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Fair Dealing
by Doug Jacquier

As Mr. Orr’s son, Welles, trudged slowly along to Hardly Fair, sitting on the bone-rattling seat of his cart pulled by a horse he’d borrowed (Clyde’s ‘Dale’), he speculated on what prices the goods he had on board would fetch.

He had no real head for trade and was easily confused when he had to calculate how many apples were in a pound of grapes and whether a wigwam for a goose’s bridle was considered essential for a man of good standing or a luxury that few could afford.

He knew that he could always rely on selling a few left-handed screwdrivers and some cans of striped paint and a couple of boxes of skyhooks to the dimmer folk but he always rode home thinking that what he really needed was something considered universally necessary by his largely impecunious customers eking out a living on the Aero Plains.

He grew barely enough to feed himself and his family of undiscovered artists, alchemists and potboiler authors (whose only real talent seemed to be procreation and who constantly complained that their genius was being stifled by the lack of an indoor toilet), so he had no agricultural surplus to sell.

As his spine almost cracked crossing the rock-strewn Crickety Creek, it dawned on him that the answer was right beneath his feet (or at least Dale’s feet), namely water, so the next week he rode to market with crates of bottled water labelled “Welles Water – Sourced from a pristine mountain stream and guaranteed free of cholera, typhoid, anthrax and all manner of other diseases present in Crickety Creek!”

On his way home in his newly-purchased flatbed truck, he collected the water barrels filled by his ne’er-do-well family from Crickety Creek and set out for his bottling plant.