The Consequences of Spring

Donald Shephard

Spring came to Sheepshire and the old midwife smiled. Winter was going to be a busy and profitable time for her. For when spring comes to Sheepshire and the birds are bedecked in fresh, bright feathers and the flowers spread their petals out to attract the insects the girls of the neighboring countryside take their wares to the marketplace. They have spent the winter grooming their assets until they have accentuated all that is attractive and disguised those characteristics that would later make them look like their mothers.

For example, Mab had a face that had to be her fortune because she was rather petite even for a gnome. Her father, Quob, never quibbled about the cost of finery for his daughter. Her mother, Zab, knew from experience that her daughter had very perishable goods. Mother and daughter prepared with care. Mab met Hob in the marketplace, allowed him to follow her into the buttercups and set out her wares.

“Put a buttercup under my chin to see if I like butter,” she told Hob. Hob happily obeyed and noticed as he drew nearer that she had the prettiest face. That it was the only face he had approached so closely, mattered not a jot. She looked up at him with wide eyes and pulled him in with the gentleness of a trout-tickling poacher.

Mab led Hob down to a swale full of Baby-Blue-Eyes.

“Are my eyes as blue as the flowers?” she asked him.

“No!” he said and her hair fell forward hiding her face. He put his hand under her chin and, raising her head so he could see her eyes, he finished his sentence.

“Bluer,” he said.

With those two words, “No! Bluer,” the mighty arms of matrimony had encircled Hob. From Baby-Blue-Eyes to baby talk was but a small step and after similar guidance Mab led Hob to the inevitable conclusion that he must marry her.

About the time that Mab was enticing Hob with a small appetizer of marital bliss, Snab-of-the-Valley ran into Nob at the market.

“Have you seen Mab? she asked him.

“She’ll be with Hob in the pasture making daisy chains”.

“Help me find them,” said Snab-of-the-Valley arching her back. What could Nob do but, assist the poor girl. Snab’s parents, Thob and Phab, lived a very happy life at the top of a knoll from which they could see three counties, Sheepshire, Elseshire and The Rodings. So you see the Snab’s valley was not geographical. No Snab-of-the-Valley regally carried her wares before her. As Nob gave her his hand to help her down from the style to the pasture, he was given a long view down her valley and became so distracted that he did not notice she also stood still. Timing is everything. She smiled at his confusion and kept hold of his hand. From the style to the daisy patch was a short walk but she led him away to the woods. There they explored the wonders of nature, all its valleys and mounts.

In the weeks that followed they dipped into that little mountain stream that leads to the river of life. Nob was swept along in the swift current from courtship, to marriage and parenthood before he could come up for air.

Glob-the-Obese watched the demise of the bachelorhood of his buddies with amusement untarnished by envy. His appetites were large and his energy enormous. If he had been kind to a few gnomes by fulfilling their marital duties in their absence allowing the husbands some well earned rest after a long journey, then both he and the wives kept that kindness discretely to themselves. If practice makes perfect, then he could claim some degree of expertise in the affairs of the heart and other parts. Glob-the-Obese would not be ensnared by the sudden closeness of a nubile gnome.

Unbeknownst to Glob, plans were afoot in the home of Ob and Phab that went beyond the marriage of their daughter Ab to envisioning a career of lifelong public service for her unsuspecting intended. Glob-the-Obese in hardening his heart in the fires of lust had no idea that a siege was already underway. The ancestors of Ob long had been of generous proportions and Ab followed the example of tradition. Ab abhorred the hoar frost restrictions of winter and longed for the release of spring. The Ob family lust for life matched that of any lad in Newtonia. Phab’s task in preparing Ab for the market there was to mold the large proportions of the Ab domain into a presentable package.

“How long must I bear wearing bodice and corset mother?”

“At least until you are married,” replied Phab. Ab resolved to limit the restrictions to the bare minimum.

As she surveyed the young gnomes looking over the marketplace wares, Ab negated those of small stature. She wanted someone of substance. She sought out Glob-the-Obese in his usual haunt, in the tavern. He was walking towards a garden bench under an ash tree by the river. He had a tankard in one hand and a plate of scones in the other. Ab approached him with all her pent-up joy for life bound closely around her.

“May I have a drink of your beer,” asked the not at all abashed Ab.

That was the pivotal moment. Glob was at the precipice. He teetered dangerously at the edge, his appetite for good food and strong ale pulling him back to singular safety while his thirst for other delicacies was pushing him over the rim into the abyss of Ab kisses. The daily activities of eating and drinking took up so much of his time and so little of his thought while his lusty adventures took up so much less time and so much more thought. The prey hesitated. The predator seized the moment. Ab ate a scone to abate her hunger then absconded with the scones.

There was a quick chase down to the river. As she ran, Ab tugged at the bow in the lace of her bodice to allow her enough breath to get to a place he could corner her and abracadabra she was at once free and captured. Glob-the-Obese felt the emanating warmth as the laces loosed their unnatural grip. Ab abandoned the scones and grabbed Glob, together they leapt into the river plunging headlong into midstream.

If Ab and Glob-the Obese were more anxious than Hob and Mab or more eager than Nob and Snab-of-the-Valley to tie the knot of marriage, you must try not to pry into their reason. That their daughter, Brab, was born in wedlock is sufficient and it is not for you to ask if she was born far enough into it.

Buttercups and Baby-Blue-Eyes bloomed and Hob was hitched to Mab. A stream ran down to the river and Nob was nabbed by Snab-of-the-Valley. Winter’s chill gave way to warmer weather and the bounties of nature burst forth as Glob-the-Obese was absorbed by Ab. The old midwife smiled. Winter was going to be a busy and profitable time for her. Such were the consequences of spring.

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