The Ferrets and the Humans
Once there was a team of ferrets, exploring mysteries, who landed upon a small blue planet and discovered a hidden valley that opened onto the land of the humans. The ferrets found these creatures a promising species, of grace and charm, intelligence and curiosity, of warm humor and great courage.
Because of this, and because of the dangers and promises ahead for the young race, the ferrets gave to the humans four powers with which they could prevail over the challenges to come.
The first was the power of fire, the second was the power of the wheel, the third was the power of written language, the fourth was the power of courtesy and respect, one to another.
The humans were quick to learn, and cherished the gifts that the ferrets had brought. As the explorers prepared to depart, the humans begged them to stay and to share with humankind the delight of the brave new civilization that would rise.
The ferrets were touched, and promised to return. On the day of their departure, one human turned to them. "Of these powers, dear ferrets, which is the first among them, which would you have us guard above all others?"
"Well asked", replied the ferrets. "Without fire can you prosper, and without the wheel, and without the alphabet, for many have prospered on your planet and across the galaxies without these. The one power without which no civilization can long survive, however, is the last, the power of courtesy and respect for each other and for all life."
The humans murmured, understanding and used their new letters to scribe the Courtesies on tablets of onyx, the words finished in purest silver. When the ferrets had departed, the new race learned swiftly, mastering the natures of fire and wheel and alphabet.
They pondered long, however, how best to protect the most precious of powers, and at last it was agreed to keep the Tablets of the Courtesies in the safest place their world could offer. From reverence, no copy was made, nor were its holy words read but by those who first had heard them from the ferrets.
And so it came to pass that one essential of the Four Gifts was weighed in rare metals and precious jewels, locked within a giant chest of iron, and after a long voyage and with great ceremony, was given to the waves and buried, safe forever in the uttermost part of the sea.
How others deal with gifts we've given is not our decision, but theirs.
---Antonius Ferret, Fables