Once Upon A Time In Coupville
Based on a true story.
Once upon there was a man who lived in a modest home with his family. They had everything they needed but complained to him, always asking for more. Vexed by their constant petitions, he would wander out into his garden, to think of ways he could make them happy. His neighbour, a gentle fellow with many children, played with them in his garden, in full view of the man. His house was large and luxurious and his gardens were abundant with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Every day, the man would see his neighbour and the things he possessed, his fine house, his lovely wife, his happy children and his prosperous garden, and he coveted them. Curiosity turned to annoyance, and annoyance to hate, and before long, the man began to wonder how he could take the wealth of his neighbour for his own. His neighbour was very strong, with many children, both young and old and, although he left his doors and his windows wide open, there was no way the man would be able to overpower them all and take what they had. He thought and he pondered for many days. He enlisted the help of some of the other neighbours who were also enthralled by the mans great wealth and unsatisfied with their own.
Soon enough, he devised a plan that he believed would succeed. The man invited his neighbour and his family over for dinner. His neighbour, surprised but happy for the invitation, accepted without thought. As they ate, and drank, and sang songs, the mans accomplices entered their neighbours house. They removed everything of value, money, jewels, fine clothing and art and then, when there was nothing left that they wanted, they set fire to his house. Then, one of them rushed to the mans house and banged on the door. ‘Fire! Fire!’ Everyone rushed away from the festivities and were confronted with sight of their neighbours mansion burning to the ground. How they wept with him as their neighbour buried his head in his hands, wondering what he would now do to shelter his family. ‘Don’t worry’ said the man, ‘let us help you.’ The whole neighbourhood kindly rallied together, allowing the man to rent rooms from them in their homes for his now divided family. As his neighbours savings dwindled, the man suggested to him that all was not lost. The man and his friends would be more than happy to accept payment for lodging from the proceeds of the fruit, vegetables and herbs from his garden, which had been largely untouched by the fire. The neighbour was very grateful and allowed them to sell the produce at the market. The man and his friends grew rich over the next few years and their families prospered. He could now afford to send his children to school and shower his miserable wife with gifts of fine clothing and jewellery. Naturally, as their standing in the community improved, they were all forced to raise the amount that their neighbour was paying for lodging at their houses. He quickly became indebted to them for large sums of money. His savings were depleted and the large gardens of his destroyed home were his in name only. Finally, the man and his friends, offered their neighbour a solution. His children were many but strong, and most were of working age, in their eyes. Now that all of their fortunes had changed, they needed people to tend their gardens, clean their homes, wait on their wives and drive their carriages. He needn’t pay them a penny, said the man to his neighbour benevolently, as they could all earn their keep. The neighbour was overwhelmed at their kindness and grateful for their charity in such a unfortunate time. The children began work in their respective homes and, for a time, all was well.
The neighbors children grew to adulthood. Sons took wives and his daughters, husbands. Children were born and it was no longer convenient for their growing families to remain as lodgers within the community. The man and his friends, upon hearing whispers of them leaving and forming their own households, approached the now aging neighbour unhappily. After all the things the man and his friends had done for them, they could not understand why some of the children desired to leave. And who would pay his debts? The neighbour was surprised, believing his debts had been paid in years of labour. Oh no, they said. Interest has accrued, the cost of living has increased and he and his children owed them money. He wept and begged them for mercy but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Unless the children continued to work off their debts, the authorities would be involved. Some stayed at the behest of their father but, some tried to leave in the dead of the night. They were caught, arrested and returned to the homes of their debtors.
Eventually, the neighbour died, old, heartbroken and under a mountain of debt that had no number. His gardens were sectioned off and given to the man and his friends by the court. His children, middle aged, and with no hope of freedom, settled into a life of servitude. They told tall tales of the beautiful life they once lived in the mansion, now rebuilt and occupied by the man, his children and their children. From generation to generation, these tales seemed more like stories, and the stories were more akin to myths, as they had no evidence of such an illustrious past. They were now slaves. The mansion, the debt, and the man, were almost of no consequence. The neighbour was a foolish descendant of theirs who had done nothing for them but will to them a life of slavery and increasing abuse. The history books spoke of the man and his friends as heroes, men of great fortitude and substance, who had worked hard for every penny they had and by greatness of intellect and kindness of heart had become the foundations of this great city. The children of slaves and slave. masters alike read these books and knew them to be true.
Once upon there was a man who lived in a modest home with his family. They had everything they needed but complained to him. He wandered out into his garden, to think of ways he could make them happy. And he did.