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Stories by Elizabeth Green
The Long and the Short of it


One day Mattie Beaver complained to his friends, “My mother has this awful habit of saying well the long and the short of it is.” Mattie rolled his eyes, everyone giggled, and he continued, “One day I asked her what the long and short of it meant. Well, I just wanted a short explanation and I got a whole story.” Mattie rolled his eyes again, grinning. The friends chuckled knowingly. “Still, I did enjoy the story,” admitted Mattie.

“Tell us! Tell the story, Mattie,” said Bonnie.

Mattie began, “Once, there were three young beavers that enjoyed playing and fishing in a lake. When the time came each day to return to their home at a nearby pond, their parents had trouble getting them to leave. The young beavers would always protest and plead to stay longer, just a little longer.

One day, Mother and Father Beaver decided the young beavers were grown enough to build their own house by the lake.

The first young beaver wanted the house built in the shade of a spreading tree. The second chose a spot close to the lake where he could sit with his toes in the water. The third decided on a hillock with a view of the entire lake.

The young beavers could not agree where to build their house.

Father Beaver offered a solution. He suggested each build a house. He would supply the materials.

The first young beaver asked for bales of straw. The second chose bundles of sticks. The third wanted many wheelbarrows full of bricks.

The first young beaver couldn’t wait to jump in the lake. He rushed to build his house of straw in the shade of the spreading tree.

The second young beaver was eager to join the first having fun splashing in the water. He quickly finished his house of twigs on the shore.

On the hillock, the third young beaver made a sturdy foundation to support the walls of bricks. The first and second young beavers called, “Hurry up. You’re missing the fun.” The third young beaver just nodded and slowly continued his work. After several days, he finished his house of bricks.

One day, dark clouds appeared overhead as the three young beavers frolicked in the lake. A storm was sweeping toward them. They scurried to the safety of their houses.

A fierce wind announced the arrival of the storm. Swoosh! In a wink, the walls of straw collapsed on the first young beaver. He wriggled from under the heap and rushed to the house of the second young beaver. “Let me in! Please let me in,” he called. No sooner was he settled in the house of twigs when it began to rain, and great heavy drops dripped from the ceiling of twigs. Drip! Drip! Drip! Water began to seep under the walls and between the sticks as the level of the lake rose with the downpour. The walls of twigs began to sway with the current.

“Oh dear,” wailed the second beaver. “I think my house is about to fall.” The young beavers rushed from the house none too soon. Splat! The walls of twigs collapsed in the rising water. The young beavers watched as the twigs floated away on the current. Then, wet and bedraggled, they ran up the hillock to the house of bricks. “Let us in. Please let us in,” they called to the third young beaver. Once inside, the young beavers were very surprised to find the interior was very dry and very snug. “My, you have done a wonderful job building your house,” said the first young beaver.

“Quite an awesome effort,” agreed the second.

Then Mattie explained, “So the story is the long of it. The short of it is all that needed to be said in the first place. It’s what the third young beaver replied to the other young beavers. If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

Copyright 2011 by Elizabeth Rodger from Rainy Day Stories


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