In Search of Civilization

Once upon a time, there was a monkey. This monkey lived near an old hermit who hid from society in the forest, speaking only to animals. The monkey listened to the hermit’s tales of civilized lands with fascination. More than anything, the monkey wanted to see civilization for itself.

One day, the hermit grew very sick. They told the monkey that it should follow its dream and search for civilization, then fell asleep, never to awaken.

The monkey grieved for a time, then took the hermit’s spare robe and their straw hat and set out for civilized lands. Disguised in this way, the monkey left its forest home.

Exiting the forest, the monkey found a dirt path, long and wide, which stretched far to the north and to the south. Knowing from the hermit’s tales that paths tend to lead to places, the monkey began following the dirt path north.

Before long, the monkey met a traveler, going south. “Hello there!” said the traveler. “Where do you journey to?”

“Civilization”, said the monkey, keeping the brim of the hermit’s straw hat low.

“Why then, you go in the wrong direction, my friend,” said the traveler. “The northern road leads only to the city of Verra, which is far from civilized. Go south!”

So the monkey turned and began traveling south, and the traveler soon left him behind, for monkeys have shorter legs than men.

It wasn’t long before the monkey met another traveler, this one going north. “Hello there!” said the traveler. “Where do you journey to?”

“Civilization”, said the monkey, keeping the brim of the hermit’s straw hat low.

“Why then, you go in the wrong direction, my friend,” said the traveler. “The southern road leads only to the city of Londe, which is far from civilized. Go north!”

The monkey considered this. ‘If the civilization I seek is not north, and it is not south, than perhaps it is east,’ it thought. So the monkey left the road and traveled east, away from the forest where it had once lived.

The monkey soon came to a great city standing by the edge of a lake. It was told by a passerby that this was the city of Yorn, the center of the civilized world. The monkey entered and gazed about it in amazement.

But the monkey soon discovered that civilization was no place for a monkey without money. Unable to buy food, turned away from inns and taverns, the monkey was forced to find an alley to sleep in for the night. But when it awoke in the morning, it found that the hermit’s straw hat had been stolen right off its head!

‘This civilization is not as civilized as it ought to be,’ thought the monkey angrily. ‘I understand now why the hermit left it!’

And so the monkey left the city of Yorn and returned to the forest, to live out the rest of its days happily, and never again thought of the wonders of civilization.

Advertisements