Nob's New Trap
Having searched high and low, Ab had been forced to go home with a degree of freedom she had not felt since puberty moved her center of gravity forward six inches. Of course her mother, Phab, had whisked her past her father, nodding in his fireside chair, into the safety of her bedroom where she recovered herself, as it were. Whether Ob was actually asleep in his chair, or whether he was just resting his eyelids, is unknowable. He was smiling as he listened to the two ladies in his life discuss the consequences of the lost undergarment.
Phab was concerned because, by its sheer size, there could be no doubt as to the owner of the missing article.
“Everyone will know what you were up to,” she worried.
Phab deemed irrelevant the fact that her daughter had been willingly chased, had in fact flung herself on the largest young man in Newtonia in the middle of the stream outside the crowded pub in full sight of most of the males and several of the females of that village.
“We’ll look for your bra first thing in the morning,” she told Ab.
“Why are you being so helpful, mother? Aren’t you upset with me?” asked Ab.
“Do you think you are the first one to grab life by the horns? Don’t you suppose your father and I were just as full of love, lust and gusto when we first met and explored each other? Why, even your grandmother went courting a lumberjack up a tree and left a different piece of clothing on each limb till she reached him as he topped out. What a climax that must have been! Talk about “timber!” said Phab with a broad grin. “So you see, Ab, it is in our nature. Still, I think we should show a little discretion for the sake of your Glob’s political future.” Ab mused on the thought of “her Glob” and marveled at her mother’s composure.
As the sun rose the next morning, Phab led her daughter to the pub gardens where Glob-the Obese had first chased Ab. There they began the search working their way downstream. They walked on opposite banks and, although they whispered across to each other only when they thought they saw something, they were observed by several early risers. Their mission was invigorating but unsuccessful. It was repeated every day for a week until it became obvious to Phab that Ab alone was like an abalone in a shell of misinformation, while the rest of the village knew more about Ab’s antics than she did herself.
So the object of their search rested, lost if not forgotten, on the downstream side of a boulder, below a small rapid section of the stream during four seasons thereafter. It filled with gravel and was used by two rainbow trout and several sticklebacks as a nesting site. The water, the fish, the water snails, the little dancing water fleas called Daphnea, the caddis fly larvae, and a myriad of other underwater insects and mites all contributed to the disintegration of the cloth. Like Ab raiding the larder, the abrading gravel completed the process leaving only the cantilevered wire scaffolding resting at the bottom of the stream.
It was the habit of Hob and Nob to go fishing every Monday for it was on that day of the week that the wives of Newtonia busied themselves with washing chores. They boiled clothes, rinsed them at least twice, wrung them out and, weather permitting, hung them on the line to dry. Since both Hob and Nob were sensitive souls, it grieved them to see their wives work so hard. They therefore removed themselves from the disturbing sight and went fishing.
One sunny Monday, when Ab, Mab and Snab-of-the-Valley were busy boiling clothes and Glob-the-Obese was fulfilling his official duties as protector of the elderberry wine, Hob and Nob set off to fly fish for trout. The fishermen were slowly making their way back upstream to the pub. They each had two pan-sized trout in their creel baskets. There was no rush but neither was there a need to catch more fish.
“I’ll try one more cast,” said Hob, “and then we should be at the pub precisely at opening time.”
“Perfect,” said Nob as he began to take down his fly rod watching Hob flick his wrist and send his wet fly to the water just above a boulder. The current carried the fly down around the rock where it caught. Hob tugged on the line but knew immediately he had snagged something other than a live fish. Now Hob was particularly fond of the fly he was using. It mimicked a caddis fly larva and gave him bragging rights over Nob and the less successful flies he tied. Hob did not want to lose his pride and joy. He pulled gently but firmly and felt the unknown object easing away from its gravelly grave. Carefully, he reeled in the prize. He examined the bent and buckled wire frame.
“What do you make of this?”
“I have no idea,” replied Nob, “unless it is one of Pumpernickel’s new-fangled contraptions. I do believe it would make a fine rabbit trap though.”
“You’re welcome to it,” said Hob, handing the strange object to his friend.
Although it was Hob who had bragging rights for fish, it was Nob who excelled at catching coneys. He fashioned wire nooses and suspended them at the appropriate height above a rabbit path, usually below the fence into Pumpernickel’s cow pasture. It was Nob who felt for the telltale signs of a pregnancy as he removed a rabbit from the trap, for no Gnome likes the flavor of an expectant doe.
This fish-blessed, stream-baptized, gravel-polished wire frame proved to be a gift. Nob was able to catch rabbits alive and release them if they were unsuitable for the table. He caught enough to feed his own family, that of Hob also and even to partially fulfill the needs of Glob-the-Obese.
One evening as Nob saw Ab loom large in her garden of flowers abloom, he approached her. While he waited for Ab to pick some Abelia and Globularia flowers, Nob picked up her shiny garden orb and dropped it. Ab’s orb bent.
“I’m sorry, Ab,” said Nob, “I’ll get you a new one.”
“Don’t trouble yourself. It makes me look fat. All those rabbits you bring us are adding to my girth too.” Ab remembered her mantra for her latest diet; Ab is small, Ab is small, she repeated, Ab is small. “Abysmal” she thought, but she kept her thoughts to herself.
Nob was bemused by her generosity and did not pretend to understand Ab’s desire to be slim. Her “makes me look fat” comment was typical. He referred to it as an “Ab-ism”, which was something that could not be fathomed.
"You are doing very well with these rabbits, Nob,” said Ab accepting another brace. The twilight faded to dusk as the two friends chatted together.
“Yes, I have the best trap ever invented.”
“I’d like to see it,” she replied.
“Come along then“, said Nob, “it’s right here at the bottom of your vegetable plot under your ash tree.” Glob had named it the Ab ash because the ash is known as “The Queen of Trees” and because he so frequently found his wife sitting in its shade nursing their baby and her thoughts.
Nob and Ab abstractly strolled down to the bottom of Ab’s tract of land. She immediately recognized the trap for what it was. Ab was abashed for there, under the Ab ash, in the guise of a better rabbit springe, was an instant reminder of her first plunge into love-life. Her thoughts, wandering back to that passion-filled day now over a year ago, made her face glow as red as the sunset.
Nob put Ab’s blush and abstraction down to the effects of the setting sun and rattled on to her about the benefits of his new trap. He was pleased that it was a live trap that enabled him to release gravid does. That meant more rabbits to catch later. He was genuinely fond of the fecund little fur balls.
“Aye, it is the best rabbit trap I have ever seen or heard of,” said Nob.
“Ah! Noble Nob,” Ab smiled looking at the remains of her brassiere, “What you have there is sheer magic. It is a bra cadaver!”
“Abracadabra to you too, Ab, and goodnight,” said Nob as he disappeared toward his home and his beloved Snab-of-the-Valley. There, in his cottage beneath the pendulous branches of a beech tree, Nob made his own brand of magic.
The moral of this story is a bun dance can lead to excesses and a mess of troubles.