Ah, good morning! Good morning and welcome once again to Sunday Griot! You’re all looking good today, if I do say so myself. Grab a bagel and some juice and coffee and then come on over by the fire and settle in for today’s story. It’s another oldie but a goodie from Aesop.

Once upon a time there was a horse who roamed free over a wide pasture. He claimed as his own a particular watering hole, and was able to kill or drive away any animal who tried to use it, with one exception. There was a stag who used to drink from the watering hole with impunity. The horse would chase the stag off, but it would never be long before the stag returned, always staying just out of reach of the horse.

“Did you see that?” the horse remarked one morning to a man who occasionally came to the area to hunt.

“Yeah, I see that,” the man said.

“That stag has been a thorn in my hoof long enough,” the horse said. “I’d like to get rid of him so I can have my watering hole all to myself.”

“I know what you mean,” the man said. “I can never get close enough to the stag to put an arrow through it so I can have me a venison dinner.”

The horse whinnied a sigh. “I wish there was a way we could get rid of that stag once and for all.”

The man thought for a second, and then a smile spread across his face. “Maybe there is,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

The man rummaged around in his pack for a moment and brought out a piece of leather attached to a bar. “Let me put this in your mouth, then I’ll get up on your back. You can chase the stag and get me close enough to shoot it.”

The stallion eyed the bit suspiciously. “I don’t know . . . “

“Well, do you want to get rid of the stag or don’t you?”

The horse thought for a minute more, and then said, “Let’s do it.” So the man put the bit into the horse’s mouth, grabbed his gear, and got up onto the horse’s back. Then he slung his gear across his own back, making sure to keep a quiver of arrows where he could reach it easily.

Soon enough the stag appeared at the edge of the watering hole and lowered its head to drink. As soon as it did so the man spurred the horse on and got his bow ready. The stag of course bolted from the water’s edge, but the horse got just close enough for the man to be able to take aim and fire. The arrow hit its mark and the stag fell to the ground.

“Well done!” the horse cried. “Now let’s get this bit out of my mouth and I’ll be on my way.”

“Hm?” said the man. “No, I don’t think so. I rather like this arrangement.” And so saying, he spurred the horse, whipped the reins and drove the horse toward his village to get some friends to help him dress the stag.

If you allow men to use you for your own purposes, don’t be surprised if they use you for theirs as well.

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