The Wishing Tree

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A story about a wishing tree, a donkey, and something that isn't free.

Submitted: July 19, 2016

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Submitted: July 19, 2016

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This story begins on a less traveled road, this dirt and cobblestone road that wandered through the countryside, along the rolling hills, and grassy meadows. This road is called the Tinker's Highway and serves the tradesmen, the merchants, and farmer alike.

The year is the year of our Lord, fourteen-hundred and twelve, AD, and it is early fall.

 

The scene begins on the Tinker's Highway as it passes through a meadow and over a rickety wooden bridge, nearby is a majestic Oak Tree with its branches spreading in all directions.

Along this road comes a donkey with a rather portly man a-top it's back; on each side of the donkey are leather satchels stuffed to the brim with who knows what.

 

***

 

"Get along donkey!" barked the portly man, “I wish to reach the Inn at Rosella before sundown."

What a sight, this very short and round man, with satchels filled to the brim, sitting a-top such a small

Animal; and as the donkey moved, so swayed the load he carried.

As the donkey reached the rickety wooden bridge, he stopped and refused to move any further.

"Get along donkey!" barked the man, but to no avail.

The donkey seemed to sensed something dangerous about the bridge and was not about to move.

"Get along donkey, "Get along!" barked the man again.

"I do not think the Donkey is going to go," said a voice from seemingly nowhere.

The portly man pulled his sword from it's sheath and demanded to know who was talking.

"Come out from behind that tree or I shall ride over there and cut you to pieces," the man demanded!

"Like I said, I do not think the Donkey is going to move, not a cross that bridge, nor is he going to charge at me like a raging stallion. In fact, I would be surprised if you could get him to move at all." Then laughter was heard throughout the area.

"Who am I talking to?" demanded the portly little fellow.

"Why, I am the Oak that stands before you. And who might you be?"

"I am Augustus Scarron, a merchant from Nice, and I am in route to my home for the winter months. What is the name by which you are called? Augustus inquired in a cautioned voice.

"I am The Wishing Oak, but you may call me Tree, if you wish," the Oak said.

Augustus did like free things, even if he had to beg, borrow, or steal them,so when he heard the word Wish, he assumed the wishes were for free. And sensing an opportunity for something free Augustus inquired, "What kind of wishes do you grant?"

"GRANT wishes!" Tree said as he laughed an even greater laugh. "No, no, you misunderstand, I do not GRANT wishes, I sell or barter as the situation demands. Even Wishing Wells demand payment of some kind, as do I."

Augustus looked puzzled and asked, "What kind of payment would an Oak Tree need?"

"Well, at the moment the ground around me could use some nourishment, animal waste usually helps. With the right amount of nourishment on the ground, I will grow stronger and even taller.

As you can see, I am a tree, so I cannot go get nourishment for myself, but you could. I will trade you a wish for one load of nutrients for the ground around me. You could purchase it from the farmer that lives just down the road; he has several cows, sheep, and some goats. I am sure that he would love to rid his property of some excess waste. He lives in the direction you are traveling, it isn't very far," said Wish happily.

"What wish do I get in return?" Augustus asked.

"You could wish that your donkey was safely on the other side of that rickety bridge. You could wish that he would be whisk across without the bridge collapsing under all that weight.

Just think about it, if the bridge did collapse the fall would surly kill the poor little animal, or he might drown in the river. If that happened, then you might lose the donkey and whatever is in those satchels.

So, I would say that that is the smartest wish you could make, under the circumstances," Tree said, while its branches swayed ever so gently in the afternoon breeze.

Augustus replied, with a scowl on his little round face, "I do not have time to go get manure and bring it back here, besides, I would need a cart and a shovel to do that, and I have neither." 

Tree laughed ever so slightly and said, "That is not a problem, for a slight additional fee I am sure that the farmer will do all that for you. All you need do is to strike a deal for the cost of the nourishment, the delivery, pay him, and then he will handle all the particulars. At that point, the end of our bargain will be fulfilled and you could continue on your way."

Once again Augustus tried to get the donkey to move, but instead of walking, the donkey sat down. That, in turn, caused Augustus to fall off, cursing and screaming all the while.

Augustus pulled on the donkeys ears, trying to get him to move, but he would not budge; he just sat there making donkey sounds rather loudly.

"Very well, I want the wish!" Augustus yelled.

"Good, first you must sit on the wishing stone, it is a large flat rock and it is right over there."

Augustus hollered, "Hay wait a minute, I thought you gave out the wishes! Why do I have to sit on that stone?"

"It is just a formality; the stone makes it official, so to speak. It is no big deal, all you have to do is to sit on the stone, recite the agreement and make the wish, and boom, it's done; oh, and you have to face west while doing so."

"Why west?"

"I don't know, I didn't make up the rules. It is like the Genie in the bottle, you want the Genie to come out, then you have to rub the lamp THREE TIMES, not two, not six, three. Those are the rules!" Tree replied very loudly.

Augustus stuck his head down and walked over to the rock, grumbling to himself. Once there, he hoisted himself up, recited all the agreement words Tree told him to say, and made the wish.

When Augustus got down from the stone he turned to see the donkey happily munching on the clearing of tall grass. The donkey was just a short distance from the bridge, the other side of the bridge.

"There you are, your wish has been granted and my part of the bargain is fulfilled, now it is your turn," Tree happily stated.

"Hay, I'm not across the bridge," Augustus complained.

Tree replied, "True, but that was not part of the wish. The wish mentioned only the donkey and the satchels, not once were you mentioned. A deal is a deal, unless you want to make another wish and strike another deal."

"No, no more wishes, this one will cost me enough as it is," replied Augustus. Then he walked slowly and cautiously across the bridge.

After reaching the other side, Augustus took the donkey by the reins, grumbling all the while, and led him down the road.

A few moments later a man came out from behind some bushes and headed down the road in the same direction. When the man from the bushes reached the farm he saw Augustus paying the farmer, then Augustus got on his donkey and left.

"How much did we get this time Papa?" asked the man from the bushes.

"Just about the same as the last time Son, but it is a greedy mans money, he didn't work for it and neither will we.

That man, Augustus, may know how to do business, but he knows nothing about trees. The very idea that anyone would have to deliver fertilizer to a well fed river tree," Papa said as he laughed.

The Son replied, "His donkey didn't come after the carrots as quickly as the previous animals have, I thought that you were going to have to drag him across that bridge.

It is a good thing Augustus was a slow talker, it is a good thing too because that gave you enough time to get the donkey to follow you."

More laughter from both men followed.

"Well, taking a greedy mans money is always a pleasure," said Papa, "but money is not what is valuable.

The gifts that we are given and how we use them, that is what is valuable, even ventriloquism Son, even ventriloquism." 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF  ---  07-18-2016

 


© Copyright 2017 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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