July 18, 2005
By: L.A. Kohl
(published in the Wed., July 27 edition of the "Bullseye") One view we enjoy around here is the view back in time…whether it’s watching “Little Women” on video, reading Laura Ingalls Wilder or Jane Austen books, or listening to grandparents tell stories about the good ol’ days. Several months ago, my aunt told a story that a friend of my grandpa’s told them long ago. We all got such a kick out of it, I thought I’d share it with you.
My grandpa’s friend owned a general store, and one day he went to another town to visit a fellow general store owner that he knew. When he walked into the man’s store, the owner was chuckling and laughing aloud, and said, “I’ve got to tell you about what just happened in here!”
It turns out that a lady had walked into his store a little earlier that day, carrying a small brown paper package. She meandered around a bit, but didn’t really seem to be shopping for anything in particular. The owner walked over to her and asked if he could be of any service.
“Well,” she began, “I had a nice batch of cream that I was intending to churn into butter today, but this morning I found a dead mouse in it. I threw the mouse out, but couldn’t bring myself to throw out all that nice cream, so I went ahead and made it into butter. It turned into some of the nicest looking butter, but I can’t bring myself to use it, when I think about that mouse.”
As the owner was worrying about what was coming next, the lady continued, “So, I brought my butter here to see if you would trade me. I don’t expect you to pay me for it, but I thought perhaps you could give me some of your butter in exchange for mine, and then you can sell mine, because what people don’t know won’t hurt them, right?”
The store owner pondered that for a moment, and then said, “Well, give me your butter.”
He took it in the back of the store, and came back a few minutes later with a new package of butter for the woman. She expressed her sincere gratitude and then left. That’s about the time the visiting store owner had walked in and found the man chuckling.
“But surely you didn’t trade her some of your good butter for her ‘mouse’ butter!” the visitor exclaimed in shock.
“For heaven’s sake, no,” the owner replied, “I just took hers in the back, re-wrapped it in some different paper, and gave it back to her; because I figured what she don’t know won’t hurt her!”
That was the end of the funny little story, but it made me think. Maybe that old saying is partly correct – what people don’t know won’t hurt them. But just remember next time you’re tempted to pedal off your mousey butter on some unsuspecting soul (or some other more modern form of deceit), there’s another old saying that you better keep in mind. What goes around, comes around! Or, if you prefer it a little more biblically; what you sow, you will also reap…dead mouse germs and all.