Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Light and Dark (05/21/09)
TITLE: Ever Hear the Tale of the Ten Cow Wife?
By BILL HUNT
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Lawrence and Damien toiled hard as the hot sun stretched into the afternoon. They strove relentlessly to meet the superintendent's job deadline. The work order demanded they finish the nine foot decorative wall along the white municipal patio by five. The final piece of classic black iron grating took its place when they noticed high overhead a threatening dark thunder cloud blocking the sun.
Lawrence observed Damien's heavy gloominess through the hours of the day and wondered what was about.
“Come on,” said the red-headed manager as he removed his white hard hat and wiped his head with a broad red rag. “Let's drink some punch.”
Damien ceased working without looking up and moped his way toward the protection of the overhanging yellow awning.
“What's eat'n you?” asked the manager.
“Oh, she took off and left,” he said angrily.
“Darlene? What happened? You had a fight?”
“Naw,” said the worker. “I didn't like her cook'n. I told her to feed the slop to the pigs. She didn't like what I said.”
“Not too good,” said Lawrence.
“That woman's not worth it,” complained the worker. “She's always out with all her women friends. She shops. She goes to midweek church. She thinks she's got to charm every old lady in town. She smiles and chatters with every mail carrier, plumber, and cop that comes by the neighborhood. Why don't she mind her own business?”
“She left you over cooking?” double checks the manager.
“Well, actually she's ripped 'cause I took Melinda to lunch,” said the worker.
“Yah, Melinda and I used to be sweethearts back in high school. I just took her up to the cove Friday for a picnic. She brought her basket for old time's sake. Some goofy friend of Darlene's spotted us there and figured we were up to no good....And she blew the coop!”
“Well, I don't blame her. Man, you don't know women!” said Lawrence.
“Damien” said the manager. “No wonder. Did you ever hear about even avoiding the appearance of evil? That's no way to treat a lady.” Lawrence looked down and reflected for a moment.
“Ever hear the Tale of the Ten Cow Wife? My Dad told me this.”
“Ten Cow Wife?” asked Damien.
“Let's see. There were these two young chiefs in Africa who wanted to get married. One was very poor but a good man who ruled one village. The other was very rich and proud who ruled over ten villages. Well, the proud chief took the most beautiful girl on the plain. He negotiated a dowry and paid her family ten cows which he could easily afford.
“The humble chief, on the other hand, being too poor, found a simple, rather plain girl in his own village whom he loved very much. But he only paid a dowry of one cow which was all he valued in worldly possessions.”
“He got gypped, anyway!” said the worker.
“Five years later,” said Lawrence, “the two chiefs visited again. Only this time, the poor chief was now rich with a large herd of Brahma cattle, and his wife radiated beauty. The proud chief was now poor with only a herd of skinny goats, and his wife looked haggard.
“ 'How are you now so rich, while I am so poor?' asked the proud chief.
“ 'Well,' said the humble chief, 'I treated my wife every day as if she really were a ten cow wife. Now she made me very rich with great wisdom, and she herself became very beautiful. That is the way of a woman'!” Lawrence ended.
“That story is a pipe dream!” snapped Damien. “I'm gonna see Melinda.” And he stormed out of the job site.
“Why does the darkness always hate the light?” Lawrence thought to himself.
When he arrived home for supper a little while later, his wife, Gloria, smiled at him in the open doorway.
“Hi Darling,” he said, entering the house. “Boy, whatever you're cooking sure smells sweet!”
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