Tuesday, March 27, 2007

For Norma

Years ago, there was a castle and a little town on an island in a small lake. It was a peaceful place then, but had been built there amidst enemies, and so only one drawbridge led from the island to the shore. Even though the lake was small and not deep, it was filled with tiny, voracious fish called yellow fingers. So mean were they, that no one would attempt to conquer the castle for fear of these tiny fish.
The surrounding area was fertile and wonderful things grew, and the king was fair and only took enough food in taxes to support the castle itself and some of the townsfolk. One year, there was a particularly good harvest, and the king called for a celebration. Farmers from all around brought wagons full of the best foods, jesters and clowns and musicians and dancers were called in, and all the families of the farmers came to town for the celebration. Shortly before it was to begin, one of the heavily laden wagons was coming across the bridge, and the weight of it was so great that the bridge shattered, and the wagon, team and driver plunged into the water. Within seconds, the fish had devoured everything to the bone.
The town was overcrowded with people, but there were many provisions for the festival, so the king reassured his people that someone would come along to help them rebuild. Sadly, most of the neighboring farmers and their families were trapped on the island and no help was forthcoming. Food started to become scarce and the extra people in the town became a burden on the "facilities". The king called his faithful knights and asked for volunteers to wade across the lake and fetch help. The most valiant volunteered. They dressed in their armor and slowly worked their way into the lake. In no time, the tiny fish figured out how to get through the chinks in the armor, and the knights were eaten alive, just feet from shore.
Things looked desperate. Some of the woodsmen volunteered to try. They tried to build a structure that would support one man as he worked his way across, but the materials weren't strong enough, and he too fell to his death among the voracious yellow fingers.
Finally, the king was at his wits' end. People were starving, people were sick. He called his pages and sent them forth. They all knew it was certain death for the boys, but he had no one else to go. The pages walked slowly into the water. The little yellow fish gathered round, but didn't touch the boys. They walked a little farther. The fish followed them, but kept their distance. The pages were able to walk through the water unscathed, climb the bank on the far side, and run for help. The town was saved.

And the moral of the story is this: Let your pages do the walking through the yellow fingers!

(I'm very sorry about that. Really. It's my dad's favorite joke. I'm also very sorry if you're too young to get the reference. Norma made me do it.)