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Back July 5th, 2011 Forward
The City Boy, the Peasant Women, and the Dragon in the Tower - A Fable

Once upon a time, a well-off city boy went out for a wander around the countryside to make his fortune. He came upon a group of (mainly) female peasants working in the fields, growing vegetables. Occasionally, these peasants would come across a rock in their field, and they'd pick it up and toss it to one side. Some of the rocks sparkled in the light. The city boy got curious, and inspected these rocks. Imagine his surprise when he realised the rocks were full of gold, and precious stones.

He started chortling and laughing to himself at the simplicity of the peasants, who were working so hard to grow vegetables when the real riches, the gold and the jewels, were just lying there, waiting to be picked up. He decided there and then to make his fortune.

So he approached one of the women labouring in the field, and offered to help her out. She could carry on with the gardening, he said, while he would clear the ground of rocks for her. The peasant woman, tired of hauling rocks for no return at all, and eager to return to harvesting her vegetables, agreed. So the city boy started to clear the rocks from the ground, piling them into bushel baskets and laughing at the ease with which he would make his fortune.

The day came to an end, and the peasants gathered up their baskets of goods and prepared to head home. The city boy picked up a bushel basket of gold and gems, and made his way to the edge of the field. But when he got there, the peasants blocked his path.

"What do you think you're doing?" one of them asked.

"I'm taking away these rocks and stones," said the city boy.

"You can't do that," the peasant said. "They don't belong to you."

"But I worked hard," the city boy cried, "removing these stones from your field all day. I deserve to have them as a reward for my hard work."

"If you want a reward," the peasant replied, "you can share in our vegetables."

"I don't want stupid vegetables," the city boy sneered. "I want these rocks I've been moving from your fields. You don't seem to need them, after all - why not let me have them?"

Upon hearing this, a number of the other peasants started to laugh. "You must think we're fools," they said. "We know you want the rocks because they're nuggets of gold and jewels."

"If you know they're gold and jewels," said the city boy, "then why aren't you selling them yourselves? They'd make a lot more money than stupid old vegetables."

"We don't sell them," the peasants explained, "because we don't own those fields. The fields belong to the dragon who lives in the tower over yonder. The dragon doesn't mind us growing our vegetables on his land, but if we take away his gold or jewels, he'll come down from the tower and slay us."

"I don't believe you," said the city boy. "In the first place, there's no such thing as dragons. In the second place, my father is a wealthy man, and he'd send out knights to slay the dragon if it slew me. The city would never stand for it if I were killed."

The peasants took a good, long look at the city boy. "The dragon has been engaged in battles against the Knights of the New Line, and every time they retreat. Years ago it forced the fabled Wizard from the coast to retreat. The dragon is real, and the dragon is jealous of its hoard."

"But the city would never stand for it."

"Which city are you from?" asked one of the peasants.

"Albia," the city boy said, proudly naming his home city. "Bring on your eagle-winged dragon, I fear it not."

At this, a number of the peasants hid their faces in their hands, trying to conceal either mirth or misery. "You're being a fool," they said. "Put the rocks down, and come have some vegetable soup with us, rather than trying to commit suicide in this particularly elaborate way. We've no liking for the idea of being killed alongside you because you were being a fool."

The city boy stopped, and considered his actions. It would grieve him greatly to have to give up the gold and jewels he could see right there. Besides, these were peasants, rural yokels. What would they know of dragons, or of anything other than their vegetables?

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Back July 5th, 2011 Forward