Welcome friends, to Story Time with Hail. Tonight, a tale of wit and guile.
One day a clever rogue from Lakeshire showed up at Three Corners with a horse loaded with pelts. The border guard, Jimmy, asked the rogue where she was going.
“I am on my way to the Eastvale Logging Camp. I have been practicing skinning and wish to sell my pelts. I hear with so many horses sold there they have need of materials to craft saddles.”
Jimmy looked at the rogue and her steed suspiciously. “I’ll have to check to see if you or your steed is carrying anything other than leather. If I find valuables you will have to pay the fee.”
The rogue nodded. “Naturally, but I assure you what we are carrying is perfectly legitimate.
The guard picked apart the bundle of leather and found nothing. He had the rogue open her cloak and fold out her pockets, and again found nothing. Begrudgingly, he turned to the rogue. “I am certain you are smuggling something, but if you are I cannot find it. You may pass, but be warned – next time I will be more thorough.”
The rogue smiled and crossed the river.
The next day, the rogue showed up once again to Three Corners with a horse loaded with pelts.
“You again!” Jimmy said. “I was thinking about where you might have hidden your goods last night and have some ideas. Either way if you wish to cross I must search you and your steed.”
The rogue agreed, and Jimmy checked her cloak, her pockets, her pelts, her shoes, and in dramatic but anticlimactic fashion, her boots. Finally the guard shrugged his shoulders. “I know you are hiding something, rogue, but again my search has failed. Go.”
The rogue smiled and crossed.
Day after day, season after season, the rogue came with her steed loaded with pelts, and each week Jimmy would search just a bit more rigorously than the last and come up short. Finally after many years had passed, the guard retired.
Years had passed and the border guard was old and gray. One day as Jimmy perused the market, still mulling over where the rogue could have hidden her goods (perhaps he should have checked under the horse’s tongue?), he noticed a familiar face in the crowd.
“You! You are the woman who came to Three Corners every day with the horse loaded with pelts! Come, speak with me!”
The rogue walked over.
“Please, I am old and retired, but for peace of mind I must know – where you smuggling something across the river all those years?”
The rogue nodded.
“I knew it! What was it?”
“Horses,” the rogue smiled.
This story is an adaptation of one of many amazing stories from the Middle Eastern story of the Donkey Smuggler, which I read from Heather Forest’s Wisdom Tales from Around the World. I highly recommend the book, the stories and her writing are fantastic.