The Curmudgeon


Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Father of Teeth

Text for today: I Canines xvii-xxxix

When the Father of Teeth sojourned among the Hittites, on the other hand, he was witness to a great battle which left the field strewn with corpses both living and dead. The foot-soldiers of the victorious Hittites strutted among them, hacking the left hand off each; and at the behest of the Hittite king the Father of Teeth joined in the happy work, gnawing at bony wrists but respectfully refraining from ingestion of the whole appendage, though he did sneakily swallow an occasional finger. By evening each corner of the field of victory was glorified by a great pile of severed hands; and the following morning the hands in each pile would be carefully counted and itemised by the king's own accountants, thus ensuring the accuracy of the casualty figures when immortalised on the great stone stelae.

"I hear," said the Father of Teeth, "that anyone whose body is incomplete must enter the world of the dead as a maimed soul, and suffer throughout eternity the affliction of his flesh."
"That is so," said the Hittite king, who was a stickler for tradition. "It is to be regretted, no doubt; but enemies are enemies, and statistics are statistics."
"Your chivalry in taking only the left hands is to be commended," said the Father of Teeth, "but does your Majesty really consider it prudent to sacrifice only those to the gods of numerical infotainment? It is decreed that shields can be borne on the forearm and that most men are right-handed; hence your slain enemies will await you in the world of the dead with their left arms still able to bear a shield and their sword-hands still intact."

So the Hittite king ordered the Father of Teeth to go out onto the field of victory and bite off all the right hands of the enemy dead as well; but to take care and eat them all, so as to keep pristine the statistics for the great stone stelae. The Father of Teeth obeyed; and when the Hittite king died his enemies were waiting for him, grinning and waving their stumps from which the bone splinters glinted like bloody fangs.


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