I’m signing off as a regular monthly contributor for the History Girls so this is my last post for a while. I want to finish by thanking the very brilliant Mary Hoffman for letting me climb on board in the first place. I have LOVED the ride. History Girls – it has been a real pleasure and privilege to be one of your number. You are – and will always be - an inspiration.
So… how to end?
I ought to write something significant, I thought. I should give a profound insight into the importance of understanding our history. Talk about how the past impacts on the present and how it shapes the future.
And then there’s the focus on Shakespeare this month. Maybe I should offer a startling insight into how his plays have shaped my own, and countless other lives?
But so many people have written so eloquently on these subjects there’s not much I can add.
So - in honour of the very many exceedingly wise women I have the joy of knowing - I’m going to finish with a story about a wise woman and her cow. It seems apt.
There was once a farmer who had three sons.
When the farmer died he left instructions that the farm was to be divided between the three of them. The oldest son was to have half of everything, the middle son was to have a third and the youngest was to have a ninth.
They divided the house and the land but when it came to dividing the herd of seventeen cattle they were stuck. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t work out how to do it.
In the end, they went to visit the wise woman of the village to ask for help.
She laughed and said, “You’re wearing your brains out on a problem that would take a woman two minutes to solve! I’ll tell you what. Here’s my cow. She’s old and lame but I’m going to give her to you.”
So they took the cow back home and added it to the herd. And when they came to divide it, the task was much easier. The oldest son (who had half the cows) took nine of them. The middle son (who had a third) took away six. And the youngest (who had a ninth) took two.
And when they’d done that they discovered there was a cow left over.
Which they took back to the wise woman right away.