Pine Eye the Ass, Part One

Once upon a time, in the middle of a grand pine forest, there was a particular tree. She was very generous, and she loved a little boy named Joe. She gave him whatever he asked. He used to climb her trunk, play in her shade, and pick pine cones. Joe was happy, and so the tree was happy.

But as Joe grew up, a darkness came over his heart. The tree never stopped loving him, but it became more and more difficult. As Joe grew older, he studied the rough magic of the earth goddess Sib, determined to learn the secrets of life and death. In his old age, Joe was now a powerful warlock.

One day, Old Joe came to the pine forest and encountered the tree who loved him. “O Pine Tree,” said he, “give me one of your branches, that I may make man in my image, and he may live and worship me.”

But the tree said, “It is not for man, Old Joe, to make man in his own image and be worshipped by man. Your heart is hardened with the ambition to become a god. If you take my branch with this purpose in your heart, you will surely die.”

But Old Joe would not listen. He seized a branch of the tree and snapped it off. Immediately blood and water sprayed out from the tree’s wound. The tree mourned the fate of her old friend.


Old Joe carved the pine branch into a human form, a male, and named the doll “Pine Eye.” Being the son of a living tree, Pine Eye had himself the breath of life within him.

Old Joe set Pine Eye into his garden and said, “Pine Eye, till the soil. You may eat the fruit of the ground, but you must give me the choicest specimens first, for I am your maker.”

But Pine Eye would not listen. As his father’s heart was shrouded in darkness, so too was the son’s heart. Pine Eye stole the choicest apple for himself and ate the whole thing.

When Old Joe learned of Pine Eye’s theft, he roared like thunder. “O treacherous and faithless boy,” said he, “because you will not bow down and worship your maker, I curse you with a terrible curse! You are no better than an ass—therefore, be an ass!”

And with a terrible incantation, Old Joe transformed Pine Eye into an ass who could only bray.

“If you would have human form again, ass,” said Old Joe, “you must travel west for a year and a day, and eat the roses sacred to the earth goddess Sib. Then, in return for your human form, you must give her your body and soul: you must be initiated into her mysteries and become her priest for life.”

So Pine Eye the Ass traveled west, in search of the sacred roses of Sib.


On the way, Pine Eye the Ass encountered a fox leaning against a cat who stared blankly.

“O Ass,” said the fox, “Won’t you help your brother and sister?”

“Brother and sister?” added the cat.

“I am but a poor lame fox,” said the fox.

“A poor lame fox,” added the cat.

“And she is but a poor blind cat,” said the fox.

“A poor blind cat,” said the cat.

Pine Eye the Ass said “O lame fox and blind cat, I am in need of help myself. For truly I am not an ass at all. I must find the sacred roses of Sib, that I may eat them and shed this ass skin.”

The fox said, “Truly I do not know where the sacred roses of Sib grow, but I know who might.”

“I know who might,” added the cat.

“You must go to the shore and seek the Terrible Dogfish,” said the fox.

“The Terrible Dogfish,” added the cat.

“O thank you, my friends,” said Pine Eye the Ass. “I shall never forget this. When I am a man, I shall provide for you.”

And Pine Eye the ass trotted off toward the sea.

Once he was out of sight, the fox walked on all fours, and the cat looked around. They laughed at the success of their trickery.


(To be continued….)

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