Farmer Dilly’s Garden
Farmer Dilly had a fair meadow, it was so lovely that farmers from far and wide admired it. Every spring his cherry trees were the first to burst into bloom and by mid-summer the boughs hung heavily with ripe fruits. And he had peach trees and nectarines, and all manner of flowers. But the prettiest part of the field held his vegetable garden, full of crisp little peas, turnips all in a row and clusters of vegetables hanging from the vine.
Matron Melke liked to linger near Farmer Dilly’s garden fence, and peer across the wooden rails. “Oh, how I would like to taste just one of Farmer Dilly’s green peas,” she sighed. They are much greener and plumper than mine!”
And so one fair summer night she crept out across the meadow and traversed the wooden fence. She wriggled like a snake across the dark, moist ground of the garden and when she arrived at the peas she thought to herself “Now that I’m here, it would be a shame to try just one of these luscious little peas. And immediately she snapped off an entire branch, opened the first pod and gobbled up the succulent green peas. Then she wiggled back across the earth, climbed the fence and returned to her cottage. The next day she cooked the peas and made a hearty porridge. And the porridge was so succulent that her mouth watered the days after whenever she thought of it.
But that night three sheep appeared in a dream. Each held up a hoof and admonished her:
There is danger lurking there!”
After a fitful night, she woke the next morning and comforted herself, “Farmer Dilly hasn’t even missed his peas. Surely he won’t notice if I snitch a few of the other vegetables!”
And so that evening she slithered under the fence and headed directly for the turnip greens. After collecting enough for a meal, she slunk back home. The next day she prepared another scrumptious meal and when she had eaten her fill, she leaned back in her kitchen chair and murmured “I am content!” before dozing off.
Once again the three sheep appeared in a dream and holding their hooves in the air, warned her:
There is danger lurking there!”
When she awoke she scoffed at the sheep’s warning. “Perhaps I ate a bit too much last night and the hearty meal caused me to have such a strange dream! But surely there is no harm in it!”
But after a few days her desire for another delectable meal overpowered her better sense. She smacked her lips as she thought about the beautiful fruits she had seen in the garden. “Those apples, so red, so crisp, so perfectly shaped! Not a blemish on them!” And so that night she set out again to the corner of the garden where the fruit trees stood. She had no sooner twisted off the first fruit when Farmer Dilly himself appeared. He seemed much taller than she had remembered him. He stood menacingly while she squirmed under his gaze:
“Apple-thief beware,” he admonished,
“There is penance there!”
And punishment came swiftly. “Because you have loved this garden so well, you shall live in it always. You shall now guard my little plot and devour all those who threaten it. The mice you shall eat and the rat you shall bother. And you shall threaten all and be a belly-wriggler to the end of your days!”
And with that poor Matron Melke became a slinking snake who guarded Farmer Dilly’s garden till she finally found her rest under a stone, in the corner of the garden she loved so well.
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