A Tale

 

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in the enchanted land of Washingtaria. This land was ruled by wicked wolves. They ruled the land without compassion and charged all the people lots of taxes. Most of the inhabitants could not pay these taxes and went into debt.

Twice a year, once at the end of fall and once at the end of spring, the wicked wolves made all the people go into various rooms and gave them pieces of paper. The people would make markings on these papers, and whoever made markings that pleased the wolves would be allowed to live. Everyone else was eaten by the wolves.

It was the morning of the spring paper-marking day, and the boy had been told by his friend that he was to go into his paper-marking room at 8:30. The boy had actually stayed up all through the night studying which markings pleased the wolves and which did not. So at 8:30 he went into his paper-marking room. A wolf greeted him.

"Hello, boy," said the wolf with a foul grimace. "Name?"

"Boris, sir, if you please," said the boy.

"Hmmm..." The wolf scratched his head. "You are not on this list. Get out!" He bared his teeth unpleasantly.

Confused, the boy left the room. "Oh no" said the boy. "My paper-marking time is now and I do not know where I am supposed to go!" The boy decided to try another room. He went into another room where people had already started marking their papers, but he was not on that list either. "Oh no!" said the boy again. He tried another room, and another. But he was not on any of the lists. "Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!" cried the boy in despair. "I am to be eaten by wolves!"

Then the boy had an idea. "I know!" he said. "I will visit the unicorn! Maybe she can help me before it's too late!" And he ran swiftly on his way.

Very soon he arrived at the cottage of the wise unicorn, whose name was Physics Secretary. "O unicorn!" he gasped, "Where is my paper-marking room? I have searched all over for it but I have not found it!"

The unicorn looked wisely at the boy, but did not say anything. Then the boy noticed that the room around him seemed to be shifting. Soon everything except him and the unicorn had become swirling mist. The boy felt powerful magic in the air. The mist came back together, and the boy found himself standing in a hallway that he recognized. "Come, boy," said the unicorn, smiling gently. "Your paper-marking room is in this hall." Pointing with one of her majestic hooves, she said "It lies through this door."

Suddenly the boy and the unicorn were back in the unicorn's cottage. "Now go on your way," said Physics Secretary.

"Thank you!" said the boy. "Thank you very much!" And he ran off.

He burst into his paper-marking room about 15 minutes late. The wolf that greeted him smiled evilly, knowing that it would be hard for the boy to make markings which would be pleasing in the time that was left.

"Boy!" the wolf addressed the boy. "Name?"

"'Tis Boris, sir, if you please," said the boy.

The wolf looked at his list, then scowled. "You are not on my list. Leave this room!" The wolf growled threateningly.

The boy left the room completely bewildered and lost. "Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no..." A tear came to the boy's eye. He sat down against the wall, knowing that he was to be eaten.

"Wait," said the boy to himself. "The wolves don't have me yet! I will run to the unicorn again! Perhaps she can shelter me from the wicked wolves." And, wiping the tears from his eyes, he ran off as fast as his legs could carry him.

The unicorn seemed surprised to see the boy. "Why are you not in your room marking your paper?"

"I was not on the list," said the boy.

"Hmmm..." said the unicorn. "That IS your room, I am sure of it. Let me check just one more thing." And Physics Secretary took out a seashell. She hit the seashell with her horn, then held it to her ear.

Then she lowered the seashell, and smiled. "Your friend told you your time was 8:30?" she asked the boy.

"Yes," said the boy, "he did."

"Your time is not 8:30," said the unicorn. "Your time is 10:30."

"Oh my!" said the boy with a relieved laugh.

"Be on your way now, and mark well," said the wise unicorn with another smile.

"I will! Oh, I will!" cried the boy. "Thank you!" And he ran on his way.

He actually still had a whole hour and a half before his paper-marking time, so he practiced playing his string harp. Then, when it was time, he went back to the room. The wolf there asked him his name.

"Boris, sir, if you please," said the boy.

The wolf looked at his list. "Hm," he grunted, then handed the boy a sheet of paper.

The boy smiled and went to go mark his paper.The Compendium

© 1998-2021 Zach Bardon
Last modified 7.19.2019
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