Sunday, 23 December 2012

A True Love's Lament (Part VI)

Dear Father,

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six geese a-laying, FIVE GOLD RINGS, four "calling" birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Forty-six birds now, Father.  Forty-six.  Six are chained to trees, eight are threatening the glassware with their atonal choral recitals, and ten have plastered the grounds with such a horrifying amount of unmentionable material that I fear to go outside, lest I meet my end in the most ignoble manner imaginable, sucked into a roiling pit of unspeakable white paste.

Today, though, I choose not to focus on such problems, infuriating as they may be. No, I cannot rest until I have described what it is I witnessed this morning.  I take no pleasure in blighting you with the same images that have forced their way unbidden into my horrified mind, but I cannot remain silent on the matter, and I fear no-one but you is like to believe me.

I have mentioned now on several occasions that I am suffering a surfeit of hen's eggs at present, owing to the constant stream of Faverolles my true love has forced me to adopt in exchange for my newest accoutrements.  This, as you know, has led to me feeling obligated to consume as many omelettes as I can stand, presumably in deference to your urgent lessons to us as children that nothing ever be wasted (a shame my brother took rather less heed of this advice, otherwise the family would still have our international interests, and I wouldn't be stuck marrying a perilous dunderhead for his money, whilst beginning each breakfast requesting an omelette stuffed with another, slightly smaller omelette).

I recall another lesson I learned at your knee, Father; the peril of revealing any kind of weakness.  I confess that I have not made you proud on that front, and made the mistake of admitting to my true love that I was heartily sick of hen's eggs, and would very much appreciate a change in diet before my heart turns yellow and my flesh fades to white.

In my own defence, dear Father, how could I have known that there exists anyone in the English speaking world - let alone one who can read, write and play an above-average game of polo, when he can tear himself away from admiring his white-clad legs in any reflective surface available - would hear this complaint and conclude what was needed were eggs born of a slightly different bird.

And yet this is the situation I found myself in this morning, when I was awoken by the most horrible noises from downstairs; a kind of aggravated chorus of horn-blowing one might experience at a wrestling match for ill-tempered motor cars.  Deeply concerned as to what could be happening, I descended from my rooms in some haste to find my true love waiting for me with six white geese, each making a racket so unbearable it was clear they could only either be dying, or be begging for death in some crude, honking dialect.

Naturally, I demanded to know what my true love thought he was doing, waking the whole house with this nightmarish cacophony.  In response, he merely bellowed "BEHOLD!", brandishing aloft a foot-long piece of straight wood, around which was wrapped a half-dozen lengths of thin rope, each of which radiated outwards to one of the unfortunate birds screaming their displeasure.  Before I could comprehend the purpose of this act of poultry puppetry, my true love yanked hard at his stick.  There was a brief surge of the sounds made by the enraged geese, then a sharp "POP", followed by the noise of six eggs hitting the floor of my hallway roughly simultaneously.

Not one of the eggs survived their fall.  The geese, now released from the horrifying torture device my true love had used to keep them stoppered - stoppered, Father, like a leaky teapot -  flew into a rage, attacking everything they could reach with their beaks, including several expensive vases (all smashed), a tapestry gifted to me by my second cousin (now badly dented), and my true love (which, all things considered, I found difficult to object to).  The air was full of honking and feathers, and a putrid stink that I would not describe to you even if I could.  I beat a hasty retreat, my stomach heaving but my mind clear on the foolishness of being enveloped by a cloud of enraged grey geese.  Birds are ever at their worst when they are angry.

I have not left my chambers since, Father.  My true love has returned to my door repeatedly, trying to cajole or threaten, apologising and cursing in equal measure, but I will not be moved.  The five additional gold rings I spoke of have been slid in an envelope under my door, and I am unswayed, not least because whilst five rings is an extravagance; ten is a degree of uncultured ostentation most suited to gypsy girls and well-compensated ladies of the night.  I am quite resolved to remain safe in my chambers, secure from savage geese and idiot fiances, until I have slept away the night and had chance to decide how to respond to the day's insanity.

I cannot promise that my conclusions will please you.

I remain your loving daughter,


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