Author Topic: I Sleep Well Of A Night  (Read 205 times)

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Offline EC

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I Sleep Well Of A Night
« on: December 15, 2013, 08:07:07 AM »
There is an old story of that name from my native county.

A farmer is getting on in years and needs help on the farm now his sons have moved away to the city. He tries out various young men from the neighboring town, but none of them really work out. Most of them last a week at best before quitting or doing something to get them fired. The most recent has just left when a rather battered looking young man with a rucksack walks up the road.

"Sir, I need a job." The farmer looks at him dubiously. "I'll work for food and lodging."

The farmer is desperate. It is coming to the busiest time of the year, and he and his wife simply will not be able to survive if the sheep aren't sheared and the winter feed brought in. "You done much farm work before?"

"No Sir, but I can turn my hand to most anything. I sleep well of a night." Strange answer. Still, beggars can't be choosers, so he sends the lad up to the house to get something to eat. Well, damned if the kid wasn't the hardest worker the farmer had ever seen. Show him something once and he'd not forget. When not doing his chores, he'd do little bits of long neglected maintenance around the farmstead. Patching the barn roof. Repairing rusty tools and long dead machinery. Building a new feed store. Fixing the drystone walls. Painting and carpentry. Hauling fuel for the kitchen stove. The farmer's wife, Alice, thought the kid was a blessing sent from God. The kid was right about one thing, he was a sound sleeper. Bed by nine and up at five sharp.

After 5 intense weeks, the sheep were sheared and the fleeces baled and waiting in the barn for collection. The winter hay was in a neat haystack in the yard next to a neat new storage for feed. Alice was already planning a spending spree once the wool was paid for. Things were looking up. The kid, no longer looking so battered, had filled out from good food and Alice had mended or quietly swapped his clothes for some their sons had left behind.

Then came the night of the unexpected storm. The farmer woke at midnight to the wind screaming and roaring past the eaves, rain driving down like thrown stones, lightning flashing every few seconds. He jumped out of bed and ran to the window to look, but he could see no more than 3 feet. A noise from the next room made him jump for a second. It was the kid, snoring. Sleeps well of a night indeed! The farmer went down to the kitchen. The power is out, but the stove has a plentiful supply of wood and coal next to it and the kettle is full.

About 4:30, the storm abated to a mere drizzle. The farmer slipped on his coat and, with some worry in his heart, slipped out into the dawn. The roof of the garage was simply missing, a few tattered fragments of wood all that was left. He trudged to the barn. It stood, solid, the wool bags still bone dry in a neat stack. Out into the yard. Whisps of hay were scattered like confetti, but the haystack still stood square and proud under it's protective thatch of straw. The feed store beyond it shone in the sunrise.

"You OK, Sir?" The quiet voice behind him made him jump.

"The worst storm in my memory and most everything is fine. I can't believe it." He looked at the kid. "Can't believe you slept through it. You weren't kidding when you said you sleep well of a night. What if there had been a problem? The barn falling or the stack blowing away?"

The kid looked at him, then gave a shy smile. "I heard the storm and went back to sleep." He pointed at the stack, then the feed store, then the barn.

"I can sleep well of a night. You see, I built them."

It's a silly and fun little story that perfectly encapsulates the conservative ethos at it most basic. Work hard, work well and sleep well of a night. My grandad told me it by the fire one evening, back when I were 9 or so and bitching a bit about chores.

Hope you all enjoyed it.

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