The Moneylender's Demise

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
The path one takes in life may lead to something, but not always somewhere.

Submitted: July 10, 2019

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Submitted: July 10, 2019

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Widely Slipcase was a Moneylender and he was not especially evenhanded with those who were indebted to him.

I say this because we should know these things before we spend any time exploring the circumstances for his untimely passing.

It just so happened that on the third day of the third month, of each and every year, Widely settled-up with each of his debtors. And this year was no different, --- well, no different in the beginning.

On this day Widely had visited the Widow Page's cottage, as well as some others. He severed her with a notice-of-intent, meaning, he gave her a notarized note stating his intention to give paperwork to the local court so she and her four children would be evicted from their cottage; a cottage that her dearly departed husband had built with his own hands.

Now it wasn't that the Widow had not paid Widely the three silver coins that she had borrowed, in fact, she had paid him twice over. But you see, Widely entered into the written contract, unknown to the Widow Page, that the debt should be paid at the start of the Crop planting season, not after the harvest.

She could have easily paid the full sum if it came due after her crops were sold. But the crops were just planted at the time of payment due and the loan was not paid on time, so the debt doubled.

It has been three years and the debt is now so large that the widow can never earn enough to pay it all, so her property must be fore-fitted. You see, the six coins that the Widow had paid Widely barely covered Widely's late-payment fees and other charges.

 

This is the life of Widely Slipcase, the Ebeneezer Scrooge of the Valley of Shadows. He cheats the Widows, tosses handicapped old men out into the streets, and places orphans in servitude for their parent’s debts; not to mention everyone else that he can get his money-grubbing fangs into.

But Widely is a happy guy, with his pockets full of silver and his house full of finery. He is doing well, on the road to somewhere, and having no problem finding others to cheat.

 

After visiting the Widow Page's cottage Widely had just one more stop to make. He had to settle-up with Henrietta Fox, the Tavern Owner.

Henrietta had taken ill some months back and was forced to borrow from Widely so she could hire some temporary help. Unfortunately she hired someone recommended by Widely and that hired-help took what little valuables Henrietta had, and then ran off. Now Henrietta is without funds and unable to pay.

And to add insult to injury, it seems that the loan cannot be extended, it is a pay-up, six month, contract.

 

"Can't pay, so you say," Widely stated as he looked around Henrietta Fox's Tavern, "that is sooooooo, too bad. I guess I'll just have to petition the court to take your tavern and to sell it to pay your debt.

Hmm, I might just buy it myself; I've always wanted to be a Master of something and a tavern would do."

 

Henrietta Fox began to weep, just a little, as she begged Widely to extend the loan.

She said, "Hunting-season will start shortly and within the month I could pay you all that I owe you, and even more; hunters pay well for a comfortable place to sleep. So couldn't you give me a little more time?"

 

"No-Can-Do," Widely stated with a cackle of laughter that soon followed. "A deal is a deal, and besides; I think that I’d like to be a Tavern-Master."

And with that said, Widely started off towards the Forest of Whispers.

 

Henrietta sniffled a few times and then asked, "Where are you going?"

 

Widely looked indignant at the thought of being questioned, but decided to answer anyway, so he stated, "I'm taking the shortcut through the Forest, I want to get to town before the courthouse closes."

 

Henrietta's body shook, as if she had a sudden and violent chill come over her, then she cautioned by saying, "The Mysterious-Mist has visited the Forest of Whispers for six nights in a row. Everything that should be wet is dry, and everything that should be dry is wet. On days like this the forest is a treacherous place.

Even the stream will be full and flowing quickly. So I caution you, Widely Slipcase, do not cross over to the other side! --- Go around the forest and save your hide."

 

Widely laughed with the same sinister cackle, and then stated, "What would be the reason for doing such a fool thing, there are bridges in the forest, and I’ve crossed a few of them many times. Besides, aren't bridges made for crossing?"

 

"Not all bridges are what one sees, and in the Forest of Whispers things can change with the breeze." Henrietta stated with a voice that was not her own. And then she just seemed to disappear into a nearby shadow.

 

"Crazy people, they are all around," Widely said as he made his way into the forest.

 

Once inside the forest Widely began to understand what Henrietta was saying, everything on the far-side of the stream was saturated with water and there was no dry place seen. But on the side Widely was on, it was as dry as any forest could be.

Widely thought and said, "That's odd, it is dry enough over here but, from the looks of it, it is soaking wet over there.

And when Widely got closer to the stream he found it full, even overflowing on the far-side. It was for certain that there was no suitable place to cross.

Widely followed the stream’s path until he came to a small bridge and the bridge was situated very near an odd looking tree. It was an old bridge made of some sort of stone, and it looked as if it had been there for ages.

 

"Now, how am I supposed to cross this swollen stream without the use of such as this bridge?" Widely stated loudly.

Then Widely thought for a moment and stated, "Maybe there is a Troll under the bridge, and maybe that is the danger. I'll move back a distance and have a look from afar."

So Widely walked a good distance to the left of the bridge, and looked under it, no Troll was seen. Then Widely walked a good distance to the right of the bridge, still no Troll was seen.

"Well I see nothing to be afraid of," Widely said, "but just to make sure I shall test the bridge before crossing!"

So Widely ran onto the bridge, jumped up and down, and then ran back to where he once stood; Widely did this several time before he had assured himself that the little bridge was safe.

That is when Widely stated, "The bridge seems safe enough to me and I see no reason this bridge won't hold my weight, so I will cross despite what Henrietta Fox says. Besides, I think she was just trying to frighten me."

So with that said Widely picked up his very official looking leather binder, the one that held all his filing petitions and debtors notes, and he boldly marched across that bridge.

 

Once Widely was across the bridge he stopped and looked back. And that is when he stated, "Well, I certainly do not understand why I was not supposed to cross that. ... Hay, where did the bridge go?!?"

Sure enough, there was no bridge behind Widely, no odd looking tree, no stream, and no dry forest. There was just a forest and the path Widely was standing on, and that was all that was visible for as far as the eye could see.

 

And so it was, Widely wandered this place looking for people, for towns, for houses, but there was none of that.

There was just a forest, and Widely, and his very official looking leather binder; which, to this day, rests very near the scattered bones of the devious Moneylender.

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

07-08-2019


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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