The Last Laugh: The Mechanical Arbivore

Decide whether the Mechanic Arbivore is a myth or wonder for yourself.

| March/April 1982

To my mind, March is about the nastiest month of the year. Not only does it smack you with sneak-up spats of cold an' snow, but the foul weather hits when most folks are out of firewood. In point of fact, just the other day a number of the members of the Plumtree Crossing Truth and Veracity League were sitting around the potbellied stove in Sylvester Pennywhistle's General Store, lamenting their empty woodsheds when young Billy Parsons up and says, "Gee, wouldn't it be neat if someone built a machine that would do all your wood chopping for you?"

Ott Bartlett, one of the senior liars of the group (he claims he was old when New Orleans was a blueprint), replied, "Don't you know, son, that Purvis Jacobs never lifts a finger bringing in fuel because he has just such a device?"

Then Newt Blanchard, the other long-lived prevaricator, chipped in, "That danged doodad doesn't just split wood, either. It knocks down the tree, chops it, and stacks it nice and neat!"

"Aw, come on," young Billy said, "ain't nothing can do that! What's it called?

"Why, the Mechanical Arbivore, of course," Ott answered. "Ain't you never heard a loud wail — kind of like what a wildcat with ingrown claws might make — coming out of Purvis's place? That's the toothpick-maker getting started."

Just then the piercing sound of a shrill, distant whistle reached the ears of the store's seated assembly.

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