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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/10/08)

TITLE: North vs. South
By Corinne Smelker


There was once a wise and good king who ruled a magnificent kingdom. His subjects were loyal, and hard working and all was well with the kingdom.

Time passed and the king noticed some unrest and dissension among his people. He was perturbed and sent for two of his most trusted advisors. He commissioned the two of them to travel throughout the land and see if they could discern the problem and resolve it.

The two, Zo, a fair-haired maiden and Zephan, a dark-haired gentleman started out immediately. The best course of action, they decided, was to split up and come together again in a week. Zo rode towards the northern territory of the land, one that bordered the mountains of the neighboring country, an area rich in natural resources. Zephan headed for the south and the coast; a fair area but one where people had to work hard to make a living from the sea.

Zo rode into the mountainside city and noticed the king’s subjects were quarrelsome, short-tempered and querulous. She sat in the city square and listened to the murmurings of passers-by. “Why do our neighbors own the mountains? They have the waterfalls and the trees and we have the lake.” She overheard one. “Yes. It’s not fair. I’ve heard they have a better kingdom than us, and their king gives them land, more than they could ever need. What does our king give us?” Zo wanted to jump up and exclaim, “Your king has given you this city, the means to make the money that buys your homes, and your horses. He gave you this land, rich in resources. Why do you pine for what is not yours?” But she refrained.

Zephan traversed down to the coast until he arrived at the bustling dock. A trawler had just docked and all hands, on board and on land, ran to unload the fine fish the fishermen had netted. Laughter rang over the bay as fish passed from hand to hand for weighing, gutting, and freezing. Zephan listened as the fishermen extolled the sea, and their gratitude that they had jobs that allowed them to provide for their families; and that there was enough fish to sell to the city in the north, and still give some as a gift to their King.

As agreed, after a week Zo, and Zephan met and discussed what they had seen in their travels. It was apparent that the people of the north had become disgruntled with their lot in life, and wanted more than they should have. They coveted what the neighboring country had, forgetting the benefits they themselves experienced. They wanted the lofty waterfalls, but disdained the limpid lakes the waterfalls provided. They wanted the mountain without realizing they got the better rainfall because the clouds did not often climb over the mountain. Zephan explained the people of the south were content with their lot in life, and that even though they worked hard to make their living, they were happy; and didn’t want for anything.

What was to be done? They returned to the king and reported their findings and then gave the king their solution for the problem. “Your Majesty; when you fill a glass with water and drop ink into it, the water turns the color of the ink. You have to add more water to get rid of the ink. The ‘water’ of the people in the north is murky. We have to ‘dilute’ it. Our recommendation is to bring some of the people from the south to the north, and some of the people from the north to the south. The fishermen can still fish, they will fish instead in the lake. We believe that in mixing the people we can cause discontent to dissipate and contentment to rise.”

The king agreed this was wise and sent out an edict.

For several months there was no discernible difference, but the king was patient and his patience was rewarded. Zo and Zephan rode out 12 months later and returned with a full report. “The cities are flourishing. The northerners have come to realize how much they have and don’t covet our neighbor’s land any longer. Contentment and happiness once again rule the hearts of your subjects.”

The king ordered a day of feasting and celebration because he regained what had almost been lost.

Zo – an African name meaning Leader
Zephan – an Irish name meaning Saint

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/19/08
You've wisely created a kingdom where you could illustrate all the proverbs--clever idea.
Joanne Sher 01/20/08
Interesting take on the topic. An ingenious solution too - thought-provoking.
Jan Ackerson 01/20/08
What a lovely parable! I especially appreciated the explanation of the names at the end; I love knowing the meanings of names. A much-needed poke at those of us who are chronically discontented.
Holly Westefeld01/23/08
I enjoyed this fanciful tale. I'm glad that the contentment had the greater influence.