Kate Dudding: Master of All Masters

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A long time ago in England, there was a very poor family: a mother, a father and a daughter named Jane. They were so poor that they didnít have enough to eat. So one night, the mother didnít eat supper, and the next night the father didnít eat supper. And when Jane was fully-grown, she too took a turn and didnít eat supper every third night.

After several months, Jane thought, "I think my parents can manage this farm on their own. If I got a job on another farm, I could eat there. Then we all would have enough to eat. Thatís what I need to do Ė find a job on another farm."

So Jane told her parents of her plan.

"But Jane," cried her mother, "We would miss you so!"

"And itís so close to Christmas, too!" said her father sadly.

"I will miss you too," replied Jane, "I know Ė I will only take a job if I can spend every Sunday and every holiday with you."

So Janeís parents reluctantly agreed. That very afternoon, after Jane had finished her chores, she packed a tiny bundle of her extra clothes, and started walking to the village.

On the way, she met a man, also walking to the village.

"Well, young lady," he said heartily and haughtily, "Why are you walking to the village this afternoon?"

"Iím looking for a job on a farm."

"Really? Is that true? What a coincidence! I am going to the village to hire someone to work on my farm. I just decided this very morning that I had enough money to do that." He looked at her very carefully, from the top of her head all the way down to her toes. "Just what sort of work can you do on a farm?"

"Why sir, Iíve been doing all sorts of work on my parentsí farm my whole life. I can plant and harvest the crops, Iím very good with the animals, and I can cook and take care of the house."

"Well, well, well," he said. "Youíre just the sort of worker Iím looking for."

So they started discussing how much he would pay her.

"Sir, I will only be working for you 6 days a week. I must go home and spend each Sunday with my parents."

"Thatís fine, Jane," he replied, "As long as you make me a good hot meal on Saturday night, leave me enough prepared food for Sunday, and are back in time to serve me a hot breakfast on Monday morning."

"Very good, sir. Why donít we try this for a week to see if weíre both happy with this arrangement?"

"Thatís a good idea, Jane, a very good idea."

So they turned around and started walking back to his farm. He was thinking,

"Isnít that just like me? Isnít that just like me? I decide to hire someone in the morning and even before I get to the village, Iíve hired someone that very afternoon! Hmm, isnít that just like me?" And he let out a great sigh of contentment.

Then he turned to Jane. "What will you call me, Jane?"

"Why, sir, or master, or whatever you wish."

"Jane, I want you to call me Master of all Masters."

"Alright, Master of all Masters, whatever you wish."

When they got to his farm, he said, "Itís getting late, Jane. Iíll show you around the outside of this prosperous farm tomorrow morning. Right now, letís go inside."

So he led her to the kitchen. "Over there, in the corner, is where youíll be sleeping, Jane.

What do you call what youíll be sleeping on?"

"Why, a bed or a couch, or whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, I want you to call that," he said thoughtfully, "A barnacle."

"A barnacle," Jane repeated, rather doubtfully. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

 

"What do you call what Iím wearing on my legs?"

"Why, trousers or pants, or whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, I want you to call them," he said thoughtfully, "Squibs and crackers."

"Squibs and crackers," Jane repeated, again rather doubtfully. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

But she was thinking, "I think heís a little crackers!"

 

 

Just then a cat dashed across the kitchen floor.

"What do you call that, Jane?"

"Why, a cat or a kitten, or whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, I want you to call that," he said thoughtfully, "White-faced simony."

"White-faced simony," Jane repeated carefully. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

 

Pointing to something in another corner, he asked, "What do you call that, Jane?"

"Why, thatís a Christmas tree, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, I want you to call that," he said thoughtfully, "A Druid's arbor."

"A Druid's arbor," Jane repeated slowly. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

 

"And what is next to the, ah, Druidís arbor, Jane?"

"Why, the fire or flame, or whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, I want you to call that," he said thoughtfully, "Hot cockalorum."

"Hot cockalorum," Jane repeated very slowly. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

Jane was getting very tired, trying to remember all these silly words, and keep straight which was whatÖ

 

"What is in this bucket, Jane?"

"Why, I call that water but I imagine that you call it something else, Master of all Masters."

"Yes, I do. Jane, I want you to call that," he said thoughtfully, "Pondalorum."

"Pondalorum," Jane repeated with a sigh. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

 

 

"What do you call everything you see, Jane?"

"Why, I call that your farm but you call it ?"

"I call it," he said thoughtfully, "High Topper Mountain."

"High Topper Mountain," Jane repeated with an enormous sigh. "Whatever you wish, Master of all Masters."

"Jane, you seem to be a little tired, hopefully because of all the walking you did today. Why donít you just fix us a quick meal and then go right to, ah, barnacle?"

"Thank you, Master of all Masters."

And thatís just what Jane did. But when she fell asleep, she had a few nightmares about words crawling in her ears and out of her mouth and swarming all around. She finally fell into a sound sleep until she was woken up by a crash and a whoosh. The cat had knocked the Christmas tree into the fireplace, and the tree had caught fire! Jane pulled the tree out of the fireplace and threw the water left in the bucket on the burning tree. But the tree was still burning and Jane didnít know where the well was!

So Jane ran to her masterís room and shook him, yelling haltingly,

"Master of all Masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers. The white-faced simony knocked the Druid's arbor into the hot cockalorum. If we don't get more pondalorum, the whole High Topper Mountain will be on hot cockalorum!"

"Yuh?", he said, yawning broadly.

She repeated faster:

"Master of all Masters, get out of your barnacle and put on your squibs and crackers. The white-faced simony knocked the Druid's arbor into the hot cockalorum. If we don't get more pondalorum, the whole High Topper Mountain will be on hot cockalorum!"

 

"Jane, WHAT are you talking about???!?"

"Master, get out of your bed and put on your pants. The cat knocked the Xmas tree into the fire. If we don't get more water, the whole farm will be on fire!"

"OH! Why didn't you say so in the first place?," he exclaimed. He did just what Jane told him to do. Jane followed him to the well and they eventually put out the fire.

And while Jane continued to work for him for many years, never again did she use

any

of those silly words.



Sources:

"Seven Stories", an audio tape by Sara deBeer

"Best-Loved Folktales of the World" by Joanna Cole

"Stories in my Pocket" by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

 


Kate Dudding (518) 383-4620
8 Sandalwood Drive kate@katedudding.com
Clifton Park, NY 12065-2700 USA
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