Tale of the Traveller and the River

2019-08-06 This post is over 2 years old

Last Week, I shared how a mentor had shared a story with me, as a way to telling an unfortunate truth. With his permission I am reproducing it here. When I asked after attribution, he suggested I credit the story to , and I quote, ‘Some grumpy old man I knew’. I will allow the audience to judge the merits of such a description.

Once upon a time, there was a traveler who left the city of his birth to wander along the byways, with no particular destination in mind. One day he arrives in a quaint little village located right on a beautiful river. He goes into the town tavern and orders a beer. He’s passing the time chatting with the bartender, when he hears the church bells ringing. The bartender mutters under his breath, “Not another one” and then says to the traveler, “Hey I need to go help take care of something. You can stay here and finish your beer or you can come with me and finish it on the way.”

The traveler is intrigued, so he decides to follow along. He sees the bartender and a few of the other villagers remove a body from the river. They put the body on a sledge and drag it up to the cemetery behind the church. The dump the body in to one of three open graves and a couple of other guys show up with shovels and finish the burial. The local priest is there and he performs burial rites as the onlookers solemnly bow their heads. When the ceremony is over, everyone heads back to their work. The traveler walks back to the tavern with the bartender and asks him, “So, does this happen a lot here?”.

The bartender sighs, and says, “Yeah, about 2 or 3 times a week. We have to get those dead bodies out of the river or they will foul the water supply for the entire village.”

The traveler is a little confused. He asks, “Has anyone from your village tried to figure out why there are so many dead bodies floating down the river?”

Now the bartender is confused. He says, “Well no, they all come from somewhere upriver from our village.”

The traveler orders another beer and ponders the peculiarity of rural life.