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Originally written by Clay Rooks of Iowa State University (née College) for Sketch - Volume 37, Number 1, Article 10. Copyright c 1970, Clay Rooks.
THE INCIDENT had become a legend in the forest. The
tale had been told and retold for centuries. Every animal
in the forest knew the story by heart and never missed a
chance to tell it again. The owl knew the story best and all
the babes of the forest would listen with awe every spring
when he told the tale. The first warm day they would gather
beneath the giant oak tree in the center of the forest and
wait for the owl to speak. Soon he would blink his huge
round eyes and begin.
"Well it happened not more than a mile from this very
spot," he spoke. "It took place on the cliff that drops straight
into the river. The wolf had been out hunting when he
ventured up the cliff to look over the forest. As he was
gazing across the meadow and timber the ram noticed him.
'Wolf,' he said, 'what are you doing up here?'
'I am looking for food,' the wolf retorted.
'Food,' the ram said, 'what do you think you are standing
The wolf looked down and sneered. 'You call this grass
food?' he said.
'Of course it's food,' the ram replied.
'Well I don't eat grass,' the wolf said looking over the
'What do you eat?' the ram asked.
'I eat flesh,' the wolf said.
'My god,' the ram gasped, 'You are certainly evil.'
'How do you expect me to get nourishment from grass?'
the wolf asked.
'Well I do,' the ram said.
'Well I don't,' the wolf said.
'Eating other animals is evil,' the ram said.
'What's wrong with that?' the wolf asked.
'Evil is bad and wrong,' the ram said. 'It is evil to kill.'
'Well if I want to live I must kill,' the wolf said.
'Are you saying evil is better than good?' the ram asked.
'If I want to survive I must kill to eat,' the wolf replied.
'How can you believe such a terrible thing?' the ram
'If you are to survive you must be a little evil,' the
'That is not so,' the ram said, 'I am not evil and I survive
'You can not survive for long if you are always good,'
said the wolf.
Their voices had risen to shouts and the animals of the
forest had gathered to see what all the noise was about. They
sat on the bank of the river looking across to the top of the
cliff. The rabbits and squirrels sat in groups to watch the
spectacle. The other larger animals were scattered about in
two's and three's to watch.
'The good will survive longer than the evil!' boomed
'Yes, he's right,' all the animals whispered.
'No they won't,' growled the wolf. 'They will all be
killed by those who wish to survive!'
'You are wrong!' bellowed the ram. 'Good will triumph
over you[r] evil!'
'You are a fool!' gnashed the wolf.
'How dare you call me the fool!' bellowed the ram. 'You
are the evil fool!'
'If you weren't so dumb you would know the evil survive.'
growled the wolf.
'Don't call me dumb!' Th e ram was engaged.
'Evil will outlast good,' the wolf said. 'But you are too
stupid to understand!'
'Stupid, am I!' the ram bellowed. He lowered his head
and butted the wolf over the cliff.
'My goodness,' gasped the deer.
'See that proves it,' the fox said. 'Good is best.'
"Well that is the story," the owl said yawning. "Good
is better than evil."
The little animals were all staring aghast. They sat
for a minute, then they began to move silently away.
"Boy, the owl sure is wise,' said the raccoon. "Good is