The problem with writing as you go is that you find yourself reviewing what has just been written after you have written it. This leads you to realise that what has just been written doesn't fit neatly in the scheme of things quite the way you intended. For example, the last chapter was marked as 3 when in point of fact it now strikes me it should have been 5. The pace, structure and tension were wrong. Of course, when you write then amend rather than write and publish, you alter after the event. Here I published on the go. Here then, having written this AFTER the last chapter is the chapter that should go first. Chapter 2. Confused? Me too.
Running With a Large Bladder
At this stage of the story, we must slip back a bit to the time and place where we first came in. You recall when Verity was applying make-up on her face? When she and Ralph looked out their window and saw Ethel Blowvalve riding across the field on her cart being pulled by Bladder? Well, that is where we find ourselves now; with Ethel and Bladder.
“Come on lad, get a trot on,” encouraged Ethel as she slapped the reins against pig hide. As porcine beasts go, Bladder was a tolerant sort. He didn’t seem to mind having a garishly coloured wooden cart hitched to him. Actually he rather liked the idea of dashing about the countryside. Ethel sat in the cart on a seat like some modern-day Boudicca. Cart and seat had been designed and built by Tom Theobold who, having left the village after closing the family blacksmith come ironmongers, was doing alright thank you very much in a new shop in Muckleford. “It makes commercial sense.” He had said. “There is more passing trade in a town than the local village.” No one could argue with that especially in view of how Voxco supermarkets – “new fandangled things,” expressed Will Hamfist - had spread like a rash on a young man’s bottom.
The cart rattled along over field and down country lane. The June sun strode the sky heating the heavens with his male ego. A rabbit bolted from beneath the hedgerow and ran across to the other side. An airship slipped past with an advert printed on its underbelly. Ethel took no notice. Neither did Bladder. They charged on enjoying the rush of wind in their faces. Birchtickle lay ahead. Ethel wanted to greet the new comers. It was something she always did when anyone new moved into the area.
In recent years, since the death of her husband but long before that, Ethel had given up worrying about her figure. Her hubby, thin by natural design, had not given one whit about Ethel’s spreading bottom or the way her stomach had thickened her waist.
“Fat they call it now but once upon a time it was voluptuous and I like a bit o’ volp with my tuous,” he used to say.
She was still blonde but with splashes of white breaking through. Her eyes, creased with laughter lines, were still blue and had a childlike glitter of perpetual amusement. There wasn’t much that didn’t make Ethel laugh.
In front of her she saw a rough looking man with weasley features walking two dogs. One was a crossbreed, the other Dachshund. The man was Ernie Stalworthy, the dogs Codpiece and Scrubs.
“Hello Ernie, how are you?” called Ethel.
“All right,” said Ernie in the manner of the Cockney, “how’s it going?”
“Mustn’t grumble,” replied Ethel pulling Bladder to a halt. “I saw Victor Clapp a short while ago going into the brothel. He looked like a cat about to get the cream.”
“Never liked the geezer, bit of a merchant banker if you ask me, all airs and graces with a jewel the size of St. Paul’s. He hangs around that knocking shop all hours. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was ginger but judging by the time he’s in there dipping his wick I must be wrong. Bet his missus don’t know?”
Ernie was in the habit when speaking of running his hand across his chin and then across his nose. He did this now. His ferret like face screwed up spreading thins lines across his even thinner face.
Ethel laughed. “Of course, she doesn’t. What kind of second-hand car dealer would he be if he was honest?”
Ernie smiled that bent, buckled mouth of his.
“You have a point. Where you off to then?”
“I thought I’d say hello to the new couples moving into Birchtickle.”
“I didn’t know we had any newbies.”
“Yes, two sets of Dwarfs as I understand. Two of those Ralph and the vicar helped out a couple of years back.”
“What from that circus that stopped on the green?”
“That’s the one.”
“Fair do’s. The empty cottages were only going to waste. I saw you down the pun the other night didn’t I, with Mille Mead?” enquired Ernie.
“That’s right. I like to catch-up on all the gossip!” laughed Ethel.
“Ha, ha, me too. What did she have to say for herself then?”
“Well, apparently, Rose is still seeing that Frenchman, not that Neil knows, and Julie has been seen about town with a musician.”
“Is that, right? Wasn’t her last boyfriend a trumpeter or somat of that nature?” Ernie frowned.
“Billy’s dad? Yes, he was. This, though is meant to be the real deal according t’ Millie. Julie is ‘ead over heels about him.”
“My advice to her, for what it’s worth, is to tread careful. She don’t want to get hurt again.”
Ethel nodded in agreement.
“So where are you headed, Ethel?”
Bladder snorted, stamped a trotter then broke wind. A couple of wind pigeons, hearing the explosive sound took flight.
“Going to see Constance and Charles, up at the retirement home.”
Ernie nodded. He recalled how the couple got the business in the first place.
“Hazel Thorny is looked up in prison on the Isle of Wight. Going to be there a long time I should have thought.”
“Murder is life,” cried Ethel, “Quite right too. She bashed in her second in commands head with a spade.”
Ernie nodded again.
“Yeah. An unpleasant piece of work that woman. How are Constance and Charles doing? Making a go of it are they?”
Bladder started pulling the cart, eager to go.
“So, I believe. They’ve got Wilfred Hardbottle as a resident now you know.”
Ernie chortled. “Randy old sod. He’s still with Rosie Sliteworth ain’t he?”
“Two peas in a pod. They are inseparable.”
“Did I tell you I’d been offered two jobs?” Ernie asked with one eye half closed.
Ethel shook her head. “I heard about you gardening for the brigadier. What’s the other one?”
“His Lordship wants me to run his estate, sort of do a bit of game keeping, bit of gardening too. Wants me and her indoors to move onto the grounds; regular work too, none of your dodging about here and there. What do you reckon?”
“If it were me I’d jump and the chance.”
“Think you’re right. That’s what I intend doing. Right then, I’d best be off. Things to do. Catch you later Ethel. C’mon Scrubs, Codpiece.”
Ethel watched as Ernie swaggered away. He had the sort of walk once seen in westerns. It was a gait that started at the shoulders then engaged the rest of his body remotely. It struck Ethel as comical the way he moved which in turn was echoed by Scrub’s limp and Codpiece’s waddle. Together they formed a comedy trio’s routine.
Birchtickle seemed like a ghost hamlet as Bladder and she entered it. It had always been quite but now, without a soul in it, seemed devoid of humanity. Ethel left Bladder to wander knowing he wouldn’t go far. She then walked up to what once had been the home of Harry Hertlasp. Like all Fekenham folk Ethel had a long memory. She recalled Harry and Mavis Mufftickle’s affair. Gossip like that soon spreads and aided by Millie Mead spread a whole lot faster.
The cottage was the same as when she had last seen it, the same in fact as when Harry had been arrested for the murders of the Fatleaf’s. Ethel doubted that Harry would ever return to his old home.
Someway off was Agatha Nosebag’s cottage. Ethel had held a healthy dislike for that woman and, although murdered, a thing Ethel wouldn’t wish on anyone, Ethel was not hypocrite enough to pretend she liked Agatha now in death.
The people Ethel had sympathy for were the two boys left behind who, one way of another, had lost their parents. She had heard that Martin Tickpant had done the right thing and taken his illegitimate son into his care. Sam Grimstain was apparently happy with the situation. Todd Gossling was more of a problem. His parents weren’t dead, they were in prison and this situation played on his mind more than the death of Sam’s mother played on his. According to Cyril Updike, Todd was causing problems for the Tickpants as he entered his teenage years.
There were six properties surrounding Birchtickle pond. Of these only one, until recently, had people living in it and that was Tickpant Farm. Ethel walked around to look at Jean Grimstain’s cottage. It seemed occupied judging by the new net curtains hanging and from the front door that had been painted. Then Ethel saw a woman in dungarees upon a ladder. In her hand was a paint brush. She dipped the brush into a tin that sat on the top step of the ladder. It was good to see some activity but also good to see that home being put to good use.
.She walked the short distance round to the Trimeots old place. That too looked as though someone was decorating it but showed no signs of anyone being in.
A little disgruntled by the fact she had made the effort to greet the new people and they weren’t there, Ethel turned to go. As she did she saw walking toward her a group of four diminutive people, three men and a woman.
“Hulloooo!” called Ethel with a touch of theatricality he bosoms displaying more bounce than a very bouncy castle
“Hello,” smiled the dwarf’s amiably.
“I’m Ethel,” explained Ethel, “from the village. I just thought I’d call in to say welcome and make sure everything is alright.”
“You’d best come in and have some tea then,” said Lemon Pip.
Tea was coffee, strong and black. “Just the way I likes me men,” laughed Ethel as she thanked the good looking dwarf who was named George. Diminutive maybe but George had a face that was made for Hollywood. Had he been born years before he would have been in a similar mould as Allan Ladd and like the famed, now deceased actor, would have required a box to stand on when kissing the leading ladies. Ethel found George very attractive. Shame, she thought, that he batted for the other side.
“That was my ideal choice,” said George in mock agreement but I ended up living with Gilbert.”
Gilbert lashed a tea towel across his partner’s backside. Gilbert was more rugged than George. Less the curves and dips of Dorset and more the ragged rocks of Cornwall. George mocked a yelp. They made a nice couple.
“Is Lemon Pip your real name?” asked Ethel as she took hold of hot beverage.
Lemon Pip grinned. She was a pretty woman with blonde hair, corn blue eyes and a cute upturned nose,
“No, it isn’t but, as you can tell from mine and Grom’s accents we are not from Albion. We both come from Russia. When we joined the circus, after years of abuse from the town we were born in, we gave ourselves alternate names. Now we never speak of the old ones. It is better this way. If we think of what was it brings back the bad memories and we don’t want to remember, we want to forget.”
Ethel brushed her hand across her lap where some biscuit crumbs had fallen.
“Trouble is,” she opined, “that some memories are not bad as such but the recall is, if’n you gets my meaning.”
“Like when you lose a mamma or papa?” queried Lemon Pip.
“Or a husband,” confirmed Ethel blowing across her hot coffee to cool it.
“I have one of those and would hate to lose him but parents they were not so good. How did your man die?”
Ethel sighed, took a sip from her drink then replied.
“That is bad. With all we learn, us humans, all our knowledge of how life on the land and under the sea works we still cannot cure that vile disease.”
Grom Tick arrived with a large cake on an even larger plate. His face was swarthy with a pock marked skin. His hair was thick and long hanging down in wayward curls that flopped as he walked.
“Or the common cold,” he said, “we haven’t found a cure for that either. This cake though, if you eat enough of it, or so I have been informed, will either kill or cure you of anything!”
He laughed heartily pleased with his own humour.
“In that case, I’ll have a big slice,” said Ethel putting her mug down and laughing with him.
Ethel learnt that Grom and Lemon had left their homes in Russia, run away to join the circus and had met accidently when both of them had sneaked onto a train. Neither of them had purchased tickets and when the ticket collector had asked for theirs, Grom had put on a performance that should have won an award. He convinced the man that he, Grom, was married to lemon, that they had bought tickets and boarded the train bound for their honeymoon. Grom said they had left the luggage in the cabin, gone to buy coffees and when they came back their luggage had gone along with their tickets. The ticket collector, a wan elderly man, had believed them and had given them a pass to get them to their destination.
Lemon described it as being the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for her.
“And did he propose on the train?” Ethel asked as she bit into the slice of cake.
“No,” laughed lemon, “I proposed to him five years later.”
“Crumbs,” said Ethel spilling a mouthful as both she and Lemon Pip laughed.
George pulled up a chair and sat down in front of Ethel.
“Tell us about this place. We know about the history, about Hawthorn Cobble and Lilac Lillywhite but we don’t understand why four out of six cottages all became vacant and up for sale at the same time. They also took a long while to sell. What happened here?”
Gilbert sat next to George and took hold of his partner’s hand.
“You won’t put us off,” declared Gilbert, “we all fell in love with this place when we saw it. Being circus folk there is nothing on this planet that scares us so come on, spill the beans.”
Ethel looked from one of the group to the other. They all seemed sincere but still, she felt reluctant to spoil their dreams if not their illusions.
“The estate agent didn’t tell you?”
“He told us how much he wanted to but that was it. He told us about the ghost’s that supposedly haunt the pond but that was all.”
Ethel sighed. Her curly blonde hair, turning white in places, fell across her eyes so she brushed it to one side. Then she started to speak telling them the events of last year that left the hamlet bereft of its inhabitants. She spoke at length not trying to hide any detail no matter how unpleasant or unpalatable. When she had finished her coffee was long drunk and so Gilbert got up and poured her another.
“I feel sorry for those boys,” said Grom, “it isn’t any wonder Todd is acting up. Me and Lemon had it rough with our parents; we know how that sort of thing leaves a scar on your heart.”
Ethel, though she had only known these people so short a time, felt an affinity with them. She liked them, liked their openness, their frankness. She knew they would be good for the area.
“There is something else that the estate agent didn’t tell you,” she whispered conspiratorially.
“Oh yeah,” queried George with a glint in his eye, “and what’s that then?”
“The Legend of Sir Graybridge Maggot, Big game Hunter of the African jungle, molester of nuns and utter lunatic.”
Lemon Pip sank back in her seat in preparation for a good tale, a ripping yarn as of yesteryear.
“Go on then,” she said smiling at her friends and former circus crew, “let’s hear it.”
Ethel Blowvale crossed her arms over her ample bosoms and began.
“In 1919, just after the Great War and as the old British Empire was reforming itself as the Commonwealth of Nations so Sir Graybridge Maggot returned from the Passchendaele front with a chest full of medals and more shrapnel in his backside than an ammunition dump. He had fought bravely in that stupid, imperial war as a Colonel of 134th Brigade. Returning home to Winchester he decided t’ up sticks and decamp t’ Muckleford. Once there he decided he didn’t like the market town any more than he did the Wessex capital and so moved deeper into the country and bought a cottage in Fekenham Swarberry. It was the self-same cottage I now lives in”
Ethel took a quick look around her captive audience to ensure she had their attention. Confident she had she then continued.
“He didn’t stay there long though. After the war to end all wars he got a touch of itchy feet and so locked up his cottage and took off to Africa with the intention of hunting big game and of having a bit of an adventure. He got more than he bargained for.
He booked a cabin on the Great Eastern II which set sail from Portsmouth the first Thursday after Beltane. Bound for the Dark Continent in search of a quest he went with but a truck full of pajamas, wellington boots, a stuffed parrot and a copy of ‘The Lumberjack Song’ by Monty P Thong.
The voyage was unpleasant ‘n he took sick as the great steamer flounced and bucked on the oceans swell. He was the first man to lose his ring long before the reception. He lay abed for many days until the nausea abated. The trip took ten tortuous days in which time Sir Graybridge Maggot ate nothing drinking only the milk from crushed coconuts. Finally the great sea going vessel docked in Cape Town where crew, passengers and a wobbly legged Sir Maggot disembarked.
“Booking into a local hotel he took to bed sleeping for three days before waking feeling refreshed and incredibly hungry. Eating a hearty meal he made enquiries of getting to the Belgian Congo with the intention of hunting big game. He had no idea about the political situation there or about the food crisis and the way people from Albion were being driven from the territory. He probably wouldn’t have cared less anyway as he was always one for a challenge.
Taking another steam boat Maggot arrived in Shinkakasa days later but this time with suffering no ill effects of being sea sick. Maybe he’d found his sea legs by then or maybe he just drank loads of rum, who knows? When he got off the ship having found suitable accommodation, or at least something what passed as suitable, he began to talk to locals and to plan and prepare his trip. He wasn’t without a bob or two so was well able to pay the locals the going rate. He spent a week in the town meeting with men who could lead him and act as guides then they departed on a Sunday. Four days later the camped on the outskirts of the jungle.
“It has t’ be said at this juncture that Sir Graybridge Maggot was, like many a white toff off that period, racist. He probably wouldn’t have thought much o’ short people neither nor fat old birds like me but thems were the times and thankfully changed for the better now. And o’ course he didn’t have high regard for animals neither as you will soon hear.
He spent a fortnight shooting elephants, lions, gazelles, cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas, water buffalo and more besides, anything that moved in point o’ fact. At one point he shoved a stick o’ dynamite up the rear of one startled elephant only for the poor beast to fart like a trumpet and blow it out again. Two gentlemen of the Negro persuasion, guides for want o’ a better word, were blown to kingdom come. The noble knight scarpered behind a tree trembling with his hand over his head which he thrust between his knees.
After all this wanton killing o’ wild beasts the party moved across the Congo going deeper into that country. They came across a brazen village all tribal and pagan where the women went topless and the men too. Armed with their rifles poised the party entered the village and were taken to the chief.
Chief M’Hatuva was a fat old bird dressed only in a loin cloth with boobs as big as mine. He had large features; a broad nose, full and generous lips and he fanned himself with a fan made of ostrich feathers. Sir Graybridge looked with suspicious and bigoted eye upon the short, fat black man whom he spoke to in broken English.
“’Me Big Chief White Hunter. Me kill many lions. Me come in peace.’”
“Indeed,” said Chief M’Hatuva, “how about a spot of tea, scones perhaps?”
Sir Graybridge looked gob-smacked. He had never heard a black man speak with Received Pronunciation before.
“But, but,” he stuttered looking and sounding simple o’ mind, “you speak English!”
“I was educated at Eton before going to Oxford.”
“But the way you are dressed, this village, I er thought…”
“That I was your average peasant nigger?”
“’Fraid not old chap. I am more your nigger noblesse oblige.”
“Oh, that’s alright then; practically one of us then.”
“And you don’t eat white men?”
“No, only white women of whom I have taken a fancy.”
Maggot shook with laughter thinking he understood this uppity savage well enough.
“I go by the Nome de plume of Chief M’Hatuva, it is a custom of my people, much like your kings who are christened one name but take another when crowned. You may call me Clyde. Now then, you must be simply famished. Would you like some food? Roast beef perhaps?”
The English knight nodded enthusiastically. He hadn’t eaten proper food in a fortnight and was fed up with game, especially warthog. He had eaten warthog sausages, warthog steak, warthog stew, warthog fricassee, warthog fried, warthog cold, warthog with hollandaise (disgusting) sauce, warthog diced, warthogs sliced and every other conceivable recipe known to Congolese Bushmen.
He was shown to a large tent which had its own en suite consisting of an old tin bath, a rush mat and a male servant who poured buckets of water over you whilst standing on a stool. Having cleaned himself he then dressed in traditional Congolese attire and went to down to sit with his new friend Clyde.
“There is a rare delicacy that I enjoy,” said Clyde snapping his fingers to a man servant who stood nearby, “and so I took the liberty of ordering for us both. Have you ever tried Warthog in fresh onion sauce?”
Sir Maggot and entourage remained with the educated Clyde for three days then, as they were about t’ depart following a late breakfast that featured Warthog rashers, so Graybridge heard the sound of heavenly voices singing. The sound wafted across the harsh Congo landscape as from a distance. Whatever or whoever was making the pleasant noise they were not from this land.
“I see you have heard the nuns,” said Clyde indicating with a slight turn of his head in the direction of the singing.
“Nuns?” queried Maggot with trembling voice.
“Yes, they are Belgian missionaries sent to teach us ignorant nig nogs about the good Lord Jesus and the missionary position. Never much liked it I have to say preferring to see a tight pair of buttocks poised before me when aroused. Still, it takes all sorts.”
“White nuns?” asked Maggot drooling slightly.
“As the driven,” replied the amiable black prince.
With a thank you for having us and a shake of hands Sir Graybridge Maggot took his leave of Clyde and strode into the jungle followed by his seven man team. Instructing his senior guide to find and lead them to the sound, and hopefully home of the nuns, Maggot marched on hand upon his trusty hunting rifle which he held erect and primed.
“Within the hour they came upon a clearing in the centre of which stood a wooden apology for a church with broken crucifix hanging bowed to the left. Circled around the house of worship were a collection of poorly constructed wooden, windowless huts. As the party approached the tiny outpost so a nun with Z shaped profile appeared from one hut before walking the across the short expanse then entering the church. The window too was with windows.
“I could weigh anchor between those bounteous islets,” gasped Maggot in husky tones to the black tribesman who’s grasp of English, let alone the subtleties of metaphor or euphemism, was sorta limited.
“Bag a bigun sir?” replied the guide using an expression previously used by the lunatic white hunter.
“Not half,” replied said loony firmly gripping the length of his gun barrel.
The nun had patently not seen either tribesmen or the oddly garbed white man holding his weapon and so the small group softly entered the quiet glade. The singing they heard earlier had now stopped and the only sound they could discern was the wind gently rustlin’ the trees that surrounded the place.
When they were within a hundred feet o’ the church, which looked rather queer with its broken cross and lack of windows, the nun they had previously seen reappeared before hastily shutting the door t’ the hut she had left apologising as she did so. A strange groan reverberated as though from voices buried deep within the earth. The nun turned, saw the hunting party and shrieked.
Sir Graybridge stepped forward n’ then doffed his Pith Helmet.
“Be not alarmed fair nun,” he said slinging his rifle across his shoulder, “I am a white man and a Christian to boot.”
The nun, with hands held in fright t’ her mouth and with eyes wide with terror visibly relaxed but not, it seemed as a consequence of having a white male Christian in front of her. She studied the seven black men who worked as guides and carriers for Sir Graybridge.
“You startled me,” she scolded Maggot with mock severity in an accent thick with French, “I thought when I saw these warriors (she put a deal of emphasis on the word warriors) that we were under attack from primitives.”
“Not a bit of it old thing,” smiled Maggot in a manner more leer that reassurance as his eyes wandered up down the nuns voluptuous figure.
“Would you and your men like some food? It is now nearly noon and practically time for luncheon.”
Graybridge felt a twinge from his old war wound as the French accent left the confines of the nun's wimple and drifted like the Seine lazily up his hunter’s shorts.
“That would be most kind but where are the other nuns; will they not be joining us?”
A strange look crossed the winsome woman’s face.
“They are sleeping and cannot be woken until nightfall,” she answered sheepishly.
“At this time of day?”
“They are of a special order of nuns that make votive offerings only at night. They were very active last night and now need to recoup their strength for tonight’s feast.”
“Feast, what feast? I didn’t know there was a religious event this time of year?”
The nun’s race flushed a peculiar red and her voice quavered when she answered. Maggot got the impression she was hiding something from him.
“Er, yes, it is the feast of Assumption. The day of Lady joined the host in heaven.”
“But I thought that was a month away?”
“Always be prepared is our mantra. Come this way and bring your men and I shall serve you cold meats.”
“You don’t have any ham do you?” asked the knighted Englishman hopefully.
“Only warthog, sorry.”
Maggot indicated to his men to follow then began rubbing his stomach vigorously thinking this would illustrate hunger. Sadly they thought he had diarrhoea but followed anyway. The nun took them t’ a shaded area just behind the church where a long table covered in what seemed like food stains dotted the surface. She bade them all sit down then went to fetch plates, cutlery and beakers for drinks. When she returned she smiled at the men then poured them a refreshing drink that was scarlet in colour, viscous but which tasted divine. She then went to fetch the food. She returned time n’ again until the whole table was covered in meat n’ fruit. The men tucked in feeling inexplicably ravenous. They devoured all that was put before them until the table was completely clear.
After they had their fill and feeling unbelievably tired the nun lead them to the church were she said they should rest. Too tired to argue they all laid on the floor and fell into a deep sleep. The only one who hadn’t succumbed to sleep was Sir Graybridge which was due to his not feeling either hungry or thirsty simply because he had not wanted to eat another mouthful of warthog no matter how it was prepared.
By now it was late afternoon. The sun overhead shone fiercely down. A faint breeze failed to stir the lethargy that consumed the sleeping men and began to affect Maggot. In all the time since finishing the meal the nun had remained by his side. She appeared to be dozing. Her head slumped forward onto her chest and a shallow sound of breathing followed. Sir Graybridge felt his own eyes grow heavy but not wanting to sleep stood up and stretched. He looked at the wooden huts that lay like piglets around their mother or, in this case, the wooden church. Each hut, five in total, pointed toward the place of worship. He thought he would have a look inside one of the huts to see if all the nuns were indeed asleep or it perhaps one or two were awake.
He strolled over to the first hut, put his hand on the door n’, began to pull the handle when a soft voice from behind him spoke.
“Do you fancy walking with me?” asked the nun now fully awake.
She looked damn fine thought Maggot especially with that wimple framing her face. It made her seem all the more unobtainable and somehow incredibly attractive.
“Don’t mind if I do,” nodded he generously totally forgetting his desire t’ sneak a look at nuns sleeping. The two of them wandered off into the thick undergrowth surrounding the small sanctuary.
They walked for some minutes in silence. Maggot watched the nun who walked in front, watched her bottom move like two water buffalo entering a stream. The thought of those buttocks bared and with his hands upon them made his sinews stiffen and his resolve melt.
In front of them a small river, dry now, had left a crusty expanse, a trench of sorts that hollowed out before them. The nun stopped by the edge looking down.
“Would you help me to cross?” she asked lifting the skirts of her habit to reveal a sculptured pair of ankles that Sir Graybridge thought ‘damn fine.’
“Of course my dear,” Maggot uttered stepping down into the dried channel, “be glad to assist.”
He held his hand out t’ her and was ecstatically pleased when she placed her plump paw into his. Holding hands like two teenagers out courting the pair clambered out of the narrow causeway n’ up the other side, Maggot manfully helping the nun who struggled to get purchase. As she ascended the slight bank she stumbled n’ fell into his arms then began to slide back. Maggot threw out a hand taking a firm grip of one bottom cheek then tugged her toward him where she gratefully collapsed.
“Oh,” she gasped breathlessly, “you are so manful.”
He gave her buttock another squeeze for good measure then let go and smiled at her.
“Think nothing of it, my dear, always glad to give a hand.”
They sat down together under the shade of a large tree that towered above them.
“The light is failing,” she announced, “we must be going back soon otherwise your servants will wonder where we are.”
Graybridge took out a grim meerschaum carved in the likeness of old Queen Victoria.
“Still asleep I’d wager.”
He stuffed a wedge of crushed leaf into the bowl then lit the pipe puffing like a train until the thing took.
“I like sucking on a man’s pipe,” the nun announced unexpectedly.
“Do you? Well, have a go on mine,” said Maggot as pleased as punch as he slipped the meerschaum into her hand.
The nun took two deep mouthfuls then blew smoke rings into the air.
“May I ask your name?” he asked castin’ a thankful nod as she passed his pipe back to him.
“My name after vows is Sister Mary Bodacious of the Crest Fallen but I was born and baptised Eliza, Eliza Bentwhistle.”
Maggot took a few mouthfuls o’ smoke, exhaled sending a thick stream of smoke rising heavenward then passed the pipe back to her.
“That’s a fine name for, if I may be so bold, a fine woman.”
Rosie inhaled deeply then blew smoke out of her nose giggling and coughing as she did.
“You are very kind,” she said, “but we really should be getting back. Nights draw in here early this time of year and I need to attend to my duties before the sisters awake.”
She passed the pipe back then tugged her habit high up to her knees as she rose. In a state of arousal having seen sight of more female flesh than he had for years, Maggot pushed the lighted end of the pipe into his mouth by mistake the let out a tormented yelp then stood up himself.
“What is the name of your order?”
“Sister of Saint Vlad.”
Walking out from beneath the canopy of leaves it was apparent the sun had not set yet n’was still visible. Maggot once again helped her cross the gully. The day was warm as evening began its approach. The huts looked as they had when they had left with not a sign of life or another nun to be seen. The team Maggot had selected still laying sleeping with snores escaping from their open mouths.
Maggot saw the church and settled down against it. The Sister Mary Bodacious of the Crest Fallen formerly known as Eliza sat down beside him where the two promptly fell asleep. Maggot awoke with a start. Eliza’s head was on his lap with her lips firmly around his prized fantasies. He shook his head n’ in the process woke Sister Mary Bodacious who sat up sharply. The daylight had gone and in its place dusk settled. The men had started to wake. They stretched their limbs and yawned.
Sister Mary Bodacious got to her feet and looked toward the huts where her sisters slept n’ then t’ the sky where the light was failing fast. She then looked to the church with its damaged cross.
“I think you should come with me,” she said to Graybridge, “but hurry as we only have fifteen minutes or so before all light has gone.”
Confused by the sudden urgency the knighted gent followed as the former Eliza took a firm grip on his wrist. The men were still waking and a slither of moon slipped across the horizon. The church was larger than it appeared but very dark and Maggot wondered why there were no wooden pews. Sister Mary Bodacious knelt down before the crumbling altar with hands held tight as if in prayer. Upon hearing the sound of female voices Graybridge looked through a large crack in the wooden wall. Outside the nuns had awoken as night claimed the hour.
They moved with surprising speed toward his men who, fully awake and as is the way of men when waking, were more than happy to see females before them. The nuns appeared odd t’ maggot for they wore no wimples and their habits were bad for they had slits in the side and the tops revealed far too much bosom.
“This is the weirdest set of nuns I have ever seen,” said he “they look more like whores than nuns and, as much as I like to see white women they are more chalk like.”
He watched as the nuns approached the men n’ with little or no preliminaries, the briefest of introductions you might say, began to embrace the men in what could only be described as under intimate circumstances. A scene from Dante ensued with women lying down, kneeling, standing up, leaning and crouching in positions not entirely missionary as men n’ nuns fornicated beneath the early blush of night.
The spectacle grew more fervent as legs wrapped around torso’s, bodies conjoined in mutual physical pleasure, breasts exposed shook as buttocks rose and fell then, as pleasure seeking reached its natural climax so the perversion of nuns gathered turned like feral animals upon those they had mated with and began to feast. Teeth white ‘n fang like flashed in the moonlight. Blood, thin and warm trickled down chins of porcelain white
“By sweet Holy Jesus,” cried Maggot finding the scenes laid before him repulsive in the extreme, “they are vampire, female blood suckers. They are killing my men.”
He turned sharply having heard Sister Mary Bodacious foot fall.
“No, I am merely their captive servant. They keep me alive to minister to their corporeal needs.”
He had no idea what that meant n’ even if he had it wouldn’t have meant much as it makes no sense.
“Come with me,” said Sister Mary Bodacious, “down into a safe place where they won’t touch you. Come, come with me.”
Maggot watched as the horror outside unfolded; with the screams of the men ringing in his ears which then reached a sudden conclusion, Sister Mary Bodacious lifted a panel in the floor and beckoned him to follow. Faced with those creatures of nightmare outside or of slipping beneath the floorboards with a nun Maggot did what any sane man would. The hole under the church was small, barely big enough t’ allow one person in. Sister Mary Bodacious lay down beneath him and he lay on top of her. Even though the sights he had just witnessed had been horrific, all that exposed female flesh had had an effect and, weak poor excuse of a man that he was n’ with a tender young nun beneath him, Sir Graybridge Maggot did what any blue blooded male when faced with a woman in close proximity with her habit hitched up would do, he made the best of the situation.
The sounds of debauchery and death subsided. The sounds of lust concluded. Maggot n’ the nun crept out o’ the makeshift crypt and listened for any sound of the undead.
“Can you get away without them seeing you?” asked the gallant, and if not gallant slightly guilty for having taken advantage, knight.
“Yes, I think so,” answered Sister Mary Bodacious dusting down her habit.
“Go the way you took me and I will follow shortly,” he instructed.
She did as he told her and crept out of the roughly built church stepping lightly across the dry ground until she reached the perimeter of the jungle.
A noise as of dogs sniffing became noticeable to Maggot who edged nearer the church door. As he did so the host o’ wanton female vampires slithered in seeking him. He waited n’ watched in sheer terror until the very last one of their number was congregated before him. Then with slow deliberation they turned their heads one by one t’ observe him. He felt his insides turn to liquid as their eyes fell upon him, felt a queasy hollow sensation in the pit of his stomach at the thought of all those ravenous mouths with their needle sharp teeth sinking into his neck. Any erotic notions he harbored soon vanished as en masse they began to move toward him all hissing n’ spitting like a bucket full o’ snakes. He stood now with back against the church door, pulled out the last stick of dynamite from his pocket, lit the fuse then threw it into their vile vampiric midst and ran for dear life.
The explosion that followed lit the night sky with a blinding flash as scattered bits of wood and bone and flesh flew across the area.
Sister Mary Bodacious was waiting for him by the gulley. He helped her across, then helped himself to her once again, then, after some days o’ tramping about a bit n’ following a sea journey, took her home to his house in Fekenham where she gave birth to a beautiful bouncing boy who they named Waldo. The couple never married. They lived in sin and Waldo kept his mother’s maiden name.”
A faint breeze blew in the cottage as Ethel’s story came to an end. The Dwarfs looked at Ethel admiringly.
“And was the bastard boy a Bentwhistle?” asked Lemon Pip smiling
“That’s right,” confirmed Ethel winking.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.