Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A True Love's Lament (Part X)

Dear Father,

I hope this letter finds you well.  I am in prison.

In truth, that is exaggeration, or possibly prediction.  I am inside a small room with bars on the windows and instead of a door, however, and it is entirely against my will, so perhaps this is not the time to quibble.

The perilous dunderhead, Father, has proved to be not entirely without a certain low cunning.  He must have anticipated my request for you to find me a reputable and competent solicitor, and taken preemptive action.  This morning I was once again awoken by the sound of approaching drums, and once again found myself handed papers written in pompous Latin, this time informing me that my unwanted swarm of over one hundred assorted birds had reached some critical mass and become legally defined as an unlicensed aviary. Attempts at protest were quite useless; not only were the drummer boys once more far too distracted by their accompanying strumpets (apparently this has all become a jolly jape for them, which is sickening but probably a rather good basis for a rather bad play) to pay attention to the woman they were harassing, but halfway through my angry protestations a crowd of burly men strolled past the window, bearing the latest load of hens, doves, swans, geese, blackbirds, and a partridge in a pear tree.

No sooner had the drummers and their gingham harlots departed than the sound of drums was replaced by that of pipes, as a military procession swept into view.  I counted ten pipers in all, walking abreast in perfect formation as they approached my front door, each one preceding a starched general on the starched back of a starched horse, looking oddly serious considering nobody was shooting at them.  Perhaps generals simply hate the sound of military musicians. It would explain why they spend so much time killing people.

Once the invading forces reached my door and stated their business, however, I learned that at least some of their sour disposition had been absorbed by osmosis from their equally choleric wives, each of whom had found themselves robbed of their jewellery when they returned from some kind of major military soiree two weeks previously.  You are probably able to surmise where this sorry tale is leading, Father, but at the time I was rather less perceptive, possibly due to a week and a half of sleep interrupted by bird song and marching bands.  Unable to see why these generals had called on me with their tale of woe, I'm afraid I grew more short-tempered than one should in the presence of officers, demanding they state their business with me in quite a tone.  Even this would have been no real issue, I think, had I not chosen to wave my most recent correspondence at my guests as I berated them.  With superb timing, the envelope chose to wait until the very moment I reached the zenith of my righteous indignation before it split, scattering paper across the room and with it, five gold rings, each one recognisable to an astonished general and yet now engraved with my own name.

And so I find myself incarcerated in the local police station, staffed with officers who are all desperately polite and sorry about all the fuss, but who will not let me leave nonetheless, given I am accused of ten different burglaries and with running an unregistered aviary.  The poor man mauled by a swan on my land three days previous is also stirring up trouble, possibly because he smells blood in the water, but more likely because he's received a visit from the perilous dunderhead, who is doubtless behind the generals' sudden conclusion that I might be embroiled in the matter of their missing accessories.

I don't know what to do, Father.  The matter of the bird collection is easily defensible, I should think, but it is only my word against the perilous dunderhead that the rings originated with him.  I have no idea which jeweller he acquired the stolen goods from, and who is going to take the word of a mere woman over that of so successful and well-named a gentleman as he, especially the daughter of a notorious tyrant (my apologies, Father, but it is true) and sister of a man who only avoided drinking himself to death by being too bone-idle to efficiently replace his finished gin bottles.

Since my last letter will have reached you this morning, I assume legal counsel is already en route to me, and that whomever you have engaged is competent enough to follow me to this Godforsaken place.  Further details will doubtless reach you soon, on the surely infinitesimal chance you choose not to come here and comfort your only daughter in person.

Your doting daughter,


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