Friday, July 12, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 189/ 3
Clever John and Crazy Jane
© Eso A.B.
7 The Bottomless Bucket

Early next morning, Clever John saddled Rocinante, and rode to visit Crazy Jane. She was still pulling her bottomless bucket through the river and making gestures as if she were pouring the water from the right side of the river to the left even though her pail was empty.

The Sun continued to show no signs of rising, and the light that covered earth was like that during an eclipse, dusky and without shadows. When Rocinante stood with the boots on her front legs in the river, Clever John dismounted, took the boots off her, and approached Crazy Jane.

“Good morning, Jane,” said Clever John. “Look what I brought you. Your mother said you might want them back.”

“What happened to make your heart overflow with such goodness?” asked Crazy Jane with considerable, but taking the boots.

“I’m on my way to ask for the hand of the King’s daughter,” replied Clever John, “and want your and your mother’s good will and blessing.”

“Did you speak to the Sun?”

“Yes. Look, she gave me a present. A bear skin rug to put under my saddle.”

“My mother always has a sense of humor,” replied Crazy Jane; then added: “But if you want my blessing, you better give me the other pair of boots, too.”

Clever John realized that this was not a time when being clever would work for him and went to take the other pair of boots off Rocinante. These were the one’s on her hind legs. “That is what I love so much about you, Clever John,” said Crazy Jane as he passed the boots to her. “You’re so forthcoming. If you ever need my help, just call. I only hope that my mother will stop wanting to lope off your head.”

 “Don’t worry, Jane,” replied Clever John, “Your mother is a good egg (tell her I told you that) and she will come around.”

Clever John then pulled the bridle and tickled Rocinante’s ribs with his spurs. The mare neighed and galloped off as if she had the Devil’s boots still on. It was not long before Clever John came to the sea and the great fish. He slapped the wet sand, and whispered into the ear of the fish magic words only the fish would understand.

The fish thanked Clever John: “Clever John, if you ever need my help just call, and I will come and do what I can.”

Then Clever John came to the raven. He found the unburied child and buried it. The raven flew off, cawing after her: “Clever John, if you ever need my help just call, and I will come and do what I can.”

8 I Want Your Daughter for Wife

After Clever John had visited all whom he had promised to visit, he rode for the court of the King. The King’s name was John. He was the same John whose name is sometimes pronounced as Yengis Chang. It was the seventh day since Johns Eve and the Sun was still behind the clouds.

Yengis Chang was walking in his Para-dise Garden (which means ‘more than real’ garden)  when he encountered Clever John. Both were surprised, but--surprise surprise—Clever John was the more surprised. He saw that the King wore no boots. Clever John saw that the King’s toenails had not been cut for a long time. Only a King or a very rich man can afford to do so, and not care what the public thinks.

“What can I do for you, Clever John?” asked Yengis Chang.

“I have come to ask you for your daughter’s hand,” answered Clever John. “I hear said that she is a great beauty,” he added flatteringly.
“Well, truly,” answered Yengis Chang, “if you are that Clever John of whom I lately have heard so much about, before I give you my daughter, I would like you to bring me a wagon full of gold. If you bring it to me, the Princess—by the way, her name is ‘Complete Satisfaction’—will be yours.”

Clever John thanked Yengis Chang and asked him to wait a minute. Then he went to think the offer over. The King’s ablerequest was no ordinary one and not easily realizable.

For where can one find a big pile of gold on short notice? After all, Clever John did not wish to spend the rest of his life scraping for gold; life is too short for that. It would be good, if he could have it at the snap of his fingers.

As he thought about where to find the gold, Clever John turned to the north, the south, the east, and the west. But no answer came. Just as he was becoming desperate, Clever John began to rub the golden brooch that Crazy Jane had given him after their nap together at Roadsider’s Inn.

The answer came instantly. A voice—Clever John recognized it as belonging to Crazy Jane—whispered: “Go to the seashore and call the raven. When it arrives, both you and Rocinante climb on her back. The raven will take you to the pile of gold. It flies over it every morning.”

Clever John called for the raven. No sooner had he called out “Krah, krah!” than the raven arrived.

“Why are you looking sad, Clever John?” the raven asked.

“Well, my dear friend, I must find a wagon full of gold right away.”
“That is no problem,” answered the raven. “You and Rocinante simply climb on my back and I will take you both to it.”

Clever John was surprised of how easu it was, and therefore began to worry that he was being tricked or being made the but of a joke. He again began to twist his fingers about the golden brooch.

9 Crazy Jane as An Angel

This time, Crazy Jane herself appeared. She was like a sunbeam coming from a pocket in a cloud. Crazy Jane listened to John, then touched his ear and whispered:

“Don’t worry, Clever John. To tell the truth, my mother is the gold bug and has been preoccupied with gold since I came of marriage age.”

“I believe I can understand why,” replied Clever John.

“I should’nt maybe be telling you this, but she has always been worried about marrying me off to someone.”

Clever John did not ask more questions. Crazy Jane, too, thought better of it, and continued with instructions of what to do.

“When you are in the air and can see over the mountains, the raven will ask you: ‘How big is the sea?’ You answer it: ‘As big as a largest lake.’

“When you will see the setting moon rise, the raven will ask: ‘How large is the lake now?’ You answer: ‘As large as the largest puddle.’

“When you think that you can almost touch the throne of Cassiopea (it will be right over your head), the raven will ask: ‘How large is the puddle now?’ You answer it: ‘As large as the eye of a dead horse.’

“May your dreams true, Clever John,” said Crazy Jane and disappeared.

Clever John, still on the back of Rocinante, was lifted by the raven into the air. It flew high, then higher, and then higher again. Clever John feelt the cold seep through his jacket and took the bear fur from under the saddle bag and puts it around his shoulders.

Then—just as Crazy Jane had said it would—the raven croaked: “Clever John, how large is the sea below us?”

“As large as the largest lake,” answers John.

“Kra, kra,” croaked the raven and flew yet higher. After a while it asked: “Clever John, how large is the sea now?”

“As large as the largest puddle,” answers John.

 “Kra, kra,” croaked the raven and flew yet again higher. The mustache of Clever John froze solid. Rocinante began to tremble until it trembled no more.

After a while the raven asked: “Clever John, how large is the sea now?”

“It is as large as the eye of a dead horse,” answered Clever John his lips turned blue and nearly frozen stiff.

“We’re as good as there,” croaked the raven, and shook her wings from side to side, and did a somersault. Clever John and Rocinante fell off its back.

No one knows where Rocinante went, but Clever John fell into the dunes by the seashore. Sand flew in all directions and to his surprise, much of it shone bright and had many stars in it.

Apparently some pirates had buried and hid gold in the dunes. They forgot to think that the treasure would not escape the eyes of the Sun. Therefore, after she gave birth to Crazy Jane, she anchored the gold to the dawn sky.

Clever John did not know for how long he lay in the dune, but it must have been for all of the eight day. He was awakened by the Sun shining direct in his eyes.

As Clever John thought of what to do next, the big fish came to his help. With a flip of its tail, it sent Clever John and the entire dune and the pile of gold to the very gate of Yengis Chang’s castle.

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