The Compact.

Over-sentimental, and completely made up, but this is my answer to vegans' "it's not right to take advantage of animals" argument.

Thousands of years ago, just as people were beginning to leave their hunting lifestyle and settle down in communities, some of the Animals held a meeting.

"The world is changing," said the Ox. "I can feel it in the earth."

"A great change," said the Dog. "I can smell it in the wind."

"It is my children," said the Human. "They have found a new way."

"That is why we have met," said the Sheep. "We must decide how to face this change."

So the Animals talked for a while. Then the other animals faced the Human and said, "We pledge ourselves to you."

"What do you offer?" asked the Human.

The Dog spoke first. "I will join you in the hunt. I will defend your cherished things." The Human nodded.

The Horse spoke next. "I will pull your loads and carry your burdens. When I am dead, you may use my flesh, my bones, and my skin for your benefit."

The Ox spoke next. "I too will pull your loads. I will gift my spare milk to your children. When I am dead, you may use my flesh, my bones, and my skin for your benefit."

Then the Sheep spoke. "I will gift my wool to your children, and my spare milk if they want it. When I am dead, you may use my flesh, my bones, and my skin for your benefit."

Next, the Fowl spoke. "I will gift my unwanted eggs to your children. When I am dead, you may use my flesh, my bones, and my feathers for your benefit."

Then the Hive spoke. "I will gift your children with sweetness, and will pollinate your fruit trees."

Finally, the Cat said. "I will bless your children with my beauty and grace." The Human merely raised an eyebrow. The Cat looked away and muttered, "I will also protect your stores from the vermin of the world."

The Human looked around the other Animals. "And what do you want in return?"

All the other Animals replied in chorus, "You will never allow our lines to fail. You will take us with you wherever you go. And when our time comes, you will kill us quickly and honour our gifts."

The Human agreed, then said, "You have offered much. Surely there is something else you want?"

The Dog said, "You will give me a place by your hearth. You will love me as your own children."

The Hive said, "You will build me houses, and plant me flowers."

The Ox, the Sheep, the Horse, and the Fowl spoke together. "You will protect us from the Wild. You will shelter us from the cold, and feed us grain when the snow lies thick."

The Sheep and the Fowl added together, "You will protect us from the Wolf, and the Fox, and the Hawk."

The Horse and the Ox added together, "You will cure our sickness, and care for our young."

The Cat thought for a moment, then said, "You will build palaces to house me, and feed me only the finest treats. Your children will worship me, as is my right."

The Human smiled at that. And so the Compact was made.

And though as the years went on, some people were cruel to their animals, and some animals turned against their people, the Compact was never broken. Because although the Human's children have often forgotten to treat the others kindly, they have not forgotten the other Animals' first, most important request, and their lines have not failed.

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