23rd May 23:37
knowing your stuff can be trickier than you think (wise friend songs able calendar)
Two Gallons of Paint (a short story)
It was very early morning, and the sun was not yet visible in the
brightening sky. On both sides of the old country road, frogs and crickets
made quite a bit of music, as the birds with sweeter songs tried to be heard
in the trees above.
A young boy walked with his father on the road to town. Each of them carried
a few sticks, small cuttings from willows that had been simply, but
attractively, fashioned into walking sticks. The boy did this in the
evenings, whenever he had the time. A skill he had learned from his
grandfather. Already, the boy showed a fine talent for carving.
Behind them waddled two white ducks accompanied by a small dog.
"Where are we going?" the dog asked the ducks. "I've never been this far
"Oh, we are going to the market," the older duck answered.
"What's a market?" the dog asked.
"It's a grand place, with lots of people from all around the countryside.
And lots of animals are there, too!" the younger duck replied. "I've heard
so much about it!"
"Yes," the older duck said. "It is a wonderful place where people gather to
share ideas and to exchange things of value. The farmer and his son are
going there today to trade those sticks for paint. The farmer's wife is with
child, so they are preparing a room for the new baby."
"Oh," the pup said. Being new to the family he had lots of questions, and
very often the answers he got only produced more questions. Of course, many
of his questions were forgotten before he could even ask them, and some of
the answers he did get were also forgotten. Not because he was exceedingly
stupid. He was actually very quick-witted for a dog. But he was also young,
and had many things on his mind, like chasing rabbits or catching
After trying to learn what paint was, and why people would cover the walls
of a room with it, the dog asked, "So why are we going with the farmer to
The younger duck answered, "It is customary for animals to visit the market,
and sometimes more than once. This is my first visit. But my father here is
making his second journey."
"Yes," the older duck said. "I first came to the market for trading when I
was very young. That's when I first met the farmer. And now I've been
invited by the farmer to visit again. Maybe I will be traded again. Or maybe
I will just have the opportunity to talk with some of the other ducks and
learn many things."
The dog was listening. Well, sort of. He was mostly running and dancing
about, chasing mosquitoes and flies. But his hearing was very keen, and so
he got most of what the duck was saying.
“You, my young friend,” the old duck was saying, “were probably invited
along because you are so young and have many things to learn. And I was no
doubt invited because I am such a wise teacher of the young. I have many
good things to tell you, if you will only listen.”
At this, the young dog yapped and spun around to catch a fly that had landed
on his tail. He almost caught it, too, and did manage to bite his tail a
little more forcefully than he had intended. He let go quickly, and
answered, with eyes watering, “Oh, yes. I do want so much to learn
They walked along, as the dark, early morning coolness turned into bright
summer warmth. And they talked about the great market, for the young dog had
many questions, and the ducks delighted in explaining all things to him.
The dog learned that even though objects or creatures of value were often
traded at the market, it was mostly a place of great intellectual
stimulation and advancement. A wise animal could learn more in one day at
the market than he might discover alone in a whole lifetime at home. It
truly sounded like a wonderful place.
Finally, the farmer and his little caravan reached the edge of town. So many
houses and buildings! So many new smells and sounds for the small dog who
had seldom left his home on the farm! They went this way on this street, and
then that way on that street, until they got to the center of the town.
It was still early morning, but already the streets were busy. The small dog
and the ducks had to be careful to walk much closer to the farmer and his
son, so as not to get lost among all the people.
And then, there it was: the Great Market itself. Such noises and smells and
colors, it almost made the little dog dizzy. He was running round and round
the farmer and his little company, barking and leaping with excitement.
"Oh, at last!" the older duck exclaimed, as they approached the butcher
shop. "I’ve heard of this place. I will be able to share all my learning
with others, and they in turn will teach me many new and wonderful things.
We will not be the same when we come out of this sacred place!"
And it was true. When the ducks finally left that place, they were nothing
like they had been when they went in.
Both ducks went into the butcher's shop and were sold. And there they met
with other ducks from all over the wide county. They all talked about many
wonderful things. The wise older duck was able to teach many new things to
the other ducks. And he was also able to gather in much new wisdom and
knowledge. And when the ducks finally left that place they were very
Of course the dog was not around to see them or talk with them anymore. He
remained with the farmer and his son as they went to another small shop.
There the farmer sold the walking sticks that his son had made. And then the
three of them went to several other places in the big market, including a
place where they bought paint, as the wise old duck had predicted. And then
they went home.
The ducks waited there in the butcher's shop, until the next morning, when
butcher's helper had time to take them out back and chop their heads off.
All the excellent learning they had gathered remained in their heads when
they fell to the ground, and some of it made its way into the cheap sausage
that was so popular with the townsfolk.
However, it's unlikely that the duck’s knowledge actually made a detectable
difference in the flavor of the sausage, since the spices were so
overpowering. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt anything, either.
But all in all, it was a good day. And a few days later, the baby's room did
look so nice with its fresh coat of paint. The small dog never really
noticed it, of course. He was too busy growing up, chasing dragonflies in
the meadow, and playing with the farmer's son in between chores.
The dog is older now, and seldom remembers anything that the old duck once
tried to teach him. But he always entertains a gentle fondness for
well-meaning old quacks who take themselves, and their grand ideas, a little
more seriously than is really necessary or profitable.
©2004 Jim Sutton
More short stories, plus information about walking with Jesus can be found
Free original Christian graphics and clip art (including new "sparkles" and
"glitter" images are availble from http://www.gospelgifs.com
Free 2007 (and 2008) calendar to download and print at http://www.jimsgraphix.com
(click the free calendar link)
Free excellent Bible software and several Bible translations can be
downloaded at http://www.onlinebible.net
Learn (free) how to start your own small newspaper at http://www.newspaper-info.com