With adequate water now assured, once again the Zom's brandy-making operation was in full swing. The first day after the valve went in, the ZomMaster noticed that the water pressure at the still had fallen off a trifle. Just a trifle--nothing to get alarmed about.

He thought no more about it until the second day, when both pressure and quantity were perceptibly diminished. By the third day it was obvious to even the youngest Zom: the water that had once been gushing from the illicit pipe was now gurgling. Everyone pondered, everyone voiced an opinion, nobody did anything.

By the end of the week all that emerged from their end of the white plastic pipe was a mere trickle. Now there was no denying it: their water was drying up. But what to do?

"You boys go up to that water tank and see what's going on," commanded ZomMaster. And five of them dutifully went.

Five dutifully returned. "No problem at that end," they reported. "That tank is full to overflowing. We walked all around it, we lifted the cover and looked in, we even checked our buried line. Everything is as we last left it."

"Except that we now have only a dribble!" said ZomMaster, raising his voice in exasperation. "There's got to be something going on," he clamored. "Go on up and see what's happening at Spanakopitus's place!"

So the five scouts climbed out of their narrow valley, up the hill to the next watershed, and down the road to Spanakopitus's castle. where they found Spanakopitus and Spanakopitae taking the air and enjoying a mimosa--beside a newly installed and ostentatiously large water fountain.

Taken aback by such a flagrant display of water wealth, the head of the delegation forgot himself and exclaimed, "Well, YOU two have it made. What's this with a fountain?"

"Oh, that's just the beginning," Spanakopitus replied airily, waving his glass. "Next week we're going to put in a swimming pool."

"Where on earth is the water coming from? We're dry as cornbread down at our place."

"Our springs, of course, and our water tank, which is overflowing. What's the matter? You should be awash in water yourselves. Haven't you installed that pipe at the top of the tank? The pipe for which I gave you permission?"

"Ah, er, um, well, no, we haven't. It just . . . seemed like so much work . . ."

And the hang-dog five headed back down to ZomLand.

29: Machinations