The Girl and the Ram at the Top of the Hill: A tale of two powers.

In an undulating land, there travelled a young girl with her caravan kitchen. Tirelessly, she pulled the caravan uphill and down, searching for places to share her wares with those who might need them. Although the road was sometimes dark and difficult, she was happy and light. Her caravan had served her very well and she wanted for nothing.

Her kitchen was lined with shelves of flasks and cannisters, potions and herbs, dried flowers and fruit, harvested and collected on her travels near and far. Some were expensively acquired, whilst others were free or cost her very little. All were collected over time and stored in case of need. When the time was right, the girl used what she had to create wonderful things that she freely shared. Occasionally, people would spit her recipes out, but most were received with love and gratitude. And this made the girl very happy.

One day, the girl stopped her caravan at the foot of a green, flat-topped hill, close to a little village. At the top of the hill lived a ram of sheer size and strength, its gnarled horns curled at either side of its huge head, preventing him from seeing clearly. He spent his days lumbering unhurriedly upon the high plain, slowly eating and watching and chewing, whilst he oversaw what he could of the events in the nearby village. He lived as if he feared nothing. And he probably didn’t.

Since the girl and her kitchen arrived, though, he began to feel unsettled. He viewed from on high as people visited the kitchen. Day by day, he watched, drawn to the caravan’s window where an unusual light shone out. He observed as people skipped away with it in bottles and jars, glowing and clinking and rattling in their woven hand baskets. He felt troubled, although he did not understand why.

‘What power is this?’ he thought.

He decided to find out.

So, one morning, whilst the girl happily cradled a huge bowl singing a song of creativity in her headscarf and apron as she mixed, the ram plodded down the hill and stood by the open window. He peered inside and saw the array of shelves, filled with pots and bottles and jars, all skilfully kept and categorised, each set with a label, lovingly crafted. He regarded the girl from outside for a long while as she worked before deciding on a closer look.

With entitled rudeness, he started to heave through the window when the girl spotted him suddenly.

‘Shoo!’ she declared, dropping her mixing bowl in alarm. ‘What are you doing? You can’t just come in here!’ And she thought, ‘Daft, lumbering creature,’ as she shoved and heaved his vast head out from her kitchen, before clearing up the mess with irritation.

The ram blinked confused. He was not used to being blocked. He disregarded her actions and came again to enter through the window, as if nothing had happened.

The girl tutted and ‘Shoo!’ swatted at his head with her tea towel. Stubborn beast. Again, he stood and stared and let out a disgruntled snort. How dare she?

‘He’s not coming in here!’ she thought. ‘He’ll knock everything over and smash and crush my potions and my lovely kitchen, and then what will I do?’ She looked around worriedly and wrung her hands. She knew she would do anything to protect what she had gathered over the years, which had cost her much.

The ram, not used to being thwarted, thought, ‘I’ll bide my time; I’ll just come back.’ And day and day, that’s what he did. He was drawn to the creativity that he could not understand and became a nuisance and distraction for the girl. He would not be deterred and although she kept him at bay, she could not create. She was at her wit’s end.

One day, she decided to hell with it. She would invite him to tea. But she was clever and cunning and nobody’s fool. She knew of his size and strength and would not risk her beloved kitchen or the things she created within it. Unbeknown to the ram, the girl kept a tiger, which she duly hid in the larder, ready to be released if needed. This gave her courage and she set about getting everything ready.

At tea time the next day, the ram arrived at the window and found the girl sitting at a table laden with goodness, casually sipping a cup of tea. He looked around the kitchen again before clumsily stepping over the sill, avoiding the sink, but landing, nevertheless, noisily on the floor. The whole kitchen shook, and the bottles and jars clanked precariously on the shelves, threatening to fall. The ram froze until the rattling stopped. The girl froze and eyed the larder door. At last all was still, so she sat up and straightened her apron. Taking a deep breath, she continued to sip her tea.

Nobody is sure what happened next.

Some say the ram went on the rampage and destroyed the kitchen, robbing the girl of her home and creativity. Others say the tiger broke out and ate the ram. Some say she never invited him to tea at all, but packed up hastily and left the foot of the hill forever.

Only a very few say that the ram nourished by the tea learned how to navigate the kitchen without knocking anything over. He helped the girl pull her caravan up steep hills and mountains, taking her kitchen to places she would never have managed alone.

But as to what really happened? Nobody knows.

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