Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Strange Water Affairs

- Hugh Forsyth -

A short while ago the writer was required to tell an Uncle Remus story in public. The story comes from the American Deep South and is about Bret Fox, Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby. It seemed to go down O.K. even though it ended with a vexing question.

From time to time in our pretty town there are strange water affairs, and one such recent affair is best reported on after the style of Uncle Remus.

One morning early Uncle Remus he walk out in the yard and he find the water tap running open. Now he know who leave the water tap open, so he call the Boy, and Uncle Remus he say, - Boy, you leave the water tap running open? – And the Boy say, - Oh no, Uncle Remus, not me. Now Uncle Remus he know the Boy telling lies, but he take a fatherly view of the situation, and he say, - Boy you and me gonna sit down on the porch cause I gotta story to tell you. – So they go sit on the porch, the one facing the other.
When they sit comfortable, Uncle Remus he say, - Boy, we live in a water-challenged area, and that mean there be a whole lot of folks around here and there be just a little bitty water, so we got to watch out for water real good. You understand?- And the Boy nod his head up and down.

Now Uncle Remus he say, - In this town there be a Lady Farmer who got a nice farm with green pastures and brown cows for good milk and prize-winning cheese and she got fluffy goats for warm blankets and comfy socks, and she got hens and roosters for pecking around all over. For to make this work nice she also got water coming in a furrow from the mountain. And on this furrow there be a sluice gate, and when it be the Lady Farmer’s turn to take water, right on the clock, she open the sluice gate, and when her turn finished, right on the clock, she close the sluice gate. And so far everything going fine.

Then one day the Lady Farmer get the feeling something ain’t right cause the water from the furrow start to look real scarce and the pastures is start to look brown. Now things go from bad to worse cause the water from the furrow get more and more scarce, and the Lady Farmer start to figure there be a water thief about, like somebody messing with the sluice gate. Now the Lady Farmer she getting real mad, cause the pastures is looking black, and the fluffy goats is begging for a drink, and the hens and roosters is lying on the ground with their wings flat, just praying for rain.

So the Lady Farmer she stomp up and down the furrow looking for the water thief, but she don’t catch him cause he so sly, when he see the trouble coming he dive off into the bushes and he lie low. Now the Lady Farmer she getting so mad she coming close to the end of her wits when real sudden she get the brainwave. A brainwave be a mighty good idea, you understand? – And the Boy nod his head up and down.

So the Lady Farmer she go down to the friendly home hardware store and she buy a big can of birdlime. Now birdlime be real sticky stuff, you put your hand on birdlime and you don’t get free again, never no more. The Lady Farmer she come home and round about sundown time she paint the birdlime all over the sluice gate. She paint it so good that when she finished it start to look like a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Then she go sleep, real peaceful.

In the middle of the night the Lady Farmer wake up sudden cause she hear a yelling and a hollering and a begging for mercy, and she smile slow. Then she get out the warm bed and she put on the pink dressing gown and the farm boots, and she take some stuff in her hand, and she walk up the furrow.

By ‘n by she see just what she wanna see, cause there be the water thief, and him stuck all over the sluice gate like he come into this world with that contraption as part of his original body. The Lady Farmer she stand over the water thief, and him slobbering for mercy, and the tension is running real high cause in her right hand she got a meat axe and in her left hand she got a knife and fork.

Now the Boy sit up straight and his eyes go wide like dinner plates, and he say, - Oh no, Uncle Remus, you mean the Lady Farmer she kill and eat the water thief? – Uncle Remus sit back, and he pause to take some breath, then he say, - Well, maybe she kill and eat the water thief, and maybe she don’t. But I wanna tell you one thing, Boy, you leave the water tap running open in the yard again and the Lady Farmer gonna come by and she gonna kill and eat you.-

The Boy come all over shaking and trembling, but he don’t leave the water tap running open again, never no more.

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