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The Carpenter

On the Hills and Everywhere, by Manly Wade Wellman, copyright 1955
(Thanks to sleepyjohn00 for the attribution.)

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side-by-side, sharing machinery and trading labor and goods as needed without a hitch.

Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference and finally, it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter's toolbox. "I 'm looking for a few days' work," he said. "Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That's my neighbor. In fact, it's my younger brother! Last week there was a meadow between us. He recently took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I'll do him one better. See that pile of lumber by the barn? I want you to build me a fence - an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see his place or his face anymore."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day -- measuring, sawing and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all.

It was a bridge .. A bridge that stretched from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all! And the neighbor, his younger brother, was coming toward them, his hand outstretched.

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I have said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in middle, taking each other's hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder.

"No, wait! Stay a few days. I've a lot of other projects for you," said the older brother.
"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but I have many more bridges to build."

Build bridges, not fences.

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Sep. 18th, 2011 07:15 pm (UTC)
That was pretty risky.
Sep. 19th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
"On the Hills and Everywhere", by Manly Wade Wellman, copyright 1955; one of the Silver John stories (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Silver_John) Of course, Wellman may have borrowed from another source, too ;)

I enjoy the Silver John stories, and recommend them to anyone interested in roots of American folklore and 'primitive' Christianity. And a good read.
Sep. 19th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for the attribution, I have inserted it in the main post.


The Old Wolf

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