Sunday, May 22, 2016

How Sweet

A man was walking across a field when he noticed a tiger stalking him. He ran, the tiger chasing after him. He came to a cliff, looked over the edge and saw a tree root jutting out from the cliff face. He climbed over the edge and caught hold of the root.

The tiger sniffed at him from above but could not reach the man.  The man looked down and saw, far below, another tiger prowling the forest and anticipating a meal.

Two mice, one white and one black, began to gnaw at the root. It would be only a matter of minutes before the root was chewed through.

Just then, the man noticed a fat and ripe strawberry dangling from cliff wall. He knew if he grabbed the strawberry his grip would not last long.

He plucked the strawberry and ate it. It tasted so sweet.

This story has been an enduring favourite for so long that i have no recall of my first encounter. It may seem strange but this story holds powerful consolation for me when i am, as at the moment, most stressed about life. It is, like so many tales, ancient. And i found a version in the Gesta Romanorum (a 13th C Latin collection of tales). That version ends with the the doomed man falling into hell which, in that version is only the beginning of the tale. But i have also read reference to other versions of this tale which end with, "and the strawberry was poisoned." Perhaps not as consoling as the version i prefer.

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