“The Plight of the Squirrels” or, “The Socialist Squirrels”

Some time ago there was a small community of squirrels that lived in the forest called The United Trees of America. For many generations the squirrels worked hard to gather acorns for each winter. One particular squirrel family, the Johnsons, had eight children. Mr. Johnson loved all of his children, and so he worked extra hard to make sure that all of his children were well fed when it was wintertime. The Johnson family lived three trees away from the Limby family and the two Limby children would often come over to play with Mr. Johnson’s kids. Sometimes, the families would even visit their friends, the Millers. The Millers had only one child, but they lived in a rather large tree, as Mr. Miller had worked very very hard for the last nine years. Mr. Miller often gathered three times as many acorns as he and his wife and daughter needed, but when winter came and some squirrel family ran out of acorns, he could sell them; this is how he and his family came to live in such a gorgeous tree. One spring, after the Limby children were nearly grown, Mrs. Limby was out wandering the forest and met a beautiful young squirrel; the squirrel stole her heart and she ran away with him. Mr. Limby was distraught when he heard the news and flung himself off of the highest branch of his tree. The Johnsons told the two remaining Limbys that they would help them as best they could through their time of sorrow, but reminded them that they would still need to gather their own food for winter. As the months wore on and winter crept closer and closer, the Limby children sat inside their tree wondering where their mother could be. Although the Johnsons prodded the two squirrels to gather acorns, they persisted in the continued state of languish that they had assumed upon hearing the news of their parents. When winter came, the Johnsons watched sadly as the Limbys began to get thinner and thinner, but they had no food to spare. Mr. Johnson finally appealed to Mr. and Mrs. Miller, and the kind couple gave the Limbys as much food as they needed and continued to sell the rest. The next spring, the Limbys were as healthy as anybody else, but having enjoyed their rest the year before, they decided they would once again claim to be in mourning and do nothing. Mr. Johnson and his family worked very hard for the first few weeks, but when they saw that the Limbys were not working anymore, they thought to themselves The Limbys don’t work at all! They sit around all day and enjoy their peace, and when winter comes they are well fed! We shall do the same this year too! So the whole summer and fall they played and traveled and didn’t give a single thought to what they would do in the winter. By this time, they Millers had moved into a smaller tree since they hadn’t been able to sell as many acorns the winter before, but they were still living quite well. That winter though, when the Johnsons showed up at their door with the Limbys behind them, they offered them a discounted price for the acorns, but said that they couldn’t afford to give them to the two families. When the other squirrels heard of this, they accused the Milleres of being greedy and told them that if they did not give away their acorns, they would be kicked out of the United Trees of America. Although they were furious about this, the Millers agreed – grudgingly – to give all of their extra acorns to the Limbys and Johnsons. That spring the Limbys and Johnsons decided to enjoy another year of fun and once again gave no thought to their food supply. Mr. Miller, outraged at what he had been forced to do that past winter, decided that he would only gather enough food for he, his wife, and his daughter – since they knew that any extra food would only be taken away from them, Mrs. Miller and their daughter agreed that this was a good idea. That fall, the Millers were sitting around the table sharing their meal when the Limbys and Johnsons knocked on the door. “We’re sorry,” Mrs. Miller said, “but we’ve only enough food for the three of us and we can’t help you. You’ll have to find food somewhere else.” Shocked, the two families went into town again and pleaded with the townspeople. The other squirrels could not believe that the Millers had once again refused to share their acorns, and they started a protest right outside of their tree. They waved signs and shouted filthy things at the daughter when she stepped outside one day to catch some air. They complained and yelled, saying that the Millers were evil people who were intentionally starving their neighbors. Finally, the crowds broke through the front door and stole enough acorns to feed the families. With a smaller supply of acorns to last them through the winter, the Millers had to ration their food, and all of them became very thin. When their daughter became ill, they decided to give her a bit extra from their rations. By January she was dead, and Mrs. Miller’s health had begun to decline as well because she had given so much of her food to her daughter. When spring came around, only Mr. Miller was left alive. After the funeral of his daughter and wife, he packed his bags and headed for the edge of the forest. As he glanced back at The United Trees of America one last time, he had only one parting thought: I should have moved to Austreelia years ago.

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