Reg’s Dlog (Well, what else would you call a dog’s blog?)
Here’s the fourth part of the Old Girl’s stories about Eddie the Bald Eagle (who’s really a chicken). If you’ve missed the other three, you can check them out here, The Three Wise Monkeys and here, #ChickenInCustard and here, The Fine Print.
Once they’ve escaped from the hotel, Eddie, Miss Havisham and the others split up to make it harder for Mr. Krapowski to find them and to force them to honour his contract. Can Eddie satisfy Miss Havisham’s dreams of creating a fashion empire with clothes made of cheese?
French for Cheese
Eddie made it to the jetty at Cakehall just as his wings gave out. He’d forgotten how hard it was to row through custard, and to make matters worse, Miss Havisham was restless. She’d been complaining she was hungry since they’d left Spudwell, and she got very tetchy when her blood sugar dropped.
The smell from the nearby Cheese Mine was simply too hard to resist and Eddie thought it might be a good idea to stock up with fresh cheese, and then decide whether to continue on his quest for the source of the Custard River. He also needed to escape from Miss Havisham, but not until she’d bought lunch. She owed him that, after moaning all morning. He had, after all, paid for the hire of the boat, and was now bankrupt.
Miss Havisham barged her way to the front of the queue in the cheese shop, ‘Two large lumps of cheese, my good man. And be quick about it!’ she said to the young, female vole behind the counter.
‘Which type would you like, ma’am? We have Cakehall Supreme, Cakehall Bluevein, Cakehall ̶ ‘
‘Yes!’ Miss Havisham banged her tiny fist on the counter, ‘And don’t dilly-dally. I haven’t got all day.’ She waved a handful of bank notes, ‘And don’t stint on the biscuits, young man!’
‘Don’t what on the biscuits?’
‘Stint! Stint! What’s the matter with you?’
‘Why don’t you go outside and find us somewhere to sit, Miss Havisham, and I’ll bring the cheese,’ Eddie cut in, smiling apologetically at everyone in the shop. He steered the mouse away from the counter and gave her a slight nudge towards the exit.
‘And biscuits!’ called Miss Havisham as she fell through the door.
‘You should’ve stinting-well told your stinting friend you don’t have to push a stinting automatic door,’ said the young, female vole with a toss of her head.
Miss Havisham wiped her mouth with the back of her paw, ‘…best cheese I’ve ever had,’ she announced, and burped.
‘So, if it’s yours, why aren’t you making the most of it?’ Miss Havisham asked.
‘That cheese shop.’
‘It’s not mine,’
‘You told me it was!’
Eddie thought for a moment.
‘Oh, no, it’s not mine, it is a mine. A cheese mine.’
‘Exactly. And if I may say so, I don’t like your choice of staff. Damn rude, if you ask me. But I think I can help you. I’m looking for a business venture. I was going to put my fortune into Krapowski’s hotel but there was something a bit dodgy about it. Anyway, I like you, young chicken, and I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to back you in a new business venture.’
‘Whatever it is you do with your cheese.’
Eddie was about to admit to not doing a great deal with the stuff, other than eat it, when he had second thoughts. He was broke. And Miss Havisham seemed to have plenty of money. There was just one problem – he didn’t own the cheese shop or mine.
Perhaps he could talk her round to something different? As well as managing a rock band, he’d always dreamed of owning his own fashion designer label. Perhaps she’d invest in a fashion business?
‘Fashion?’ she’d peered at him with her tiny head tilted to one side, ‘Well, it’s radical. But it could work… Yes, why not!’ She held out her paw and shook his wing. ‘I’ve got a few contacts, so leave the factory to me. Here,’ she said pulling a wad of money out of her handbag, ‘this should get you started.’
Eddie was so used to life knocking him down, that now, as it held out its paw with a gift, he automatically flinched.
‘You drive a hard bargain,’ said Miss Havisham, pulling more money out of her handbag, ‘is this enough?’
Eddie gulped and took the money.
‘So, what are you proposing to call this company of ours?’ she asked.
‘Um,’ said Eddie, whose brain hadn’t quite caught up.
‘How about Say Cheese?’ she suggested.
‘Well, if you’re going to make clothes out of cheese, it should be reflected in the name, don’t you think?’
‘Yes, young chicken. Now stop repeating “Cheese” and say something sensible. It’s getting tedious. You may be a fashion guru but you don’t appear to have much business sense. Luckily for you, I’m very astute and can spot a business opportunity. So, you get on with making the cheese cloth and designing your new range and I’ll provide the machinery.’
Eddie’s brain finally came up to speed. He was being offered an amazing chance to realise his dream. The only problem was that his clothes would be made of cheese. Unless…
‘Perhaps, Miss Havisham, we ought to use ordinary cloth first. Just until we get established. Cheese can come later.’
‘Nonsense! Cheese is definitely the way to go.’
She nodded. ‘Definitely.’
Eddie sighed. It was cheese or nothing.
‘How about a French-sounding name?’ he said, ‘Something like From ̶ ‘
‘Yes! From Cow to You!’
‘No, I was thinking of Fromage ̶ ‘
‘What’s that then?’
‘It’s French for “cheese”.’
Miss Havisham’s eyes lit up and she held her paws together, ‘Yes, I love it! A new company is born – French for Cheese.’
‘But ̶ ‘
‘It’s settled,’ said Miss Havisham, ‘Now, I wonder what sized needles one would need for knitting yoghurt?’
‘All rise,’ bleated the court sheep.
Everyone in the packed courthouse rose as a portly owl in judge’s robes and wig entered, and settled himself at the bench.
‘Eddie the Bald Eagle Chicken, you are charged with wilfully exposing the public to clothes made out of cheese, thereby risking an outbreak of cheese mites, and also of inflicting aggravated cheese odours. How do you plead?’ bleated the court sheep.
‘Not guilty!’ Eddie said glaring at Miss Havisham, who was seated next to her lawyer, ‘and what’s more, I object, your owlship!’
‘Indeed!’ said the judge, looking down his beak at Eddie, ‘And what is it exactly that you are objecting to?’
‘I object to being here and if I have to be here, I object to the jury. It’s full of mice.’
‘Yes, it certainly is,’ said the judge, eyeing the jury. He wiped away the string of saliva that was hanging from his beak, ‘I’m sure they will be most delicious…er…dextrous. Yes, that’s it, dextrous…and impartial. Won’t you?’ he asked fixing the twelve mice with his beady stare.
‘Free Miss H!’ one of the jury-mice shouted with his fist in the air.
‘Miss Havisham is not on trial, young fellow-me-lad,’ said the judge, ‘it’s the chicken you’ll be condemning.’
Eddie’s lawyer grabbed his beak and pushed Eddie back into his seat.
‘Let us proceed,’ said the judge.
Miss Havisham’s lawyer stood, tucked her claws in the lapels of her gown and began. ‘Ladies and gentleman, my client Miss Havisham has been swindled by this excuse for a chicken ̶ ‘
‘I’m not an excuse for a chicken! I am a chick ̶ No, I’m not even a chicken, I’m a ̶ ‘
Eddie’s lawyer grabbed his beak and deftly twisted an elastic band over it.
‘As I was saying, my client has been swindled out of a large sum of money and in return, she has contracted Caseous Acaridosis, a serious illness, and her life is now under threat. I would like to call my first witness.’
One of the jury-mice stood up.
‘You can’t have a witness who’s also a jury member,’ objected Eddie’s lawyer.
‘Then I shall call my second witness.’
Another of the jury-mice stood up.
Eddie’s lawyer objected again.
‘Do you have any witnesses who are not also members of the jury?’ the judge asked.
‘No, your honour.’
‘Then let us hear the defence.’
Eddie’s lawyer got to her feet, glanced at Eddie’s beak to check the stability of the elastic band and with claws tucked inside her gown, she began. ‘Firstly, my client did not claim to own the Cakehall Cheese Mine and shop. Miss Havisham offered her money freely. Secondly, my client kept his side of the bargain, spinning cheese into fabric and making clothes from the cheesecloth. It is not his fault that Miss Havisham’s cheese outfit attracted Acarid caseosis, better known as the common cheese mite. Neither is it his fault that she is allergic to the said cheese mite. But I would like to point out that Caseous Acaridosis is hardly a serious illness, m’lud.’
‘I see,’ the judge said, shifting his gaze to the prosecution, ‘I believe you claimed that your client’s life is under threat. Would you care to explain how this disease is affecting her?’
‘Oh, no m’lud, it’s not the cheese mite that’s threatening her life, they’re the least of her worries. No, it’s the mice. And then the cats.’
‘Would you care to explain please?’
‘Well, your honour, if worn for long enough, the cheese clothes leave the wearer’s skin impregnated with cheesy stink. Miss Havisham found that wherever she goes, she’s followed by hordes of mice. And as we all know, where there are hordes of mice, there are teams of hungry cats. My client now can’t set foot outside the door for fear of being eaten.’
‘Shame!’ shouted the head jury-mouse.
‘In fact, it is this very group of mice,’ Miss Havisham’s lawyer waved her paw at the jury, ‘who have been following my client around and attracting cats. Everywhere she goes, they follow.’
‘But Miss H is the Chosen One!’ shouted the head jury-mouse, ‘She has the Smell. We must follow her until the end of our days.’ He looked uncertainly at the judge, who was staring at him, trance-like, dribbling. ‘Your honour?…’
The judge blinked, ‘Err, yes…silence in court!’ He banged his gavel, ‘We will adjourn for one hour.’
‘We find the defendant guilty!’ said the head jury-mouse, ‘Guilty, guilty, guilty!’
Eleven, tiny murine heads nodded emphatically at the pronouncement.
Eddie emitted a loud, strangled squawk and the elastic band shot off the end of his beak, ‘I object, your owlness!’
‘Sit down, Mr. Bald Eagle Chicken. The jury have given their verdict and I now sentence you to a fine of two thousand ducats and an apology to the plaintiff.
Miss Havisham leapt to her feet, ‘I object! I deserve more compensation than two thousand ducats! ’
‘Madam, the two thousand ducats is payable to me, for wasting court time. The apology is intended for you!’
‘This is outrageous!’ said Miss Havisham, waving her fist.
‘Go, Miss H!’ shouted the head jury-mouse.
‘You,’ said the judge, pointing at the head jury-mouse with his gavel, ‘can shut up. And you, Mr. Bald Eagle Chicken, follow me to my chambers, you will pay your fine and write your apology there.’
‘Your owlness, if I might have a word. You see, I have a slight cashflow problem and two thousand ducats are slightly beyond my means…’
‘But that sum won’t be beyond your means, young chicken, once I have purchased French for Cheese from you, for the exact price of two thousand ducats.’
‘But it’s worth far more than that…’ Eddie tailed off when the judge glared at him, ‘on the other hand, that seems a reasonable offer.’
‘And one which you will find difficult to better,’ said the judge, drawing his wallet out of his robes and opening it to display a large number of notes. He counted out two thousand ducats and placed them in front of Eddie, before picking them up and placing them back in his wallet. ‘There, now your fine is paid and once we sign the contracts, I will be the owner of French for Cheese.
‘Fair enough. But I’ve just got one question, your owlness. Why do you want the company?’
‘I have a whim to wear cheese clothes.’
‘But your owlness, you heard the evidence, they make you smell of cheese and then mice follow you around…’
‘Yes,’ said the judge, saliva beginning to dribble from his beak.
Tomorrow, part five of the continuing story of Eddie the Bald Eagle (who is really a chicken). And then, I’m afraid there’s going to be a bit of await for part six. Not because it isn’t written yet – because it is, but because the Old Girl reads them out at her writers’ group and then posts them. But if you fancy something different, how about the Old Girl’s new book THE GREAT WAR 100 STORIES OF 100 WORDS HONOURING THOSE WHO LIVED AND DIED 100 YEARS AGO. No cheese although lots of it takes place in France. You can get it as a paperback and ebook here at Amazon. Be warned: this is not funny. No, it’s not funny at all.
And if you want something completely different, how about the Old Girl’s DAFFODIL AND THE THIN PLACE? You can get it as an ebook from the Muse it Up Publishing site here at Muse It Up and it’s available from other ebook retailers. You can also get it in paperback format from Amazon, here at Amazon.