Saturday, 29 December 2012

A True Love's Lament (Part VIII)

Dear Father,

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

It would appear that I am at war.

For the third day in a row, I awoke this morning to the cacophonous honks of six furious geese, augmented on this occasion by a desperate screaming of my own name.  I was halfway to my bedroom door when I realised the sound was not coming from my hallway, presumably my servants had prevented the perilous dunderhead from enacting a repeat performance upon his favourite stage.  Instead, the sound was working its way through my bay window. Bleary-eyed and with a mind not yet fully functional, I stumbled to the glass and beheld the perilous dunderhead on the lawn below, his now-customary "gift" of violated geese around him.  Each one was not only to the strange device that guaranteed simultaneous laying, but stood upon platforms that after a moment I identified as portraits of myself, commissioned at various times by my former true love during our long (most felicitously long, as it proved) engagement.  A few metres further back, a small row of burly men carried trussed swans towards my koi pond.  Apparently at least someone in this bitter farce was capable of learning from experience.

My first mistake was opening the window.  I should have known that at the time, Father, but I was angry.  The instant I did so, the perilous dunderhead below released a stream of scalding invective so foul I refuse to record it out of respect for my writing paper.  The uncorking of the geese occurred seconds later, and a half dozen portraits which - though I say so myself - were not utterly devoid of beauty were ruined forever by dull yolk and stringy glair.

"Your face is ruined for me forever!" he screamed, which as an attempt at a mortally wounding comment struck me as a somewhat obvious. "Behold the one who is to replace you!"

It was at this point that the mooing began.  In case you do not remember, Father, my bedroom stands at a corner, and locating the source of this new sound required moving from the south window to the east.  There I stumbled to a halt, dumbstruck, as I observed eight cows being milked by eight milkmaids.  Each of the cows was unremarkable enough, but their human companions were another matter, each wearing gingham dresses of such scandalous cut it was impossible to believe they spent their days working for farmers rather than enticing sailors, and were possessed of bosoms so freakishly ample their chosen task seemed close to impossible.

"One of these is to be my bride!" the perilous dunderhead shouted, "And then you'll be sorry!".  I politely informed him that there were any number of emotions I would feel regarding such a union before I reached sorrow.  For a moment this seemed to take him aback - the possibility I would fail to succumb to such hyperbolic emotional blackmail being apparently no more comprehensible to him than the thought I might not swoon with pleasure upon receiving eighteen continental fowl - but then he struck back: "Whomever I choose will need those dresses I bought you."

Like any self-respecting nation, I had chosen to act with calm forbearance as shots were fired across my border.  This, however, could not be tolerated.  I did not spend the last eighteen months suffering the rank idiocy of the perilous dunderhead simply to have those few compensations the situation offered torn from me, particularly when it was obvious that clothes made to fit my graceful physique could never possibly be used to clad these childish sketches of the female form.  My reserves rather depleted, I admit I employed some choice phrases of my own, before informing him that nothing short of the King's own decree could persuade me to part with any element of my wardrobe, and that even in that case, I would need the demand filled out in triplicate.  At that my former true love became so animated that I feared he might attempt to climb the ivy that embraces my house and force his way into my bedroom, but whatever his plan might have been, it was interrupted by the happy intervention of twenty starving blackbirds, who having stripped the surrounding trees of what berries winter would allow (aided no doubt by fourteen turtle doves) had clearly decided to take on larger game.  A distinctly unnerving honking in the distance also suggested the geese might be on their way, and the deliverers of my second consignment of swans chose this moment to jog back into view, presumably having unloaded their dangerous cargo.

Faced with such determined avian assault, and with reinforcements on the march from two directions, the perilous dunderhead beat a hasty retreat, his harlots alongside (the cows, naturally, have been left for me to deal with).  Nevertheless, I rather fear this matter has some way to go before it can be considered resolved.  Clearly my once-true love still believes there is still some hope for rapprochement, otherwise why would I still be receiving daily deliveries of gold jewelry?  The optimist in me hopes he has simply neglected to cancel this accessory installment plan - after all, plugging the unmentionable regions of furious geese must be a time-consuming business - but then optimism is what led to me seeing worth in a man who apparently believes courtship is best approached by buying fancy dress costumes in bulk and auditions employing farm animals.

I might even be scared were my foe not so pitiably stupid.

Your doting daughter,


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