So this morning, Cousin Torrey wanders out to the corrals where Tyler stood reluctantly driving his poo-fork through the muck. Torrey absent-mindedly tossed a ball up, catching it on the way back down. Tyler seemed not to notice, suddenly putting more effort into his job. Torrey started to bounce the ball, more insistent this time; a candy bar protuding temptingly from his rear pocket. Tyler went on shoveling, surveying his last scoop with the eye of an artist. Torrey slipped closer to the corral panels and Tylers mouth started watering for the chocolate nuget loosly seated in Torrey's jeans.
Torrey said: "Hey Homey, you gotta work?"
Tyler turned: "Oh, hi--didn't see you there," cocking his head a little as he fawned over his handiwork.
"I'm gonna play some ball, too bad you have to work. You'd probably rather work, wouldn't you?"
Tyler rubbed his chin: "What do you mean work? This ain't work." Turning back to a fresh, steamy pile of green manure, poking at it gently with the rake. "Its not every day a boy gets to muck stalls and savor the aroma of wet corrals." He then artfully lifted the small pile, turning it into the wheelbarrow with the flick of his wrist. Stepping back and forth to note the effect, he raked some older biscuits from the edge, pausing again to critique the now cleaner corner of Rusty's stall.
Torrey observed each and every motion Tyler made with a new respect: "Hey Tyler, can I try it a little?"
"Well, my Dad is pretty picky about how this is done. There's probably only one boy in a couple thousand who can do it well enough to please him. I'd hate to get my butt kicked for a half-donkey job."
"Awe, come on Tyler...let me just do one stall. I'll be careful and do a real nice job. Please????"
"....I just...boy, last time I got my butt kicked, I...I...Oooooohh, it hurts just thinking about..."
Torrey interupted enthusiastically: "Hey, I'll give you half this candy bar!"
"Well, really--I don't.."
Tyler made great show of handing the rake to Torrey with trepidation, as if to say, "its my butt on the line here."
Tyler climbed the panel's rungs and sat, perched lazily on the top of the corral, peeling the wrapper from the prized bar of sugared paradise: "Hey, don't miss that clump over next to the water trough."
Tyler thought to himself, this is pretty neat! As Mark Twain said of Tom Sawyer, "He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it -- namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign." Mark Twain's TOM SAWYER, Chapter 2
This partly true adaptation of Tom Sawyer's painting the fence happened early, and Justin, happy to get his own repreive, took the pictures. If Torrey had thought to bring two candy bars, I might have deleted the proof that he indeed knows how to operate a poo-fork. But alas, I must post the proof positive, Torrey can never feign ignorance at home again. Uncle Mike, you owe me.