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Category: Week 12

Week 12 Story: So Much for That (Revised)

One time in a corner of the world, a goose and a mongoose walked along the bank of a raging river.

“Only a goose can swim in such turbulent waters,” said the goose.

The mongoose responded, puffing its chest and standing tall: “I am a mongoose, and so, being ‘mon’ more than a goose, I too can swim in such waters.”

And so the mongoose dove in, and, being more or less a sort of carnivorous rodent, drowned.

So much for the sin of delusion.

One time in a corner of the world, there was a foolish but kind king who delegated much of the work of ruling to his ministers. His counselors, however, were cruel, and passed many villainous acts on his behalf. Each day the ministers would bring their decrees to the absentminded king, who would stamp each in turn with his signet ring.

One day the cruelest of the ministers decided to simplify the process and steal the signet ring for himself. He planned with great care and eventually found himself standing before the signet ring, ripe for the taking, in the king’s private chambers. Upon taking it into his hand, a hole opened in the ceiling and deposited a quite enormous cucumber onto him, crushing him.

The karmic cucumber (not to scale). Pairs well with cheese.
(Image from Wikipedia.)

So much for the sin of theft.

One time in a corner of the world, two old men, one kindhearted and one covetous, lived as neighbors. One day in the corner of his garden, the kindhearted man found an injured bird, which he nursed back to health. Later, the bird brought him a special seed that in time grew into an enormous squash, which the kind old man found to be made of solid gold.

The covetous neighbor, jealous of this fortune, asked where one gets such enormous golden squash. Receiving a truthful answer, he schemed to replicate the process: he shot down a bird into his garden, nursed it back to health, and did, eventually, receive a seed.

In time, the seed grew into an enormous squash. But when the greedy old man went to cut open the squash its hull parted, and, a fierce old man sprang from its insides.

The fierce old man produced a large measuring scale and preceded to aggressively measure the greedy man, finally proclaiming that he was of no use at all. He then cut off the greedy old man’s head.

So much for the sin of covetousness.

Story Source: “The Golden Squash,” from Albert Shelton’s book of Tibetan folk tales, via the course UnTextbook.

Author’s Note: This is a revision StoryLab of my Week 7 story of the same name. In short, I was inspired by the random and bizarre nature of the punishment meted out to the covetous old man. In particular, I was struck by the casual sound of the final sentence — “so much for the sin of covetousness” — and decided to make something of it.

My revisions mostly consisted of improvements in flow and diction.

The bookend phrases: “One time in a corner of the world” and “So much for the sin of ____” are both taken directly from the source story. And the “fierce old man” is straight from the source as well.

Week 12 Reading: Celtic Fairy Tales Part B

Source: Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs via the course UnTextbook.

  • For this set of reading notes, I chose to focus on the story of “King O’Toole and his Goose.”
  • The story is told with an actual character as a narrator, which is a stylistic trick I like a lot, have used before, and will use again.
  • There is a good-hearted king by the name of O’Toole, who was a real sportsman.
  • Eventually, though, the king grew old and could no longer sport, and so was very bored. To entertain himself, he got a goose to swim around his lake and engage in physical activity where he could not. But eventually even the goose grew old and feeble, leaving both king and goose in a morose state.
  • One day, a young man comes to the king; the king introduces himself but the man says he already knows who the king is.
  • The young man promises that he can bring the king’s beloved goose back to health and youth if the king promises him every acre of land the goose flies over.
  • The king accepts this bargain, the deed is done, and King O’Toole keeps up his end of the bargain.
  • Seeing that the King has done right, the young man reveals himself as Saint Kavin, the “greatest of all the saints” (it seems humility was not the virtue that got him sainted in the first place…)
  • And here the story ends.
Peter O’Toole playing King Henry II, so the combination more or less gives us King O’Toole. (Image from Wikipedia.)

Week 12 Reading: Celtic Fairy Tales Part A

Source: Celtic Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs via the course UnTextbook.

A trout. This fellow causes a lot of trouble. (Image from Wikipedia.)
  • For these reading notes, I chose to focus on the story of “Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree,” which we recognize as a version of the story of Snow White.
  • Silver-Tree is a queen, and Gold-Tree is her daughter. One day they go to the woods and come across a glade with a small pond in which a trout lives.
  • Silver-Tree asks the trout who the most beautiful queen in the world is, and the trout answers that is not her but her daughter Gold-Tree.
  • Silver-Tree, furious, resolves to kill Gold-Tree and eat her heart and liver (which is so deeply alarming at so many levels). But it happens that Gold-Tree leaves at this time to be married to a foreign prince, and so the king brings his wife instead the heart and liver of a deer.
  • Eventually, Silver-Tree returns to the trouts pond, but finds its answer unchanged. So, she resolves to travel to Gold-Tree’s new castle and try to kill her.
  • Gold-Tree is weary of her mother, sure of her intentions, but makes the mistake of offering it hand to kiss, into which Silver-Tree plunges a poisoned needle.
  • The prince is struck with grief, but eventually remarries. He does discover, though, that Gold-Tree’s body has been preserved, and so keeps her in a locked room. Some long time later, his new wife comes across Gold-Tree, removes the poison needle from her finger, and so awakens her from her comatose state.
  • Silver-Tree, returning again to the trout, is once again confronted with the fact that Gold-Tree still lives and is still the most beautiful queen. So, Silver-Tree travels once again to see her daughter, and upon arriving, offers her a poisoned drink.
  • The prince’s other wife, knowing of Silver-Tree’s murderous intentions, tells her that it is the local custom that she must first drink of what she offers. The other wife forces Silver-Tree to drink some of the poison, she dies, and the remaining characters (supposedly) live on with no concern for this history of traumatic attempted murders.