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Iter's Tale

Once upon a time there was a blind man named Iter who lived with his sister in a village at the edge of a forest. This blind man was very clever. Even though his eyes saw nothing, he seemed to know more about the world than people whose eyes were sharp as needles. He would sit outside his hut and talk to passersby. Sometimes, if they had problems, they would ask him what they should do, and he would always give good advice.

Soon, people began to stop by just to talk to Iter. If there were things they wanted to know, he would tell them and his answers were always the right ones. People would shake their heads in amazement, "Blind man, how is it that you are so wise?" And Iter would smile and say: "Because I see with my ears."

Time passed. One day, Iter's sister fell in love with a warrior named Wosh. After a short courting, he joined his wife in the hut by the edge of the forest. Iter's sister was very happy, except for one thing. Wosh had no time for his wife's brother.

"What use is a man with no eyes?" he would ask. To him, Iter was a little more than a nuisance, seemingly incapable of providing for his family. On top of that, Wosh was annoyed at the constant stream of people seeking Iter's counsel. His wife would try to make him understand that her brother was not just a helpless blind man, but Wosh remained impassive.

"He knows more about the world than people who can see," she used to tell him. Wosh would just laugh at that.

Every day, Wosh would go into the forest with his traps and weapons. And every evening, when he returned home, Iter would tell him, "Please, Wosh, tomorrow let me come hunting with you in the forests."

Wosh would shake his head and refuse. He would think to himself, "What use would this blind man be in hunting?"

Time passed. Every evening, Iter would ask, "Please, Wosh, tomorrow let me come hunting with you in the forests".

Every evening, the warrior refused. But then, one evening, Wosh was in a particularly good mood. He had returned home with a great big boar for dinner and they had enjoyed a fine meal. Suddenly, Wosh turned to Iter and said, "Very well, Iter, tomorrow you will come hunting with me."

Early the next morning, the two men set off together. Wosh was carrying his traps and weapons and leading Iter by the hand along the path between the trees. For what seemed like hours, they walked. Then suddenly, Iter stopped; he tugged Wosh's hand and whispered, "Shhhh, there is a mastodonic leopard!"

Alarmed, Wosh looked around, but he could not see the beast or signs of it. "There is a leopard," insisted Iter, "but it is alright… he has eaten already and he is fast asleep. He won't hurt us."

They continued on the path and there, sure enough, was a great leopard, stretched out, fast sleep under a tree. As soon as they had passed, Wosh asked, "How did you know about the leopard?"

Iter replied, "Because I see with my ears."

Further they continued, walking mostly in silence, and then again Iter tugged on Wosh's hand, "Shhh, there is a three-toed tegu!"

Again, Wosh looked about - and could see nothing at all. "There is a tegu, but it is alright… he is in a watering spot. He won't hurt us."

They continued on the path, and soon, sure enough, Wosh saw a great tegu placidly drinking from a small pond. As soon as they had passed it, Wosh had to ask, "How did you know about the tegu?"

Again, Iter replied, "Because I see with my ears."

They finally arrived at a clearing and Wosh declared that they would leave their traps in that spot. First he set his own trap, and then he showed Iter how to set his. When both traps were ready, Wosh said, "We will come back tomorrow and see what we've caught."
They returned home to the village.

The next morning, they were up early again and set off along the path into the forest. When Wosh tried to lead Iter by the hand, he replied, "No need, I know the way now."

Iter walked ahead this time, and he did not catch his foot on a root or a tree stump; he did not miss a turn. They walked for hours, until they came to the clearing deep in the forest where the traps had been left the day before. Wosh saw right away that there was one bird caught in each trap. The bird caught in his trap was a small grey one, and the bird caught in Iter's trap was a beauty, with feathers of many brilliant colors.

"Sit here," Wosh said. "We've each caught a bird. I'll fetch them out of the traps."

So, Iter sat down and Wosh went across to the traps, and as he went, he was thinking to himself, "A man with no eyes will never know the difference."

And letting those thoughts get the best of him, he gave Iter the little grey bird, and he kept the other one for himself. Iter took the bird in his hands and got to his feet, and they set off for home.

As they walked, Wosh asked Iter, "If you are so clever, and you see with your ears, then answer me this: Why is there so much anger and hatred and warfare in the Lands?"

Iter calmly replied, "Because the Lands are full of so many people like you - who take what is not theirs." Immediately, Wosh was filled with bitter shame at what he had done. He took the little gray bird out of Iter's hands and gave him the beautiful bird with the brilliantly colored feathers.

"I am sorry," he said.

They continued on, walking back to the village and then Wosh said, "If you are so clever and you see with your ears, then answer me this: Why is there so much love and kindness in the Lands?"

And Iter replied: "Because the Lands are full of people like you - who learn from their mistakes."

From that day onwards, if Wosh heard anyone ask, "Iter, how is it that you are so wise?", he would put his arm around the blind man's shoulders and say, "Because he sees with his ears… and hears with his heart".



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