I hid some cake inside a box. I hid the box behind a hedge. The hedge was clipped by a snag-toothed peasant, using a rusty pair of shears. He’d left the shears out overnight, leaning against the side of a barn. In the middle of the night, there came an enormous cloudburst. It was a downpour the like of which leads to floods and puddles. So busy was the peasant, over the next days, sloshing around with his siphon, on drainage bent, he forgot all about the shears, hence their rustiness, their rustiness.
“You must go and clip the hedge!” commanded the goblin perched on the peasant’s shoulder, a few days after the downpour. The sun was blazing, so hot the hedge was dry. Vapour rose from it and dispersed. This was the morning I hid the cake in the box and the box behind the hedge. I did not have a goblin on my shoulder. Hereabouts, it is only the peasants who have goblins.
The peasant tramped about looking for his shears. He found them leaning against the side of the barn, rusty, rusty. “These will never do for clipping,” he muttered, and spat, but his goblin goaded him on. It whispered rustic lore into his ear.
“The sun is boiling in the sky, clip your hedge while it is dry. If your shears are caked in rust, fool you are but clip you must!”
After hiding the box behind the hedge, I took up a position high on a slope, from where I could keep the hedge in view, using binoculars. I was camouflaged as a shrub. The more acute peasants know every inch of their land, and will be suspicious of a sudden shrub, so I was wearing athlete’s spikes in case I had to make a run for it. But I drew the attention only of small snuffling mammals and one or two birds of the air.
I watched the peasant clipping the hedge with his rusty shears all through the long afternoon. His goblin was fast asleep on his shoulder. The sun was sinking. Inside the box sat my cake, packed, packed with sultanas, fruits shrivelled by the same boiling sun, but on a different day, quite some time ago. The hedge then had been less profuse, the shears not yet rusty, rusty, but the goblin had even then been assigned to its peasant and taken up its perch on his shoulder. Such are the country ways.
It was dusk when the clipping was done and the peasant stubbed his toe upon the box. I was watching though my binoculars. His goblin was awake again. It commanded him to open the box.
“It has been sealed shut with rivets,” protested the peasant.
Cake and rivets, sultanas and shears. What a world I engineer from my counterfeit shrub! I will outwit the peasant’s goblin, and it will seethe. Then I shall shrug off my shrub and hare down the slope in moonlight, and go home, and put another cake in another box, and seal the box with rivets, and hide it behind another hedge, tomorrow, tomorrow, through my vinegar years.