The Merchant and the Fool

Once there was a merchant who kept the strictest account of his business. He did the same with anything else in his life, actually. He would always say there was an order to everything and he meant his order. He knew exactly who was important to him and who didn’t matter. He knew exactly who offended him and who earned his respect. When anyone asked him for help or a favor, he had to assess the value in relation to the risk.

    One day there was an accident and a complete stranger needed his help but it was easy for him to keep walking because it was all risk and no value, as he liked to say about almost everything that did not involve his profit.  To get involved in such an accident would only be a threat to his well being as he saw it.  This sort of thing happened before and would happen again and it was of no concern to him.  Who was he to try and change the order of things?

    And once there was a fool who kept no account of anything.  If somebody needed something like the codpiece off his crotch, he’d give it.  He had no real business to speak of except the business of life.  It might’ve been a poor life but it was rich with friends who he made wherever he went.  

One day, the merchant was busy running numbers in his head while he was crossing the road and a team of horses pulling a carriage galloped straight for him. And the fool saw what was about to happen and without a care pushed the merchant out of the way but was trampled to death instead. The merchant stood up and brushed himself off and cursed the man who pushed him as a downright fool who should’ve looked where he was going

The Witch’s Web

Once there was an old witch who lost her ability to see. She could no longer use her cauldron or her mirrors to watch over the village nor could she see where anything was in her hut nor any wolf lurking in the woods nor any tasty rabbit hiding in the understory. One night a spider came down from the ceiling and landed on her nose. It woke her but she stayed still and felt it walk across her cheek. it’s string trailed behind it and tickled her skin in a way that felt loud to her. This gave her a brilliant idea.

    She brewed up a pot – a magic stew – of liquid power that allowed her to spin webs from her finger tips.  Those spun from the left would not be sticky in order to just gather information.  Those spun from her right were sticky and intended for traps.  As she felt every surface of her hut she wove webs into and under everything with her left hand until she could feel where anything was from anywhere she touched her web.

    Any movement of the smallest bug or slightest wind was brought to her attention too.  So she wove around her hut and webbed the forest to her awareness.  Now she knew where every wolf and rabbit were unlike when she had her eyesight.  She had rabbit stew whenever she pleased and wished she had lost her sight much sooner.

Then she made it to the village and wove her web into every house and pathway. And as the village folk performed their daily duties, their actions reverberated in her web and startled her with a new vision of the people she had previously despised. All of their daily movements struck the strings and produced a music unlike any she had ever heard. She had heard the music of nature and when she webbed the woods that music did not surprise her. She had even heard the music of the celestial orbs, and the delirious sounds of the moonlight. But she had never heard the humble music of the folk from the village. And she wept at the spare beauty of all that seemed so unadorned and plain.

The people, however, did not hear any of this music. They did not know why she had webbed their entire village and it angered them. They grabbed their axes and torches and marched toward her hut. But she had heard that music too. It was loud and angry and full of confusion. She knew that confusion was almost always involved whenever somebody killed someone else anyways. So she had already made a sticky perimeter from her right hand that the marching villagers got entangled in. They tried to burn through it but there were only more webs.

With a captive audience, she told them that she had gone blind and meant them no harm. She told them about her idea and why she webbed everything. Then she let them go, and asked for their mercy because the music of their humble lives soothed her and she needed to hear it to go on living. And they, in turn, stopped calling her a witch and came to her for advice since she had heard all of the reverberations of their words and actions.

The Accidental Labyrinth

Once there was a bricklayer who had a daughter as beautiful as any princess, but he was a poor bricklayer. And men from the village were always trying to sneak into the house. So the bricklayer did the only thing he could do and laid down walls within the room and a hallway within a hallway that led to his room first.  It was very uncomfortable for her because the windows were walled over and the room within the room was considerably smaller. And the hallway was so tight she had to side step it.  

But the men kept coming. The bricklayer had a most beautiful daughter and no choice but to build more proxy hallways and rooms that once the men entered, he would wall up and seal their fate. He built the walls so thickly that nobody could break them without the necessary tools. And so he put up hallway after hallway and room after room to trap every man who dared woo the daughter he loved more than anything else.

Thirsty for revenge and hungry to protect his precious gem of a daughter, the bricklayer stayed focused on building his traps but failed to keep in mind any overall plan. Eventually, he trapped himself with suitors on every side and had lost track of where he might even be in relation to his daughter’s room.

The bricklayer’s daughter worried when her dad did not return but when she exited her house she found herself on the outside of her dad’s accidental labyrinth. She knocked along the outer wall and each one claimed to be her father.  

As she sat down to cry, a man approached and asked if she had lost her father.  She was choked up and just nodded. The man promised to get her father out only if he could marry her. Taken aback by the rings on his finger and the handsome robes draped from his broad shoulders, she told him that he didn’t understand. She couldn’t marry him because she didn’t want anyone to save her father. She was crying tears of joy.  

And she shamed the prince for offering such a promise that by the very offering made the opportunity of shrugging off her dad’s self-imposed fate a little harder for her to swallow and this somehow made her feel like it was the prince’s fault.  The prince insisted that she did not know what she was saying and insisted that he ask her father for her hand. At once, she saw her father in this prince. He wasn’t listening to anything she said. He wasn’t royal in spirit but another bricklayer who wanted to do the same thing her dad had done to her.

She showed the prince the sledgehammer and he ripped a hole in the roof where her father was. The prince extended his hand and lifted her father out of the hole. But dad pushed the man in and sealed the roof back up.  

The bricklayer returned to his daughter’s empty room. She had escaped. And her poor father did not understand why. A heavy sleep overcame him. And he slept for days in his daughter’s bed.

When he finally awoke, he found himself wearing his daughter’s dress. When he saw his reflection, the bricklayer didn’t know what overcame him but he could not stop dancing and laughing at himself. And this silly joy attracted men from all around who wanted a dance with such a fun girl. When he tried to tell them that he was a man also, they laughed even harder. When he stopped dancing, the men chased after him to gain his hand in marriage.

The bricklayer walled himself back up in his house. He really wanted to be outside in this dress and dancing and laughing for the sake of nothing but fun in any space without walls (his whole life had been about lousy walls, he screamed in his mind), but he couldn’t with all these serious, deranged men around looking for property to own at all times. And then it dawned on him what he had done to his daughter. He hadn’t protected her. He had imprisoned her. Worse, prepared her for another man to imprison her as well.

To make amends, the bricklayer tore down all the walls he had built. He destroyed the accidental labyrinth. Released all of its prisoners. And became a carpenter who built a nice house of wood with plenty of windows and doors. And he planted a garden and spent his time kneeling beside his plants in the sunshine. He yearned for nothing anymore except the freedom of wide open spaces.

His daughter returned one day but she didn’t recognize her father. She demanded that this man in one of her dresses tell her what had happened to her father and the labyrinth that used to be here. He stroked his beard for the right words to say but they never came. Instead, he brewed her a tea from his garden and asked for her forgiveness. Then it hit her that this was in fact her father so she accepted his heartfelt apology.

She found the new house inviting with all of its doors and windows. And she moved back in. And whenever a man came to visit, if dad didn’t wear him out with dancing wildly in the fields or by showing him everything in his garden, his daughter could easily slip out any window or door if any man let his possessiveness ruin the situation.