Burpenshire, England was a town with a problem. The spring rains would
raise the level of the Blemford river to the point where it would spill
over its banks and flood the town, making the inhabitants (and all their
possessions) wet and, generally, miserable.
Norman Lester Glassee-Noggin, a farmer of modest means, proposed an elegant solution. Burpenshire, being a farming community, had an abundance of dirt. In fact, in some years dirt was their principal commodity. Norman devised a plan whereby Burpenshire would gather the excess dirt. This dirt, once collected, would be used to build a berm around the town, a berm of sufficient height to protect against the spring floods.
It took the better part of a year for Burpenshire to finish the berm, but all was in place before the floods arrived. And while all of the townsfolk rejoiced, no one was happier than Simon Barrow Thweater-Nitter, Seventh Earl of Burpenshire. For while the good Earl was long on title, his household was short on plumbing. There were no indoor facilities to accommodate certain activities, and the Earl was forced to seek out the nearest tree. Alas, the nearest tree was almost a mile away, and the exercise the Earl acquired in pursuit of relief only served to feed his enormous appetite. He would, several times a day, trot out to the tree, transact a bit of business, and trot back to the house, where he would down a hearty meal. (Actually, several hearty meals.)
The new Burpenshire berm, however, was almost next to the Earl's house. Furthermore, it afforded him the privacy he needed, and he immediately (and often) took advantage of it. One day, soon after the berm was built, Priscilla Devon was out for an early morning walk with her son, Phillip. They enjoyed the sights offered by the wee hours - the mist rising from the fields, the sun slowly lifting itself above the horizon. On this particular morning, they were treated to the sight of a robin helping itself to a feast of earthworms, and something extra - the sight of the Earl relieving himself upon the berm.
"Look!" cried Phillip, "it's true!"
"What's that?" asked his mother, "The early bird gets the worm?"
"No," replied Phillip, "over there! It's the girthy Earl that wets the berm!"
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