February 2, 2016

fence post

Two little men, neither the one nor the other of ’em taller than a jar of jam, came out from the hollow under the tree where they lived and started off walking along the road, arguing furiously all the while.

‘You can’t, I tell you. You can’t, and that’s the end of the bargain,’ said Red Cap, chopping the air with a hand for emphasis.

‘I can, and I will,’ was the stubborn retort of Shaggy Boot.

And so, red of hat and shaggy of boot, they continued on with many a gesture and contortion until they arrived at their destination, an old fence post all by itself by the side of a good sized pasture.

‘There it is, then,’ said Red Cap. ‘Go on and make your puny effort. I’ll wait in that length of grass yonder.’

So saying, Red Cap marched off into the tall patch of grass, leaving Shaggy Boot standing defiantly in a stiff straight up pose by the old fence post.

‘All right, here it happens now,’ muttered Shaggy Boot, and he untethered a plump brown pouchbag from his tunic belt. He shook its contents over the post, and a cloud of sparkles shimmered.

He hurried to the stand of grass and joined Red Cap, saying, ‘Now we wait. You’ll see.’

Red cap snorted and folded his arms.

It was dusk before a cart pulled by a pony rolled slowly down the road. Its driver, half asleep, chewed idly on a long straw.

‘Halt! Pay the tariff!’

‘Huh?’ said the cart driver, looking around and seeing nobody anywhere.

‘Me! Here! The fence post! Pay the tariff! It’s 4 pennies to pass!’ said the fence post.

‘4 pennies?’ repeated the confused simpleton. ‘All right, I guess. Where do I put ’em?’

‘On top of my head! And hurry up!’ snapped the fence post.

The cart driver dug into his pocket, found four pennies, climbed down, placed the four in a neat row on top of the fence post, resumed his perch on the cart, and drove off.

‘Well, knock my head with a thimble. You did it. We split the money, right?’ said Red Cap, removing his red cap and scratching his bald head.

‘Maybe, maybe not,’ said Shaggy Boot with a toss of his triumphant head and a wave of his triumphant hand.

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