Good Neighbor Diplomacy (The basic Facts are True)

Mark Koenig, proud burgher of Womelsdorf, was concerned about the condition of the lawn which extended from the rear of his house. With unfailing patience and meticulous care he had smoothed the earth and caused it to be carpeted with greensward. In the early spring it was a delight to behold it, but by mid-summer ugly scars began to appear and a litter of chicken feathers and droppings marred his handiwork.

Artist Leroy Gensler.
Artist Leroy Gensler.

Lemuel Rothermel, Mark’s neighbor, owned a flock of chickens; birds with migratory habits. There was no fence separating the two properties and Mark Koenig did not feel called upon to build one to keep his neighbor’s chickens out; instead he reasoned that common justice called for Lem to build a fence to keep his chickens in his own yard.

But Mark had heard of such things as spite fences and he was not minded to pick a quarrel with his friendly neighbor Rothermel; on trivial grounds, especially when Lem brought home huge messes of fish from trips to Bowers Beach and generously shared them with the Koenigs. No, some other device must be hit upon to get that fence built.

At the far end of the Koenig lot there was an unused tool shed, badly in need of repair. Foundation stones had fallen out of place and huge holes in the walls permitted rabbits and other pesky thieves to seek shelter there. Occasionally some venturesome hen was wont to wander into the shed on an exploring expedition. It was the observation of such an event that gave the Womelsdorf diplomat his idea.

Clandestinely he placed a dozen eggs which he had purchased from the grocer, in the tool shed. The next day he waited for Lem, his neighbor, set out, basket in hand, to collect the eggs from the Rothermel henhouse. Koenig made his appearance on the lawn carrying an egg basket. Without a word to Rothermel he went to his tool shed and emerged with a basket filled with eggs.

by  Leroy  Gensler.
by Leroy Gensler.

“Hy’re Lem,” he greeted his neigbor. “How’s the hens doing for you?”

“Not so good — say what have you there” asked the neighbor excitedly.

“Oh these? Somebody’s chickens go there into my tool shed to lay their eggs and I collect them. Good business eh?”

 Carftoon by Leroy Gensler.
Cartoons by Leroy Gensler.

“But they are my–” began Rothermel, then suddenly “yes it is a good business for you.” Then after a moment of pause:

“Say, Mark do you mind if I build a fence between our lots? It’ll sort of keep my chickens from scratching your lawn.”

“No, Lem I won’t mind a bit. We are good neighbors, you know, and it won’t be a spite fence. Ha! Ha!”

“Ha!Ha!” rejoined Lem, gayly, but as he sauntered toward the kitchen door his brow wrinkled a bit. For a moment he frowned, but then he put on his coat to go to the hardware store, there to order chicken wire and a few fence posts. — bei ‘N Ewich Yaeger

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