Proverb : Knots well tied are easiest undone.
Parable : Richard Hocking gingerly poled the punt off the bank of the Murray River with the butt-end of the oar. The Mid-wife comforted and settled Mrs.Grace Hocking as best as possible in the cramped craft. Considering the advanced state of her labour, this was no easy task for either woman.
Grace groaned with another prolonged contraction.
“There, dear..It’s near now, we’ll soon be over the river and at the hospital”. The mid-wife soothed.
Now, in those days, the government, in its’ kindness, gave a family an endownment of five pounds for every child born. In the years of the great depression, five quid went a long way..with the Hocking family, it went the whole hog!..Fivers wern’t something you came across every day, so it had already been earmarked for some desparately needed items for that family that lived in a wheatbag-tent on the” wrong side of the river”.
Richard Hocking was standing in the punt as he rowed across the river, so he hadn’t noticed the mid-wife subtly cajole his wife into signing a document that granted the said five pounds to her ; the mid-wife, for “services rendered”…never mind that she was already in the pay of the government hospital ! Grace hocking was in no state of mind to contend what she had groggily signed her name to.
The mistake the mid-wife made was to hold the freshly signed document away and up to the sun for the ink to dry and in doing so inadvertantly displayed the treachery to the curious gaze of Richard Hocking, whose face was only inches away from the paper as he rowed the punt across the river.
“Five quid!” He cried as he snatched the paper.
The mid-wife froze with her arm still outstretched, mouth slightly agape and a sharp gasp sprung to her lips.
“Mr. Hocking!..Now give that back this instant. That is a legal document and it is mine!” She demanded.
Richard looked at the document, then at the mid-wife. An angry smile came to his lips.
“Then swim for it!” and he screwed the paper up and flicked it into the river.
“Ahh! You can’t do that!” the midwife cried and with both hands gripping the gunwhale, watched the ball of paper drift away and sink.
“Consider it done!” Richard smiled gleefully.
“Then..then I’ll not attend your wife!”
“Ohhh!..” groaned Gracie.
“Then we’ll stay right here on the river!” shouted Richard as he flung the oars into the punt.
“Ohhhh….” wailed Gracie again..and at this point nature intervened and a baby girl was born in the punt on the middle of the Murray River.
Five quid went a long way in the great depression.
Proverb : ” Bread and cheese at home is better than roast meat elsewhere”.
Parable. ; Nicolle detested polenta! So that when he came home from the fields and spotted the polenta on the stove, he started thinking fast.
” I won’t be here for dinner, ” he said as he flung a scarf around his neck ” Giovanni has invited me to his table tonight.” and he rushed out the door before his wife could say anything.
Little did he know that his wife had cooked up enough polenta for all the relatives in the village. all he saw was the little she kept for themselves ! So he rushed over to his son’s house as fast as his little bow-legs could carry him. There, he milled around in front of the fire and chatted small talk while the wife prepared the table.
‘ You’ll stay for dinner, father? she queried “…we’re having polenta.”
He winced at her in horror…”Oh bugger!” he said to himself..then ; “No, no, caro…er..my sister, she has invited me to her table for dinner…speaking of which..I better hurry on..” and he flung his scarf on again and hurried out the door.
‘Hungry, hungry, hungry..” he whispered in time to his quickening steps and his stomach rumbled as he passed through his sister’s front door.
‘Ah…Nicolle! ” she greeted him..” just in time for dinner. Sit down, I’ll get you some polenta!”
” Gesu Christo!” he cried as he flung his hands to the heavens..” doesn’t anybody in this town eat anything but bloody polenta!?” and he stormed out leaving them with open mouths and a slammed door. He came home to his own kitchen with a long face and slumped shoulders. He was beaten and resigned to his fate, polenta it would have to be.
His wife (who knew his dislikes by now) glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and smiled. She reached into the oven and pulled out a covered dish which she placed in front of the dejected man at the table and uncovered a bowl of ravioli and cheese….Nicolle’s face lit up into an ecstatic smile and he sighed very, very deeply. His wife patted him on top of his head…
“Better, you see, to eat at your own table, rather than run around town for scraps from others.”
Nicolle nodded his head gratefully, for his mouth was full of food.
Proverb: It costs a lot of money to die comfortably.
Parable: Nickolai Petrov was a moderately wealthy man, an old traditionalist in his way, but he was such a skinflint. Many acquaintances used to scold him with the old adage : “You can’t take it with you when you go, Nickolai…”. He hated that expression and would wince whenever he heard it spoken.
He was old now and was dying of cancer. The surgeon told him this at his bedside in the hospital.
Nockolai’s wife sat at his bedside consoling him, holding and stroking his hand. A tear fell from her eye on to the bed cover.
“Ah Nicky…my dear Nicky…what can I do for you?” She sang in sympathy.
Nickolai thought about this for a while…then said
“Trishka, my dear…one thing you can do…”
“Yes, my dearest…just say it.”
“A…a cushion…an embroided, red velvet cushion.. Like that tradition in the old country..to lay my head on when I…pass on…to put in the coffin for me to rest my head on…” He turned his eyes to her.
She wept a little at his request “So like the man” she thought,
“Yes, Yes my sweet…I’d love to.”
And she made him a large, soft velvet cushion, embroided with also a tasseled edging. She brought it to him in the hospital the day he was to be sent home. The doctor had given him a couple of months to live and he spent these finalizing his accounts and business and even arranging the funeral services. He insisted on doing this work himself and said:
“While I have the strength, let me have the dignity.”
And so he died and was buried with the cushion under his head. His wife mourned for weeks in sadness, but, life goes on and the bills keep coming in.
One day she went to the bank to take some money out, – there was none there! – the account had been closed. She went to the building society…that too, closed!…No money? Where had it gone? She asked all the relatives if Nickolai had given them proxy after death to handle the money? No, no one knew…Had he hidden it in the house? She turned it upside down in the search…No…gone… lost! At last she went to the grave of her husband.
“Nickolai, I know you’ve hidden it…but where?” She glared at the tombstone through slit eyes. “You old devil.” She hissed “Where did you hide it?” Then she looked to the photograph of Nickolai Petrov fixed in the left side of the tombstone. He had a certain “Mona-lisa” smile fixed on his face.
“Damn it Nicky, I need…” She stopped short as a niggling nasty realization crept over her mind. She flung her hand-bag to the ground. “You swine!…0h you.. you bastard!…the cushion, the cushion.. you did take it with you after all! You little pig!” She shook her fist at the grave.
It cost Trishka five thousand dollars and a lot of affidavits to exhume the coffin and redeem the money from the cushion. She replaced the cushion under his head when they reburied him. but this time she filled it with rocks!