Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Chapter Two - A Friendship is Formed

'Where are we?' asked Mrs Pumphrey of her new ginger companion.
'I'm not sure,' said Mrs Miggins. 'But I'd really like it if you'd remove your foot from my ear.'
Mrs Pumphrey, ever obliging, shifted her foot. Wherever they were, the space was cramped and Mrs Miggins was lucky it was only a foot in an ear and not a wing in a beak.
'I think we're going on the journey my mother told me about,' said Mrs Pumphrey. She took in a deep breath, trying to work out what kind of receptacle they were in but all she could get was a strong smell of cat.'I suppose the best thing to do is settle down and make the most of it.'
'What journey is that then?' asked Mrs Miggins.
'The Flying of the Nest,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Here, hold this,' and she gave Mrs Miggins a skein of wool that she wanted to roll into a ball. 'Surely your mother told you the story of Flying the Nest, of the adventure of going out into the world and seeking your fortune?'
Mrs Miggins sniffed. 'I didn't have a mother,' she said. 'I was an only egg, abandoned carelessly in a hedge that surrounded a field of pigs. I was raised by a Gloucestershire Old Spot.'
'And didn't she tell you anything about the Flying of the Nest?' said Pumphrey. She felt a little sorry for this strange bird with the ginger feathers. Looking like Mick Hucknall for the rest of one's life would be traumatic enough, yet being motherless, too? Still, at least there wouldn't be attachment issues to deal with.

'Well,' said Mrs Miggins, 'she did tell me a story once about a piglet called Bacon and what happened to him when he left home.'
'Ooh, he'll be the famous playwright,' said Pumphrey. 'There's a theory that Bacon wrote many, if not all, of Shakespeare's plays. It's all rot, of course, and I intend to prove it when I do my doctorate. But tell me the story, anyway, because it'll fill the time and add a few more words to the word count mountain our literary sponsor is trying to climb.'

Mrs Miggins smiled. There was nothing she liked better than the telling of a good story, especially if it involved her as the main focus of attention.
'Okay,' she said. 'But stop me if it gets boring or you've heard it all before.'
'Don't worry, I shall,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'Just keep your wings up;I don't want knots in my four ply.'

It was a gruesome story, the one relayed by Mrs Miggins that day, as she and Pumphrey travelled into the unknown, although Mrs Pumphrey could have sworn she saw a sign saying 'M20 Maidstone' at some point. It was a story of swill, and mud, of men in bloodied aprons and something called a bacon slicer. By the time Mrs Miggins was done, Mrs Pumphrey was feeling quite nauseous, like the time she stood in a hairball that the farm cat had left in one of her slippers.
'And she said this casserole place was where?' asked Mrs Pumphrey.
'Somewhere hot,' said Miggins.
'And both pigs and chickens can go there?'
'Apparently so,' said Miggins. 'Sheep, too, only they take slightly longer to complete the journey.'
'They can be slow things, sheep,' agreed Mrs Pumphrey who'd once tried to explain the theory of hegemonic value to a young Texel, but given up when the she had asked if it had anything to do with ballet.
'Well, hot sounds good to me,' Mrs Pumphrey continued. 'Although I do have to be careful in the sun, what with me being so pale.'
'Me too,' said Miggins. 'What with me being so ginger.'

Suddenly, a huge rush of light appeared above them, causing the two new best pals to crouch in fear because instinct told them that sudden light meant sky which meant being swooped on by an eagle and carried away to an eagle's nest to become baby eagle food.
'Eagle!!' screeched Mrs Pumphrey as two bald wings gripped her on either side and lifted her into the air, and to certain death.
'Hold on Gloria!' yelled Mrs Miggins, who is probably the bravest chicken you are ever likely to meet and if you ever want a chicken as a friend then Mrs Miggins
is your girl.

She leapt after Mrs Pumphrey, flapping and squawking, and kicking up the kind of ruckus that would wake the very Devil himself if he was at all concerned about the welfare of chickens.

'Steady on,' came a voice. Time froze. The eagle was speaking. 'It's okay, chookie chooks. You're in your new home. You're safe.'
'Are we in Casserole?' asked Mrs Pumphrey.

The voice laughed which Mrs Pumphrey thought was quite unnecessary as the question seemed perfectly reasonable to her.

'No,' it said. 'No casseroles here. Only Much Malarkey Manor. Come on, there's someone I want you to meet.'

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