Timmy and the Trouble Tree – a tale in the tradition of Aesop


Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, there was a dinosaur named Timmy. Timmy wasn’t just any dinosaur, he was a fine, young three-horned triceratops.

Now, as all of the other dinosaurs knew, a triceratops was one you should never trouble, for to do so would be to invite a poke in the nethers. A poke from not just one sharp, pointy horn, but three!

Three big, angry horns —and an angry triceratops right behind them!

Now, every morning at sunrise, Timmy would go with his herd to the plain where the peanut trees grow to forage for food.

As they wandered about the plain for their breakfast, the herd stayed close together, because in the middle of the plain stood the Trouble Tree, and anyone who got too close was certain to find trouble for the rest of their days.

But Timmy just couldn’t believe it.

One day, he decided to put the Trouble Tree to the test.

“I’m going to show Jimmy, Billy, and Buck there’s no such thing as a ‘trouble tree.’ It’s a tree, not an evil spirit!” he vowed.

He followed after his mom and dad for the plain. His best friends were already there, waiting for him.

“Here comes trouble!” they cheered when they saw Timmy.

“Not this time!” said Timmy, “this time, we’re going to go find it!” A low grumbled warning from father got lost in the laughter of his friends.

“Let’s go!” and with that, the four friends went off to play in the thorny bushes and tall grass of the plain.

“Stay away from the Trouble Tree,” called their mothers after them.

Before long, the friends found themselves deeper in the bushes than they ever dared go before. Billy stopped.

“Billy, what’s the matter?” called Buck, as he dodged past.

“I don’t know…I’m just scared.”

Timmy overheard. He stopped. Then the others, following close behind, stopped.

“You are scared because you know where we are,” he said to Billy.

Billy nodded. “We’re almost at the Trouble Tree.”

The others, in their haste, had not realized where Timmy was leading them. They were just having fun along the way to somewhere; but none of them thought for a moment the Trouble Tree would be Timmy’s destination that day.

Timmy turned back toward his friends. “Yes, I admit it! I’ve brought you to the Trouble Tree. I wanted to show you there’s no such thing. It’s a tree, not a big, bad evil spirit.”

“Only evil spirits are scary,” Jimmy, the eldest of the friends and Billy’s older brother, said.

“But mom says it is an evil spirit. It only looks like a tree because of a magic spell. It waits for people to get too close, so that the wind can sprinkle the seeds of trouble upon them, and then the seeds grow into Trouble Trees.” Billy replied.

“Mom says the Trouble Tree tries to grow its roots deep, so you can’t pull it off of your head and escape from under the shadow cast by its leaves and branches. That’s how trouble follows you everywhere, ever after, once you catch the seeds,” Jimmy added.

“That’s a bunch of dodo-droppings!” said Timmy. “And I’m going to prove it to you.”

With that, Timmy turned to face the centre of the plain, lowered his great head, and rushed, horns first, in the direction of the great tree.

The friends followed after Timmy, but were still out of sight of the Trouble Tree when they heard a great thud and felt the ground shake beneath them.

They could hear their moms and dad’s calling after them in alarm.

Soon, the ground set to trembling once again, only this time, it was the hooves of triceratops an entire herd!

Jimmy, Billy, and Buck looked at one another. They froze in place, waiting for their parents to arrive. They feared for their friend Timmy, but they dared not move forward another inch.

They were never so scared in their lives.

They knew they were in big trouble for going near the Trouble Tree, but the friends were never so happy to see their parents appear.

Soon, the friends found themselves surrounded by the herd.

“Where is Timmy?” asked Timmy’s dad, his face grim. The boys were too scared to speak.

They could only point in the direction of the Trouble Tree, which lay on the other side of a thick patch of burly bushes.

A look of concern washed over his face, then Timmy’s dad turned to face the herd.

“I will go alone. It’s too dangerous. He’s my boy.” And with that, he spun round toward the bushes, lowered his head, and charged with all the might a 12 tonne triceratops can muster.

But the herd didn’t listen to him. No matter who was in trouble, or what the trouble was, triceratops always stayed together and stuck together. They followed after Timmy’s dad, by the lane he created through the bushes.

The air stilled. Nothing moved. Not a sound, save for the crunch of their hooves on the ground. As they got closer, their dread grew stronger, each step heavier than the last.

They pressed forward. One of theirs was in trouble. They cared more about that than about what the Trouble Tree might do to them.

When they emerged from the brush and trod upon the apron of grey sand and stumped grass at the base of the Trouble Tree, what a sight met there eyes!

There was Timmy! There was Timmy’s father! They were both laughing and frolicking and playfully poking one another with their horns, right in the middle of the plain but there was no Trouble Tree! There was only a hole in the ground where the Trouble Tree used to be.

“Timmy! Timmy! Timmy!” the friends cried together, “What did you do to the Trouble Tree?”

Timmy couldn’t speak, being so filled with relief and joy. Instead he gave his great, three-horned head a shake, proudly showing the great pieces of tree bark stuck on his horns, then pointed a hoof in the direction of the tree.

The Trouble Tree lay just out of sight, on the far edge of the patch.

They could not see it from where they stood, because Timmy had hit the tree so hard with his horns when he charged, that for much of its final voyage, the Trouble Tree’s had been airborne!

Timmy and his dad could not stop laughing and playing (and poking at one another) and soon the rest of the herd joined in the fun, never to be troubled by Trouble again.

That night, Timmy and the other triceratops children slept their first night without nightmares, and from that day on, never worried about what trouble might come, because Timmy showed them what to do when it does.

Their parents slept soundly too. Now that the Trouble Tree was uprooted and laying on its side on the plain, it would soon die and no longer spread its seeds upon unsuspecting triceratops children that venture too close.

The Trouble Tree would never again haunt them with fears and doubts.

It is better to use your head to push trouble out of the way, than as a garden to grow a Trouble Tree of your very own.