In my research today, I just found another version of Lazy Jack. Let me share it with you:
"Now Jack," said his Momma, "you just let me know what the farmer pays you with next time and I will you how you should carry it home."
And so Jack, after having completed his workaday in the hot southwest sun, asked the farmer for his wages.
"Jack, I want to pay you with this cat. You to take this little cat home and give it a place to stay. He'll hunt mice and be nice to pet. Take care of him now. Here's a little box to carry him home in. And you can keep the box."
"Well, no thank you, Mr. Farmer. That box sounds like a good idea and makes sense to me, but Momma said I had to ask her what to do. She has more wisdom than me. I'll come right back after she gives me her answer."
As Jack approached his home, Momma saw him and ran screaming out to him. "Jack, why don't you have any wages? You know how bad we need them."
"Well, Momma, I can bring the kitty in that little twenty-inch box the farmer had for me, but you said to check with you first. So, here I am. Momma, what should I do to get that kitty home?"
"Good boy," said Jack's Momma, "you were so smart to seek me out. Now, listen up. You ask the farmer for a five-foot-five length of rope as one kitty is not enough wages. Then, put the kitty in the box and wrap the rope around the box."
"Isn't that a lot of work, Momma, for a kitty?" asked Jack.
"Hush, young one. Listen to me. Take the kitty-filled box, with the rope, and drag it down the dry river bed back to our house," said Momma with an air of authority.
Jack thought about that river. It had once been dry, back when Momma was young. All the townsfolk did use that river bed for all kinds of good things. But now, the river was wet, wild and hard to cross. The rules about river use were very different now with all that water just flowing freely and fast.
"Momma, the river is full of water and the cat will drown, or at least tear me up something fierce when I drag it in the water. Momma, are you sure that's what you want?"
His Momma was angry. "Jack, are you back talking me? That's the second time this month I had to tell you to just ignore them rumors about there being water in the river. Dragging things down the riverbed is the way we have always done things. Jack, hush your rumor-mongering mouth! Go get that cat!"
And with that, Jack's Momma went into their little house, closed the door and wouldn't let Jack say another single word.
So, Jack dutifully dragged that kitty down the river, getting all scratched and bitten along the way. But at least now, Momma had a five-foot-five length of rope. She used that rope to hang up a sign that read, "Jack is a Bad Boy for Spreading Rumors."
And Jack wasn't sure if he really wanted to bring home his next day's wage.
And here is one more little story. When Jack got the kitty home, he named it "Pyxidis." When he told his Momma that this was the Latin word for "box," she grew very angry. She told him to just call the animal "kitty" and would never let Jack name another animal again without her approval.
The official blog for K. Sean Buvala, storyteller and storytelling coach.