The Adventures of Mr. Richard
The African Snow Factory
Princess Jane liked to go to the edge of Cloudtop and look down upon the Ground Below. As Cloudtop's Chief of State it was important for Princess Jane to stay current with international affairs. Cloudtop floated all over the world and by going to the edge and simply observing Princess Jane could find out things that other countries wanted to keep secret. As a result Princess Jane was the most knowledgeable ruler ever.
One day Cloudtop floated over the Sahara Desert. This didn't happen very often so Princess Jane went to the edge to find out what she could. Below were some Bedouins. This is what she heard:
“A magazine Mohammed brought back from the city.”
“What's in it?”
“A bunch of nonsense. There's an article about some people building something called a “ski resort” in a place where there's lots of “snow.” The people expect to make a lot of money somehow.”
“A lot of money sounds nice. If we had some “snow” then we could build a “ski resort” and make a lot of money too. What's “snow” by the way?”
Princess Jane knew someone who knows everything there is to know about snow. She decided to help the Bedouins. She got out a piece of paper, wrote a brief note, folded it into a paper airplane, and threw it down to the Ground Below.
Cloudtop floated away from the Bedouins but if it had stayed then this is what Princess Jane would have heard:
“A paper airplane. It just came out of nowhere!”
that a cloud that just went by?”
“Maybe the paper airplane came from the cloud.”
“Don't be silly. Nothing ever falls from clouds.”
“Say, there's something written here!”
The Bedouin opened the paper airplane and read:
The world's foremost authority on snow is Mr. Richard who lives at:
Log Cabin in the Woods
End of the Road
“Do you think the cloud had anything to do with it?”
“How many times do I have to tell you? Nothing ever falls from clouds. This is obviously the work of a Goddess!”
“Really? How can you tell?”
“Look how fine the calligraphy is. This was written by no mortal hand!”
“Wow! So what should we do?”
“We should hold a feast of celebration!”
“Great! What will we eat?”
“Camel's milk and lizards.”
“But all we ever eat is camel's milk and lizards. That's all we have.”
“And that's why that's what we'll have at the feast.”
“And then we should write a letter to Mr. Richard asking for his help with this “snow” stuff. We can have Mohammed take it to the city.”
“We could be rich!”
“That's the idea.”
Sometime later the mailman put a letter in Mr. Richard's mailbox. The letter read:
Dear Mr. Richard,
We are a tribe of fierce Bedouins in the middle of the Sahara Desert. We propose to start a joint venture between you and us involving “snow” whereby you do all the work and we keep all the money. Inasmuch as we are a wondering tribe and have no fixed address, the only way for you to reply is to come here in person.
Your anxious partners,
The Fierce Bedouin Tribe
Mr. Richard read the letter and thought, “This is just the business opportunity I've been waiting for!”
He thoughtfully packed his backpack and started the long walk to the airport.
Several days later Mr. Richard came to the airport ticket counter and said, “I'd like to buy a ticket to the middle of the Sahara Desert please.”
The ticket agent replied, “We don't fly to the middle of the Sahara Desert sir.”
Mr. Richard responded, “I know, but you do fly to New Delhi, India. The middle of the Sahara Desert is exactly halfway. If you sell me a ticket at half-price then I'll jump out of the airplane over the desert. I've already brought a parachute in my backpack.”
After making sure that Mr. Richard really did have a parachute in his backpack the ticket agent agreed to sell Mr. Richard a halfway half-price round-trip ticket. Mr. Richard boarded the plane, asked the flight attendant for a seat by the emergency exit, and halfway over the Sahara Desert, opened the door and jumped out!
Mr. Richard did a perfect landing onto the back of a camel which was so surprised that it started running away. This made Mr. Richard fall off onto the ground which was unfortunately the top of a big sand dune. Mr. Richard rolled over and over and got completely wrapped up in the parachute at the bottom. He couldn't even see! Then he heard and felt a ripping noise as the parachute was cut away. Mr. Richard found himself surrounded by angry-looking Bedouins all pointing swords at him.
“Who are you and why should we not kill you for scaring Mohammed's camel?” asked one of the Bedouins.
“I'm Mr. Richard!” cried Mr. Richard. “You invited me here to partner in a joint venture involving snow!”
At this the Bedouins all cheered. One of the Bedouin said, “Welcome! Allow me to make introductions. I am Mohammed. This is my brother Mohammed, my cousins Mohammed and Mohammed, my son Mohammed, Uncle Mohammed, and my brother-in-law Mohammed. Mohammed here is the tribe's postman and brought the magazine from the city.”
Mr. Richard asked, “You are all named Mohammed?”
Mohammed replied, “Yes! We think it prevents a lot of confusion! And now that you are here, we shall hold a feast in your honor!”
Mr. Richard replied, “Really? That sounds nice. What will there be?”
“Camel's milk and lizards.”
“Sounds delicious! Will there be pumpkin pie for dessert?”
“What's pumpkin pie?” asked Mohammed.
After a feast of camel's milk and lizards, but no pumpkin pie, Mr. Richard asked the Bedouins, “So now that I'm here, what do you want me to do?”
The Bedouins showed Mr. Richard the magazine and said, “We want to build a “ski resort” like this and get rich! And we want you to explain to us what a “ski resort” is and what “snow” is and how to get some.”
So Mr. Richard explained that “snow” is sometimes light and sometimes heavy, sometimes powdery and sometimes firm, sometimes slippery and sometimes sticky, but always white and annoying. A “ski resort” is a place where people pay a great deal of money to risk their lives by tying slippery “skis” to their boots and then sliding down steep slopes of snow as fast as possible.
The Bedouins stared at Mr. Richard like he was crazy.
“But is snow is what you want then snow is what you will have! Snow is made from water. Do you have any water?”
“Watercress? Waterfalls? Waterlilies? Watermelons? Water softeners? Water towers? Waterwheels?”
“No. No. No. No. No. No. No.”
“Well, you can also make snow from ice. Do you have any ice?”
“Ha! I'm just kidding. You can't make snow from isosceles triangles. So what do you have?”
“Sand, camel's milk, and lizards.”
“Hmm. I'm going to have to think for a bit.”
Then Mr. Richard bent over and stood on his head!
The Bedouins stared at this for a bit and then Mohammed asked, “Excuse me Mr. Richard, but why are you standing on your head?”
“I have a theory that the more blood you have in your head then the better you think. I always think while standing on my head. Now be quiet. I'm thinking.”
The Bedouins stayed quiet but some of them made an ancient Bedouin gesture by spinning a finger around one's ear.
After a few minutes Mr. Richard stood up and said, “OK. I think I have the snow thing sorted out. Now we need a mountain. Do you have any mountains?”
“Then what do you have?”
“Sand dunes aren't nearly big enough. This could be a problem.” said Mr. Richard.
Then Mohammed spoke, “There are these mountain-like things in the city.”
Mr. Richard asked, “Is there sand in the city? And camels?”
“Oh yes, there are sand and camels everywhere.”
“Then to the city we must go!” said Mr. Richard.
The Bedouins lent Mr. Richard a camel to ride but it was Mohammed's camel, the same camel that Mr. Richard landed on, and it didn't like Mr. Richard. As a result Mr. Richard spent a great deal of time falling of his camel, running after it, and trying to get back on again.
Eventually however they arrived at the city. Mohammed said, “Behold! Mountain-like things!”
Mr. Richard replied, “Yes. I can see the resemblance. What are they?”
“We call them pyramids.”
“Are they good for anything?”
“No. We built them thousands of years ago. They're just been gathering sand ever since.”
“What are they made of?”
“You didn't say you had stone!”
“I didn't think I had to.”
“This perfects my plan. Let us find accommodations and then you tarry for a bit while I prepare to give a demonstration of Sahara Snow.”
Sometime later Mr. Richard returned with his backpack full of sand, some flat stones, and a jug of camel's milk.
Mr. Richard said, “When we first met I explained that snow can be light or heavy, powdery or firm, slippery or sticky, but always white and annoying. Let me demonstrate how to make snow.”
“The first step is to use flat stones to grind sand into dust.”
“The second step is to soak the dust in camel's milk. This makes it white.”
“The third step is to dry the wet dust in the sun.”
“The fourth step is to grind the clumps of camel's milk soaked sand dust back into dust again.”
“Depending on whether it is loose or packed down, the product is either light or heavy, powdery or firm, slippery or sticky, and it is always white!”
“I'm sorry the product isn't annoying. Other than that it's a perfect replica of snow.”
“So what you must do is gather all the camels and bring them here, for we need large amounts of camel's milk. Hire people with wheel barrows and shovels, for we need large amounts of sand. Buy all the flat stones that can be found. You will build a factory to make snow and then cover these so-called pyramids with it. Then you must build ski lifts, restaurants, hotels, condos, and gift shops. Then people from all over the world will come here to pay high prices to ski in conditions that AREN'T SO GOSH-DARN COLD!”
“You're going to be rich!”
The Bedouins cheered and all of these things were done.
Some time later Mr. Richard said, “My fierce Bedouin tribe, you are now the richest people in the world. It is time for me to return to my cabin in the woods. And to begin I must ride my camel back to the middle of the desert.”
Mohammed, no longer the Bedouin postman but now dressed in robes of gold cloth adorned with diamonds, said, “But Mr. Richard! We're here in the city where the airport is. We can buy you an airplane to take you home if you want! There's no need to go back to the desert!”
“Ah, but Mohammed, you forget that I have half of a round-trip ticket left! And I sent a letter! Unless I return to the desert I will miss the delivery!”
So Mr. Richard and the Bedouins returned to the middle of the desert. Every day Mr. Richard watched to see when the airplane went overhead. One day the airplane flew overhead and something fell off of it! A parachute opened up and a box descended to the ground.
“You can buy anything on Amazon these days,' said Mr. Richard. “It's very convenient.”
Then Mr. Richard addressed the Bedouin tribe, “My fierce Bedouins! Tomorrow I begin my journey home. But this evening I offer you a feast! The contents of the box includes a number of pumpkin pies. One for each of us! This is the proper and correct way to serve pumpkin pie!”
So Mr. Richard and the Bedouins had a feast of pumpkin pie, and camel's milk and lizards, and, because the Bedouins were now rich, lobster, caviar, and chocolate.
The next day Mr. Richard got something else out of the box which turned out to be a rocket with “Acme” stenciled on it. Mr. Richard strapped the rocket onto his backpack and waited for the airplane to appear. When he saw the airplane, Mr. Richard cried, “Farewell my fierce Bedouins!” and lit the fuse. The rocket lifted Mr. Richard up into the air. The flight attendant opened the airplane's emergency door and Mr. Richard flew in and sat down in his seat.
Several days of walking later Mr. Richard got back to his cabin from the airport. He opened the door, sat down, and said, “Wow. That was fun! I wonder what I'll do next!”