17. HAREBELL

17. HAREBELL

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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News arrives with Queen Gertitia of Little Red Riding Hood's presence

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Your immortalest,” demanded the Head of Surgery Oliver of the long neck and dominating voice, addressing Gertitia who was becoming more regal and demanding by the day, “Your immortalest, we have news brought us by Harebell, the secret spy on the edges of the Forest.”

“Harebell? I don’t think I’ve heard of him,” murmured the Queen of all she surveyed. “Tell me: is he a gentle outlander? Or a rapscallion, half man and half weed?”

“He lives near the fringes of the forest where sensible beings rarely go,” boomed Oliver, “and as my subordinate knife-man, and chief plastic surgeon,the skilled Chippychunk, has repaired the damage to the mighty Twinkletoes and he’s now fit to go I thought I ought to enlighten you by introducing the close-to-being outsider Harebell to you, for he has fell news!”

“If you continue shouting like that I will have your testicles cut off,” warned Gertitia, who had thoroughly adapted to her royal role and was even considering of demanding “off with his head” for effect and in true Tudor style. “Now bring the wretch before me!”

“Yes, ma’am,” replied a subdued Oliver, and he bowed far too many times to look sensible as he called Harebell to join him in front of royalty.

Harebell looked nervous as he tried not to stare at Gertitia’s horns, but couldn’t help the odd glance. The human race beyond the forest would have called him a hare largely because of his name, and that would have angered him almost to the point of making him spit because he was a proud fluffy, white and extremely intelligent rabbit and, in his own eyes at least, nothing like a hare.

“You have news for my royal ears I believe,” murmured Gertitia.

“Speak up, man!” barked Oliver before Harebell had a chance to say anything.

“I’m not a man nor ever was one!” protested Harebell.

“Remember your testicles, surgeon,” warned Gertitia menacingly. “Now, friend Harebell, were you in Foxy Roger’s class for woodwork back in the, let me see, noughties when we were young roisterers?”

Harebell nodded enthusiastically. “I made a stool with a raffia top, and you sat on it once, which is why I’ve never dusted it,” he said, “and I remember you, for you were the beauty of the class and there wasn’t a student who didn’t want to have it off with you, if you don’t mind me saying...”

“I don’t at all,” smiled the Queen of the forest, “it was then that I first suspected that I was a handmaid, and you know the deeper meaning of that word! Now, friend Harebell, you’re bringing some gorgeous memories back to me. One especially!”

“I hope it’s the same one that I’ve got pounding around inj my head,” blushed Harebell, “for if it is I will be for ever honoured, your Majesty.”

“I’m sure it must be,” almost giggled Gertitia, “but tell me, if you can forget that night behind the bike sheds for a moment, what is your news?

“Of course. Yes ma’am, and I’ll never forget the way you punctured old Thrasher's front tyre with your sharpest horn...”

“Accidentally,” smiled Gertitia, “sort of. Now what is your news?”

“Ah yes. There is another Human in the Forest, ma’am,” he said.

Gertitia sat up suddenly, accidentally impaling Oliver on a needle-sharp horn. He should have backed away but hadn’t because he was too nosey to miss out on what might prove to be juicy gossip, despite the threat to his reproductive orbs at that.

“Ouch!” he exclaimed

“Say more...” said the queen quietly, ignoring the surgeon’s blood.

“She is well known to we fringe people,” began Harebell.

“Fringe people?” asked Gertitia.

“Yes, ma’am: fringe people, or those Forest dwellers who live at the edges of the forest. It is tasked to some of us to guard the fringes and report any unusual incursions, which is what I am doing now. There is a young female of the human tribe, pretty as a picture, she is, with a generous way of stroking the hair of any who pass her by, and sweet of voice. But her uncle is the cruel man with the molten face who is at this very moment on the point of death, I believe, and I have heard she is going to call on him on her way to see her granny, the noble Griselda who we all revere as a sage and prophetess.”

“This is all strange news,” murmured Gertitia thoughtfully. “What is your opinion, Oliver?” she asked, addressing the surgeon who had successfully staunched the blood after extricating himself from her horn.

“She should be waylaid and her testicles should be amputated,” he replied instantly.

“You silly surgeon!” put in Harebell, “she’s a she and without any form of male reproductive organs! Or so I believe, your majesty.”

“She must be taken to the man in the coma,” decided Gertitia, “she must be made to face him, and if perchance he wakens she must be begged to advise him against any folly, for it is known that old men take great note of what pretty young things say. Why, it is written in the Book of Facts that creaking old men with great wealth take pretty young things as wives for no better reason, I think, than that they are generous of spirit.”

“Or that the pretty young things have an eye or two on that wealth,” murmured Oliver.

“They wouldn’t be so cynical, surely,” asked Gerttia, and then she answered herself, “I suppose there are some that would be just that,” she sighed.

“I know where she is,” said Harebell, “for I have been monitoring her movements, unseen. She is with the big-hearted Wolfy who is trying to talk her out of wanting the man turned into a vegetable.”

“If she speaks like that then she is good,” decided Gertitia, “Bring her to me and we will debate what we will debate and decide what we will decide.”

“Being a human, she may not fully comprehend our speech,” suggested Oliver.

“Tush!” whispered Gertitia, “she is a child, you say? A young human? Then she will understand, for the craven insanity that afflicts her race will yet to have subdued her brilliance. So bring her to me, and I will debate high things with her!”

© Peter Rogerson 29.10.18




© 2018 Peter Rogerson


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Added on October 29, 2018
Last Updated on October 29, 2018
Tags: Hare, rabbit, guard, forest fringes, imperious queen


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing