Mule for Sale?
N. Ray Maxie
little story came to me several years ago straight from the mouth
of an elderly and very prominent Ark-La-Tex area Baptist preacher.
He and his wife now enjoy retirement in central Texas. If you are
so inclined, search far and wide, but never a more accurate first
hand, reliable witness, of these events, could you find. This popular
preacher was there. He conducted this woman's funeral service and
waited many, many years, until the husband was dead, before he would
reveal any details.
Somewhere, decades ago, way out in west Texas, perhaps just past Muleshoe.
Or, maybe it was in the vicinity of Spade, Texas. I don't know, I
wasn't totally clear on the exact location where it happened. But,
this Baptist preacher was conducting the funeral service for a farmer's
wife. The place was packed; standing room only as the service proceeded.
She had been killed on their farm a couple days previously. There
were many friends and family at the service.
It seems that the farmer, one morning, was out plowing a field with
his mule. The field wasn't far from their house, so the wife walked
out to see how the plowing job was going. As she observed, she became
very upset and angry. She claimed that her husband was doing an awfully
sloppy, not his best, job. The rows weren't straight as she thought
they ought to be. The furrows (middles) were too shallow and the hills
(planting beds) not high enough to suit her. The farmer came to the
end of a row and stopped to rest the mule for a while as he talked
things over with his wife. As they stood there discussing the situation,
the wife carelessly moved much, much too close to the mule's rear
end. The mule then began to get upset and started kicking like crazy.
He kicked the wife in the head and killed her right then and there.
All the songs had been sung; the preaching had been done and a lot
of weeping and mourning was taking place The husband was up front,
standing near the casket greeting folks. The mourners were coming
by offering him their condolences. As the preacher later reported
this; a lady would walk by, hug the husband and shake his hand; and
as each lady said a few words to console him, the husband would nod
and shake his head in the affirmative. But then, when a man would
walk by to speak and console him, the husband would shake his head
in the negative.
The preacher was naturally curious. So, a few weeks later, after a
regular Sunday morning church service, he privately asked the farmer
if he would explain those very obvious and opposite reactions that
some folk had observed. The farmer replied that the ladies would walk
by saying to him what a good, moral, outstanding woman his wife had
been. And what good works she had done and that she would be sorely
missed by all. To which he wholeheartedly agreed!! He said that as
the men walked by, they were asking him if his mule was for sale.
And, I believe it. I don't think Baptist preachers lie, do they?
N. Ray Maxie
September 1, 2005