Long ago, there was a troll who lived in a cave on a mountain. His head was shaped like a pumpkin, his nose like a banana, and he was ten feet tall. His name was Thug, and he loved one thing more than anything else: He loved gold.
Thug had thousands of gold coins in his cave, which he had taken from the men who tried to kill him. During the day, Thug slept on his coins, and when he woke up in the evening, he played with them, tossing them in the air, or throwing them at the walls and ceiling. But as the years went by, his heart became empty, and the coins no longer satisfied him.
One evening, Thug said, “I want to do something good with my life.”
Outside Thug’s cave, there were many boulders, and he rolled three to the stream at the bottom of the mountain. Then he returned to his cave and got a stone bowl and a hammer. With his hammer, he smashed the boulders into powder.
“I put my dung to good purpose!” Thug said with a smile.
He mixed his dung with the powder and water to make mortar. After seven nights, he built a wall that was six feet long, ten feet high, and one foot thick. He looked with satisfaction at the work of his hands, then went back to his cave to sleep.
In the evening, when Thug woke up, he went for a walk and saw a rabbit on the forest path.
“Hello, rabbit,” Thug said.
“Hello, Thug,” the rabbit replied.
“Can you tell rabbits to meet me by stream?”
“I have big surprise!” Thug said with a smile.
“Okay,” the rabbit said.
An hour later, the rabbits all gathered by the stream, and they looked at the wall that Thug had built.
“What is that?” one rabbit asked.
“It is small wall,” Thug said. “I want to build big wall, all around mountain.”
“To protect you from bad men who come and hunt you with arrows.”
While the rabbits stared in awe at the wall, a cougar climbed down from a tree. Her name was Hickory, and she loved one thing more than anything else: She loved to eat rabbits.
“Don’t run!” Hickory said to the rabbits. “I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to save you.”
“Save us!” one rabbit cried. “You want to eat us!”
“Yes, that’s true,” Hickory admitted. “But I would never eat all of you. If the troll builds his wall, you will all die!”
Thug pointed at the cougar and said, “That is fake accusation! I want to protect rabbits from hunters.”
“Thug’s wall will save our lives,” another rabbit said. “It will keep the bad men out.”
“And I keep bad animals out too,” Thug promised. “I will throw cougar over wall! She will not eat any more of you.”
Hearing this, the rabbits cheered. Then, with one voice, they chanted, “Thug! Thug! Thug!”
Hickory did not want to lose her food supply. When the rabbits stopped chanting, she said, “It is true that Thug’s wall will keep you safe from bad men, and the wall will keep you safe from me. But there is one thing the wall will not do.”
“What is that?” one rabbit asked.
“The wall will not keep you safe from Thug! Once he has you surrounded, he will catch you and eat you!”
“That is fake accusation!” Thug shouted. “I only eat plants, flowers, and people who try to kill me.”
“Don’t be fools, rabbits!” Hickory said. “Why would a troll want to protect you? Once the wall is built, just imagine what he will do! He will smash you all with his hammer and make rabbit pancakes.”
The rabbits looked at each other. Then they looked at Thug and trembled.
“Thug is a monster!” one rabbit said.
“He’s evil!” another rabbit blurted. “He hates us all!”
The cougar gave the rabbits one final thing to fear: “And if Thug doesn’t eat you, he will capture your children and sell them for gold!”
Hearing this, the rabbits all cried.
“No!” Thug said to the rabbits. “I only want to save you from harm. I want to do something good with my life.”
“No wall!” one rabbit yelled, and then all the rabbits chanted, “No wall! No wall! No wall!”
Hickory looked at Thug and frowned. “Go back to your cave, you deplorable troll, and sleep on your pile of gold.”
Thug tried to reason with the rabbits: “If you don’t let me build wall, hunters and cougar will kill you.”
“But not all of us,” one rabbit said.
Another rabbit said fearfully, “If you build the wall, you will eat us and sell our children!”
Thug kicked the ground. “Stupid rabbits! If you don’t want my help, I will go.”
Then he went back to his cave and sat on his pile of gold.
After that, Hickory continued to eat one or two rabbits every day, and the hunters came and killed many rabbits with their arrows.
And all because the rabbits listened to a cougar and wouldn’t let a troll build a wall.