888 words - Pooka story for Mythological Creatures #7
|"Mistress Merriam, might I have a word with you?" The tax man called out adjusting his coat and tie at my front door.|
Looking in the earthenware jar where I put aside what I can each month. The jar contained a dollar, two quarters, and ten pennies. What am I going to do? Ned died last month leaving me struggling with bills to pay and nothing saved for the tax man. Smoothing my apron, brushing my hair away from my face, I put my lucky charm in my pocket.
"Good morning, Mr. Harken! How are you this fine morning?" Trying to sound cheerful at his presence at my door.
"Mistress Merriam, good morning to you. I'm sure you know why I'm here," he greeted me pulling a legal document from his satchel. "Your husband died last month which is most unfortunate, but you still owe the taxes on the farm. I gave Ned an extension two months ago and he never paid me a penny. Now it falls to you to pay."
"Mr. Harken, I'm still in mourning and trying to sort through the mess of legal documents Ned left behind. Could you please grant me, a widow, an extension to the end of the month?"
"Very well Mistress Merriam, but only to the end of the month which is a short three weeks away." Mr. Harken put the document back into his satchel and departed.
As I sat alone on my front porch gazing across the fallow field before me, a memory of a tale my grandfather told me came to my mind - when things look the darkest and you feel overwhelmed, bury a penny in the northwest corner of the pasture and all be well.
Retrieving a penny from the jar, grabbing a spade and my sun hat, I marched to the northwest corner of the fallow field. There I dug a small hole, placed the penny face up and covered it with the warm soil. Returning to my little house, I put the kettle on for tea before finishing my other chores.
The next morning I see a large dark horse grazing in the field near the spot I buried the penny. The horse saw me watching, pawed the ground and snorted. Before I could reach the spot, the horse disappeared into the forest. Examining the ground, the horse had scuffed the dirt, I saw a glint of gold. I fell to my knees, brushing the dirt away. Imagine my surprise when I pulled up a black pot filled with gold coins. I looked around to see if the horse or any other by passers were watching me. No one was about, I lifted the pot from the ground and hurried back to my kitchen.
I wasn't sure if I could trust what I was seeing. I put the pot of gold in my bedroom closet. Trusting that grandfather's tale was true, I took another penny from the jar and buried it in the same spot and waited for the next day to arrive.
Awake before the sunrise, I sat on the front porch waiting to see the black horse again. I wasn't disappointed. He galloped around the field, kicking up his hooves. In every spot that his hooves turned the soil, gold coins appeared on the land. He ran to the edge of the fence nearest my porch, gazing at me with fire in his eyes, nodding his great head, he turned with a snort, galloping into the forest. Grabbing my wheelbarrow, I walked into the field to harvest his gifts.
The days swept past. The legal papers concerning the debts Ned incurred as well as the taxes on the farm were now organized. I tallied up how much I needed to give Mr. Harken. Letting out a sigh of relief, I put the amount of gold due to Mr. Harken aside and stashed the rest in the back of my closet.
"Mistress Merriam, are you home?" Mr. Harken pounded on the door.
"Good morning, Mr. Harken, won't you come in for a cup of tea?" stepping back from the door to let him in.
Mr. Harken came strolling into the living room, his eyes surveying the contents of my house and calculating their value.
"You seem more settled than the last time I was by, Mistress Merriam. Are things going well for you?"
Pouring the tea into the fine China cups from the silver teapot, I replied, "yes, as dark and dismal as things appeared a few weeks ago, I have done well in sorting out Ned's affairs."
"Well then, I'll get right to the point. The taxes due on the farm are to be paid in full now, no more extensions. Are you prepared to make payment in full?"
Taking the leather pouch from the desk, I handed it to Mr. Harken. "That will satisfy the taxes we owed on the property from last year and this year."
Mr. Harken weighed the pouch in his outstretched hand. "How did you come by these funds so quickly? Have you been visited by a Pooka?" He laughed, putting the pouch in his satchel and handing me a statement marked paid in full.
I smiled in reply, hearing the soft whinny of my new friend munching on the clover outside my kitchen window.