A story by Dave Ashton
Once upon a time there was a quiet little village nestled in a fertile valley amidst some mountains. The village was very secluded and its inhabitants lived very peaceful and orderly lives until one day the chill north wind brought with it two black dogs and their master seeking shelter from the snowy blast which gripped the countryside. The townspeople who were wary of strangers which might threaten their peaceful way of life, at first, were reluctant, to provide shelter to these wandering wastrels. At last, one old women relented and gave the strangers a place to stay.
The strange man unpacked his worldly belongings and set up shop in his new dwelling place , close to the town square. Within his possessions was a strange black box which he carried with him from village to village. The two dogs were uneasy about the peculiar black box whenever their master took it out of its carrying case and placed it upon the table. It had a rectangular shaped cover which glowed mysteriously in the dark. Whenever it was opened it seemed somehow to cast a spell over the townspeople causing them to part with all of their hard earned money.
Gradually , the mans power over the village grew stronger and stronger until even the most suspicious members of the town succumbed to the temptation of looking into the black box. They too were divested of their monetary assets. Soon, the whole village was in debt and the people were becoming slaves. They worked hard but all of their money went into the black box. The harder they worked the less money they had. An air of discontent had descended upon the once peaceful village. The mayor called an emergency meeting to try to determine what could be done. They begged and pleaded with the man to close the box. The two black dogs, who were, by this time tired of being driven from city to city by the cruel north wind also pleaded with their master to close the box but the man, blinded by profit, turned a deaf ear to them.
Finally, the villagers were completely bankrupt. Violence erupted in the streets which had fallen into neglect for lack of funds. The mayor, try as he might, could not restore order or civility to the once peaceful town.
A whole year had elapsed and once again the cold north wind blew its snowy blanket over the tiny village. It was time to leave. In preparation for the long journey the man hurriedly packed his bags which were very heavily laden with the town's gold. Half way down the stairs he tried to wrestle some warm coats onto the dogs to protect them from the cold but one of the dogs who was reluctant to venture out into the storm struggled to get free. Amidst the struggle, all of the man's possessions tumbled down the stairs to be scattered in the street below. The mysterious black box, damaged by the fall, lay in countless pieces.
The dogs cringed with nervous anticipation as their master knelt sadly over his broken possessions.
It was as though an eerie spell had been lifted. The man
picked up the remaining pieces of the black box and threw them up into
the wind which blew them far away down the street and out of the
town. He then apologized to all of the people in the village and
returned their money. Not only did he do this but he took it upon
himself to help them rebuild their town and restore it to its former condition
of prosperity, peace and order. Gradually the townsfolk came
to love this formerly wayward outcast of a man who had experienced
a change of heart. The people that he had endeavored to exploit
became his closest allies. Among them he found a beautiful
wife and with them the two black dogs lived happily ever after in the same
village for the rest of their lives!
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