by Edward D.Hooch
The rain was still falling by the time he reached the little wooden shack that stood in the center of the green, fertile valley. He opened his cloak for an instant to knock at the door, not really expecting a reply.
But it opened, pulled over the roughness of the rock floor by great hairy hands. “Come in,” a voice commanded him. “Hurry! Before this rain floods me out.” “Thank you,” the traveler said, removing the soggy garment that had covered him and squeezing out some of the water. “It’s good to find a dry place. I’ve come a long way.” “Not many people are about in this weather,” the man told him, pulling at his beard with a quick, nervous gesture. “I came looking for you.”
“For me? What is your name?”
“You can call me Shem. I come from beyond the mountains.”
The bearded man grunted. “I don’t know the name. What do you seek?”
Shem sat down to rest himself on a pale stone seat. “I hear talk that you have two fine unicorns here, recently brought from Africa.”
The man smiled proudly. “That is correct. The only such creatures in this part of the world. I intend to breed them and sell them to the farmers as beasts of burden.”
“They can do the work of strong horses and at the same time use their horn to defend themselves against attack.”
“True,” Shem agreed. “Very true. I… I don’t suppose you’d want to part with them…?”
“Part with them! Are you mad, man? It cost me money to bring them all the way from Africa!”
“How much would you take for them?”
The bearded man rose from his seat. “No amount, ever! Come back in two years when I’ve bred some. Until then, be gone with you!”
“I must have them, sir.”
“You must have nothing! Be gone from here now before I take a club to you!” And with those words he took a menacing step forward.
Shem retreated out the door, back into the rain, skipping lightly over a rushing stream of water from the higher ground. The door closed on him, and he was alone. But he looked out into the fields, where a small, barn-like structure stood
glistening in the downpour. They would be in there, he knew.
He made his way across the field, sometimes sinking to his ankles in puddles of muddy water. But finally he reached the outbuilding and went in through a worn, rotten door.
Yes, they were there . . . Two tall and handsome beasts, very much like horses, but with longer tails and with that gleaming, twisted horn shooting straight up from the center of their foreheads. Unicorns—one of the rarest of God’s creatures.
He moved a bit closer, trying now to lure them out of the building without startling them. But there was a noise, and he turned suddenly to see the bearded man standing there, a long staff upraised in his hands. “You try to steal them,” he shouted, lunging forward. The staff thudded against the wall, inches from Shem’s head. “Listen, old man…”
“Die! Die, you robber!”
But Shem leaped to one side; around the bearded figure of wrath, and through the open doorway. Behind him, the unicorns gave a fearful snort and trampled the earthen floor with their hoofs. Shem kept running, away from the shack, away from the man with the staff, away from the fertile valley.
After several hours of plodding over the rain-swept hills, he came at last upon his father’s village, and he went down among the houses to the place where the handful of people had gathered. And he saw his father standing near the base of the great wooden vessel, and he went up to him sadly.
“Yes, my son?” the old man questioned, unrolling a long damp scroll of parchment.
“No unicorns, Father.”
“No unicorns,” Noah repeated sadly, scratching out the name on his list. “It is too bad. They were handsome beasts . . .”
Noah Pleases God
6: 9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.18But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.20Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.’ 22Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.
- Riddle me this! (barefootpreachr.org)