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THE TOWER OF BABEL
“The Tower is magnificent”, said Morton to his uncle. “It’s even more glorious than I’ve heard.”
“Yes”, his uncle agreed. “There’s just one problem with it.”
“What problem?” asked Morton?
“The closer you get to the Tower of Babel, the harder it is to communicate with anyone.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Tower confuses peoples’ language”, his uncle explained.
“That’s hard to believe”, said Morton.
“Believe it or not”, said his uncle, “but I’m leaving the day after tomorrow. I want to get as far away from this city as possible.”
“I want to go with you”, Morton said, but I’d love to see the Tower up close before we leave.”
“Suit yourself”, his uncle said, “but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“I’ll be careful”, Morton assured him.
“If you insist on going”, his uncle said, “you may as well pick up some supplies we still need for our trip.” He gave Morton a list and some money, and warned him not to take too long. Morton was thrilled to be on such an adventure. Nothing exciting ever happened in the village he came from.
Soon, he found himself downtown. The first thing on his list was to get some fruit. There were street venders everywhere, so he asked a gray-haired old man for directions.
“I need to buy some fruit”, Morton said.
“You want a new suit?” asked the old man.
“No, I want some fruit”, said Morton.
“Give me your boot”, said the old man.
Morton figured the man wanted to trade for his boots, so he began taking them off.
The man looked at him perplexed. “What do you want me to do with these?” said the old man.
“I need some apples, oranges, and pears”, said Morton.
“We don’t have any bears”, said the man. “We chased them away when we built this city.
“No”, said Morton, “I want pears.”
“You’d better put you shoes back on if you’re going to climb the stairs”, the man said.
Morton decided to thank the old man and look for someone younger. He spotted a small bakery on the corner.
“I need some bread”, Morton said to the baker.
“We don’t rent beds here”, the baker replied. “Try the Inn down the street.”
“That’s not what I said”, Morton responded.
“I don’t care what you read”, said the baker. “There are no beds here.”
“Have you any doughnuts?” asked Morton.
“We are all grown-ups here”, said the baker. “The children are all at school.”
Morton simply nodded and walked further down the street until he found a farmer and his wares.
“Have you any vegetables?” Morton asked.
“No, I don’t have a schedule”, said the farmer. “I just do my chores all tray.”
“All tray?” Morton said.
“Yep”, said the farmer, “long day. If you’re not going to buy anything, I have other customers.”
“I’m beginning to see what my uncle meant”, thought Morton. He went to the pottery for the next item on his list.
“I need two large pots”, he told the proprietor.
“I don’t sell locks. You want the blacksmith.
“I mean I’m looking for some nice jars”
“Yes”, the potter said, “We have nice stars. You can see them from the Tower at right-time.”
“What’s ‘right-time’?” Morton asked.
“It’s about four o’clock”, replied the potter.
Morton sighed. “Thank you”, he said, walking off.
“At least you could say ‘thank-you’ ”, he heard the potter mumble as he left.
“This is the craziest place I’ve ever seen”, Morton said to himself. “I’m never going to get anything done here.” Then he had a new idea. With a mischievous grin, he said, “I’m going to have a little fun.”
He looked around him. The crowds were thinning out and merchants were packing up their wares. He decided to start with the blacksmith.
The huge man was covered with soot, standing over a hot forge with a hammer, and was dripping with sweat.
Morton said, “Sir, do you have any pies?”
The blacksmith stared at him. “Does this look like a bakery?”
“How about a pair of shoes?” Morton said.
“Now that, I can help you with”, said the blacksmith. “What size?”
Morton held up his foot.
“Sorry”, the blacksmith said, “I only do horseshoes.” He gave Morton a closer look. “You ain’t exactly right in the head, are you, little fella.”
“Do you have any snails?” Morton asked.
“No, I don’t have any snails. I wish you pranksters would go away. I’ve got work to do.”
Morton wandered off, chuckling. The only thing he wondered was why the old blacksmith seemed to understand him, when no one else did. As he walked, he came across a young, pretty woman who was selling honey. He thought he’d try his mischief again.
“Miss”, he said, “your eyes are as blue as a goat’s and your hair shines like a moose’s nose.” He figured she wouldn’t understand anyway.
“Goats don’t have blue eyes”, she replied evenly.
“Hmm”, Morton thought. “She might have understood me after all.” He decided to try again.
“Your skin is like a forest and your teeth are like onions”, he said.
“You really know how to flatter a girl”, she said, unflattered. “Did you want to buy some honey or not?”
Morton stared at her. She did understand him! Now it was beginning to sink in that he just ruined his first impression with a beautiful young lady.
“I will buy all the honey you have…money is no object”, he blurted out. While he gave her the money, he pushed away the nagging voice of his uncle in the back of his mind. The girl’s smile lit up her whole face. She was radiant.
“My name is Morton”, he said
“My name is Jessica. How do you intend to get all these jars of honey back to your home?”
“Well”, Morton said, “can we use your cart to wheel them over to my uncle’s house? I’d like you to meet him.”
“As long as your poetry improves”, she said.
“Your lips are like roses”, said Morton.
“That’s more like it”, said Jessica.
As they walked, Morton asked about the Tower of Babel. “It was originally built to be the crowning glory of the largest city ever built”, said Jessica. “It was a beacon to attract people to come together and dwell here. But the Lord God had commanded us to spread out and populate the earth, not to gather together in one great city. But people didn’t listen, and built this city anyway. The Lord then caused this Tower to make us all unable to understand each other. We are all speaking different languages now, so everyone is moving out of the city in groups, according to their language.”
“That’s the most remarkable thing I’ve ever heard”, said Morton.
“By the way”, said Jessica, “What was all that weird poetry about back there?”
“Oh, that”, said Morton. “I was just kidding. I found this fat old man down the street from you. I thought I’d have a little fun with him, but he seemed to understand me, so I took off.”
“Don’t you think that was a little mean?” asked Jessica.
“No need to worry”, said Morton. “I’ll never see him again.” Shortly thereafter, they arrived at his uncle’s door.”
“I see you enjoyed your tour of the city”, his uncle said, looking at Jessica
“Oh, indeed!” Morton agreed happily. “This is Jessica. I bought all her honey.”
“So I see”, said his uncle. “Did you get anything that was actually on the list?”
“I tried”, said Morton, “but Jessica was the only one who could understand me.”
“What about the blacksmith?” said his uncle.
“Er…what about him?” said Morton.
“He’s one of my best friends”, replied his uncle. “He and his family are coming with us when we
“Uh, oh”, thought Morton. “I’d better stay out of his sight for a couple of days.”
“Oh, you mean we’re going together?” Jessica said, clapping her hands together excitedly. “Oh, Morton”, I can’t wait for you to meet my father. He’s the blacksmith. He’s going to love you.”