Monday, November 08, 2010

The Fable of the Squirrels Who Traded Their Nuts for Gold

Christopher Jon Bjerknes

It was a warm and sunny day. The forest floor was alive with squirrels busily gathering the acorns that rained down upon them from the overstretched arms of the ancient oaks who watched over them as the squirrels took as a small tribute some food for planting the children of the trees.

Pharaoh, the leader of the squirrels, shuffled through the leaves and pressed on the damp dirt to bury his treasure, when suddenly a warty hand fell on his shoulder. An old Jew named Joseph Goldbug introduced himself, "Hello Mr. Squirrel! I am a representative of my poor oppressed people, the Jews. I have come in search of food."

Pharaoh could not help but be a bit surprised, given that the forest was full of food. He was also frightened. He thought the old Jew wanted to eat him.

Pharoah, his voice trembling a bit, said, "Well, you are in luck! The forest is full of acorns." At that very moment a large acorn fell on Pharaoh's head. Pharaoh, thinking he was more clever than the Jew, bit the shell in half and offered the Jew his nut.

The Jew bit into it and spit, "Bluch! Sour! Yuch! How much do you want for all of them?" The old Jew was already calculating the percentage of acorns which would be needed to tan all the squirrel hides he would eventually sell to the rats. Pharaoh was a bit confused. All of them? he wondered.

The old Jew shoved his warty hand into the dirty sack he had been carrying on his back. He took out a clay pot and opened it. His pale, greenish face suddenly turned yellow as the sun.

"You have us at a disadvantage, squirrel. We are poor hungry Jews from Moscow in search of simple food, but the King has forbidden us to gather acorns to eat. I will trade you this gold coin for all the acorns in the forest. With it, you can buy new coats to keep you warm in the winter, I just happen to have some in my bag. . ." but before he could finish his sentence, Pharaoh interrupted him.

"We need acorns for winter. Without them we will starve." Joseph held back his grin and wrapped his arm around Pharaoh's shoulders and whispered into his ear so that the other squirrels could not hear what he said. "Listen, I can see that you are a wise leader for your people. I'll make you a deal, since I am so desperate. I will trade you one coin for all the acorns and give it to you in front of the other squirrels, but I will give you the whole pot of coins in secret. When winter comes, you trade them to the other animals for food. The birds will carry fresh berries to you to trade for your gold, and you will eat better than even the bears. Your people will congratulate you on your wise dealings with the Jews, whom you cheat you little squirrel. . . but I like you. So here is the gold, now bring me every nut in the forest and we will trade."

Pharoah looked at the gold. He loved to eat berries, and acorns are, after all, sour and dry. "Alright, Jew. I will command my people to gather up every one of their nuts and bring them to you."

The old Jew whined in pain and pulled from his crumbling sleeve a piece of stained parchment. "Sign here," he said. The squirrel took a lead pencil from the old Jew, and signed away his future with a joyful smile, convinced he had outwitted the old Jew. The old Jew then slipped him the pot of gold which they hid from the other squirrels.

The squirrels all worked very hard and gathered up every last nut. As fate would have it, a gentle snow began to fall as the wise old squirrel exchanged ten full wagons of acorns for one small pot of gold. The old Jew shivered and blew on his warty hands, "Oh, such cold!" He then dropped the old sack off his back and took out a bunch of small, musty coats he had traded to the rats on promise of one small bucket of acorns. Joseph draped one of the coats over his arm and said, "Examine the material, such quality! It helped the rats survive the coldest winter! I will trade them to you for two thirds of the gold."

Pharaoh felt a cold wind burn his ears as they caught the offer of the old Jew. Being a wise negotiator, Pharaoh offered the Jew one third of the coins, but the Jew demanded that they meet in the middle and took one half. Pharaoh rushed to bury the rest so that he could save them and trade them for berries and silks.

The next day the squirrels gathered on the forest floor. The coats were infested with lice and ticks that carried typhus and lyme disease. The squirrels were cold, hungry and sick. They offered the birds their gold coin, but the old Jew had made a deal with the birds to not give the squirrels any food in exchange for all the warm nests the squirrels had built. The squirrels offered the bears their gold for a small bit of honey, but the Jews had made a deal with the bears not to give the squirrels any honey in exchange for all the squirrel meat the bears could eat in one day.

The squirrels stood huddled together for warmth and began to cry. The old Jew hobbled along, but this time he had no bag on his shoulders. He had come to collect.

"Hello, my good friends, squirrels! Good day to you!" he said. Pharaoh came forward, eager to claim his moment of glory.

"Hello to you, old Jew! Good that you came. I have gold! Have you food and medicine?" The old Jew sneered, "What, in this age of universal sickness and starvation you would take from my people their very food and medicine? Thief! Murderer! What do you offer?"

Pharoah was a bit confused, but then thought the old Jew was merely acting so as to make it appear that Pharaoh was still wiser and cleverer than even an old Jew! Oh, he thought, these Jews are so good to me!

"Old Jew, I have something more precious to you than medicine or food. I have a pot. . . er uh, half a pot of gold!" cried out Pharaoh, triumphantly. The other squirrels gasped in amazement. But the old Jew just scoffed at the leader of the squirrels.

"My people cannot eat gold! Gold will not cure them!" he cried out.

"Aha, but with gold you can pay for doctors and trade for food!" said Pharaoh, certain he could convince the old Jew to trade back the acorns for the gold. The old Jew spit and snarled at the squirrels.

"Doctors we have! Food we have, we traded a few acorns, so scarce in the market these days, to the deer for many wagons full of apples, oh how they cheated us, which apples the badgers made into preserves for us for a few acorns more, those theiving little bastards, uh badgers. Here, look here, the gold is already ours, we only lent it to you at interest, that interest being the acorns you gave us in consideration for holding the gold for us until winter so as to give you wretched little squirrels a higher status among the beasts of the forest, if only for a little while. Take a look at the contract you yourself signed of your own free will. Why you insisted that we Jews take your sour acorns in consideration for loaning you our precious gold." Pharaoh was crushed. He fell on his knees and groveled before the old Jew.

"Old Jew, you have been good to us before. For our sour nuts you gave us gold. I will not tell you where I have buried it unless you are good to us again and give us back half the acorns we gave you in exchange for what is left of the gold you gave us. Return us at least to half of what we were before you came. Half of us will die, but at least some of our children will live. Is that not fair?" Pharaoh pleaded.

The old Jew cried out in pain, "Fair! You talk of fair! I will give you one jar of applesauce if you bring me the gold at once! I had to trade more than a sixteenth of one of my precious acorns for it." The old Jew took from his pocket a small, cracked jar of applesauce that was green and black with mold.

The squirrels called out to their leader, "Take it and let our children divide it!" Pharaoh ran to get the gold, so worthless it could only buy a spoonful of mold and rot. "Here, Jew, you have back your gold, now let us live."

The old Jew snatched up the pot and opened it. His face glowed yellow, like Hell.

He dropped the cracked jar of spoiled applesauce in the dirt, and Pharaoh dived down to lap it up. The applesauce was poisoned. He died even as he ate it. The other squirrels all died as well. The birds rented the nests, which the squirrels had built, from the Jews and lived in the trees the Jews' owned. The bears ate the diseased corpses of the squirrels and traded their caves to the Jews for medicine and the promise of deer meat. The old Jew went to greet the leader of the deer, who was certain he could outsmart the old Jew.

So ends the tragic fable of the squirrels who traded their nuts for gold.

The moral of the story for America today, is that we already have all the wealth we need, and more. We need only labor a bit to make use of it.

The Jews have us in debts we need not pay them. They will offer to loan us gold with which to pay them interest, loans secured with everything of real value we have. The Jews will take all that we have, including our lands and natural resources, as payment on the loan of the gold, together with the gold that never really was, but which we must trade internationally to acquire for the Jews. Then we will die amidst all the abundance we have as our birthright in America if only we claim it and make the Jews pay us for what they have stolen from us.