It's not just that there are hardly any readers here, but what's this new formatting problem? Do we need to be coders to post anything with paragraph breaks now?
Everyone seems to be moving to Substack. Probably I should.
Once there was a troop of baboons that lived in a lush green mountain valley.
The valley had many fruit laden trees, that grew around a stream that trickled out of a hole high in a cliff, gathered in a little lake at the foot, and then meandered in a crystal stream through the valley until losing itself in a river in the plains below.
The chief of the baboon clan was named Moammar; and a mighty chief was he, with a great silver cape of fur growing on his shoulders, which was the envy of all the other baboons around. No other baboon had such a luxuriant cape: for only the leader could grow one that long and lustrous.
"We must tend to the lake," Moammar said, "for it is fed by rain in the higher mountains, and should the rain fail, the lake will dry up and the river die. And if the rain be too heavy, the lake will burst its banks and flood the valley and wash us all away."
So the baboons did as he directed, and piled stones and branches around the lake. When the rains were scarce, they built the piles higher, and the water was confined and there remained enough to drink and keep the trees alive. And when the rains were heavy, they pulled away the piles, so the excess water safely drained away.
So the baboon troop lived in their beautiful valley, and flourished, eating the fruits that grew on the trees, and the insects of various kinds that came to destroy the fruit and stayed to become meals.
Now there were other baboon troops elsewhere, on a great dry plateau near the valley; and these troops had no river and no fruit trees, but had to live in thorny acacia and search for grubs and seeds among stones. They remained thin and hungry and disease ridden, but that was not all.
There were leopards on the plateau, great spotted beasts that preyed on the hapless baboons. The leopards could not catch them easily in the thorny acacia branches, but lay in wait on the ground, knowing the baboons would have to descend to look for food. And each time the baboons, driven by hunger, descended, the leopards would jump on them and eat several, skin and bone and all.
Moammar the valley baboon leader looked and saw what was happening to the plateau baboons, and this troubled his soul greatly.
"We have more fruit than we can eat," he said. "If we give the excess to the plateau baboons, they need never come down from their acacias, and then the leopards cannot kill and eat them. We should do this."
The leopards came to know of the plan and this angered them greatly.
"We have an easy life here," they said to each other. "We do not have to exert ourselves chasing gazelles or defending our kills from lions or hyenas. We just have to sit near the acacia trees and eat the baboons when they come down. But if the valley baboons give them fruit, they will not come down at all, and we will have to work for our food, going afield to chase prey. And that won't do at all."
Now among the leopards there was a particularly cruel and rapacious old female known to the others as Killary. "I have an idea," she said, licking her fangs. "This Moammar has a tremendous cape of silver fur, a matter of envy to all the rest. None of the others can grow one quite like this because that do not have his authority."
Slinking to the edge of the valley, she whispered to the baboons in the fruit trees who were far away from the troop leader. "Why do you want to give any of your fruit to the undeserving baboons of the plateau?" she asked. "Is it not your fruit? And what right do they have to it?"
"This is true," a few of the baboons agreed. "Why should they get our fruit? But Moammar is our chief and we must listen to him."
"Why should he be your chief?" Killary whispered, swishing her tail from side to side. "Do you not deserve to grow great silver capes on your shoulders like him? Do you not want the pretty young girl baboons to be part of your harems, not his? Overthrow him and you will not only have all that, but your fruit too."
The baboons talked among themselves for a while, and then they said, "Yes, we agree; but Moammar is a great chief, with many strong baboons by his side; how can we prevail against him?"
"We will fix that," Killary said. "Rebel against him and ask my fellow leopards and me for help."
Then the baboons rose up in rebellion against Moammar, but as they had themselves feared, the great chief and his warrior baboons soon put them to flight and it seemed that the rebellion must at any moment be ended.
"Help us, Killary!" the rebellious baboons screamed. "Help us, Sarkonazi! Help us, all you other leopards!"
And the leopards, who had been lying in wait, sprang into the valley and began killing Moammar's warrior baboons until only Moammar himself, wounded and bleeding, was left; and the rebellious baboons leapt on him with teeth and claws until he was no more.
"The job is done!" the leopards said, licking their fangs. "No fruit to the plateau baboons now. We can feast at will."
"Yessss," Killary purred. "We came, we saw, he died. Hehehehehehe." And with the other leopards she departed satisfied to the plateau, to keep eating the baboons there.
Now in the valley the rebellious baboons each wanted to grow the most magnificent silver cape of fur on the valley, and have the largest harem of pretty girl baboons; but only the chief could do that. So they fell to fighting, all against each other, biting and clawing and warring among the branches so that all the unripe fruit was knocked down to the ground and spoilt. Along with war, hunger came to the valley.
Meanwhile the rain clouds gathered overhead, thick and dark, and thunderstorms and torrential rain lashed the high mountains. Water flooded down the cliff and filled up the lake, pressing on the piles of sticks and stones at its sides. But the baboons had been far too busy fighting to see to the maintenance, naturally, so the lake burst its banks and a flash flood rushed down the valley.
And all the baboons who had been, because there was no fruit left in the trees, looking for something to eat on the ground, were caught up in the immense surge of water and washed away.
From the plateau Killary and the other leopards watched. "What a pity," Killary said, winking. "They were such a large and successful troop, but they fell to fighting among themselves and didn't bother to repair their own homes. One wonders how it could have happened. Oh well."
Then, sighing in satisfaction, they went back to killing the baboons who came down from the acacia trees.