by: Anon
Episode 1, 2 & 3
(The complete works)

Many eons ago, before the time of written history, there was a beautiful creek fed by pure springs. Beside this lovely waterway there grew a small town called Hamfeaver. Many ordinary folk lived in this small town but amongst them were a few extraordinary ones.

There was a wise woman called Gwen who had three wayward daughters; one with raven hair , one with titian hair and and one with hair the colour of corn . There was an angry innkeeper who also had an angry wife. There was a pompous mayor who loved dressing in the strange garb of his office and his wife who felt herself to be very important as she was married to the mayor. But, stranger than the rest by far, was a reclusive man who lived in an old, bleak house, overgrown by ivy.

This man’s name was Kaleb and he was seldom seen abroad except at dawn or dusk (or when it was very foggy!) Now it was well-known in the town that Kaleb had a brother called Bruce. Kaleb and Bruce had had a happy childhood, gambolling about the countryside together and constantly playing in the ancient ruins near the town which were considered mysterious and frightening by the townsfolk. The old timers whispered that no good would come of spending too long in ‘them ruins’ but the boys had too much fun to take any notice of this talk.

All went well until a young woman called Rosie arrived in the town. She found a job selling ale for the angry innkeeper. By now the boys had become young men and Bruce was apprentice to a goldsmith and Kaleb was becoming interested in alchemy.

The young men were smitten with love for the buxom Rosie and could barely think of anything else. This state of affairs led to arguments and bickering with each brother trying to win the heart of Rosie. These arguments of course, led to fights and eventually the brothers barely spoke. Kaleb stayed in the old large house and Bruce moved to the outskirts of the town and lived in a small cottage with an outhouse for his workshop.

Although Rosie was flattered by their attentions she did not take them very seriously as she had set her sights on a different future than to marry either brother!

A visiting Baron took to popping in to the inn where Rosie worked whenever he came to the town on business. He wore an abundance of jewellery and dressed in expensive clothes and Rosie thought to herself that she could do worse!

Rosie had finally had enough of the warring brothers and one day, completely out of the blue, she ran off with the visiting Baron, who, it was rumoured was incredibly wealthy, though of course it was

true love (I’m sure!). It is said that ever after she lived an indolent life style , wanted for nothing and was extraordinarily happy!!!

After this the brothers grew more and more estranged and never spoke. Kaleb became increasingly reclusive and the house became ever more overgrown. Bruce honed his artisan skills and, within certain circles, became a famous worker in precious metals.

Kaleb’s interest became an obsession to make gold and, over the years, he collected, by fair means or foul, ancient tomes which he kept in his dusty, dark library. He worked tirelessly far into the night concocting vile smelling mixtures and evil looking experiments. He gathered all kinds of noxious weeds from the woods and slimy earth pigments from the mud by the creek never caring about the dangers of being sucked into the sludge. He mixed and heated and read his books in antiquated tongues, but he never gave up………..

Episode 2

On many a night for those who ventured near the house, candlelight could be seen flickering behind the heavy dark curtains far into the early hours. Kaleb was going about his mysterious business mixing potions and reading from his worn tomes from ancient civilizations. He worked alone, always alone as neither brother had ever married because to do so would tarnish the memory of Rosie.

One night, Kaleb who had been working on a new experiment that he had recently translated from an ancient Bhutanese manuscript, grew tired and angry with all his failures. He left his laboratory to sit in his library. He drank his favourite ale which he had delivered by the angry innkeeper and eventually fell into a deep sleep. He was awakened by the shriek of an owl. He stretched and yawned and decided to go to his bed. Imagine his amazement when, as he passed his laboratory, he saw a golden glow emanating from the crucible that he had abandoned. He could not believe his eyes; it was gold, pure gold!! All these years of toil had finally brought success. He cried for the first time since Rosie had run off with the Baron but then set about repeating his experiment.

Over the next few days he amassed a lot of gold…. but who could he share this great achievement with?

One dark misty night he set off on a slow walk around the town to ponder this problem. Now it just so happened that the mayor had left a ‘meeting’ with a dressmaker (an attractive widow) who sewed the interesting outfits which were essential for the members of the council to wear. The mayor’s wife completely understood that these fittings needed to be carried out at night as the

mayor was far too busy during the day. Kaleb and the mayor met on a lonely street corner and, as they knew each other from childhood they fell into conversation. Soon Kaleb was sharing his secret with the Mayor who became more and more interested. The Mayor eventually suggested that Kaleb gave the gold to the town and the mayor would have it made into a beautiful ornament to keep in the town hall so that the simple townsfolk could, for a small fee, come and gasp at it and praise Kaleb’s scientific ability.

Kaleb was flattered by the thought of all the adoration after these many lonely years and readily agreed to this plan.

The mayor took the gold to Bruce to make into a wondrous ornament and, as it was September and the hops were ripening in the gardens around the town , Bruce decided to make a golden hop.

He worked for many hours and days and eventually his masterpiece was ready to take to the town hall. People were amazed when they looked upon it. I glowed with a seemingly inner light and it was kept in a glass casket. Its fame spread to the people of other towns nearby like Pitable and Turnbay and they came flocking to see it and wonder at the fineness of the work.

The town grew prosperous and the Mayor and Bruce were praised for their accomplishments. However, nobody gave a thought to poor Kaleb…..

Episode 3

The more he thought about it the more bitter he felt and he decided that the townsfolk did not deserve his gold!! One night he acted. Enough was enough and he crept out to steal the golden hop. He broke into the town hall, smashed the glass casket and hid the hop under his cloak. He ran outside not really clear about where he would go but as he was running out of town he was spotted by the mayor and some of the council members who had been staying late at the angry innkeeper’s hostelry discussing important matters!

One of them caught a glimpse of the golden hop under Kaleb’s cloak and they all gave chase!

Kaleb was fast on his feet and the mayor and council had been at the inn for most of the night so he managed to keep ahead of them. There was no moon that night and although Kaleb knew the area so well he started to lose his way. He came to the old ruins and ran through them but tripped often on the old stones as it had been many years since he had visited the ruins.

He eventually found himself by the creek and ran until he was exhausted. He staggered on oblivious of the danger of the mud and soon found himself stranded and sinking fast into the mire! The tide was coming in and soon poor Kaleb was helpless. His last thought as the water enveloped him was ‘at least they won’t get my gold’!!!

Dawn broke and the mayor and council enlisted the help of other townsfolk. They searched everywhere and at last saw the body of Kaleb stuck fast in the mud by the creek! When the tide turned they were able to drag him out but……. the golden hop was not there! The whole town looked in the mud but they all knew that the quagmire had swallowed the hop and there was no hope of finding it.

The word got out that the wondrous hop had gone and the town became dejected. During this dark time the citizens did not dance, they did not smile. The town was broken and people from nearby towns and the magnificent city of Gallopbury refused to visit. The angry innkeeper’s beer turned to vinegar in the cask, the milk soured in the churns and all the kittens born had three ears and the lambs two tails!

This sad state of affairs continued for some years until the wayward daughters of Gwen had become less wayward and had settled down. The raven haired one had married a man who made beautiful old furniture new again, the titian haired one had married a man who passed knowledge on to small children and sang. The one with corn coloured hair was betrothed to a man who fashioned extraordinary shapes and statues out of stone. Gwen was very content and was extremely pleased to look after the three children who had be born to the eldest two daughters.

These children played happily together and Gwen often told them stories of yesteryear and imparted folk wisdom.

One day the three little cousins begged Gwen to let them play in the old ruins and as she didn’t believe they were in any danger she packed a picnic and off they went. When they got there Gwen settled down under an oak tree and took out her needlework. The children scampered about in the ruins. Suddenly there was a cracking sound and the littlest one disappeared from sight! The other two screamed for their grandmother who came running to help.

The little one was not hurt and had not fallen very far but the ground had given way and she found herself in a small underground cellar. When they pulled her out she was clutching a gold object … yes, it was the Golden Hop. Poor old Kaleb must have dropped it in his confusion and there it had lain all these years.

They returned to the town and the mayor and townsfolk were delighted. Even the angry innkeeper and his angry wife smiled!!

The mayor decided to hold a festival and all the townsfolk helped decorate the town in anticipation for a wonderful party. The band played and the sun glinted off the beautiful, magical, golden hop held aloft by the three children riding on a cart through town. The apple-cheeked people of Hamfeaver cheered and gazed in wonder at the priceless ornament.

Ever since this time the people of the town have held and annual festival and their town was restored to the happy place it used to be. People came back to visit and gaze again with wonder at the Golden Hop back in its rightful place in the town hall and old Bruce was praised and called ‘The Maker’.

All the cats with three ears and the sheep with two tails were highly prized and carefully looked after by the town and their offspring flourished so now if you should see a three eared cat or a two tailed sheep then you will understand that my tale is, indeed, true!

(thanks anon)

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