Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The King and the Royal Trees

The King and the Royal Trees
by Paul Aird

The King had a frightful dream. He dreamt that while riding his horse through the Royal Forest, the south wind called: "Beware of falling trees! Beware of falling trees!"

Though the trees were beautiful and waved gently in the wind, the King was frightened. He turned his horse and galloped out of the forest.

The next morning the King ordered his people to cut down all the trees in the kingdom. "We do not want the trees to fall down and hurt our children," he reasoned. "We will remove the forest and grow vegetables instead."

The people liked the King's idea, for now they had their pick of the finest wood in the forest to build houses and furniture, and the rest of the trees were sold at handsome prices to neighbouring kingdoms.

Once all of the trees were cut down, the King felt happy -- and relieved. But the people were unhappy. They missed the trees, which had provided work for loggers and carpenters, and homes for birds. Although they sadly missed their work, they missed the birds most of all.

Soon after the trees were gone, a dry south wind began to blow. It blew day after day. The vegetable crops began to wither and die. People huddled helplessly in their houses watching the wind uproot their gardens and scatter the dead plants across the land.

The King was worried. He called for his horse and rode through the fields to inspect the damage. There were no more trees to break the fury of the wind. As the wind blew faster, it swept withered plants and soil past the King, who watched dumbly as his kingdom blew northward.

Lost in clouds of dust and drifting sand, fatigue overcame the King. Nodding asleep in the saddle, he heard the south wind call: "Beware of falling trees! Beware of falling trees!"

* This is the second story in a trio of environmental stories that CANVAS will publish (hopefully) later this year. The first is "The Hummingbird" which is already viewable on our website. All three stories are slated to be illustrated by three women Magsaysay-related artists. Plet Bolipata did the works for "The Hummingbird," Ivee Olivares-Mellor is our artist for this story, and we're keeping our fingers crossed for the great Anita Magsaysay Ho who has agreed (in principle) to do our third story, "Message in the Sand."

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