Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, many years ago, a young man arrived in the small country of Fortunia looking for work. He was a baker from the neighbouring country, Harmonia, and his name was Lucas. In those days Harmonia was famous for its wonderful bread and its fruit trees. Lucas opened a shop, married a Fortunian woman, and had three children. His shop sold the best bread in the whole country, and Lucas was happy.
Ten years passed. Every summer Lucas went to see his relatives in Harmonia. He often took them clocks from Fortunia. Fortunia was well known for its wooden clocks, and they were sold all over the world. When he returned to Fortunia, he used to bring Harmonian fruit to give to his friends.
But there was a problem in Fortunia. The clocks were so good that they never went wrong. People kept the clocks for twenty or thirty years, so no one needed to buy new clocks. The clock-makers were still making a lot of clocks, but very few were being sold. Some people wanted to try new designs, but Fortunian clock-makers were very traditional. 'Our clocks are the best in the world,' they said. 'Why should we change them?'
One day an old clock-maker called Carl came into Lucas's shop. He was carrying a box.
'Lucas,' he said, 'have you ever seen one of these?
Carl opened the box and took out a wooden clock.
'It's very nice, Carl,' said Lucas with a smile. 'Did you make it?'
'No, I didn't,' said Carl. 'Look.'
He put the clock on the counter, and moved the hands to one o'clock. Suddenly a little door opened and a small wooden bird came out. 'Cuckoo,' it said, then it went back in and the door closed. He moved the hands to two o'clock, and this time the bird said 'cuckoo' twice.
'It says "cuckoo" twelve times at twelve o'clock,' said Carl. 'Where's it from?' asked Lucas.
'It was made in Harmonia. I bought it there. The shops are full of them. You Harmonians are clever people,' replied Carl. '1 think I'll get one,' said Lucas. 'You know, I'd love to make clocks like this,' said Carl. 'Well, why don't you?' asked Lucas.
'I can't,' said Carl. 'The king won't let us.' Carl looked at the ground. 'He says that Fortunian clocks must be traditional.' Carl picked up the clock. 'Look, it's a good clock, but it runs a little slow. I can make abetter clock, but... I'm not allowed to. You know the king!'
Lucas smiled. Nobody liked King Boromar XIV. He once cut off someone's head because they brought him cold coffee.
Carl bought some bread and left. That night Lucas wrote to his brother in Harmonia and asked him to send one of the new clocks. When it arrived, Lucas put it in the shop window. The local children loved the clock. They used to stand outside to wait for the bird. Every hour it came out of its little door and said 'cuckoo'.

Life began to change in Fortunia. The new Harmonian clocks were being sold all over the world. No one wanted Fortunian clocks any more. The factories began to close. Fortunians were getting poorer. Harmonia used to be a poor country. It had good bread, and good fruit, but very little else. The young people used to emigrate to other countries to look for work. There were thousands of Harmonians in Fortunia. But now Harmonia itself was getting rich, and new factories were being built everywhere. Fortunia was a land of mountains and forests, but there were few farms. The people lived in towns and produced clocks. They used to sell their clocks and import food cheaply from Harmonia. Harmonian food used to be cheap. But not any more. Harmonia was getting richer, and the farmers wanted more money, too. They could sell more food at home now, and people could pay more for it. Harmonian food was getting expensive. It was a problem for Lucas. The price of food was getting higher as his customers were getting poorer. He was a kind man and tried to sell things cheaply. When his old customers lost their jobs, Lucas gave them bread. 'You can pay me when you've got some money,' he used to say. 'Don't worry about it.'

One day Carl came into the shop. Carl was poor now. 'Have you heard the news, Lucas?' he asked. 'King Boromar's coming here next week. Everyone's very excited.' 'Why?' said Lucas. 'No one likes him.'
Carl didn't smile at all. 'He is our king. You don't understand, Lucas. You're a foreigner, but he's Fortunian like us.' Lucas laughed, 'You've always hated him, Carl. We both know that.'
Carl's face went red. 'I've never said that!' he shouted. 'He's the Kirig of Fortunia. When there are problems, a country is like a family. We ought to work together.'
'Carl,' said Lucas quietly, 'the King didn't let you make the new clocks. That's why the problems began.'
'The clocks,' snarled Carl, 'the new Harmonian clocks. Of course, you're a Harmonian. Another clever, rich Harmonian!'
Carl walked towards the door.
'Carl,' called Lucas, 'you've forgotten your bread.'
'I don't want your Harmonian bread,' said Carl. 'Anyway, I can't afford it.'
'You don't have to pay,' said Lucas. 'We've been friends for years.'
'Keep your bread!' snarled Carl. 'I'll be eating Fortunian bread or nothing from now on!'
King Boromar XIV came on the following Friday. Lucas went to the town square to see him. A huge crowd was waiting. Lucas heard the horses first, then the trumpets. Boromar rode into the square with about fifty soldiers. He was riding a white horse. The soldiers were watching the crowd carefully. Everyone was cheering. Boromar raised his hand and there was absolute silence.
'My people,' said Boromar, and the crowd cheered again. 'Thank you for coming here today. Our clock-makers are standing in the streets with no work. Our children are cold and hungry ...'
'You don't look cold and hungry,' shouted a man. Three soldiers ran forward, and pulled him into a doorway. Lucas saw the flash of sunlight on a sword. Then the man was lying on the ground. He wasn't moving. Lucas looked at Boromar again.
'That was a Harmonian!' he was shouting. 'They came here. They ate our food. Then what did they do? They ran back to Harmonia with our wonderful ideas for new clocks. They stole our clocks! They stole our jobs!'
The crowd was screaming now. Lucas could see the faces of old friends, some of his wife's family. They were all shouting the same thing, 'Down with Harmonia! Death to Harmonians!'
When Lucas got home, his wife was crying.
'Don't worry, Anna,' he said. 'By next week they will have forgotten all about this. They're good people. They won't harm us.'
Anna looked up at him. 'I'm afraid for the children,' she said. 'Maybe we ought to go to Harmonia.' 'No,' said Lucas. 'Fortunia's my country now. I've spent most of my life here. This is our home.'
The next day there were signs painted on the walls all over the town: HARMONIANS GO HOME! and FORTUNIA -LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT. Lucas went to the market to buy some fruit.
'Is that a Harmonian accent?' said the fruit seller. 'Because I'm not serving Harmonians any more.'
Lucas walked back towards his shop. He saw Carl on the street corner, talking to some youths. He was pointing at Lucas's shop.
'Hello, Carl,' said Lucas.
'That's him!' said Carl to the youths, and turned and walked away.
Suddenly the youths began shouting, 'Dirty Harmonian! Dirty Harmonian!'
The youths stayed outside his shop for an hour.
The same thing happened the next day, and the next. The youths came every day and stood outside the shop and shouted. Lucas couldn't sleep at night. He lay in bed, thinking about the youths. The local people were not cruel or unkind, and they
soon forgot about the King's visit. But the youths were still coming to his shop and shouting, 'Dirty Harmonian!' Lucas wanted to forget the bad times, but he couldn't while the youths were there. Then he thought of a plan!
The next morning he was waiting outside his shop when the youths arrived.
'From today,' he shouted, 'I'll be giving five silver coins to everyone that shouts "Dirty Harmonian" at me.' The youths looked at each other in amazement, but Lucas was already giving out the coins.
They shouted 'Dirty Harmonian' for an hour, then left and went home.
The next day Lucas was standing there smiling when the youths arrived.
'Good morning,' he said.
They all began shouting 'Dirty Harmonian' again. 'That was very good,' he said, 'but I'm not a rich man. I can't afford five coins every day. I can only give you three coins each today.'
The youths were happy. Three coins isn't as good as five coins, but it's certainly better than nothing. They shouted for an hour while Lucas watched them with a smile.
The next morning Lucas went out and gave the youths one coin each.
'Hey!' one of them said. 'Why have you only given us one coin?'
'I've told you before,' said Lucas, 'I'm not a rich man. From today I can only give you one coin each.'
'That's not fair,' said a youth. 'Two days ago we got five coins, and yesterday we got three coins!'
'I can't give you more than that,' said Lucas. 'I'm sorry.'
'Well,' said the youth, 'we're not going to stand here and shout
"Dirty Harmonian" for just one little coin!'
'Fine,' said Lucas. 'Don't.'
And they didn't. Never again.
Everyone heard the story. They came to the shop and asked Lucas to tell it again. Some of the younger clock-makers were working secretly on a new kind of clock - one that could be worn on the hand. Then one day the news came: King Boromar was dead. He fell off his horse, hit his head on a traditional clock, and was killed. His son, Boromar XV, was a much nicer man. Soon the new hand-clocks (or 'wrist-watches') were being sold everywhere. Fortunia became rich again and Harmonia was rich too, so everyone lived happily ever after.


1. Why did Lucas arrive in Fortunia?
2. What kind of country was Harmonia when Lucas left it for Fortunia?
3. Why was Lucas happy in Fortunia before it became poor?
4. What was Fortunia famous for? Why?
5. Why didn't Fortunians try new designs of clocks?
6. Who's Carl? What is he like?
7. What did Carl bring to Lucas's shop one day? Why?
8. Why did King Boromar XIV want Fortunian clocks to be traditional?
9. What kind of person was King Boromar XIV?
10. Why did Lucas get a Harmonian cuckoo clock?
11. Why and how did life begin to change in Fortunia and Harmonia?
12. How did Lucas's and Carl's lives change? Why?
13. Why did Carl change for the worse but Lucas did not?
14. Why did King Boromar XIV make a speech in front of the crowd? What kind of speech was it?
15. Why did the crowd listen to and agree with their king?
16. Why didn't Lucas and his family go to Harmonia? What did he think of Fortunians?
17. Why did Fortunians become so aggressive towards Harmonians? Was their hatred really true?
18. Why did the youths come to Lucas's shop to shout 'Dirty Harmonian'? Why was it youths who did it?
19. What trick did Lucas try on the youths? Why did the trick work?
20. How long do you think the youths would have been shouting 'Dirty Harmonian' in front of Lucas's shop if he hadn't stopped them?
21. Can you suggest another way (some other ways) eliminating chauvinistic, racial, or fascistic acts?
22. How did everyone learn about the story about the youths? Who told them?
23. What made Fortunia a rich and happy country again?
24. What is the message of this tale?