A long, long time ago there was once an enormous meadow covered in Lucerne and clover, where many horses and mules lived; but the poor mules were considered ugly by the horses.
The mules were almost all identical, as if they had all been born to the same she-ass on the same day! Instead the horses were tall and graceful. Some were white, and others were dappled black and white, or just black or grey… to tell the truth they were all beautiful. They would play together and walk around on two legs, as if they were coming up for air! Then they would chase after each other and suddenly brake with their hooves on the grass, and the earth would rise like steam; others who were even more conceited, would leap in the air and perform somersaults!
“Look, look he’s cutting capers! “, said one mule very, very quietly, as if he was breathing into the droopy ear of his friend next to him. “Did you see that, did you see that one?! He’s skidding on his hooves! He’s dug a furrow in the ground!” said another mule to another friend.
The poor mules were all heaped together in the same place (next to a hedge), like sacks of wrinkled potatoes, and were ashamed to march through the meadow. The only reason they didn’t cry was because, as we all know, mules don’t have tears to cry with.
And one day…one day the soldiers came and wanted to take both the mules and horses off to war! It was then that the mules plucked up courage and started to chat to the horses.
“We’re off to war!”
“Off to war? Oh God, my God, us off to war?”
“Yes, we’re off to war! Us and you!”
“But…why us…to fight in the war?”
“Together, we’re going off to fight the war together. It’s better to die crushed, than to burst with anger here! We’re all off to war to gallop through the dead bodies! Through the dead!”
the mules shouted angrily.
And the ranked soldiers, who were well fitted-out, demanded and obtained the horses, which they then dressed with real leather saddles and decorated from head to hooves with valuable harnesses. While the unranked soldiers, who were poorly fitted-out, were forced to accept the mules, which they angrily dressed from head to stumpy paws with whatever they could find; ripped sacks for saddles, and many different thin frayed cords as harnesses.
The ranked soldiers then thus decided: “We will follow the road across the plain and you with the mules can climb the narrow mountain paths”
“But…, but why?…it’s not fair that…”
“Quiet! Obey! How can we follow the mountain paths when the horses would only destroy their legs? We must surround and defeat the enemy! So no fussing- we give the orders round here!”
“Silence! You must climb the mountains with your donkeys- we give the orders round here!”
“Aaahh, so that’s how it works here?! Let’s go then! Let’s go off to war!” shouted the poorly fitted-out soldiers.
“To gallop, to gallop through the dead bodies!” the mules repeated to the horses, which had become even more conceited with all those precious harnesses on them.
Then a crazy bugle was sounded, and off they went.
“Forward to glory!”
And they galloped off as fast as the wind, across the huge plain watched-over by a blue sky and deep blue clouds. But… but, what the horses didn’t know was…what a dirty thing war is.
The mules loaded-down with rags, cloths and cords, slowly set off, and under a baking-hot sun, overcome with shame and anger, they followed the paths, plodding and slipping along.
Dusk came, and the fiery sun up in the sky laughed in amusement. Then the stars appeared, glittering, and inquisitively stammered and coughed, splitting into groups (small stars and
big) taking sides and betting- some on the mules and others on the horses; who knows what they bet, maybe a few rays of light!
The evening went and the morning came.
The poor mules with their flayed hooves and legs had finally started the descent of the mountain. The soldiers pulled on the reins with all their might, while the wretched mules pounded their hooves on the ground, so as to save their own skin and go into battle, and maybe later even back to the peace of their stable. They watched wide-eyed as the rocks under their hooves rolled downhill…
And finally they set foot on the plain!
But not long after, from just over the way… came cries of anger and pain through a great cloud of dust which turned the sky white.
Then the dust rose and…what was there to see? That the enemy had won the battle!
Tall and graceful horses, some white and others dappled black and white, or just black or grey, and many well fitted-out soldiers…all lying torn into shreds on the ground! Conquered!
Conquered by whom? By other mules and poorly fitted-out soldiers, driven into battle by rage!
Suddenly another crazy bugle sounded.
The two squadrons of soldiers took sides on one side and the other…
They looked each other hard in the eyes, mules and mules and soldiers and soldiers…
They felt compassion for each other! A deadly silence came over the battlefield.
After some time they all scattered out over the plain, like a handful of yellow ants, all thinking the same thing: “That victory between warring kings is obtained through even more battles.”
But that was one that they were really not up to fighting!!