Friday, April 20, 2012

The Wishing Ring

Last week, as you may recall, I told you all about my novel 'Dragonfly.' Well, it is now available for purchase on the Amazon Kindle store. If you don't own a Kindle, that's all right, because the free Kindle app is available for iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, PC and Mac. If you still don't have any of those...then how are you reading this blog? In any case, I hope you will buy my book and enjoy it as much as I continue to hope you enjoy my fairy tales.

This story was originally put down by Germany’s Richard Leander. I think it says a lot about the value we put in objects and how arbitrary it seems at times.

You ever know someone who couldn’t stop complaining about how rotten his life was? The kind of guy who played the martyr and thought the whole world was against him and, rather than take steps to change things, just kept feeling sorry for himself and talking the ears off anybody who would listen about what a victim he was? Well, if you happened to know a farmer calld Johan, then the answer to my questions would be yes because that was Johan to a tee. He worked all his life but never had much success and his response was simply to whine about it.

One day, a withered old crone came to Johan’s home and begged food and shelter for the night. This Johan and his wife, Hilda, were only too happy to give and the old woman slept comfortably in a warm bed with her belly full of Hilda’s fine cooking. As she prepared to depart after breakfast the following morning she said, “Because you have been so kind to me, I will repay you as best I can. If you walk due west for two days, you will come to a great, tall fir tree, taller than all the others that surround. Chop that tree down and you will have your reward.” With that, she made her way.

So Johan set out on his journey, making sure to keep moving due west. For two whole days he walked until, at last, he came to the tree the old woman had mentioned. He struck it once with his axe, and the whole tree shook. Then, from the tallest branches, Johan saw two large, brightly colored eggs fall to the ground. They broke, of course, and Johan saw that one contained a small, brass ring and the other an eagle who, once free of the eggshell, grew to an enormous height.

“You have set me free!” said the eagle. “Thank you, sir. You may keep the ring that came from the other egg. It is a magic wishing ring and is sure to bring you and yours wealth and happiness. Wear it and make any wish you like and it will instantly be granted. But, be warned, it is good for one wish only.” So saying, the eagle flapped its wings and took off.

Johan took the ring and slipped it on. At last, he thought, my life of hard work will finally pay off. If I make the right wish, me and Hilda will be set for life! In very high spirits, he started on the long journey home. After nearly two days, he stopped at a tavern to rest for the night. He was the only customer, so he ate with the tavern keeper, and told him of his amazing adventure. He even showed him the magic ring and explained how it would grant any wish. Envious, the tavern keeper resolved to steal the ring for himself.

Johan went to sleep and the tavern keeper snuck into his room and removed the magic ring, repalcing it with an ordinary brass ring. Then he left his tavern and ran to the forest, to a cave which he sealed up behind him so that nobody would see him. Alone in the cave, he slipped the ring onto his finger and said, “I wish I had a hundred thousand gold coins!” The wish was granted and it began to rain gold coins inside the cave…unfortunately, it wouldn’t stop raining and the tavern keeper couldn’t open the entrance in time. Soon the entire cave filled with coins and the greedy tavern keeper was crushed to death by a hundred thousand gold coins which, for all I know, are still sealed up in that cave along with what remains of the greedy tavern keeper.

The next morning, Johan awoke but couldn’t find the tavern keeper. Assuming he was busy with something else, Johan left his payment on the front desk and went home where he showed Hilda the ring on his finger—which we know to be an ordinary brass ring but which, to Johan’s knowledge, was the magic wishing ring the eagle had given him—and told her that they could have any wish they so desired.

“Oh, darling!” cried Hilda. “Wish for more land!”

“No, Hilda. With this ring we can have anything. Something big and valuable. We shouldn’t waste it on something we can get through normal means. If I work a little harder, we can make more money and buy more land. That way we’ll have the land and still have a wish!”

So Johan went back to work and worked harder than he ever had in his life. And, more astonishing than that, he did so without complaint. In fact, he was happy at the thought of his future prosperity, all thanks to the magic ring. And, in less than a year, he had earned enough to add several acres to his farm.

“Now we can make the wish,” said Hilda. “What if we wish for more cattle?”

“No, that’s a waste of a wish. I can get us more cattle easily.” So Johan worked hard, whistling merrily as he did so, and within a few months, he had the largest herd of cattle in the country. His farm was growing, his profits booming and his fame spreading. The king himself was among his customers and he was paid handsomely for providing his royal highness with his wheat and cattle.

“So are we going to make the wish now?” asked Hilda.

“Don’t be so impatient,” said Johan. “We’re young, healthy and rich. We don’t need the wish right now. Better that we save it and use it only when we really need it.”

It was agreed. Johan and Hilda lived very happily for the rest of their lives. And, many, many years later, when they both did finally pass away, they still had not used the “magic” ring. Johan was buried with the ring on his finger. And never once in his long life did he suspect that the ring had no magic in it whatsoever…although, it did bring he and his wife wealth and a way.


NEXT WEEK: "The Three Pixies in the Well"

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