I had the opportunity to listen to a talk delivered by a writer, one who had a popular newspaper column that ran for over 20 years. She told a number of interesting and inspiring stories as she imparted lesson after lesson to the audience. One particular story, one supposedly conceived for children, stood out for me not just because of the plot but more so of its moral according to the speaker. Let me share the story, plot unchanged, in my own words.
Once upon a time, there were four angels who resided in the heavens that wished to visit the earth. It was strictly forbidden for them to do so, but no reason had ever been given as to why. For weeks and weeks, the sisters begged permission from their father to allow them go. Wanting to make his daughters happy, the father finally relented one day despite the risks that only he knew. His blessing came with a few inviolable conditions, of course — they had to travel to earth during night, leave back for home before the sun rose, and most important, never speak to anyone of their journey other than themselves.
The sisters chose a lake in what appeared to be an uninhabited jungle and set their wings for the journey as soon as the skies turned dark.
When they landed, they stood silently, looking around and observing, making sure that no man was nowhere near. A bit of time passed and then they exchanged knowing glances, then smiles. The angels raced to take off their wings and clothing, and tossed them without care by the shore. Then they jumped with obvious excitement into the cold, pristine water!
The mere became their new paradise for several hours. The sisters laughed, giggled and shouted in glee. Feeling the cold, tickling liquid on their skin for the first time gave them a sensation they could have never imagined. They splashed water at each other, dove in and rose out of the lake, and chased one another around the shore. To them, such an experience should be repeated, but at that moment, they just didn’t want it to end.
Hearing the noises the angels made, a man who had been living alone by the woods soon made his way towards them. His isolation had made him grown accustomed to the eerie silence of the night except for the occasional sounds made by the nocturnal animals, but his curiosity was instantly aroused by the joyous chorus coming from the distance. His excitement grew with every step he took and as he drew nearer, found himself exerting increased effort not to make any sudden noise. When he was as close to them as he dared, he watched with equal delight as the angels jumped, clapped and danced in ecstasy.
Seeing their naked bodies glow under the moon in a certain way, the man concluded that the women weren’t from any place he’d ever been. He observed all of them were beautiful, but found himself extremely attracted to the smallest of them. A mischievous plan swiftly brewed in his mind. So, he kept still, forced himself to stay awake, and waited for his chance.
When they held hands, formed a circle and started chanting with their eyes closed, the man didn’t waste any time. He quickly tiptoed his way towards where they had laid their clothing and took off with the smallest pair of wings he could find.
Soon, the time came for the angels to leave for the sun was almost out. The eldest of the sisters lead the rest in heading for the shore. She picked up her clothes and wings, and wore them. Each of the sisters did exactly the same, except for the youngest who was surprised not to find her wings were she had laid them!
After a frantic and fruitless search, the angels had to make the difficult choice of leaving their youngest sister behind. Without wings, the angel was like any other woman. The man’s plan came to perfection as he successfully lured her straight into his arms. He offered her clothing, then food and then shelter. He reserved his grandest offering for last — promising love and care for the rest of his life.
Ten years went by rapidly.
One fated day, the mortalized angel was deep in thought about her sisters as she looked out the window at the anomalous overcast sky that hung above. Her husband was away for the occasional hunt and their children, a boy and girl, were out playing in the fields.
How surprised she was when her children came barging through the door earlier than usual. She barely comprehended what they were saying but she understood enough to know they wanted to show her something that piqued their curiosity. She let her children drag her into the barn.
When she saw the trap door for the first time in a decade, she knew. Her children gazed at their mother for the last time as she flew higher and higher until they could see her no more.
The writer said that the moral of the story was that kids should not to mess around with things that don’t belong to them. The mother wouldn’t have left if not because of her children, she concluded.