Baa was the leader among a herd of beautiful goats. He was brave, kind and well loved by everyone. He was fair and had no favorites, other than the kids who followed him everywhere, begging for stories. “Just one story,” he would say, but he always ended up telling them two or three.
One day he told the kids to sit down, because the story they were to about to hear was a long one. Everyone was excited and even a few of the adults settled in the grass to listen. Baa said there once was a man called Prince. He ruled over a great land and it’s people but the Prince was unkind and spoiled. He ruled with an iron fist. He was selfish and cruel. He was vain and vengeful. The people feared and hated him. But early one summer morning, when the clover was high, Prince was walking in his garden and came upon a beautiful woman. He told her to come to him and bow down. She laughed and turned away. The Prince was furious, unaccustomed to being disobeyed. He walked toward the woman and reached to grab her arm. But the woman turned and said, “You are undeserving of your title and your place in the world. You are corrupt in every way, heartless and barbaric. The Prince was taken back. No one spoke to him in that way. He would have her killed for her insubordination. But the woman frowned at him and said, “No more.”
The Prince, looking up at her in his new earthly goat form, bleated and stamped his feet. “Goats are pure of heart and kind. You need to learn those lessons.” And then the woman walked away.
For two long weeks, search parties looked for the Prince. During that time, the goat in the garden heard what people thought of him.
“Good riddance, I say. He was cruel and mean.”
“No loss at all. Maybe we will finally have some peace, now that he’s gone.”
“I hope he’s never found.”
“It’s been so pleasant since he disappeared.”
Every word spoken was a celebration of the Prince’s disappearance and a hope that he would not return.
By the end of the third week, no one was looking for the Prince. People were smiling, trading goods in the square and the mood of the people was joyful.
“Do you see what kind of man you have been?” asked the woman, looking down at the goat.
The goat hung his head in shame.
The woman touched the goat’s face and he once again became a man. “Have you learned your lesson?”
“The Prince fell at her feet. “I have.”
“Do you wish to remain a man, or a goat?”
The Prince hesitated. “My life as a goat was rich and happy. My life as a man was not. But from what I have learned, I believe that I can be a better person and help others, so I shall stay a man.”
“You were a lovely goat.”
“My Lady,” he said, bowing.
“I will check on your progress and if you fail, the choice will no longer be yours.”
The Prince bowed and walked into his palace. Once there he told the surprised guards to begin dismantling everything.
“We shall no longer have palaces but share the wealth evenly. No longer will there be unpaid work, inequality. Instead there will be joy and sharing. I will not be your master but your friend and advisor, if you will have me.”
A small heard of goats heard his words and shook their heads.
“He’s wasn’t a very good goat,” said one. “He didn’t really know how to jump very well.”
“He wasn’t born to it.”
“That’s true. He was more man than goat but he seems nicer than when we first met him.”
“The woman will watch him and make sure he does what is right.”
And that’s how the Prince became a good person. He was taught by goats who are good and kind. Goats who are happy and joyful. The people were fearful at first but when the Prince remained kindly, they slowly began to trust him.
“Be glad you are goats,” said Baa. “You are beautiful and shine brightly, my kids. You will grow to be strong and brave. You are loved.”
The herd stood up and mingled. They spoke softly about the Prince and the goats who taught him kindness. There was head butting and laughter and all of the goats thought it was just about the best story they had ever heard.
Baa had been in that garden, for he was far older than anyone knew. He had seen the spoiled Prince change, slowly at first, but more quickly as time went on. Baa had helped to educate that selfish man, teaching him compassion and kindness. He had helped the woman bring goodness into the world because that’s what goats are for, to bring joy to all who know them. Goats are made of love and leaping, after all. It’s just that some people keep their eyes closed and can’t see that.