A Parable In Pictures
By James Thurber
In the wistful hope that her world will be better than mine
World War XII, as everyone knows, brought about the collapse of civilization. Towns, cities, and villages disappeared. All the groves and forest were destroyed, and all the gardens, and all the works of art. Men, women, and children became lower than the animals. Discouraged and disillusioned, dogs deserted their fallen masters. Books, paintings, and music disappeared from the earth, and human beings just sat around doing nothing. Years and years went by. Even the few generals who were left forgot what the last war had decided. Boys and girls grew up to stare at each other blankly. Love had passed from earth.
One day, a young girl who had never seen a flower chanced to come upon the last one in the world. She told the other human beings that the last flower was dying. The only one who paid attention to her was a young man. Together, the young man and the girl nurtured the flower and it began to live again. One day, a bee visited the flower, and a humming bird. Before long, there were two flowers, and then a great many.
The children of the young man and the girl grew up strong and healthy. They learned to run and laugh. Dogs came out of their exile. The young man discovered how to build a shelter. Pretty soon everybody was building shelters. Towns, cities, and villages sprung up. Song came back into the world, and troubadours and jugglers, tailors and cobblers, painters and poets, and sculptors, and soldiers and Lieutenants and Captains, and Generals and Major-Generals, and liberators. Some people went to one place to live, and some to another. Before long, those who went to live in the valleys wished they had gone to live in the hills. And those who had to live in the hills wished they had gone down to live in valleys. The liberators, under the guidance of God, set fire to the discontented. So presently, the world was at war again. This time, the destruction was so complete that nothing at all was left in the world, except one man, one woman, and a flower.