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Why The Stork Eats Frogs And The Wolf Hunts Sheep

2006-07-14 00:33

  Once upon a time there lived a Wolf and a Stork. The Wolf did not kill sheep, and the Stork did not eat frogs.

  One spring the two of them met and agreed to go into business together. So they built a tavern where they sold liquor and wine, and they kept the money they earned in the cashbox.

  Autumn came, and the Stork said:

  “Look here, Wolf, I plan to fly away to warmer parts. So let us divide out earnings: you take one half and I'll take the other.”

  “Very well, my friend,” the Wolf said. “I'd never be so unfair as to try to keep what isn't mine. Only how are we going to divide the money when we only have one half of it! You know very well that many of our customers have been drinking on credit and haven't paid us yet.”

  “Well, why not let me have what there is?” said the Stork, who was anything if not sly. “You'll collect the money owed us later and you can keep it. And you'll have the tavern besides, for I'm leaving you my half of it.”

  “Agreed!” said the Wolf.

  He gave the Stork all the money there was in the cashbox, and the Stork put it in a bag, hanged the bag round his neck and flew away. He flew and he flew, and it was noon when he saw, stretching below, a small lake with a great many frogs in it. He came down at once, for he was thirsty and wanted a drink, but just as he craned his neck to get at the water, his bag of money slipped off and dropped with a plop into it!

  The Stork searched for the coins in the silt and sand on the bottom, he searched for a long time, but he could not find them. So then he flew at the frogs, and, thinking that it was they who had taken his coins, began pecking at them angrily and swallowing them. And that is what all storks keep doing to this day.

  In this meaning the Wolf had been busy going around to his customers and trying to get them to pay what they owed him. But they all said that they had come up against hard times and could not pay. And they stopped coming to the tavern altogether, for, said they, drinking was bad for them.

  The Wolf went bankrupt, closed down the tavern and set out for the forest.

  On and on he walked, and he was beginning to feel very hungry when he was a sheep nibbling grass on the forest edge.

  “Why, that's Semen Holka's sheep!” said he to himself. “And Semen never paid me for the wine he drank, so I think I'll eat his sheep and that will make us quits.”

  So he ate up Semen's sheep, and then Petro's, and then those of all the people who had refused to pay him.

  After a time, forgetting who it was that owed him money and who did not, he would kill and eat every sheep he came across. And that is what all wolves do to this day.

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