A Wise Man’s Discovery: A Fable for English Learners

1 A long time ago, there was a wise man living in the Low Country. He and his neighbors had built new homes and started a new life.

2 Their first winter in the Low Country was difficult because many had not finished their houses or harvested their corps before winter. When spring finally came, they knew that they must not only plant their crops, but they must also build a granary to store the coming harvest.

3 They talked much about the granary. When they lived in the High Country, they only needed to build it strong enough to keep Goat out. In the Low Country, they knew they also needed to consider Bear, Deer, and Elk. Because Bear was powerful, the granary must be very strong.

4 There was an old steel road that passed by their village. The large steam-breathing machines that once used this road no longer needed it. There was a huge iron box on wheels about a half hour’s walk up the steel road from the village. All agreed that if the box could be pushed to the village, it could serve as a safe granary. Even Bear could not open the strong iron doors.

5 So the men tried to push the iron box to the village. But it was so heavy that they could barely make it move. All the men worked very hard. After much effort, they had pushed the box only as far as the length of a man’s hand before they needed to rest. For two days they pushed and rested. Pushed and rested. Then they pushed and rested some more. At last, they were all exhausted. “It would take less work,” they said, “to build a granary in the village than to move the iron box.”

6 A new granary was built in the village. It held food during two winters. And then the drought came. The fields produced little grain. In the fall, few berries were found in the forest because Bear was taking almost everything for himself. Deer and Elk were eating all that was left. Still, because the people had been careful and worked hard, the granary held enough food to last them for the winter.

7 Then one night, just before Bear was ready to go to sleep for the winter, he smashed the granary door. He ate much of the food. After Bear left, Deer and Elk also filled their bellies.

8 During the cold, hard winter, when everyone was hungry, the wise man thought again about the iron box on the steel road. Certainly, he decided, there must be a way to move it to the village. Was it possible that the problem had been that they had stopped to rest each time after moving the iron box only a short distance?

9 Early the next spring, the wise man had a plan. He took four young men with him to the iron box on wheels. Each man led his donkey.

10 The men first tied a long rope to the front of the iron box. Then they cut a tall tree for a pole and stood it upright. They threw the rope over the top of the pole. Finally, they fastened heavy rocks to the end of the rope. The wise man knew that the rope was pulling on the iron box even though it was not yet moving. Next, the wise man harnessed the donkeys to the iron box so that they could also pull. Finally, the wise man and the four young men pushed as hard as they could. The iron box slowly began to move.

11 But the wise man’s plan was different from the villagers’ plan before. He and the young men did not stop to rest. Instead, even after the heavy rocks had reached the ground, the men kept pushing the iron box.

12 The iron box on wheels did just what the wise man thought it would. The longer they pushed, the faster the iron box moved. They did not need to work as hard to keep it rolling once it began to move.

13 The wise man knew that if all of the village men would work together, they could move the iron box to the village. He knew that they would all need to work very hard to get the iron box to start moving. Then once it was moving some could rest and others could push. If they did not stop, they could slowly move the iron box to their village.

14 The next year, their food would be safe from Bear.

15 If you are beginning to study English with SPOKEN ENGLISH LEARNED QUICKLY, you know that learning any language is difficult. You may work hard for two or three weeks and it will seem like nothing is happening. However, learning to speak English is much like pushing a heavy car on a railroad track. It will take much effort at first. But if you keep working, you will see more and more progress.