That is the most sorrowful tale in all the sorrowful tales ever told! This fool was turned out of doors by a cruel master, who gave him neither a crust of bread nor a single gelder to sustain him, and now he must surely die of hunger and want! And, to top it all, this beggar goes about begging, day and night, for a simple crust of bread or a single gelder to sustain him! And now they are both weeping over their sorry lot in life! And now, I am weeping, too! For, you see, I am a leper, and my legs have rotted off, and my arms must surely be next, and even my nose and face! Soon, I will slither through the grass like a snake, and shall surely die of hunger and want!”

And the leper blew his nose (what was left of it) loudly, and, upon hearing these sad tales, the Ox straightway fell to weeping himself, resting his huge body next to the three bellowing fools.

Well, soon, along came a blind man with a great grey beard, making his way along the road with a walking stick. When he heard the weeping of the fool and the beggar and the leper and the Ox, he stopped where he heard the weeping originating, and asked, “Oh, pray tell, why are you gentleman weeping?”

And to this the Ox replied, “Oh sir! That is the most sorrowful tale in all the sorrowful tales ever told! This fool was turned out of doors by a cruel master, who gave him neither a crust of bread nor a single gelder to sustain him, and now he must surely die of hunger and want! And, to top it all, this beggar goes about begging, day and night, for a simple crust of bread or a single gelder to sustain him! And now they are both weeping over their sorry lot in life! And this leper has lost his legs and the rest of his body is rotting away slowly, and he has joined in their sorrow! And I, poor Ox that I am, spend my days pulling a heavy yoke, and being lashed by the cruel whip hand of my master, and eating nothing but grass while being tormented by buzzing horseflies! And so, I am weeping with them too!”

Upon hearing this, the blind man spat with contempt, “Fools! Do not weep so! Your lives are not as bad as what you think they are! Why, there are advantages and disadvantages to everything!”

And the four of them suddenly pricked up their ears, and asked, altogether, as if with one voice, “Such as?”

To which the blind man replied, “Well, take for example a poor blind man such as myself! I have no eyes with which to see, but, my ears see for me! When they hear a sound, I picture what sort of man or beast might be making such a sound, and I always can tell exactly from which direction that sound is coming. My ears see for me.

“Also, my nose! My nose sees for me! Why, if I smell a delicious smell, such as baking bread, I know exactly where that smell is coming from, and I know to go and get myself some of that delicious bread! Or if I smell a smell that is unpleasant or bad, such as the smell of blood or dung, I know where that smell is coming from, too! And I can avoid stepping in whatever stinks.

“And also,” continued the old blind man, “my skin! My skin sees for me! If the weather is hot, or if it is starting to rain or snow, my skin can feel the drop or rise in the temperature, the first few droplets of moisture falling from the sky; or, the touch of a bumplebee agaisnt my face. I know to go in doors, to find shelter, because my skin is so sensitive. Yes, indeed, my skin is ALSO my eyes.

“So, you see, you fools,” continued the blind man, “there is no reason for you to all be sitting here weeping like silly little children! You have strengths and abilities you just haven’t discovered yet. Search them out, and I know that thou shalt weep no more!”

And, with that, the fool and the beggar jumped on the back of the Ox, and pulling the leper up with them (for he could not climb by himself on the animal’s back) beat and whipped the poor, slow beast mercilessly, in an effort to escape the blind man, whom they all were now convinced was quite dangerously mad.

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