Email 30

Subject:  Re: Well Ogre

Todor and Petia's Farmyard Inn


Yes, there is a story about the well ogre.  I encountered that little fellow one afternoon on a farm at the edge of the Rhodope Mountains.

For several weeks I’d been traveling from village to village.  I shopped in the markets, stayed in the small inns, and bought crafts from the local people.  But whenever I asked about well ogres, everyone just laughed.

“That’s the talk of old people,” they’d say.

“No one believes in well ogres anymore!”

“You’ll have to look in a storybook to find one of those.!”

Even my offer of a small reward to talk to anyone who could tell me about a well ogre didn’t do any good.  I had just about given up my search when, one morning, there was a knock on the door of my room.

I opened the door and found a stooped little woman.  Her hair was pulled back in a bun.  Except for two bright brown eyes, her face was almost hidden by a colorful shawl.  She had a cane in one hand, which she waved as she spoke.

“You’re looking for a well ogre?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

The woman looked from side to side and lowered her voice.

“My son and my daughter-in-law think one has been hiding out in their well,” she said. “Here!”

The woman handed me a sheet of paper and pulled the shawl back around her face.  “If you want to chase it away,” she said, “be sure to take a bucket of ashes.  Oak ashes.”   Then, she turned and walked quickly away, her cane thumping like a puppy tail in a cardboard box.

I looked at the paper the woman had given me.  It was a flier for a bed and breakfast establishment called Todor and Petia’s Farmyard Inn.  There was a phone number, so I rang them up and asked whether I could stay for a few days.  They were happy to receive my call, and I arranged to check in later that afternoon.

I don’t think my arrival was completely unexpected.  I could tell by the curious way Petia looked me over that her mother-in-law had told her I was looking for a well ogre.  However, neither of us mentioned anything about it.  I decided it would be best to get to know Todor and Petia better before bringing up the subject.

Several days passed.  It certainly was a pleasant place to rest after my travels, and I kept my eyes open.  Whenever water needed to be drawn from the well, I volunteered.  I watered the cow.  I kept the pitchers in the refrigerator filled, and I often wandered over to the well, just to sit at the edge and look down into the shadows.  I made sure I always had my camera with me.  But I never once caught even a glimpse of anything unusual.

I  was beginning to suspect that Todor’s mother had simply taken the opportunity to steer a traveler to her son’s business.  Then, one evening after dinner, I volunteered to wash the dishes.  Petia, as always, was appreciative.  She smiled and went outside to take down the laundry from the clothesline.

I walked outside with the bucket.  The evening light was fading, but down the road I could still see a few other stone-walled farmhouses.  Beyond them, disappearing in the shadows, were the rolling hills that led to the mountains.  An old hen ambled by.  She ruffled her feathers and halfheartedly pecked at a few last insects before flying up to roost in a pear tree.

There was a rope lying in the grass beside the well, so I tied it to the bucket handle.  I was about to toss the bucket down the well when I heard a splash.  I tucked the bucket under my arm and crept to the edge of  the well.  The splashing continued.  Something was down there.

I peered down into the shadows.  Far below, just at the water level, a stone ledge protruded from the well’s wall.  An ogre was sitting on the ledge, splashing its feet in the water and humming a tune.  I reached for my camera–but the ogre knew it had been spotted.  It glanced up at me, waved, and slipped beneath the dark water.

I waited a long time, but the ogre never reappeared.  Finally, I gave up and dropped the bucket down the well.  I still had a sink full of dishes to wash.

When I pulled up the bucket, it seemed rather heavy.  I told myself I was going to have to be more conscientious about my exercise–and maybe add a few pushups to my routine.  Then, I lifted the bucket out of the well and set it on the grass.

I couldn’t help smiling when I saw that, besides holding water, the bucket was half full of stones.


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