Once there was a foolish man named Donnie Dumbbell. Donnie owned a small farm with a vegetable garden, a little grove of apple trees, a pretty little white cottage, and one horse that was as clever as Donnie was silly. Donnie loved his simple life on the farm, where he could eat plump, juicy tomatoes on deliciously crisp lettuces from his garden with fresh apple pie for dessert all he wanted, and ride his horse around the lovely hillside that surrounded his farm. It was a good life… except for one rather bothersome thing that begins precisely the same time as this story.
Donnie’s horse was so clever that he devised a way to sneak into his precious garden and munch up Donnie’s carrots. Every afternoon when he would go to pluck the tasty orange vegetables from the earth, he would find horseshoe prints tracked to and from the carrot patch. Donnie could not think of what to do about this for a long, long time. So for many days, Donnie had no carrots, which he loved to eat with his salads and warm apple pie every night. Donnie was very foolish, after all, and did not think to build a fence around his vegetable patch.
One day after the silly man had picked the turnips, lettuce, peas, spinach, beets, tomatoes, and corn from the garden (but no carrots!) and wandered to the apple grove to select the sweetest for his pie, he found that all his lovely fruits had either been eaten whole, bitten out of, or knocked to the ground to be trodden on! And again, horse tracks led from the orchard to where the clever animal stood chewing the last apple core. Donnie boiled with anger! He scolded his horse loudly and stomped to his cottage, with no fruit for his dessert.
This unpleasant turn of events continued for a good while. Donnie missed his golden apple pies and juicy carrot sticks on salad. And still, foolish Donnie did not know what to do! He pondered for days, spending his time thinking up possible plans to save his crop instead of riding his considerably smarter horse.
Two months after the first crop of carrots had been stolen, and seven weeks after the horse had first ransacked the apple orchard, Donnie was searching for some rope in his house when he had a great idea! Donnie scrabbled for his twine as quickly as his hands could scrabble, then he ran, panting with excitement, to a tree on the edge of his property, far from the harvest. Smiling broadly, he tied the horse to the tree, then placing a trough of water by the base of the oak. Now, thought Donnie, my carrots and apples can grow again! And that pesky animal can graze on grass like any other stinkin’ horse!
While Donnie, who thought himself very clever (even though he was foolish for not thinking up his plot sooner) sat in his little white house, happy for the first time in two months, his horse was rather angry and devising his own clever plan of action.
The horse began to graze along the very outside of his space. He stretched his rope to the utmost extent, and chomped away at the grass in a perfect circle nearly three feet deep. After the horse’s stomach was full to bursting, late in the evening, he fell asleep tied to his rope. The smart creature dreamed of apple cores and carrot tops and his own sharp wits.
Before Donnie came to fill his horse’s trough up, the horse pushed the huge basin to the mark where the grass had not yet been eaten. When his master finally came, after the horse had watched with pangs of envy the picking of the apples and carrots, he clomped at the earth to indicate that he had grazed on all of the grass available… for Donnie could only see the trough and the chewed grass!
Foolish Donnie did not want his horse to starve, pesky or not. So, even though a sensible person would have realized that no being could eat so much grass, he filled the trough and came back with clippers and five feet of rope. Donnie cut the necklace of twine around the creature’s neck, and tied the loose ends to another five feet of rope, which went around his throat again.
The horse continued to chew a border around his grazing area and hide the uneaten blades with his trough until the leash nearly extended to the vegetable patch and its neighboring orchard. He could think of nothing but the promise of real food, crunchy carrots, sweet apples, at last! His dreams made him dreadfully hungry, even more so than they had before now that he was near his goal. Finally, Donnie mindlessly added a few yards to the rope, and the moment his foot crossed the threshold of his cottage the horse was galloping across the farm to his first real dinner in ages!
Meanwhile, Donnie was rolling out the dough for an apple pie when he thought of his neglected horse. Recalling the time when he had no apples to fill the crust he was sculpting, he suddenly felt a blow of sympathy. After all, horses adore carrots and apples even more than humans do! Foolish Donnie stopped his work and traded his rolling pin for large, sharp scissors. He rushed out the door in attempt to stop his “clever” plan…
And then he realized that it had already been stopped. Donnie’s mouth opened in a huge “O” of surprise, and then drifted into a grin. The horse did not see Donnie’s joyous face, only that he was there, and rushed from the garden with his head bowed, a wave of remorse washing over him. The creature ambled solemnly up to his friend and nuzzled his arm in a whinny of apology. Donnie laughed aloud and stroked his pet’s head.
“You clever boy.”
And from that day forward, the clever horse never stole Donnie’s crop, and foolish Donnie always shared.
© Copyright 2016 Ella Winter. All rights reserved.
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