The Hedge

Once upon a time there was a man who owned a very nice house. He loved the house a great deal, even though the insides were quite confusing and not at all well laid out, and even though the former owner was a lawyer and filled most of the rooms with arcane books in archaic languages and didn’t drink anything except camel’s milk.

Now, when he first bought the house, the yard had some shade trees, the sort of trees that grow upward and outward wildly, and eventually come to resemble shapes that no tree has any business imitating. And because the house was in the middle of the town, the neighbor children would often come around and play in the shade, swinging back and forth on an old tire tied up with a rope.

They became such a nuisance to him that the man decided to build a fence around the house to keep the children from spoiling his lawn and marking their crushes and flirtations with knives in the tree bark and leaving garbage to pile up in the gutters. But since the man had a job and had to be out giving it what for during the day, he couldn’t watch the children or prevent them from slipping through holes that naturally developed in the chain link.

Eventually, some seventeen years of this sort of thing having gone by, the man decided to replace the fence with a hedge. He went out one Saturday morning and bought a bunch of plants of different varieties, ripped down the fence, and planted the bushes and shrubs in its place.

In a few months, the hedge was a wonderful thing to behold. Thick and tall and full of thorns and the sort of insects you need to be a professor of insects to appreciate, it was effective in keeping out all but the most determined of the children. The man was very pleased, as the hedge had been his idea and good one at that, and as he watered and planted and fertilized, he became very enamored of the shrub, almost to the point where he forgot that he had a house, spending days at a time tending to the hedge.

In the meantime, the children found a new place to play, in a cul-de-sac near a polluted and altogether filthy river. They grew up, and a new generation of children was born, most who couldn’t even remember the well-manicured lawn and the tire swing. In fact, by the time these children came along, the hedge was so thick and so high it altogether hid the house and man behind it.

The man grew older and older while tending to his hedge. And before long, he began to collect arcane books in archaic languages, and developed a great affection for camel’s milk.

The Story of a Horse

There was once a man who owned a horse. He loved this horse a great deal, and from that love grew a desire to do what was right for the horse. So one night while the horse was sleeping, he built a fence around it, a fence just large enough for the animal to move around a bit.

“There,” he said to himself, “now my horse is safe from danger.” He reasoned that it the less room there was to move, the less likely it was the horse he loved would hurt itself.

As time went on, he began to erect more elaborate safeguards around the horse. Finally, the day arrived that he dug a bomb shelter, led the horse inside, hobbled its legs, and began to feed it through a tube.

The neighbors looked on with mild disgust, but it was not after all their horse. So they went about their business.

It wasn’t long, however, that a thief – having caught a glance of the horse in the bomb shelter one night whilst sneaking through the man’s yard – decided to steal the horse. Steal it he did, nursing it back to health in a faraway land.

Years later a lady from the horse’s old town was traveling to that faraway land and recognised the animal galloping through a field. She wondered, as she travelled back to her town, who had actually loved the horse: the man who dug the bomb shelter for it, or the man who had stolen it in the middle of the night.