Thursday, March 3, 2011

This for That

            “What hast in that poke, then?” asked Honest Tom.
            “I’ faith, a pig,” said Jack.
            Tom’s natural kindness was overcome by a frown.  “Alas, and I had wanted a lamb.”
            “A lamb it is, in very truth,” said crafty Jack, not missing a beat.
            Tom missed one.  “I had thought thou saidst, a pig—“
            “No, ‘struth, you misheard, or I mispoke.”           
            “Well,” said Tom, satisfied.  “And what wouldst thou take for thy lamb?”
            Here Jack went all humble and sly. “In the common course of things, I’d not take less than half a guinea; but seeing as your honor is so proper, and Saturn in the house of Venus (or where it may be), I’ll settle for half a crown.”
            “And here thou hast it!” cried Tom, extending a coin.  Jack tipped his hat and hurried off to the east, while Tom strode off to the west, the sack flung over his shoulder.

            It was not until he had reached his cottage that Jack thought to bite the coin, which turned out, beneath its tinsel, to be compacted of mere straw – passed to the unsuspecting Tom in an earlier enterprise.

            Tom, for his part, finding the sack heavy, and the sun hot, at length set it down; reasoning thus: that the sack’s inhabitant might as well walk along beside him, and enjoy the fine day, as ride huck-a-back, blind both to the world’s bright splendors, and to the weariness of the bearer.  Whereupon he unloosed the cord that had tied the sack, which fell away, revealing:  
            lo,  a lamb

            Nonplussed by its innocence and radiance, Tom was at a loss what to do; but espying in a neighboring field, an ewe, sorrowing lamb-lorn in the shade of a willow-tree, he at once perceived the solution.  Then mother and lamb stood nuzzling, rejoicing so far as it is in their simple natures to rejoice, and Tom went home a-whistling.

            Thus both Jack and Tom dined sparely that evening: the one on the bread of bitterness, the other on the bread of life.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're back. You are a fount of words and wisdom.