Friday Fable. Lubans’ “The Three Villages”

Posted by jlubans on August 23, 2013

20130823-troll & cow.png
Caption: Troll running amuck.
Long ago, in a far away land, two trolls enthralled six villages, each tyrannizing three. The trolls were feared far and wide; their foul breath and heavy, hairy hands seemed everywhere. Each year the villagers had to give half of their earnings and crops to the trolls. The trolls grew rich and the people grew poor. The villagers suffered in silence.
One of the trolls died – he fell off a bridge – some say he jumped, others that he was pushed. Regardless, the people reclaimed those three villages but the other troll, albeit growing old and feeble, tightened his grip on his three villages.
The enslaved villagers whispered of freedom, about reclaiming what was rightfully theirs. But how to do this? The troll permitted only one festival, an annual gathering: the summer solstice. The crops were planted and well underway; soon he would get his half share. And, the days were long, so why not let the peasants have a party, as long as they paid for it, fed his minions and went back to the fields the next day. By mid-night the troll’s mercenaries were in a stupor from a surfeit of freshly baked bread, summer cheese and gallons of beer and more gallons of beer. While the troll’s minions blissfully snored, the villagers met at the bon fire and spoke of freedom, but none knew of a way to rid the land of the troll. The children listened, fidgeted; then, the village Innocent – a shy young man who was known to say the unexpected - spoke up: “Let’s beguile the troll with a chain of people, holding hands stretching across our three villages. He will see us united as one.” After thrashing it out, the villagers championed the idea: “The troll will be befuddled and know not what to do.” “Yet, others will know; our neighbors will know, and the people in the free villages will know and they will help.” “And, besides the troll is old and rickety; maybe he will give it up,” some wished.
So, all the villagers agreed to hold hands the next day in a chain that stretched along the dirt road, across the bridges and along the lake and through the forest, across the farmlands. Morning came and slowly people gathered, coming down the lanes, through the forests, along the pastures, some dressed in their colorful folk clothes - the ones forbidden by the troll, so this was a risk, but the mercenaries slept on. Soon the chain ran through the three villages and when the neighboring villages heard about it, they too linked hands and created a chain from their villages to those of the troll. They stood and sang and remembered how life was before the troll, how they farmed the land, built their barns, raised bees, made cheese and beer, and baked bread and danced and sang their songs.
The troll awakened to the forbidden music and peered out of his castle window. He was enraged by what he saw but knew not what to make of it – a long line of old and young people, babies in arms, children, even dogs and cats as far as his eye could see in each direction.
He roared, demanded they disband, or be punished. He stomped out of the castle and glared at the villagers from an arched bridge; he fumed and frowned at the crowd. No one moved. He then called for his minions to separate the people, to tear them apart and throw them into the ditches, but no mercenaries appeared – they were still sound asleep. In a temper tantrum, he stomped his feet, clenched his massive fists and jumped up and down. The floorboards gave and he crashed through (like Rumplestiltskin) and plummeted into the rushing river, never to be seen again. *
And, that is how a peaceful linking of hands across those three villages rid them of the troll and freedom was regained.

And, so it was on today’s date in 1989 two million people linked hands across the lands of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – “The Baltic Way” (Baltijas ceļš).
This human line 600 kilometers (373 miles) in length ran through capital cities, forests, along lakes and rivers, across bridges and national borders. The people flew forbidden national flags and sang forbidden national anthems and stood connected and called attention to the secret and brutal fraud perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in 1941 and perpetuated by the Soviet Union.
On March 11, 1990 the independence of the Republic of Lithuania was officially restored and in the following year Latvia and Estonia were free once again.

* Some say the troll can be heard every August 23rd, grumbling and cursing under that bridge. Will you cross that bridge tonight?

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week:
University of California - Irvine

Copyright John Lubans 2013

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