There was a legend about a well in a garden.

Submitted into Contest #16 in response to: Write a story in which characters are warned not to go into the woods.... view prompt

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Mystery


 I found myself wandering around the countryside.  It was a gorgeous day, the sky was a deep azure with cottony clouds that gave my mind exercises inventing animals and people’s faces.  I was walking in a valley of grass that had not been mowed this year and as a result, the breeze made it ripple like waves on the ocean.  This valley was surrounded by forests with their canopies a luscious green. It was near 80 degrees and the light dry breeze made the day about as perfect as a day can be.

I came upon a path that led off into the distance and, having no particular place to be, I decided to follow it for a while.  I picked up a stick that was lying in the path and carried it along swinging it in the grass; I felt like a four-year-old walking along without a care in the world.

After an hour, I suppose as I had no real idea how long it had been, I came upon three other paths all meeting near a little garden with a well.  It was an old well, or at least it seemed old as it looked like something one might see in children’s picture books. While I couldn’t see anyone nearby, it was certainly well cared for. 

There was a circular wall about three feet high and six feet in diameter on which a small tiled roof was mounted on two substantial wooden supports. Through the supports and spanning the diameter of the well was a pole on which rope was wound.  On one end of the pole was a crank that was used to lower and raise the bucket that rested on the stone wall and tied to the rope. In the bucket was a dipper, attached to the bucket with a stout string to prevent it from being lost down the well.

As I had been walking for some time, I decided to sample the well’s offering.  The water was cool, crystal clear, and as refreshing as anything I had ever sampled.  There was a tree near enough to cast a shadow at that time of day. So I decided to sit and rest for a while.  I pulled out the Penguin pocket copy of The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.  After reading a few pages, I let my eyes close and fell asleep.

Suddenly, a clunking sound wakened me.  When I opened my eyes there was another traveler dipping from the wooden bucket.  “Hello,” I greeted him. “And how are you today? Wonderful water is it not.”

“Ah, yes it is.  As good as I have ever had.  My name is Alec. I hope I have not disturbed you too much.”

“No, not at all.  I am alone enjoying this beautiful day.  What brings you here? And, just where is here?” I replied.

Alec replied that he was on his way to Banbury Cross.  “I make the journey every year to see a lady I know there.  I love coming on this path because of this legendary well.”

“Legendary?  What makes it thus?” I asked Alec.

“I’m not altogether sure, but I have known about the well for as long as I have known my lady.  She is very musical and I suppose the legend is in some song she plays. We always go riding when I visit.” answered Alec.  

“That’s very interesting.  I used to ride a bit, but not anymore.  My horse got spooked by a Lady that was wearing ringing bells and riding a white horse.  I know one is supposed to get right back on, but I didn’t.”

Alec said it was sad because he too was a bit afraid of horses, but he liked his lady more than he feared horses. “Well, it’s a long way to Banbury Cross, so I best be on my way.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your day,” said Alec as he walked away.

I waved goodbye and thought about what I should do now.  It was still early in the day so I thought I should choose one of these paths and see where it leads me.  I decided not to follow Alec so that left two paths from which to choose. Instead of blindly choosing the path less traveled, as if I could actually determine which one that was, I decided to flip a coin and let chance decide.  I reached in my pocket and pulled out a sixpence and gave it a toss in the air. I picked it up, observed its choice, and put it back in my pocket.  

I picked up my stick and started to walk down the path but after only a few paces I saw someone coming toward me along that path.  I decided I would wait and greet her. I walked back to the well and got a fresh dip of water. When she arrived I greeted her. “You look quite warm.  Have you been walking far?” I filled the cup with water and offered it.

“Oh, yes indeed I have.  I have been walking for days.  My employer sacked me because ‘I looked horrible.’  Oh, I am sorry. Here I am burdening you with all my troubles and here you are being so kind as to offer me this amazingly refreshing water.  I’m sorry, my name is Bridget. And how are you today?”

“It is fine.  You are not bothering me at all.  I am happy to listen to someone as I have been here for several hours with only The Stuttering Bishop to keep my company.”

“Stuttering Bishop?  I am sorry. Have I interrupted you?  I don’t see anyone.”

I laughed a little laugh and pulled my book from my pocket at which point she snickered a little.  “On what was your employer’s complaint based? I think you are lovely apart from the little scar on your nose.”

Bridget, turned and covered her face and began to weep almost instantly.  

“What happened?” I asked as sympathetically as possible.

Bridget remained covered and, crying said: “Oh, my boss was having a party.  There was a silly clown dressed as a court jester who released a lot of birds for one of the jokes.  One of them attacked me and pecked my nose… I couldn’t get it to leave me alone. It just kept coming back and pecking and pecking.” She sniffed a bit and wiped her eyes and continued, “I had a gentleman friend, the first in my life.  He was so wonderful to me and I loved him so much. But when he saw me and learned that I had been sacked, he somewhat Bridget fully ended his interest in me.” She turned toward me and asked if this was the legendary well. She heard that it could grant wishes but knew nothing else about it or the legend.

I told her I didn’t know about the legend, how sorry I was and offered to help but she burst into tears, turned and ran away down the path that had brought me to this presumed legendary well.   

I decided that if this is such a legendary well, there should be some information on a plaque or something to give warnings, or instructions, or something.  So, I looked around the well as close as I could and found nothing except a few small rusty holes in some of the stone. They were arranged as though they might have held a sign or something from a very long time ago.  I looked around in the nearby wood but found nothing. Very strange.  I wonder what happened to the plaque.  Was someone trying to hide the secret of the well? I said to myself.

As it was now just past noon, I thought I would continue on my way to who-knows-where.  Now that I knew something about two of the three incoming paths, I decided to try the last.  So, I walked back to the well, picked up my stick and headed toward the remaining path. Again, within fifty steps, I saw someone coming towards me.

When we finally met, I noticed he had a bag slung over his shoulder.  He greeted me and asked if I had any water. It seems he purchased some pies from a traveling vendor.  “I had only a sixpence and as he wanted a penny and had no change I took six. I have eaten two already and they have made me very thirsty.  Hello. Bye the way, my name is Simon.”

“I’m sorry, Simon, I have none, but we are only a very short walk to a well with the most wonderful water.  Already today I have shared it with two other travelers and they both agreed it is the best water they have ever had.  Come on, I will show you the way.”

“Thank you so much.  It has been a very long day and I am very tired and very thirsty.” Simon replied.  “Is this your well?”

“Oh no, no, no.  I just found it today myself.  It refreshed me so much that I decided to stop and relax there a bit.  You see, I had a book to read and it was so comfortable in the shade of a tall tree and a most delightful drink from the well is only a quick scoop away.”

When they arrived back at the well, Simon took a healthy drink of the water and exclaimed “This is marvelous! You were right.” as he collapsed on the grass and leaned against the well wall. “Tell me, would you like to share one of these pies with me? They really are quite tasty, but there are too many for me.”

“Oh yes, please.  I just hope there are no birds in them.” I said and laughed as Simon showed a very perplexed look.  “Never mind. It relates to a story a lady told me a bit earlier here at the well. So, what brings you out on a beautiful day like today?”

Simon explained “As it happens I am going to the fair on the other side of the mountain.  I was invited to participate in their fishing contest. I am known as quite a fisherman in my part of the country, but I don’t know how I will fare as a fish in a very much larger pond.”

“Oh my, that does sound like quite a challenge.  I wish you well.” Simon went to the well and filled his canteen with some of the well’s miraculous water. “Well, I must bid you adieu as it is getting late and it still a lengthy walk. 

I reached out, shook Simon’s hand, and bid him farewell.

I remained curious about the details of the legend of the well in the garden if this was even the proper well and garden.  I will think about that another day.  It was getting much later in the day, I was tired and also curious about what was happening in The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.  So, I decided to read another chapter or two or fall asleep if that is what my body wanted.  Not to worry Julia Branner, Perry Mason always saves the day. Within two pages I was fast asleep.  

It was morning when singing birds and chattering squirrels finally awakened me.  When my sleepy eyes cleared enough to look around, I found myself in my own bed. I had relived the previous day in the night’s dreams.  Was it possible that that whole day was a dream seeded by my favorite nursery rhymes?  Was there ever a well with a legend?  I pondered the question.  Was it, perhaps, just my mind working to solve the riddle of legend about the well in the garden

This story will indeed be the legend of the well in the garden.



November 19, 2019 19:21

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