Literary Yard

Search for meaning


By: Raymond Greiner 

ManisionThe year is 1923 and the country is in the midst of the Roaring Twenties. Euphoria has not ceased since the end of The Great War. The alcohol flows like water unfolding a new era of drink, dance and celebration. Enterprise found new footing pushing the industrial revolution to its limits, with steel, oil and manufacturing on an upward spike. Millions are being made bootlegging liquor from Canada. Prohibition opened a floodgate for crime and corruption.

Nestled in the Catskills high on the hillside is a spectacular mansion. This is the mansion of Cyrus Wingate a mega millionaire, his wife Margaret and 13-year-old daughter Sybil. Parked on the circle driveway is a Bentley limousine, three gardeners are busy nearby with landscaping tasks and the chauffeur is polishing the Bentley. This is a spacious mansion, with nearly 1000 acres of hilly, wooded property surrounding it, a massive estate.

Wingate has dabbled in a variety of business ventures, owned one third of a bootlegging operation, running three schooners from Canada weekly. He gave this up calculating it as too risky when the feds began cracking down on boats from Canada. He switched to commodities and stocks, investing heavily in manufacturing and real estate. Cyrus is a big man, smokes Cuban cigars all day, is 52 years old with a swagger, has a personal tailor and uses a diamond studded cane defining one of great success. His wife Margaret is socially connected with the rich and famous of this era. Sybil is privately tutored and her teacher Dorothy an exceptional woman, teaching Sybil not only academic subjects but also the love of music and art and they spend leisure time walking in the surrounding forest.

Discussions often arise at the dinner table.

I have nearly 1000 acres of property now, and I can view in every direction the land I own, with one exception, that old farmhouse on the hillside. It is owned by an elderly brother and sister inherited from their parents. They are Quakers, raise goats and the place subtracts from the beauty of the property. I had my lawyer contact them offering three times what their house and land is worth but they refuse to sell. It disgusts me to look at the place each day.”

Sybil: “Daddy, I know those people. Dorothy and I visit with them. They are the nicest people I have ever met. They are fraternal twins, their names are Denise and Dennis. They only own twenty acres and have 30 goats. They sell goat’s milk and feta cheese to the local grocer. They were born and raised at their house, neither married and their small homestead is their entire life. They talk funny, say thee and thou, and dress the same every day.”

I don’t care what they do, or how they dress I want them and their house out of view. They are a distraction. This country is moving forward with a higher definition of what’s important and not important. Two old fogies milking goats are misfits living in the past. Money is now the power. Money pays for your tutor; it brings fulfillment and opportunity paving the road to the future. I intend to visit myself tomorrow and present a higher offer.”

The next day Cyrus walked up the hillside to the old farmhouse.

Hello, I am Cyrus Wingate and own the mansion down below. I would like to discuss purchasing your property.”

Very nice to meet thee Cyrus. I am Dennis and this is my sister Denise. We have admired your home for years. We raise goats; they are quite special animals. Goats are hearty and endure winter better than cows or horses. They provide us with income to sustain our lifestyle. We also have a large garden each year. It’s kind of thee to visit with us.”

My lawyer talked with you a few weeks ago concerning purchasing your land and home.”

Yes, we remember him. His offer was extraordinary, we had no knowledge this place could be worth so much money.”

I am very interested in purchasing your property in an effort to expand my land holdings. I am willing to offer you 75,000 dollars, probably four times its appraised value.”

Mr. Wingate, we cannot sell our property at any price. We are fixtures here, we have no place else to go or desire to leave. We are 65, and when we die this property will be inherited by our Quaker brethren and may be sold by them if they wish.”

With 75,000 dollars you can buy a much nicer place, increasing your personal net worth, which can also be valuable to your Quaker brethren when you die.”

Yes, so true, observing from monetary worth logic. It is a vast sum of money. Our chosen living style has family roots, extending four generations, and we both feel responsible to live out our lives at this place and monetary gain means nothing to us. Each day is a spiritual experience, knowing we are extracting sustenance from the land of our ancestors. We both are extremely content and joyful to be living and working at this place.”

Alright Dennis, it’s beyond my understanding. Here is my card, if you change your mind let me know.”

At dinner that night Cyrus discussed his encounter with the Quaker goat herders.

I can’t imagine living in such a manner, feeding and milking goats each day, cleaning manure, and dealing with all that for miniscule income. I would rather be in prison. Money is the impetus of modern life. Look at our lives compared to those Quakers. We are surrounded by luxury, and don’t perform physical tasks or work in a sweatshop doing horrid labor. I make my money with my brain, calculating deals and investing based on good judgment. Selling canisters of milk and blocks of cheese for a pittance makes no sense.”

Margaret: “Well, my dear, I doubt the Quakers have your knowhow, and your work is far above their comprehension level. Social separation has been a presence forever. I’m just glad I am where I am. The duck tastes divine. I wonder if the Quakers have ever eaten such a fine meal.”

Sybil: “Daddy, I love those two, they amaze me how they perform their daily work and bond with their goats. They seem joyful and full of life.”

That’s because you are child, and have yet to learn the location of values. Cultural structure is changing, industry and commerce is dominant, and economics rule every function of modern life. Money is power to change things for the better. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and those Quakers are still using oil lamps. What sense can that possibly make?”

It’s the way they were raised. They are accustomed to oil lamps, and it fits their needs as well as electricity fits ours. It is what they choose.”

Cyrus shrugged his shoulders and went to his smoking room for a cigar and a shot of brandy. He felt good about his accomplishments and financial position and looked forward to the coming years expanding his wealth.

Cyrus spent the next week in NYC meeting daily with his brokers. He felt confident enough to extend himself investing in higher risk stocks, giving access to his cash reserves to his brokers, allowing them to purchase stocks on margin. A free rein to invest at will. The brokers made several highly profitable maneuvers pleasing Cyrus greatly. His net worth was growing.

This pattern continued for several years, stimulating Cyrus to mortgage his home and property to increase investment cash. His total stock holdings were now in excess of 10 million dollars, all paying dividends each quarter.

One fall morning Cyrus woke feeling odd, had very low energy, drained and weak. He knew something was not right and went to a local doctor. The doctor put Cyrus in a hospital to run tests attempting to diagnose his illness. They suspected cancer but could not pinpoint exactly where the cancer was, or even if it was cancer. It could be simply physical fatigue or possibly related to his heavy smoking and drinking. In a few days after several rounds of medication to raise his energy level he felt improved and went home. The ill feeling lingered, but he was able to monitor his investments.

His broker called.

Cyrus, this is Phil. Several of your stocks are beginning to slide. This could be temporary. I felt it necessary to inform you of this in the event you may want to bail out of a few diminishing investments. However, the loss will be significant.”

No, stock investments naturally fluctuate I want to wait it out.”

OK Cyrus, I’ll keep you informed.”

On Tuesday March 25, 1929 the stock market crashed. Stocks plummeted to all time lows and investors lost millions overnight. Cyrus Wingate went from a net worth of 10 million to less than 10,000 in one day. Without his dividends it was impossible to service his extreme debt and his home and property were in jeopardy of foreclosure.

Cyrus had never felt such despair, an empty feeling. As if he were dying. His health continued to decline becoming so weak he could barely walk. Upon the news of his financial disaster his wife left him for a wealthy friend she knew through her high-end social connections. His home became cold and barren, and his servants left from lack of pay. His daughter was nearing college age and there was no money to finance her education.

Oh Dorothy. What will ever become of me? I think my father may be dying and he is in such a terrible emotional state. We have no place to go.”

Sybil, you can live with me if your father passes.”

That afternoon Dennis and Denise came to visit. The mansion was cold from lack of heat and Dennis started a fire in one of the massive fireplaces.

Dennis: “Mr. Wingate we read of the horrible stock market crash and combining this with thy illness thou hast been dealt a terrible emotional blow. Thy wife has abandoned thee leaving only thy daughter to care.”

Thanks for your concern Dennis. I feel terrible, have difficulty walking, and it appears my net worth is now almost nothing. I am plagued with fear of dying and even if I live my future is uncertain.”

Denise: “Mr. Wingate, my mother and grandmother taught me many herbal cures using various plants combining natural ingredients with goat’s milk. Goat’s milk is among the most nutritious foods in the world. Dennis and I have a spare room and we suggest thee move in with us for a while, attempting recovery using our knowledge of herbal cures. Often these cures are more effective than modern drug therapy. Most illnesses are caused from inflammations that gradually take over the body’s immune systems. As we age we need higher nutritional fortification ingesting mostly anti-inflammatory foods. Inflammations may be the cause of thy illness. ”

Cyrus felt enormous guilt, thinking how he was adamant about extracting these people from their home. Sybil read them clearly, these were caring people living their lives in a consciously harmonious manner.

With Sybil and Dorothy’s help Cyrus took a few personal belongings and moved into Dennis and Denise’s spare room. It was a small room but immaculate and very orderly. The dresser had a large porcelain bowl and a pitcher filled with water for drinking and washing. Two globe oil lamps and a clothes rack. A large window overlooked the rolling hills. Also a small wood burning stove in one corner of the room. It had a feather bed and down comforter. Cyrus was quite taken at the feel this small room emitted.

Denise immediately began combining dried herbs and root powders. Ginseng, turmeric, rosemary, holy basil, barberry, ginger and oregano oil with green tea instructing Cyrus to drink this four times a day. She served him oatmeal made with goat’s milk topped with crushed almonds, walnuts, honey and cinnamon. He also drank warm goat’s milk several times daily. She made special soup using garden greens and diced turnips, a creamy soup made with goat’s milk. They maintained this regimen for two weeks. No alcohol or tobacco was allowed. She emphasized to Cyrus it is important to rest, and sleep as much as possible.

Within two weeks Cyrus was feeling much better. His energy returned and it seemed to him as if a miracle had occurred. He had not felt this good in years. He was 58, and in two years would turn 60. He was at a pivotal point in life.

Cyrus salvaged some of his holdings. He sold the Bentley and scraped together 25,000 dollars. He gave this entire sum to Sybil to be applied to her college ambitions. Dorothy arranged for an entrance exam at a small college nearby and Sybil scored very high on this test. The college accepted her and also funded a partial scholarship based upon her test score performance.

Cyrus was astonished how his energy returned and he felt young again, full of drive and needed a purpose. He now was taking meals with Denise and Dennis in their kitchen. He became completely enthralled by these two. They functioned each day like a precision machine. Routine and chores consumed each day, milking, processing cheese, gardening and keeping their small homestead functioning, orderly and productive.

Dennis I would like to help out with the goats, in any manner I can. I watch you and Denise each day and feel you have reached a higher plane of life. This simplistic approach to each day has a certain exhilaration.”

Of course, we can begin today, it would be a pleasure to share my work with thee. I believe physical work is the base for happiness, it offers spiritual fulfillment.”

Denise: “Cyrus, thee can live with us as long as thee wants. We enjoy thy company, and feel gratified at thy recovery.”

Sybil and Dorothy visited: “Daddy, what are you going to do?”

Firstly, you were correct about Dennis and Denise. They are the most loving, kind people I have ever met. Unnselfish, giving in a manner that seems to bring them great satisfaction. I am astounded.”

I start school next semester, and am enjoying living with Dorothy, she has been a huge influence in my life.”

Sybil, you deserve this opportunity. I enjoy each day now, and have bonded with the goats. They are comical and each has its own personality. I am amazed at what they eat and how the forage for graze that other grazing animals shun. They won’t eat the May apple; somehow they know it is poisonous. Can you believe the change in me?”

Daddy, are you going to live here forever?”

I don’t know, Denise and Dennis told me I could stay as long as I want. I intend to write a book about my life’s experiences, investing, becoming wealthy then losing it all. Now I am wealthy again, a different form of wealth. I feel compelled to document this series of changes in my life, my illness, recovery and the entire spectrum of what my life has revealed. Any proceeds from this book will be donated to the Quaker brethren, their philosophy of life is the reason I am alive.”

Cyrus wrote his book, describing his life in detail. How money controlled him, dominating every thought. He still feels money is important, as a tool but in a different application. If one has an abundance of money, it should be used to altruistically directly influence those in need, directed at the betterment of social structure. He titled his book Goat Power. It became a bestseller earning over 3 million dollars. It also inspired readers to write Cyrus as the press covered his fall from grace widely. As planned, all proceeds went to the Quaker brethren and Cyrus became a master goat herder, adding dimension to his life and also Dennis and Denise’s lives. He was attached to one goat in particular, “Annie”. Annie supplied all the milk during his recovery. Denise said that for some unknown reason Annie’s milk was richer than the other goats. Cyrus felt a balance in life that previously eluded him.

Modern society is entrapped in superficial worship of monetary wealth. The power of money influences and controls personal goals directed at materialism and exploitation, subtracting from greater values existing beyond corruptive influences created by money. Money is a tool of survival within the scope of present day social design. It’s important to recognize money and its influence, seeking improvement, developing and expanding the human experience; however, it is equally important to quest balance avoiding over consumption and glut, discovering methods of frugal applications, allowing distribution of wealth to manifest to higher uniformity. The question looming large is. How much is enough? If wealth dominates your thoughts, and the extreme power of wealth inundates your consciousness your personal world will lack the embrace and value of simplistic thoughts and activities.”

Daily I tend to my goats. Goats are the most amazing animals. They are naturally geared toward gaining the most from the least. They herd, similarly to humanity. On the coldest winter day they remain active, butting each other in a playful manner. Their requirements for sustaining life are minimal; yet, their lives are fulfilling and meaningful. They offer me sustenance and survival. It’s the power of the goat.”

Cyrus Wingate. Goat Power



  1. Ray, exceptionally written of money’s influence and how little it means when compared to the Quaker’s love of God’s land, herbs and natural
    remedies and goats to show one the down to earth true meaning of true people and love as God intended it to be!

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