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That's Not What You Told Me!

Children's Story
Nutman the squirrel was sitting quietly at the feet of Wise Owl. He was impressed by Wise Owl's wisdom and knowledge, and thought he might learn something if he sat there long enough. But Wise Owl appeared to be asleep. He was perched on the branch, but his eyes were closed. Nutman wondered whether perhaps Wise Owl was deep in thought, and hesitated to disturb him. But after waiting silently for what seemed like hours (although it was actually no more than ten minutes), Nutman cleared his throat as loudly as he dared.

Wise Owl continued to sleep, but Nutman was encouraged by the faintest flutter of one eyelid and decided to plunge on. "How can I learn to be like you, Wise Owl?" he asked eagerly. There was another long silence, but at last Wise Owl replied. "Live as you've been taught by your parents."

Nutman frowned. "But I've always done that," he complained.

"Go away and do it harder," said Wise Owl. "Keep all those rules you've always been taught, and learn to look after other people."

Nutman pouted and scampered off. Stupid old owl! He wasn't wise at all. He hadn't said anything new or different. He was just like everyone else, forever getting on at Nutman and telling him what to do. Nutman went off to his secret garden and began to collect nuts and hide them away. It was his favourite activity and it saved him having to talk to other squirrels or play their silly games.

But when he returned home, Nutman was irritated to spot Bushman, that squirrel with the gorgeous bushy tail, chatting with Wise Owl. Bushman was a popular squirrel, although Nutman had no idea why this should be. He himself didn't much care for Bushman, who he thought was disgracefully vain, and who was far too light-hearted for his own good. Strangely enough, Bushman was asking Wise Owl almost the same question as Nutman had asked him. Nutman crept closer to overhear.

"What's the most important thing to do in the whole world?" Bushman asked.

Wise Owl replied, "You must love with every fibre of your being, the One who created you and who created the entire universe."

Nutman didn't think much of the answer but to his surprise, Bushman laughed and clapped with delight. "That's just what I thought!" he cried. "And then everything else follows! Then it becomes fun to be with other people and to play with them and get to know them and help them when they need help."

Wise Owl nodded, and there was a twinkle in his eye, with the hint of a smile around his lips. "You're nearly there, Bushman," he said. "You're nearly wise like me!"

With that, Nutman sprang out of hiding. His face was blotchy with anger. "That's not what you told me, Wise Owl," he stormed. "When I asked you how to become wise you told me something quite different. Why didn't you answer me like you answered Bushman? It's not fair!"

Wise Owl blinked sleepily. Then he yawned. "I'm going to sleep now, Nutman," he said, "And I don't want to be disturbed. At all. As I told you before, go away and share your hoards of nuts with other squirrels. You're different to Bushman, so you need something different. And right now, you need to leave me alone."

And with that he went fast asleep and refused to wake up.

Nutman went away feeling angry and sad and irritated and jealous all at the same time. But Bushman went away full of fun and ready to enjoy the company of all his squirrel friends.
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