In the Land of Old, in a Place Far, Far Away was a beautiful country. Rolling hills of trees and orchards producing more than the people could use or eat, rolling hills of farmland producing more food than the country could eat.
In the Land of Old were the People of the Trees and the People of the Land. The People of the Trees were tall and strong and spent their time making wood for homes and fruit to eat. The People of the Land were short and strong and spent their time tending to their fields growing vegetables every color of the rainbow. While they were not enemies, they had little to do with each other.
Two bridges crossed a raging, angry river. The People of the Trees made a bridge of wood from their forest. The People of the Land made a separate bridge made from the soil of their fields. There was no way to get to the trees and there was no way to get to the fields without crossing the bridge over the raging, angry river.
One day a great rain came to the land. It rained for days and nights. It rained so much it looked like you were standing under a great waterfall. It rained so hard the bridge of the People of the Land was no more. The soil was swallowed by the dark, cross river.
When the rains stopped, the People of the Land came to the wooden bridge ready to cross to their fields. “No, no, no,” said the King of the People of the Trees. “You must pay to cross on our bridge. “Why would we pay?” said the People of the Land. “You don’t have to pay if you want to cross on your dirt bridge, but if you want to cross our wooden bridge it will be one gold coin each,” grinned the King.
The People of the Land screamed and shouted, but in the end there was no way to get to their fields, so after much grumbling and gnashing of teeth, they paid their gold coins.
Soon the People of the Trees grew very wealthy. Soon the People of the Trees grew fat and lazy. So lazy, in fact, that they decided to hire the Tiny Folk to collect the gold coins at the wooden bridge. The first morning the Tiny Folk stood at the bridge, the People of the Land laughed. “How will you stop us?” they asked. The Tiny Folk replied, “We will not stop you, but it will be a bad decision to not pay the gold coin.” “Out of the way,” shouted one man as he pushed through the crowd, “I won’t pay these Tiny Folk.” As the man was half way across the wooden bridge, the Tiny Folk on the other side shook the bridge and this man of the land fell into the irritated river, never to be seen again.
“And because of this man, you will need to pay one gold coin and one rock each to pass the wooden bridge. You pay us the coin and throw your rock into the cave on the other side.” Because of the great sadness and knowing they had no choice, each paid a golden coin and each threw one rock into the cave every day.
This went on for many years. The People of the Trees grew fatter and lazier. Their trees became lazy too and weren’t producing enough fruit. But they had much money and could buy their fruits from other lands. The People of the Land grew angrier as they had to grow more vegetables to have money for their toll and much of the food went to the fat and lazy people with the wooden bridge.
One morning, a great group of Tiny Folk met the People of the Land at the bridge. “Today,” said their leader, “may be your last toll.” The people were so hunched over from sorrow; some did not hear the leader. Again the leader said, “Today, may be your last toll. For many years you were asked to give a coin and a rock. The money has gone to people who have become fat and lazy. Look at their trees. They are broken and full of bugs. The trees don’t produce fruit like they did in the old days. But now look at your fields. Each day you took rocks from your fields and now your vegetables are as big as small children. And there is a pile of rocks in that cave for you to build a bridge.
Build a bridge they did, made out of the rocks of their fields. It was stronger than a bridge of dirt. The People of the Trees had grown so fat that the wood of their bridge began to splinter and crack and many pieces fell into the mean, rushing river. But their trees had grown weak and they had nothing to rebuild their bridge.
The People of the Land could not forgive and began making the People of the Trees pay one gold coin to cross the stone bridge. The Land People grew fat and lazy. So lazy that they hired the Tiny Folk to take the coins. The leader of the Tiny Folk eventually took one gold coin and one nut from a tree. The nuts were planted, the trees grew, and they rebuilt the wooden bridge. The rock bridge eventually gave in to the rains and the raging, angry river. And so it goes. And so it goes. And so it goes.