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A longer version of this tale can be found in:
Tall Tales from the High Hills
By Ellis Credle

The Popcorn Patch




"I had an old mule once upon a time that fooled himself clean to death," said Hank Huggins. "It happened down in Cade's Cove where I had planted me a little patch of corn, the kind that's used for popping. It was a hot day. I didn't want to go out plowing that morning, but my old lady got after me.

"''Hank,' she said, 'If you don't get out and plow that field of popcorn, the weeds will take it and the young'uns won't have any corn to pop at Christmas time.'

"I wasn't in the notion, I can tell you that. I saw the day was going to be a scorcher. But once my old lady has set her mind to something, there's no peace until it's done. So I went out, hitched up the mule, and set off to plow the cornfield.

"Heavens to Betsy, it was hot in that cove! The mountains standing up all around kept out every breath of breeze. The place held the heat like an oven. July flies were a-droning in the trees and the leaves hung as limp as a dog's tongue. It would be hard to say which was hotter, me or that old mule. Up and down the rows we went, a-toiling and a-sweating.

"Along towards noon it was broiling for certain. Even the old logs and stumps began to crawl off in the shade. Suddenly I heard a crackling sound in the air. Before I could figure out what had happened, white flakes were a-flying all around. At first, I thought it was a snowstorm. Then I realized what it was: The blazing sun had set that corn a-popping, and it was falling like a snowstorm.

"That old mule of mine, he stopped and looked around. Then he began to shiver. He thought for sure he'd been overtaken by a howling blizzard. He stood there and squinched himself all up, like critters do when it's real cold.

"'Get along there!' I hollered at him. 'It's nothing by popcorn!'

"But the poor thing couldn't understand. He'd never seen any popcorn before and he thought it was snow. He just stood there, shaking and shivering in every limb. I couldn't do a thing with him. It was a crying shame. Before I could get that critter unhooked from the plow and out of there, he gave right up. He lay down in the row and froze to death--all covered up with popcorn."













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