IN HONOR OF the fifth anniversary of his celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some favorite articles and advertisements from the past five years.

ONCE THERE WAS a puppy whose mother loved him very much. She taught him how to wag his tail and how to beg the people for food, which are the two best things a dog can know.

One day she decided to teach him about the other animals on the farm.

You can tell what kind of animal it is by the sound it makes,” she told him.

The puppy tilted his head and lifted his ears. He loved sounds.

A cow says ‘moo,’” his mother said. “Dogs are friends to cows, because they are very big and do not eat our food.”

Moo,” the puppy repeated.

A rooster says ‘cock-a-doodle-doo,’” his mother continued. “Dogs are friends to roosters, because roosters help guard the farm.”

The puppy tilted his head the other way to show he was still listening.

A sheep says ‘baa,’” said the mother dog. “Sheep are a bit dim, but easy to get along with. Dogs are friends to sheep.”

Baa,” the puppy repeated.

Now his mother’s face grew dark, and she spoke in grave tones. “A cat says ‘meow,’” she told him. “Dogs hate cats and chase them whenever we can, because cats are evil and manipulative, and they steal our food when we’re not looking. If you see a cat, you chase it.”

When the lesson was over, the puppy trotted off into the fields to play.

On the way, he met a cow.

What kind of animal are you?” the puppy asked.

Moo,” said the cow.

You must be a cow,” the puppy said, “because you say ‘moo.’ My mother told me that dogs are friends to cows.” And he wagged his tail in a friendly way as he passed the cow.

Next he met a rooster. “What kind of animal are you?” the puppy asked.

Cock-a-doodle-doo,” said the rooster.

You must be a rooster,” the puppy said, “because you say ‘cock-a-doodle-doo.’ My mother told me that dogs are friends to roosters.” And he wagged his tail in a friendly way as he passed the rooster.

Next he met a sheep.

What kind of animal are you?” the puppy asked.

Baa,” said the sheep.

You must be a sheep,” the puppy said, “because you say ‘baa.’ My mother told me that dogs are friends to sheep.” And he wagged his tail in a friendly way as he passed the sheep.

Next he met a cat.

What kind of animal are you?” the puppy asked.

Oop oop spickety wickety higgle wiggle splot,” said the cat.

I’m sorry,” the puppy said. “I didn’t quite understand that.”

Picka wacka quicka macka spuckle muckle fleep,” said the cat.

This is very puzzling,” the puppy said. “You can’t be a cow, because cows say ‘moo.’”

Ring rang vippity vop,” said the cat.

And you can’t be a rooster, because roosters say ‘cock-a-doodle-doo,’” the puppy continued.

Skee-beet zu-rack flack be dack wack vo vack,” said the cat.

And you can’t be a sheep, because sheep say ‘baa.’”

Blibber blap cobble snap,” said the cat.

And you can’t be a cat, because cats say ‘meow.’”

Bitterby batterby wittil drip,” said the cat.

I’ll have to tell my mother that I’ve discovered a new kind of animal,” the puppy said. “Won’t she be proud of me!” And he wagged his tail in a friendly way as he passed the cat.

The cat watched the puppy romp off into the field. Then he turned and went back to his own mother, who had been watching from a patch of weeds.

You see, it’s just as I told you,” said the mother cat. “Dogs are a bit dim, but easy to get along with.”

Published in: on June 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  


IN HONOR OF the fifth anniversary of his celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some favorite articles and advertisements from the past five years.

No. 1.—The Organ-Grinder.

“Mother,” said the clever little girl, “look at that funny man over there with the funny machine! Who is he?”

“That man is an organ-grinder, dear child, and if you knew how useful he was you would not think him funny at all.”

“Indeed? Oh, do tell me what he does, mother, for I love to hear you explain things. What is that machine that makes such funny noises, and why is he cranking it like that?”

“He is grinding organs, my dear. When old churches have no more need of their pipe organs, whether because they have replaced them with electrical imitations or because they prefer to sing anaemic folk songs backed by three chords on a guitar, they sell their old organs to this man, and he grinds them into compost.”

“But what are those loud tooting noises I hear from his machine?”

“Those, clever child, are the last agonies of a dying pipe organ. It is a cruel but necessary business, just as I told you when we went to see your uncle’s abattoir.”

“But, mother, what does he do with the compost when he has ground the organs?”

“He sells it to garden centers and farms, where it may even be used to grow new organs of the electrical sort.”

“How useful he is, then! I do not think him funny at all anymore. But one thing I have forgot to ask, dear mother, because I love hearing you talk so much. Why does he keep that funny little monkey with him? What does the monkey do?”

“That little monkey is the man’s administrative assistant, my dear. He sends the monkey around to pay people for bringing in organs to be ground. In a little while, you will see the monkey come around with a hat full of money. Then you should take a few coins from the hat, and the next time we find an organ for which no one has a use anymore, we shall bring it to the organ-grinder, and he will be very pleased to grind it.”

Published in: on June 28, 2012 at 11:55 am  Comments (1)  


IN HONOR OF the fifth anniversary of his celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some favorite articles and advertisements from the past five years.

No. 38.—A Simple Aeroplane.

IT WAS NOT long ago by geological measurements that my friend Ned and I found ourselves drawn to a small lake in the upper part of the state of West Virginia. The hither shore was easily approached through an open woodland terminating in a verdant and gentle slope to the water; but the far side was lined with sheer rock cliffs, at the top of which we could see delightful green forests, which, we persuaded ourselves, must be inhabited by nymphs, and unicorns, and all the other delightful creatures of classical mythology with which a diligent attention to our education had filled our youthful fancies.

We could see no safe ascent from the shore up the stony faces of the cliffs, so that even a small homemade boat, which we had learned to construct as early as Section No. 23 from a few discarded soup cans and the dental floss which Ned’s mother always insisted that he carry in the pocket of his jodhpurs, would be of no avail in conveying us to that enchanted forest at the top of the cliffs.

How we longed for an aeroplane! But there was, alas, no aeroplane to be found, as a quick but thorough search of the hither shore of the lake revealed to us. Nevertheless, we swore a solemn juvenile oath that we should not allow another day to pass without seeing what was at the top of those rocky eminences which seemed to taunt us with their inaccessibility.

The sun had scarcely risen on a new day when we were already hard at work with axe and hatchet, felling the saplings with which we proposed to construct our simple aeroplane. To build the “fuselage,” which was what the central body of an aeroplane was called in those days, we simply tied a number of the straighter saplings together with some sturdy vines, which grew in great profusion among the woodlands bordering the lake. The wings presented more of a challenge, as we deemed a more or less flat surface desirable; but we soon found that sycamore bark, which could easily be peeled off the trees that grew almost up to the shore of the lake, made an excellent covering for a wing constructed of half a dozen light saplings lashed side by side after the manner of a small river raft. More sycamore bark was used to make the ailerons, which were controlled from the front seat by vine ropes arranged as simple pulleys; and a rudder of the same material was added, controlled by another vine pulley from the rear seat.

All that remained to be supplied was some means of motive power. Fortunately there was a boat ramp with a small parking lot nearby, and it was a simple matter to remove the engine from one of the parked cars and put it to better use. A stout board from the fishing pier made an admirable propeller, and so our aeroplane was finished while the sun was yet fairly low in the sky.

We launched our aircraft with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and in no time we had ascended to the top of the cliffs beyond the lake and were seeing that mythical land beyond with our own eyes. The trees we had spied from the lower shore turned out to be the border of a scrap-metal dealer’s establishment; but, as the manager of the junkyard was a centaur, we did not feel disappointed in our adventure. Best of all, we knew now that we could build and fly an aeroplane, with no preparation and little expense, whenever the ordinary means of transportation were not sufficient for us.

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  


From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.

IN HONOR OF the fifth anniversary of his celebrated Magazine on the World-Wide Web, Dr. Boli is reprinting some favorite articles and advertisements from the past five years. This particular little story, rather sneakily, has become the most popular article Dr. Boli has ever published, largely by popping up in search engines when people are searching for another similar story and (apparently) failing to find it.

ONCE THERE WAS a little Dutch boy who discovered a leak in the dike.

What should he do? From a single leak, a terrible breach might grow. The whole country could be flooded, and everyone he knew would drown.

So he did the only thing he could think of. He stuck his finger in the dike, and the leak stopped.

Of course, now he was stuck. He couldn’t move, because as soon as he did, the leak would start again.

So he stood there for quite some time. He was rather tired, and his finger felt a bit numb from the effort of holding back the North Sea, but he knew he was doing his duty.

At last the Burgomaster happened to pass by.

“Young man,” he said with a certain amount of sternness, “why are you poking your finger in the dike?”

“I am stopping a leak,” the boy explained. “I saw the dike leaking, so I stuck my finger in the hole.”

“Heroic boy!” the Burgomaster exclaimed. “You shall be rewarded! Meanwhile, keep your finger there while I call the Burghers together.”

So the Burgomaster called a meeting of the Burghers, and they agreed that the boy had heroically saved Holland.

“And now,” the Burgomaster asked, “what shall we do about the leak?”

“It seems to me,” one of the Burghers replied, “that private enterprise has already found an admirable solution to the problem. The boy has stuck his finger in the dike, and the leak has stopped. You might describe it as voluntary self-regulation. There is no need for expensive government action.”

So the Burghers voted to award the boy a Certificate of Good Citizenship, which the Burgomaster was delighted to be able to present to him the next day.

“Thank you,” the boy said politely, “but I still have my finger in this dike.”

“And we appreciate that,” the Burgomaster replied. “I may confidently speak for the whole Council of Burghers in saying that your heroic action is universally admired.”

So the boy stood there with his finger in the dike for a few more days.

It was not long, however, before another leak sprang in the dike, a little bit farther down the way.

“What shall we do?” the Burgomaster asked the Burghers. “There is another leak.”

“As private enterprise has so admirably solved the previous problem,” one of the Burghers responded, “the solution to this new leak is obvious. We need only persuade another heroic boy to stick his finger in it.”

So they went into the local school and found another boy who, after much persuasion, was willing to stick his finger in the dike.

It was, however, only a few days later that two more leaks appeared. This time it was much harder to persuade boys to stick their fingers in the holes; and when, a week later, half a dozen more leaks appeared, no volunteers were to be found.

“What shall we do?” the Burgomaster asked the Council. “Private enterprise seems no longer to be adequate. We may have to repair the dike itself this time.”

“Nonsense,” said one of the Burghers. “The solution that worked before will work again. We must simply force private enterprise into action.”

So the Council visited the school and dragged a number of young boys by the ears to the dike, where they were forced to plug the leaks with their fingers.

But the dike, which was old and poorly maintained, continued to spring new leaks here and there, so that it was all the Burghers could do to find more boys to plug up the leaks with their fingers. At last the Burghers compelled every little boy in the Low Countries to stick his finger in a hole. All economic activity came to a halt, as it is well known that young boys are the leading consumers of skates and cheese, on which the economy of Holland depended at that time.

“What shall we do?” the Burgomaster asked the Council. “We have run out of heroic little boys. At this rate, we may have to plug the leaks with our own fingers.”

“That would be moderately inconvenient,” one of the Burghers remarked.

So the Council voted to remove the North Sea by digging a new seabed somewhere in Germany; and they voted themselves a number of solid gold spades, befitting their dignity, for the purpose. And if you go to suburban Wilhelmshaven right now, and look into the field to your right as you drive westward on the Friedenstrasse, you will see a number of Dutch burghers very busy with their spades, trying to dig a new bed for the North Sea. It is lucky for them that the people of Wilhelmshaven have mistaken the burghers for a party of archaeologists looking for ancient Saxon remains, which has allowed them to continue the work uninterrupted.

Published in: on June 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  


ANNOUNCER. And now Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, proudly presents…

(Music: Fanfare)

ANNOUNCER. The Adventures of Sir Montague Blastoff, Interplanetary Space Dragoon!

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. Tonight we find Sir Montague busy with Form 267-G, Paperwork Reduction Documentation Checklist, when Colonel Wilhelmina Darling suddenly bursts through the door.

COL. DARLING. Monty! Oh, Monty! You’ll never guess what’s happened!

SIR MONTAGUE. Well, you certainly do look happy about it, whatever it is. I’d say it would have to be some ripping good news.

COL. DARLING. I’ll say it is! I just heard I’m being promoted to brigadier!

SIR MONTAGUE. Brigadier? Are you positively sure?

COL. DARLING. I just heard it from the station master! He just had a message from general headquarters on the communicatron that I was to report to HQ right away!

SIR MONTAGUE. Oh, dear me!

COL. DARLING. Why, Monty, aren’t you happy for me?

SIR MONTAGUE. But you know what this means, don’t you, Colonel?

COL. DARLING. I assume it means more responsibility and a higher pay grade. Why? Is it supposed to mean something else?

SIR MONTAGUE. Why, my dear, it means you’re being… Well, there’s no way to sugar-coat this, is there? It means you’re being written out of the series.

COL. DARLING. Written out? But—but no!

SIR MONTAGUE. Now, my dear, you knew something like this would come eventually.

COL. DARLING. But I thought I had a long time left! I mean—how could it happen to me? I’m only nineteen and ravishingly beautiful!

SIR MONTAGUE. True, you are, as you have been for the past thirty-four seasons. But youth is not always exempt from the inevitable debt of nature.

COL. DARLING. But—but what happens to people when they get…written out?

SIR MONTAGUE. Well, nobody knows, my dear. Some believe they go to a happy place where there are no more bad scripts to memorize and no more sponsors to kowtow to. Some Eastern religions believe they are reincarnated as characters on other radio dramas. And, of course, there are those who think that, after that, there’s, well…nothing.

COL. DARLING. I feel cold.

SIR MONTAGUE. Be brave, Wilhelmina. I shall always remember you and your fine bureaucratic mind fondly. And of course you will live on in reruns. I say, that’s something, isn’t it?

LOUDSPEAKER VOICE. Paging Colonel Wilhelmina Darling! Paging Colonel Wilhelmina Darling!

SIR MONTAGUE. It’s time, my dear.

COL. DARLING. But…but I don’t want to…

LOUDSPEAKER VOICE. Paging Colonel Wilhelmina Darling! Paging Colonel Wilhelmina Darling!

SIR MONTAGUE. You know what you must do.

COL. DARLING (sighing). Darling here.

LOUDSPEAKER VOICE. Oh, there you are. Listen, I’m awfully sorry about this, but you know how hard it is to understand people on the communicatron sometimes, and, well… I just got the papers from the facsimilator, and it turns out—I’m really sorry—that promotion wasn’t for you after all.

COL. DARLING. Not for me?

LOUDSPEAKER VOICE. No, it was for Colonel Gwendolina Barley. I just heard it wrong. I’m really sorry. I know you deserve that promotion more than some random character who doesn’t even have a speaking part.

COL. DARLING. Oh, that’s all right. Really it is.

LOUDSPEAKER VOICE. Well, you’re a very brave girl, and I’m sure you’ll get the promotion you deserve someday. Station master out.

COL. DARLING. Oh, Monty! That means I’m not being written out after all! I’m still your sidekick and occasional love interest!

SIR MONTAGUE. And that’s jolly reassuring. I wasn’t looking forward to breaking in another. Now, help us with this paperwork-reduction paperwork, will you, my dear?

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. Don’t miss next week’s exciting episode: Sir Montague Blastoff Fills Out a Purchase Order! Till then, remember that a day without Malt-O-Cod increases your chance of dying in an alpine avalanche by more than 18%. Don’t take chances with your growing body. Drink Malt-O-Cod every day. Malt-O-Cod is the only malt food drink with the rich, satisfying flavor of real cod-liver oil, now with the exclusive Sir Montague Blastoff rubber stamp in every package. It’s the malt food drink that’s brain food—Malt-O-Cod!

(Music: In full, then out.)

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 10:57 am  Comments (1)  


Although no recordings of the old Captain Pleonasm radio serial have survived, a number of the original scripts were recently unearthed in the archives of the Northern Broadcasting Company.

ANNOUNCER. Malt-O-Cod, the delicious and nutritious malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

(Music: Theme, up and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. The Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy! Now featuring the Malt-O-Cod Orchestra and Chorus, directed by Alban Berg.

(Music: In full.)

CHORUS. Don’t throw a fit or have a spasm:
It’s time for Captain Pleonasm!
He battles evil, and, forsooth,
He fights for justice and for truth!
He hates the bad and loves the good,
As self-respecting heroes should.
He conquers villains strange and odd,
And saves the world for Malt-O-Cod!

(Music: Fade.)

ANNOUNCER. As you recall, in last week’s episode, Captain Pleonasm and Interjection Boy had just arrived at the scene of a mysterious break-in at a plumbing-supplies store, when suddenly…

CAPT. PLEONASM. Look out, Interjection Boy! Take steps to evade an attack! An unknown assailant lurks in the shadows, taking advantage of the cover of darkness in an attempt to remain unseen!

INTERJECTION BOY. Jumpin’ Jebusites, Captain Pleonasm! He’s got a gun pointed at us!

PIPEFINGER. It’s just my finger.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Lo and behold! The figure speaks! From the unknown being in the darkness and shadow proceeds a voice that—

INTERJECTION BOY. Merciful malamutes, Captain Pleonasm, will you let him talk?

PIPEFINGER. I am pointing at you, Captain Pleonasm, because I have a warning for you.

INTERJECTION BOY. Margaret Morrison, mister, is that really your finger? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finger that long.

PIPEFINGER. That is because I am Pipefinger, and from now on every plumbing-supply dealer in the tri-state area will live in terror of me!

INTERJECTION BOY. Golly gumdrops, Captain Pleonasm, it’s a new supervillain!

(Music: Stinger.)

CAPT. PLEONASM. Then what is your evil scheme, O long-fingered villain of the night? What dreadful fate have you plotted for me and my faithful and trustworthy sidekick and assistant, known to the world as Interjection Boy?

PIPEFINGER. I’ll tell you all about that soon enough, but first you have to hear my origin story. I didn’t lure you here just to do away with you before you could even hear my origin story. Now you must listen!

INTERJECTION BOY. Heck, that seems fair, Captain Pleonasm. The least we could do is listen to his tragic origin story.

PIPEFINGER. Once I was an ordinary plumber, no different from millions of other ordinary plumbers. But then, one day, I picked up a six-inch length of copper pipe. Noticing that there was a bit of putty stuck inside it, I pushed my finger in and tried to remove the debris. And my finger got stuck! It was sealed in there by the putty!

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. And what terrible and destructive powers has this unnatural junction of man and pipe given you? With what awesome abilities are you cursed?

PIPEFINGER. Well, I’ve got a pipe. On my finger.

INTERJECTION BOY. Well, natterin’ nabobs, Pipefinger, that doesn’t sound like much of a superpower.

PIPEFINGER. My right index finger! Do you have any idea how annoying that is?

INTERJECTION BOY. Gracious gallinules, Pipefinger, you mean your superpower is that you’re annoyed?

PIPEFINGER. All the time! And now I have come to wreak my revenge on all dealers in plumbing supplies!

(Music: Stinger.)

ANNOUNCER. Will Captain Pleonasm and Interjection Boy succumb to the dreadful fate prepared for them by Pipefinger, whatever it is? Will Pipefinger’s annoyance make serious inroads into the profits of the plumbing-supplies industry in the tri-state area? Don’t miss next week’s hair-raising, knuckle-whitening episode of the Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy!

(Music: Theme, in full and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. When Captain Pleonasm comes back after a long night of keeping the city’s plumbing-supplies emporia safe from supervillainy, what’s the first thing he reaches for? It’s Malt-O-Cod, the only malt beverage flavored with 100% real cod-liver oil. Kids, ask your moms for Malt-O-Cod, now with an official Captain Pleonasm pipe wrench in every package. (Use only as directed.) It’s the malt food drink that’s brain food—Malt-O-Cod.

(Music: In full, then out.)

Published in: on January 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm  Leave a Comment  


“MAMMA, I GAVE a penny to a poor man this morning. Was I a good boy for so doing?’

“It depends on the motive you had in view. Did you give it to him because you thought it would do him good?”

“Yes, mamma, I did; for I saw that he was miserable and unhappy, and when I passed him he held out his hat and begged for a penny so that he could buy a trifle to eat. So I thought of the penny I had in my pocket, and I said to myself, ‘Perhaps with my penny he can buy some food, and then he will not be so miserable.'”

“I am sorry to hear it, my dear boy. This is what you should have thought: ‘This man is poor and in dire need, and I possess the means whereby to sustain his life for another day. This possession gives me the power to place him forever in my debt, and to bind him by invisible chains to do my will in hopes of gaining the penny, which after all I may not give to him if I am not pleased with him. And with the profit I make from his servitude I may purchase the lives of multitudes of similar beggars, and gradually form myself an army of shuffling automatons whose very existence depends on my pleasure.'”

“Ah! mamma, I wish I had thought of that, but I am sure I did not intend to do wrong. You know, mamma, I love you so dearly, that I strive to please you in all things.”

“Yes, my dear, I know you love me, and that is because I hold your wretched little life in my hands, is it not? So think, dear child, when next you meet a beggar, what unimaginable power the single penny in your pocket gives you over the wretched lives of those less fortunate than yourself, and you will make me proud of you.”

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 11:13 pm  Comments (5)  


AS IT WAS first printed in Songs for Rotten Children, London, 1859.

Boucicault, Boucicault, where have you been?
I’ve been down to London to play for the queen.
Boucicault, Boucicault, what did you there?
I bored the poor woman out of her chair.

Published in: on September 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  


IN OLDEN TIMES, our forefathers huddled around the fire and told the story of Why the Osprey Has No Xylophone. Now our forefathers are all dead, and serve them right. And this is the story they told:—

Many moons ago—Io, and Europa, and Charon, and Titan, and Ganymede, and Phobos, and Triton, and Callisto, and Oberon, and Tethys ago—the osprey was king of all the birds. At that remote time the avian world was governed as a constitutional monarchy, and the osprey’s duties were confined to opening shopping centers, signing letters of commendation, and posing for portraits on currency, which, in the days before printing, naturally took up most of a reigning monarch’s schedule.

One day the osprey told his prime minister, an ambitious young herring gull, “I should like to have a tulip.”

“Get it yourself,” replied the prime minister, who  was positively mad with power.

So the osprey set out on an epic quest for a tulip. He traveled to the ends of the earth, slew monsters, ate at dreadful fast-food joints, and endured such hardships as no king before or since has ever endured. At length he came to a plateau in Anatolia that was carpeted from end to end with tulips, but he decided that tulips weren’t all they were cracked up to be and flew home disappointed.

On his return, he discovered that his throne had been declared vacant, and the former prime minister was now ruling as General Secretary of the People’s Revolutionary Council. “We don’t need kings anymore,” he explained. “But we do have an opening for a new registrar of deeds.”

Having tried out that position for a month, however, the osprey decided that if he never registered another deed it would be just peachy. He therefore went into business for himself selling collectible porcelain figurines to pigeons, who have an insatiable appetite for that sort of thing. Eventually he retired to a trailer park outside Sarasota, where as far as anyone knows he still resides today. And that, dear children, is why the osprey has no xylophone, but has a marimba instead.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm  Comments (9)  


From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.

ONCE A LITTLE girl was walking along in the cheerful summer forest when she came across a man who was tied to a tree by every sort of chain and shackle.

“Oh, you poor prisoner!” the little girl exclaimed. “I’ll run and get help for you immediately!”

“No, no, you misunderstand,” said the man, who was bound but not gagged, so that at least he could say anything he liked. “I am a completely free man.”

“You don’t look free to me,” said the little girl. “For one thing, you’re chained to the tree by that thing around your waist.”

“Oh, I put that chain there,” the man explained. “I wanted to be safe from falling down, so I chained myself to this tree, which as you can see is quite sturdy. This way I’ll never fall down and bump my head. No price is too high for security, you know.”

“But your legs are shackled together,” the little girl remarked.

“You’re very observant,” the man answered. “If my legs could move freely, they might slide apart, and I would start to slip down the tree, which would be very uncomfortable. So you see, since I’ve chained myself to the tree, it’s much more comfortable to have my legs shackled.”

“But your right arm is chained to this big branch with a bronze chain,” the little girl said.

“It’s gold,” the man replied.

“It looks like bronze to me,” the little girl said.

“I was assured that it was gold,” the man told her. “A very rich man came along with this beautiful gold chain and told me that, if I would let him chain my right arm with it, then I could admire his gold chain all the time, and I would never have to stop looking at it.”

“But your left hand is tied to the chain behind your back,” the little girl said.

“Yes,” the man agreed. “You see, I’m right-handed, so it’s not much use to me to have my left hand flailing about, is it?”

“I see,” the little girl said. “And you’re sure you don’t want me to go find someone to untie you?”

“Oh, no,” said the man. “I have chosen every one of my chains and shackles with absolute freedom. There is not a man on earth who is freer than I.”

So the little girl told the man that it had been pleasant talking with him, and the man wished her a very good day, and the little girl went on her way into the lovely green forest, thinking about what she had seen and heard.

“Well,” the little girl said to herself as she walked, “I suppose he seems happy enough. But still, I’m glad I’m not free. I don’t think I’d like it at all.”

Published in: on February 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm  Comments (4)