Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just Enough - A Modern Fairy Tale - A to Z Challenge

Once upon a time a Woodsman went into the forest, looking for ways to increase his already prodigious wealth. A rustling in the undergrowth caught his attention; and, parting the undergrowth, he discovered a charming little bird on her nest. The woodsman recognized the egg as belonging to a particularly delicious type. The bird was shivering with cold.

"I'll bet you could produce many more of those eggs if you had a larger, warmer house.  If I build you one, do you think that would be the case?" asked the  Woodsman craftily.

"Oh yes," said Bird hastily. "But I've no means to pay you."

"Well," said the Woodsman, "you could pay me one egg every day. I'm sure that you could easily accomplish that."

And so they struck a deal, and the Woodsman built Bird a beautiful house, ten times the size of her little nest, with all of the amenities she could hope for. Bird was sure that with such a house, she could find a way to lay not one, but many eggs every day.

The Woodsman went on, and as he sat down to take a rest he found himself eye-to-eye with the marvelous Sik-Tik, a small and exceedingly rare creature with the most luxurious coat of fur ever known to the world. Having already made one successful deal, the Woodsman bethought himself of another.

"Good morning Sik-Tik. I can't help but notice what a shame it is that a fine, intelligent creature such as yourself is forced to live in such a dismal hovel." He pointed at the animal's tidy little burrow.  "The other animals must ask themselves why you it is that you don't have a grander abode."

Sik-Tik frowned and thought for a bit.  "You are right; I'd never thought of it that way."  He fluffed up his magnificent coat and stroked it admiringly.  "It's true that I deserve far better than what I have. But I have no skills in house building. Besides, it would dirty my fur and ruin my lovely claws."

The Woodsman put on his broadest manufactured smile.  "I happen to be very good at providing homes.  I would be happy to help you. In return, I will expect you to give me the first of your young; they will make admirable additions to my petting zoo."

Sik-Tik agreed, knowing full well that there would be no young forthcoming any time soon.  And since he'd never seen the Woodsman before, and might not ever again, what could be the harm?  Besides, the Sik-Tik thought himself very clever;  he assured himself that he could make a new deal with the Woodsman down the road.

"Agreed," replied Sik-Tik, and the Woodsman built the animal a glorious home which would be the envy of all the other creatures far and wide.

Having been so successful, the Woodsman turned toward home, whistling. On the way he happened to pass a pond, where he saw  Beaver busily slapping some mud on his little lodge.

"I say there," began the Woodsman, "I happen to be in the building business and I can't help noticing that your home could use a little expansion. Perhaps another level. And certainly some colour and decoration."

"Go away," snapped Beaver, who was not known for his gracious demeanor. "It is fine the way it is. It is a home for one beaver; it is dry; it is solid. It is Just Enough."

The Woodsman, recognizing an awkward character when he met one, continued home.

Now it came to pass that Bird, warm and comfy in her new home, was able to produce numerous eggs for a time and satisfy the Woodsman.  But then illness struck, and she fell behind in her bargain with the Woodsman.  She pleaded, but to no avail;  and so the Woodsman came and took the remaining egg, destroyed her house, and left her to suffer in the cold. It was just fortunate that Squirrel offered her room in his treehouse for a time, or she would surely have perished.

By the same token, Sik-Tik did not produce any young for the Woodsman;  and the Woodsman, being in a rather greedy mood that day and seeing his chance, took for his rent the magnificent fur and the keen eyes of the Sik-Tik for his own.  Sik-Tik was so ashamed that he changed his name and vowed to remain hidden from sight for evermore;  and today we know him by the not-so-lovely title of Blind Mole Rat.

As for beaver, he continued to mind his own business and enjoy the fruits of his labor, small though they were, for they were Just Enough for him.

But this is not the end of the story.  In the world of Men, business fell off, Terrible Things happened, and the Woodsman began to see his precious wealth trickle away. One dark night, his own house burned to the ground, and he was left naked and hungry in the cold.  He went to the Forest to seek shelter.

The animals, although they had every good reason to exact revenge on the Woodsman, did not.  They came together and put together a humble house for him.

The Woodsman was not particularly happy at first.  "It's nothing but sticks and leaves and mud," he said, poking at it with his foot.

Beaver spoke up in disgust. "We were happy with what we had until you came along.  It is time for us to be happy again, and time for YOU to learn a different way of living."

And so the Woodsman hunkered down in his makeshift house, and settled down to eat his dinner of nuts and berries, and eventually he learned to live with Just Enough.


  1. There is a lot in here, and the parallels to our current economic woes are brilliant. A certain GOP president hopeful (and brethren) could use a reality check.

  2. Hi...I'm hopping over from the A to Z Challenge. Lovely blog...good luck with the challenge!

    Donna L Martin

  3. Thanks for the fun little morality tale, Lisa. (Note to self: Don't make any deals with Woodsmen.)

  4. What a sweet tale. Aesop would be proud:-)

  5. I liked that - thought it was going to have a horrible Grimmesque ending...good post. Thank you :)

  6. At first it reminded me of the TV show Once Upon a Time and Rumplestiltskin's "deals" with the unsuspecting. I wonder what the Woodsman learned from his situation!

  7. Hi Li. I adore retellings of fairy tales and this is a great one. You use a lot of imagination. Love it.

    I'm going to tweet it now.