Spontoon Island
home - contact - credits - new - links - history - maps - art - story
21 August 2005

Let's Doe It [Lets Fall In Love]
Willow Fawnsworthy created by M. Mitchell Marmel
Reggie Buckhorn created by EOCostello

"Sire Relief"
Part 2 of 3
by E. O. Costello

Illustrated by Susan Rankin

Art by SusanDeer from "Sire Relief" by EOCostello (Spontoon Island)

"Sire Relief"
Part 2 of 3
by E.O. Costello

  One of us in the suite was up bright and early, warbling (off-key) a cheery tune, and setting off for a brisk morning stroll. I wish I could say it wasn't Sir Josslyn Buckhorn who was so cock-a-hoop, but it was. At least he did know better than to wish me good morning, and left me to a breakfast for which I had no particular appetite.

 I was watching the toast get cold on my tray when my maid padded toward me.

 "A Miss Fawnsworthy to see you, ma'am..."

 A nod, and Reggie's girlfriend strode into the room, carrying a Gladstone bag. A peek inside revealed some of Reggie's things, including his clothes from last night, and his watch and wallet. I wasn't so alarmed by the former as I was by the latter, but Willow raised a paw.

 "I wouldn't be alarmed as all that. The clerk in the gift shop told me that Reggie also bought a lava-lava." Miss Fawnsworthy here gave a wry smile. "One with some native mottoes on it. Fortunately, I don't think Reggie has picked up any Spontoonie, other than what's necessary to order a drink. In any event, Po'na -- that's Reggie's native ricksha driver-- is making the necessary enquiries around the native islands. I think Reggie has some notion of going native. Lodge tells me he did something like this once in the recent past,
before we met."

 This made me breathe rather easier, and I motioned Willow to the sofa next to me.

"Willow, about last night...listen, I'm frightfully..."

 Willow shook her head. "Apologies aren't necessary from you, Lady Gwladys. There is, on the other paw, your mate. Are you familiar with the term 'blivet?'"

 I indicated I was not. Willow explained: the term applied to 200 pounds of fresh, wet garden fertilizer contained in a 100-pound sack. I pointed out to Willow that the description was not accurate, in that it was short approximately 15 pounds. Willow yielded to my insider's expertise.

 I took out my cigarette case, and a silver lighter I've had for a long time, and lit up.

 "I will put my cards on the table, Willow. I, too, wanted to see what your background was. But I didn't go much further than one fact: Allan Minkerton III himself put you on a job. That tells me all that I need to know." I put the lighter and my case on the table next to Willow, and motioned for her to help herself.

 Willow looked down, and picked up the lighter. She ran her thumb over the Minkerton's badge emblazoned on it for a minute, thoughtfully, and then lit up a cigarette. Both of us smoked in silence for a minute or two, until Willow looked at me slyly.

 "May I please call you Gwladys? Or would you prefer Agent Ritterherz?"

 I smiled. "Evidently, more than one file has been pulled at Minkerton's..."

 "I pulled Reggie's file, too. Which reminds me... did he ever tell you why he wanted a boxcar full of Bromo-Selzer?"

 This was news to me, but I passed it off as a bit of innocent collegiate fun. "Willow, were you serious about that comment, you know, about war last night?"

 Willow blew a smoke ring, and grinned wickedly. "Gwladys, there's a principle at stake. My honour is involved here. I'm not going to allow some fathead in a monocle to get away with calling me a gold-digging chippy. I think that's a principle just about anyone can support. Well, except for a blivet, but you get the point."

 "It certainly has my support, Willow." Willow returned a smile, as only one doe in conspiracy with another doe against a fathead buck in monocle can.

 "Splendid. First things first. Was the blivet planning on leaving the Spontoons today?"

 "Yes, we're on the one o'clock seaplane. Sir Josslyn figures that his work here is done, and he has other worlds to bully."

 "Let's leave him in blissful ignorance, then: it seems to be a state that comes naturally to him. Have your maid pack your things. In the meantime, I invite you to a council of war at Reggie's suite. But first, I think a little chat with the watertaxi drivers in the cab rank is in order..."


 I was certainly shocked when I received notice from Mr. Buckhorn that my services were no longer required. I was rather used to Mr. Buckhorn's serial mishaps, and I had assumed that he would emerge from his dinner with his sire, at least metaphorically, bloody but unbowed. My employer had managed to survive any number of enraged Pacific islanders, irritated magistrates, and assorted misunderstandings with uncanny ability. One thinks of the old adage regarding the Creator having a special feeling for inebriates and fools. Mr. Buckhorn would be twice blessed.

 The arranging of Mr. Buckhorn's effects, as well as my own, was underway, when I received a telephone call from Miss Fawnsworthy. Miss Fawnsworthy informed me that there would be a council of war in Mr. Buckhorn's suite tomorrow morning, and that my presence, and that of Mr. Po'na, was mandatory, and no excuses would be accepted. Much as I have an affinity for wood, I felt that I was risking an intimate encounter with a tikihead, and thus I raised no protest.

 It was thus that, with the assistance of Po'na, I was serving tea and cookies to Lady Gwladys and Miss Fawnsworthy. The two ladies had evidently been having a discussion regarding Sir Josslyn on the way over to Shepherd's, and the first part of a plan, which was not revealed to me, had been placed into motion successfully, or so I gathered from the pleased look on Lady Gwladys' face. She bore some resemblance to the feline that ate the canary, which is indeed a remarkable feat for an herbivore.

 Miss Fawnsworthy indicated that the basic objective of the mission was to drive Sir Josslyn Buckhorn out of his mind. When Lady Gwladys pointed out that this was more like a short putt, the reply came that Sir Josslyn needed a good hard whack to get him onto the green.

 The essential elements of the plan were to deny Sir Josslyn the ability to leave the Islands, and once confined here, to ensure that he was denied the ability to relax. Stealth and secrecy were not necessary: this was to be open warfare. Public opinion would be taken into account as well, relying on Sir Josslyn's habits of expressing himself with great vigour and volume. Finally, it was necessary that allies in the enemy camp were to be recruited. Which, apparently, was where my services were required.


 Creature with flat-tail outlander from lady-creature friend hear self-same sire-buck body-servant serve. Po'na-self, creature with flat-tail outlander observe emotions calm, likewise quiet-voiced. Po'na-self these things see normally. Po'na-self negative this see today.

 Creature with flat-tail outlander noise-make, like unto rubber toy small, same upon stepped. Same noise five times make. Po'na-self being of sense creature with flat-tail outlander negative desire task lady-creature friend to him give. Creature with flat-tail outlander head hold both paws, rubber-toy noise make.

 Reggie-mother at creature with flat-tail outlander finger-wag, additionally lecture. Po'na self of schooldays reminded. Negative presence cone-cap, however. Creature with flat-tail outlander sigh spirit heavy, agree Reggie-mother. Po'na-self see to creature with flat-tail outlander green piece paper, small, bank given Reggie-mother by. Po'na-self at Euro-traditions amuse.

 Lady-creature friend Po'na-self tell accident-causing sire-buck desire. Po'na-self lady-creature friend suggest war-club Spontoonie, additionally effectiveness emphasis recommend. Reggie-mother, additionally lady-creature friend Po'na self comment make Po'na muzzle closed desired. Po'na-self disappointed was. War-club Spontoonie practice require, well-use.


 It was a dashed long swim from Casino Island to the Main Island. Luckily, it wasn't to hard to find the Main Island, which wasn't a moving target. Well, last time I was there, when I was visiting the local pineapple plantations and sampling some of their fine fermented products, the island seem to be in the frame of mind to do the Charleston. But a clear head prevailed on this night, and the buck-form was duly dragged up onto the beach.

 The lava-lava was applied to said buck-form, having been removed from its rack up top. While I am proud of the Buckhorn physique, honed by lots of tennis and sun-bathing, I felt that inflicting it without invitation on the local populace would be bound to cause comment. Finding a convenient log on the beach, the motion to take a nap was moved, duly seconded, and carried unanimously, and soon a good drowse was in the offing.

 I've mentioned before in these memoirs that the first impressions one gets in a morning often dictate how a day is going to go. I've seen many things when I open my eyes, such as the undersides of tables, angry policemen, and on one spectacular occasion, a simply smashing view from the William Pennguin statue atop Philadelphia City Hall. Come to think of it, "smashing" is not really a pleasant word to use in that context, but you get my meaning.

 Anyway, this particular morning, it was my lot to be aroused with a series of pokes to the ribs with a stick. The eye was duly opened, and perceived a small native kitten duly employed in poking the buck-form with a stick. Evidently the little chap had a scientific turn of mind, and was exploring the possibility that I was some sort of species of marine life washed up on the island's shores.

 Seeing that this unusual specimen of fauna was, indeed, among the living, he dropped the stick, pointed a small, chubby finger at me, and giving a long, piercing giggle, which is something I really could have done without at that hour of the morning, even without a hangover, he proceeded to descend into personalities.

 "Creature funny! Creature funny! Head-tree has!"

"Headtree" Art by SusanDeer from 'Sire Relief' by EO Costello

 This, I thought, was some pretty frightful cheek, and it soon extended to my costume. Pointing at this, he exploded another giggle.

 "Creature funny ugly is! Lava-lava correct is!"

 Clearly, this kitten was starting early on a career as a newspaper theatre critic. He certainly was developing the necessary talent for the quick, pithy phrase. I was forestalled in my effort to find some suitable implement to demonstrate to him the hazards of open and honest criticism to someone much bigger than one's self (a lesson I learned in life early, the hard way), by the arrival of what appeared to be an older sister. The kitten, perceiving that he had an audience, repeated his precocious analysis of my attire and looks. This was met both with some dismay, and a vigorous paw-smack to his pint-sized bean. My erstwhile critic was led off by his ear, howling and protesting, another indication that his future as a terror of the footlights was assured.

 At this point, the stomachs began rumbling like a slightly out-of-order furnace, and I scanned the vicinity, looking for a suitable cervine brunch.


Sir Josslyn was in his element, bossing about and bellowing at the Marleybone Hotel staff, and organizing the loading of our luggage and the dispatch of my maid and Lodge forward to make arrangements. With all of the fuss he was making, he didn't notice that he had a choice of exactly one water-taxi to take us to the seaplane terminal. Neither did he notice that I had reserved our suite for another week, at least for myself. He must have really not been paying attention, because if he had, he would have noticed I was carrying an umbrella and wearing a raincoat.

 Certainly, it was with a smug sense of self-satisfaction that he seated himself in the back of the water-taxi, and opened the luncheon edition of the Mirror. Satisfying himself that the incidents of the previous night had received scant coverage, he proceeded to immerse himself in the comics, though he was pretending to read the international news section.

 The dapper fish-hawk in charge of the water-taxi gave me a broad wink as he carefully led me into the back seat, so I felt confident that things were in paw, though I was not privy to precisely what was in the offing.

 The water-taxi hummed its way through the harbour, which was calm and quiet in theearly afternoon sunshine. Only a sharp-eyed observer would have noted that the scenery began to repeat itself as often as the driver was making gradual right-paw turns.

 Sir Josslyn looked up with some irritation, and checked his watch.

 "Blast it all, driver, get a move on. We have a flight to catch."

 The hawk turned and smiled. "Desire-thou myself faster go?" This got an answering glower from Sir Josslyn, and a counter-response of a slightly increased pace. A few minutes later, Sir Josslyn looked up from his paper again, consulted his watch, and fetched the hawk a smart smack on the back of his head with the paper.

 "Step on it, you feathered nuisance. What are you dawdling for?"

 The hawk turned with an expression of cheer and sunshine. "Desire-thou myself faster go, yes?" The driver's conversation seemed to be repeating itself as often as the scenery. Sir Josslyn's only reaction was to swat the hawk on the head again, and settle back with a loud snort.

 The water-taxi began to pick up speed, and the noise of the engines began to make conversation very difficult. Not that my mate was saying anything that could be repeated in polite company. It was evident from the look of pure fury on his muzzle that he had finally tumbled onto the fact that we were going around Casino Island in circles. He began to vigorously swat the hawk again and again on the latter's head.

The driver turned to Sir Josslyn, and with a beaming, happy expression, nodded and made a circular motion with a wing. My mate was puzzled as to the precise meaning of this gesture, but its meaning soon became apparent when the boat lurched forward at high speed, throwing up a rooster-tail wake and sending spray everywhere. I opened my umbrella to shield myself. Sir Josslyn had nothing to shield himself but the newspaper, which was quickly snatched away by the breeze.

 He evidently had some notion to go up front and have it out with the driver, but he chose to stand up just as the boat made a hard right turn. I thus had the unusual spectacle of seeing my mate go antlers-over-flag over the side of the boat, and into the harbour. The driver went on for a few hundred yards, and slowed the water-taxi considerably, allowing me to hear him. Somewhat surprisingly, he spoke with a polished Ivy League accent.

 "Please don't be concerned, Lady Gwladys. It will only take a few minutes for another circuit of the island, and we can fish him out once we go full circle. Lovely day for a swim, don't you think?"

 I was slightly worried. I had notions one of the natives might mistake Sir Josslyn for some sort of sea monster.


 It was precisely 12:58 when the water-taxi carrying Sir Josslyn and Lady Gwladys pulled into the cab-rank at the seaplane terminal. Lady Gwladys' maid helped her out of the back seat. It fell to me to assist a somewhat sodden Sir Josslyn from his seat.

 "Squall in the harbour, sir?"

 Sir Josslyn snarled something to the effect that if I, Lodge, did not keep my pie-hole shut, I'd be given something to squall about. I left Sir Josslyn to track water through the terminal, where he arrived at the gate exactly ten seconds after the 1.00 flight began to taxi for take-off. Sir Josslyn took off after the plane. It was greatly unfortunate that while there was approximately 100 feet between Sir Josslyn and the seaplane, there was only 90 feet of pier supporting this venture. Sir Josslyn Buckhorn vanished from view with a greatly surprised, whistling snort.

 Lady Gwladys and her maid re-engaged the water-taxi that had brought them to the terminal. It fell to me to negotiate with a cabman for a water-taxi for Sir Josslyn. There was some argument over Sir Josslyn's condition, as the cabman did not want to get the back of his boat soaked. It required the payment of twenty pounds (in very damp notes) before Sir Josslyn and I obtained transport back to the Marleybone.

 Sir Josslyn's appearance, which gave him the appearance of having been on the losing end of an argument with a fire-hose, did not meet the standards of the gentleman who was manning the desk, but that worthy confined his commentary on the subject to a disapproving wiggle of his waxed mustachios. Sir Josslyn asked for the suite he had vacated scant minutes before.


 Sir Josslyn was not to be outshouted.






 The desk-clerk treated Sir Josslyn to a scandalized, bug-eyed look. I gave a quiet, discreet cough. Amazingly, this was heard. Sir Josslyn glared at me through a fogged-up monocle.

 "It is my understanding, Sir Josslyn, that Lady Gwladys returned here and re-engaged the suite. If I may, Sir, it would be preferable if you changed your attire, as you are running a risk of catching a cold."

 Sir Josslyn whistle-snorted, and turned on his hoof to find the elevators. It would have been better, perhaps, if he had noticed the large puddle of water he had left on the marble floor of the lobby. The lobby soon resonated to the sound of 215 pounds of sodden whitetail buck hitting the floor with a rather unpleasant squelching sound.


 Po'na-self Reggie-mother assist boxes clothes empty. Reggie-mother mood happy. Reggie-mother mouth-singing make, additionally hair-fur brush. Door knocking-sound make. Po'na wrong is. Door sound make like unto log pounding against.

 Po'na-self to door go, additionally eye-peer through hole-lock. Sire-buck outside is, additionally pounding-sound make. Sire-buck Euro-complicated words making, Po'na-self negative knowledge words mean.

Po'na-self to Reggie-mother go. Reggie-mother Po'na self enquire noise-make. Po'na self Reggie mother tell Po'na-self seen. Po'na-self Reggie-mother query Euro-complicated words meaning of. Reggie mother Po'na say phrases meaning imprecations ancestry Reggie-mother.

 Po'na-self negative happy this hearing. Po'na-self Reggie-mother admire, additionally think emphasis worthy. Sire-buck insults is. Po'na-self negative accept.

 Po'na-self bathroom go, Euro-waterfall use, wastebin large fill. Po'na-self additionally chair obtain, same place door near, additionally climb to window folding small door above. Po'na-self sire-buck see. Sire-buck fist shake Po'na-self, additionally rude Euro-words use. Po'na-self wastebin use, sire-buck head. Po'na-self loud cry startled hear. Po'na-self this enjoy.


 The menu in this part of the main island was somewhat limited. There was fresh, surf-delivered seaweed. There was sun-dried seaweed on the nearby rocks. Finally, there was seaweed marinated in sand within paw's reach. I consoled myself with the fact that at least there was no bally maitre d'hotel about to interrupt my brunch.

 Which is not to say that my meal was undisturbed. Mid-way through an attempt to pick out a particularly stubborn piece of greenery from my teeth, I felt a blow to the bean, and a small sea-shell landed at the hooves. Picking it up, I determined that it was some type of a clam that in spite of its impact on the Buckhorn skull, had remained stubbornly intact.

 I immediately suspected my late interlocutor, but I imagined that he was currently in the process of standing in the corner of his straw hut, ruminating on the evils of poking chaps in the ribs with sticks. A scan of the vicinity revealed no inhabitants save one, a dumb chum with wings that was perched on a nearby crag, and giving me the evil eye, interspersed with occasional wing-flapping and screeching. He bore an uncanny resemblance to one of my housemasters at Eton. Put in an academic gown, you could have plunked him into the Masters' Common Room without anyone being the wiser.

I bunged the clam at the seagull, who petulantly rose into the air, and settled back onto the crag with a glare. I returned to my rubbery repast, only to be interrupted a few minutes later by another knock on the sconce. The clam had made a reappearance. Evidently, the gull's instincts were to find some large, dense object upon which to drop the clam in order to open it. It must have felt my head fit the bill nicely. He certainly would not be the first to have held this view. If I were one of those Asian chappies who believed in reincarnation, I could well believe that I was seeing one of my great-aunts reborn, as a squawking, screeching, flapping and irritated being. One would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference.

 The clam was returned to its owner, none too politely. This time, I kept watch. The seagull languidly flapped in the air, and located its brunch. It was the work of but a few moments to adjust clam to beak, and the gull flew up into the air. I lost sight of him in the sun. In a few moments, I found the gull's clam. This was no difficult to do, as it was lodged in my eyebrows. The clam was duly confiscated, much to the inarticulate rage of the seagull, which hopped about on the crag and scolded me in a screechhing monologue. If he had had a monocle, he could have had a lively conversation with the Sire.

 Thoughts of the Sire made me droop, and I finished off my seaweed in a subdued mood, only pausing to spit out a few fragments of driftwood.


 My mate continued to bang on the door, interspersed with some rude words, for quite some time. Eventually, I could hear loud sniffling and snuffling sounds. I knew this meant not a change in heart on the part of Sir Josslyn, but more like a change in his health. A loud, thunderous sneeze confirmed this hypothesis.

 Reggie's native driver had left the chair by the door. He very graciously helped me up, and I peered through the transom at my mate.


 My mate shivered and glared up at me. "Confound it, woman, let me in."

 "Certainly not, Josslyn. Look at you. You will track water all over the place. Go change your clothes."

 "I don't HAVE any bloody change of clothes. They're all packed."

 "How very inconvenient. If you go down to the lobby, I'm sure they can sell you something from the gift shop." I gave this suggestion with some trepidation. Sir Josslyn Buckhorn dressed in a lava-lava was not something I think the local tourist board would approve of.

 "I don't wa...wa.....aaaa-CHOO! I don't want some dratted gift-shop rubbish. I want something of mine!"

 For what it was worth, I could stand and hear my mate whine like this all day, but it could be argued that this was inconsiderate to the other hotel guests. I climbed down and hunted through Sir Josslyn's bags, and fetched him something. Returning to the transom, I tossed down a pair of his silk boxer shorts. "Change into that, and then I'll have you let back in." Leaving him staring wildly up at me, I returned to my seat.

A loud, high-pitched feminine shriek erupted in the hallway a few minutes later, providing evidence that my mate's wardrobe change had been interrupted. I heard a murmured explanation, followed by the sound of a ringing slap across the muzzle. This was followed in its turn by the sound of a vigorous knock on the door. I sent the maid to answer the door, which produced a second loud, high-pitched feminine shriek. The tubby form of Sir Josslyn Buckhorn, clad only in a pair of silk boxer shorts, whizzed by at high speed toward the bathroom shower. Lodge followed shortly afterward, holding Sir Josslyn's sodden clothes in his paws. My maid followed in his wake, giving me a reproachful look.

 "I'm sorry, Celestine. I had forgotten what Sir Josslyn looks like without his clothes." Celestine's loud, disdainful sniff indicated to me that she felt some sacrifices were more burdensome than others.

 Reggie's driver respectfully presented himself, and advised me that he had called down to one of the hotel plumbing staff, apparently a relative of his. An expression of concern over the state of the plumbing was met with a promise to immediately test the plumbing. I was curious to know how this was to be done, and when.

 The sound of a few dozen toilets being flushed, followed by a piercing yowl of surprise from the shower, answered my question eloquently. The driver swished his brush, and a shifty-eyed look of illicit pleasure flitted across his muzzle.

 "Ah! Devices water-bearing excellently function. Po'na sire-buck tell?"


 Miss Fawnsworthy and Lady Gwladys, in re-engaging the suite, had indicated to the hotel management that only one guest bed would be required. As there were two guests, this caused no little discord, which lasted through dinner-time and up until bed-time, when it came time to decide finally who would have its use. Apparently, the solution of having Lady Gwladys and Sir Josslyn share the bed was not an appetizing one for either party, and a suggestion by Sir Josslyn that Lady Gwladys share her maid's bed was met with a glare that could have put a skin of ice on a lava floe.

 The argument continued further for some time, until Sir Josslyn took advantage of the ancient legal adage that possession was nine points of the law, and simply retreated to the bedroom, and slammed and locked the door, leaving a rather uncomfortable sofa for Lady Gwladys' use. Lady Gwladys' nonchalance at this turn of events was partially explained by the arrival, some minutes later, of Miss Fawnsworthy, bearing a large hamper, and Mr.Po'na trotting after her, with a significantly larger box.

 "Blivet gone beddie-bye?" she enquired with a smile.

 Lady Gwladys acknowledged both the truth of this statement, and the bounty that was produced from the hamper. Miss Fawnsworthy debriefed Lady Gwladys regarding the day's events. She took particular pleasure in Sir Josslyn's de-briefing, though she expressed more than a little sympathy for the maid's plight. She also indicated that matters had been taken into paw for the next day's seaplane flight. Evidently, the duCleds interests were engaging in some public relations.

 Mr. Po'na, in the meantime, unpacked the larger box, whose contents appeared to consist of a wide assortment of seconds from the local pottery works. The contents were arranged in neat rows within paw's reach of Lady Gwladys' seat on the sofa. Lady Gwladys began to quietly engage in consultations regarding tactics.

 "Silence, you think, or should I add some dramatic effects?"

 Miss Fawnsworthy thought for a minute. "Hmm. Let me see you cry for a minute." Lady Gwladys soon teared up, and emitted a pitiful sniffle. Miss Fawnsworthy shook her head professionally. "Not enough volume. You need to really reach the depths of despair. Now, someone skilled in the Stagislavskii Method would tell you that you need to find your inner motivation in order to get into character. I suggest you consider what would happen if you were locked in that bedroom *with* your mate. I'm sorry to be cruel, but there you are."

 Lady Gwladys nodded, and pondered. Eventually, she produced a heart-rending sob and wail, and hurled a slightly chipped vase at the bedroom door, where it produced a hail of pottery shards. This continued long after I went to bed after midnight. As I was retiring, I saw Lady Gwladys and Miss Fawnsworthy having a sotto voice discussion over the merits of hurling a cracked chamber pot at the bedroom door, while Mr. Po'na was bringing in a resupply of both missiles and champagne.


 Po'na-self sire-buck see eight hours of morning, sire-buck walking, additionally sire-buck self talking same. Sire-buck mind-state disturbed was. Po'na-self believe negative sleep sire-buck affecting. Reggie-mother and lady-creature friend like unto Moon Island loud noises pottery make. Po'na-self pleased is. Po'na-kin pottery factory own, price obtain excellent pottery broken.

 Po'na-self sire-buck see fancy Euro-restaurant Shepherd's go, Po'na-self sire-buck assume eat sunrise-meal. Po'na-self knowledge have, Euros fat negative walk sunrise-meal, additionally sun-meal, additionally moon-meal consumed have. Euros fat ricksha drivers hire.

 Po'na-self thinking, additionally talk ricksha drivers other. Po'na-self union ricksha drivers vice-president is, additionally seniority have. Po'na-self arrangements make.


 I had spent a rather long night engaged in a two-front war. The first was a war against a variety of winged and barbed creatures that apparently considered my blue blood to be a rare and appetizing vintage, and chose to seek it out in some of the most ticklish and sensitive portions of the buck anatomy. They appeared to find my ears particularly inviting, and gleefully whiled away the hours zooming in and out, whining and droning merrily to each other, no doubt extolling the virtues of the cuisine.

 The second front involved a war of nerves. I had a suspicion that I would be the subject of a renewed spate of attention from my little friend of the day before. Looking back on my days of innocent mischief, I knew that if I were in his small, furry footpads, the sight of an adult whitetail buck engaged in splendid self-isolation on a deserted beach would simply be too good an opportunity to pass up.

 Nevertheless, after a sleepless night, I let my guard down, and I was soon dozing, open-mouthed, in the morning sun. I realized the error of this tactical disposition when something whizzed into my mouth, waking me up with a cough and a splutter. After some frantic, blue-faced coughing, a small, ripe grape expelled itself.

 Looking about, I found that I had been snoozing under a cocoanut palm, which eliminated that possibility. There were no grape vines in the vicinity, which indicated that the means of introducing the grape into the Buckhorn maw was artificial. Now, mind you, I have nothing against grapes. It's just that I prefer mine fermented, and served in a glass, not fresh and delivered by what I strongly suspected was a slingshot.

 I reflected on the fact that there were any number of academics roaming about the Pacific, asking all sorts of impertinent and deeply personal questions about how the natives make whoopee. I mean, that's all well and good. If we didn't make whoopee, where would we all be? I think scant attention has been paid to the subject of juvenile practical jokes and pranks. Take this little kitten. In fact, take him somewhere far away. But I digress. How had he developed his knowledge of the slingshot, and his evident expertise, far away from other slingshot-bearing cultures? Now, you answer that question, and you go a long way toward understanding the minds of sentient creatures.

 I settled back, and kept one eye slightly open. Sure enough, a pair of small, furry ears peeked up from behind a log some yards away, soon to be joined by a pair of bright eyes, and then by a small pink tongue, held in the side of the mouth in concentration. The arrival, some seconds later, of an overripe grape against my nose informed me that my hypotheses regarding the source of the grapes, and the evident expertise of the kitten, were well-founded. The fact that he was engaged in devious, underhanded sniping attacks also confirmed my belief that the kitten's future as a newspaper critic, which I referred to before, was absolutely assured. It was rapidly becoming clear that if this was left unchecked, the kitten might develop a sense of cruel fun that would make him unfit for anything, except perhaps for a position as a maitre d'hotel.

 I sat up, folded the arms across the buck chest, and glared at the log. The ears, eyes, and small pink tongue reappeared. The innocent expression in the eyes was soon belied by a third missile which impacted between my eyebrows. The kitten had a large bunch of grapes next to him on the log, and was clearly prepared for siege warfare.

 It is not in the Buckhorn manner to retreat, certainly not from pint-sized snipers hoiking produce at my bean. I took comfort in the fact that if the kitten was here, he was most likely not where he was supposed to be, and that a search party was likely active in the vicinity. What was necessary was to play for time.

 Sticking my thumbs in my ears (and avoiding the insect bites therein as much as possible), I directed a series of grotesque faces at my opponent. He was clearly unimpressed, as proven by the grape-shot I was getting at short intervals against my nose, antlers and ears.

 The kitten was reaching for la piece de resistance, what appeared to be some sort of an overripe plum, when he realized rather too late that the League of Nations, in the form of an elder sibling, had intervened. Disarmament was rapidly implemented, followed by justice, which was administered by means of a paw forcefully and repeatedly applied to a small, furry bottom. As I heard the high pitched squeals and cries of indignation (not mixed with remorse), I reflected on the possibilities of certain dictators having their uniform trousers taken down and given ten of the best. One can only dream.


 Willow had gone home around 4.30 in the morning, after I had sent the last of a series of dishes crashing against the bedroom door. She felt that a few hours of broken sleep would be just enough to keep my mate on edge, a state of affairs she felt was opportune for the programme planned for tomorrow. Reggie's native driver had gone home shortly before that, promising on his way out to have a word with his relative regarding the supply of water for Sir Josslyn's morning shower.

 The shrill yowl that emerged from the shower at about 7.15 indicated that the problems in the water supply either had not been fixed, or had been sufficiently exacerbated, resulting in no small amount of discomfort. I am not sure what the problem was, since I had luxuriated in a nice, warm bath an hour before. Sir Josslyn's mood was not improved by the fact that room service had delivered breakfast for one. The one being myself, of course. I offered my mate a piece of cold toast, which was declined with sufficient heat to rewarm it. My mate left the suite in search of breakfast, in a mood that suggested that if he had met a lion, the oddsmakers would have had difficulty fixing the odds on the respective winner and dinner.

 A telephone call from Willow indicated that Sir Josslyn was breakfasting at L'Etoile D'Argent, encamped behind a veritable Magpinot Line consisting of the morning newspapers, and what about it? Enquiries regarding his return mode of transportation indicated that Reggie's native driver had been up early and using some of his influence on his brother drivers. It was decided to wait and see regarding further developments.

 When Willow had rung off, I telephoned the local distributor for F.R. Buckhorn & Sons, and made some arrangements regarding the liberal distribution of assorted herbivore goodies to certain worthy local causes that had been suggested to me by Willow. Willow had also suggested the preparation of some box lunches, which was being carried out by the kitchen downstairs. I was led to believe that this was more public relations for Willow's employer.

 A pair of powerful field-glasses disclosed that my mate was in the process of completing his breakfast with a ride back to the Marleybone. I had dispatched Lodge to the ground to make first-paw observations of any ensuing events.


 I was acquainted with certain crucial facts, to which Sir Josslyn Buckhorn had not been made a party, namely:

(1) He had engaged Mr. Po'na to take him back to the Marleybone. This resulted from a somewhat absent-minded absorption in the morning newspapers, and what I was informed was the use by Mr. Po'na of certain organizational privileges;
(2) Mr. Po'na was taking him back to the hotel not by the most direct route, but by the routethat ran alongside some of the beaches. Again, this resulted from Sir Josslyn's inattention to detail, a fatal flaw in an industrialist;
(3) The path alongside the beaches contained a rather broad set of stone stairs leading down to the beaches, which at this hour were largely unoccupied;
(4) Mr. Po'na had carefully parked the ricksha so that the back of both the vehicle and SirJosslyn were balanced carefully on the top of the stairs; and, finally
(5) Mr. Po'na was waiting respectfully next to the ricksha, his paws behind his back, staring at the newspaper Sir Josslyn was reading.

 Sir Josslyn eventually roused himself from his inattention, and lowered the newspaper, to find Po'na impassively staring at him. Sir Josslyn flinched with surprise. While this reaction was perfectly natural, it was also somewhat unfortunate, as it caused the ricksha to lurch, teeter indecisively on the first step, and then proceed down the steps with renewed decision.

 I was reminded of certain aspects of modern Russian cinema as I saw Sir Josslyn's rather noisy, ricksha-aided progress down the stairs, which was eventually halted both by the cessation of the supply of stairs and the sudden emergence of a large dustbin, which helped halt further progress.

 After extricating himself from the dustbin, which required the removal of his antlers from some freshly punched holes in the metal, Sir Josslyn came storming up the steps to confront Mr. Po'na, who was waiting patiently at the top of the stairs.

 "Sire-buck beach-trip desire, sire-buck Po'na pay two-and-six."

 Sir Josslyn's face twisted in a frappe of fury, and he took a rather wild swing at Mr. Po'na. The drawbacks of attempting pugilism against someone approximately six inches taller, and rather quicker in reflexes, were demonstrated when Mr. Po'na casually slipped the punch. Sir Josslyn's balance was somewhat affected by this clean miss, as he teetered on the brink of the top step. I do not believe that a buck of his girth is built for balance, though the extra padding must certainly have been a help as he went bounding down the stairs for a second time, producing noises of diminishing volume as he went down, until a metallic clangour announced the creation of fresh antler-holes in the dustbin below.


 Creature with flat-tail outlander find speaking-instrument house, Reggie-mother, creature with stripes outland-healer conversations have. Po'na self sire-buck fetch. Po'na self Reggie fetch times often, Reggie drink-unconscious. Reggie ability carry easy. Negative sire-buck, heavy, strain Po'na. Po'na-self thinking is sire-buck surplus moon-meals have.

 Vehicle healing-house come. Po'na-self sire-buck into vehicle healing-house throw. Sire-buck negative sense, sire-buck not sensible is. Attendants vehicle healing-house sire-buck strap down, cloth large sire-buck muzzle placed in. Po'na-self Reggie-mother see smile, sight this.

 Reggie-mother Po'na-self give Euro-currency, ricksha wrecked compensation for. Po'na self ricksha driver give money, union fees subtraction, additionally Po'na-self ricksha lend negative charge. Po'na-self union-members care taking.



 My mate was not proving to be a good patient, and the indignity of having been changed into a hospital gown was not sitting well with him. The fact that he was being attended to by the local high-society doctor did not impress him. The doctor, for his part, adjusted his pince-nez and sighed.

 "Please, Sir Josslyn. These are just routine tests. After all, you have taken a few blows
to the head, and I want to..."


 "...which is unlikely, especially for someone in your medical condition..."


 "I think, Sir Josslyn, you should be concerned about your blood pressure..."


 The doctor, whose name I was given to believe was Meffit, sighed, and turned his back for a few minutes on Sir Josslyn, something that I would, in the ordinary course of events, have thought would be imprudent. However, Sir Josslyn was engaged in attempting to make the back of his hospital gown meet, which distracted him enough so that he failed to notice that Dr. Meffit was filling a very large syringe.

 Having prepared this implement, Dr. Meffit called in two very large, burly interns. It was at this point that my mate saw first the interns, and then the syringe. He let out a whistling snort of terror that sounded like the Flying Scotsman in full steam, and tried to bolt from the room. The interns were well practiced in the art of subduing reluctant patients, and managed to catch him fairly easily. I couldn't bear to hear the squeals of fright and terror that Sir Josslyn was making. Well, actually, I could, but it seemed to be the ladylike thing to do to go into the waiting room and flip through an issue of Punch. Eventually, the yowls and squeals diminished in volume, until his unconscious form was carried out by the interns to the x-ray room.


 Miss Fawnsworthy informed me that she has long admired the tongue-in-cheek humour of the headline writers at the Mirror, and she was particularly tickled at the report of Sir Josslyn's adventures that morning, to wit:


X-Rays of His Head Reveal Nothing"

 Miss Fawnsworthy opined that the truth was a complete defence to libel.

 The afternoon newspaper also carried a report of a three-day holiday in San Francisco, for some children recovering from illnesses at Island Hospital, the expenses for which had been picked up by Mr. Leslie duCleds. I tactfully did not enquire as to whether Mr. duCleds had been given advance notice of his philanthropy. I gathered from the dazed smile in the photograph that he was either somewhat confused or rather refreshed from his lunch. Miss Fawnsworthy herself was seen in one photograph, passing out the box lunches that had been supplied, so the story read, by Lady Gwladys Buckhorn. The rather indiscreet glee with which Lady Gwladys and Miss Willow were enjoying this account indicated to me that advance notice of her philanthropy was not an issue for Lady Gwladys.

 Dressing Sir Josslyn for dinner was a comparatively easy task, since the effects of the sedative were somewhat slow in wearing off, and he only half-heartedly snarled a series of comments at me. It was only the supervening standards of professional pride that prevented me from sending him into the world without his trousers. I fear that I had had Reginald Buckhorn as an employer rather longer than was truly healthy for the practice of my profession. Sir Josslyn did not notice that Lady Gwladys had also dressed for dinner, and was intent on joining him. If Sir Josslyn had been thinking more clearly, this might have spoiled his appetite.

 I was engaged in tidying up the suite, when Lady Gwladys returned rather sooner than I had expected. It developed that dinner plans had been canceled, owing to a certain disagreement with AndrĂ©, the maitre d'hotel at L'Etoile D'Argent, and that Sir Josslyn Buckhorn was taking his dinner at the Casino Island gaol.


 I suppose the trouble could have been avoided, had I not insisted on a ricksha ride to L'Etoile D'Argent. For somewhat understandable reasons, my mate was not at all enthusiastic about riding in the ricksha, and it took some brute force on the part of the driver to get Sir Josslyn into the backseat and strap him down. All that fuss for a trip of no more than a few hundred yards. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, Sir Josslyn's agitation had increased, and he seemed to be in a brittle and hyper-sensitive frame of mind when we arrived at the restaurant, and he bolted from the ricksha. It was left to me, naturally, to pay the driver, and tip him generously for tying one of his passengers down.

 It was thus the bad luck, and worse timing, of the maitre d'hotel, to be free to greet Sir Josslyn as he arrived.

 "Ah, Sir Josslyn, you look well-rested..."

 I suppose he was expecting a tip, rather than the smack to the eye that he received. If he hadn't been bowing so low, my mate probably wouldn't have been able to reach his target. As it was, he proceeded to shove the maitre d'hotel into his podium, and began swatting him about the ears with the wine-list. Most of the diners were quite curious; I did notice that none of them intervened on the side of the maitre d'hotel. Perhaps they were looking on with envy. I merely stood, pretending quite effectively to be both embarrassed and ashamed.

 A rather dashing Germanic wolf, the Baron von Kojote, thereupon presented himself and insisted that I join him for dinner with the Baronin, a rather spectacular specimen of an Argentine maned wolf, dressed in an equally spectacular silk dress. He enjoyed his dinner with a quiet sense of chivalric self-satisfaction, while the Baronin Sofia consoled me and( successfully, if somewhat unnecessarily) raised my spirits. I enjoyed a wonderful cucumber salad with vinaigrette dressing, which was all the more enjoyable when I considered what my mate was probably getting in the local gaol.


 Po'na-self sire-buck barred room visit. Keeper barred room mother-kin, familiar Po'na. Mother-kin mood irritated, Po'na indicate location sire-buck. Po'na-self knowledge location sire-buck. Po'na-self sire-buck hear, Euro-words rude loud speaking. Mother-kin Po'na say sire-buck trousers-holder keep, additionally neck-clothes keep. Mother-kin sire-buck hope self-extinguish. Po'na self negative believe Mother-kin luck possess quantity sufficient.

 Po'na-self sire-buck visit. Po'na-self sire-buck smile, additionally paw-wave. Sire-buck Po'na fist wave. Sire-buck Po'na-kin desire indication afterlife existence fire-god. Po'na-self think upset sire-buck. Po'na-self silent remain, additionally smile, additionally paw-wave.

 Po'na-self sire buck creature with horns food give. Bowl fruits, contents fire-fruit, bowel-fruit, being healer Spontoonie tradition medicine. Fire-fruit, bowel-fruit for Spontoonie upset good. Comparison Spontoonie upset good, sire-buck emphasis upset good. Sire-buck greedy is, fire-fruit gobble, bowel-fruit gobble. Po'na-self manners sire-buck like unto child small, disapprove same. Barred room is thinking manners make bad.

 Po'na-self barred room leave, additionally hearing sire-buck keeper barred room urgent call make water pot, funny feeling is. Po'na-self glad is sire-buck Spontoon medicine learn.


 The two whitetail does had another council of war early in the morning. Miss
Fawnsworthy was somewhat disturbed by the march of events.

 "Hrm! I hadn't counted on this. Here we are, getting the blivet's name well muddied,and he turns around and biffs a maitre d'hotel one in the eye. Think our problem fawn is counter-attacking?"

 Lady Gwladys was of the opinion this was simply dumb luck. Miss Fawnsworthy countered that the luck wasn't dumb, only the beneficiary of the luck. At this point, I informed Miss Fawnsworthy that Sir Josslyn's hearing before the magistrate was scheduled for 9.00, and that the presiding magistrate was one that was quite familiar with the Buckhorn technique of evening frivolity, having applied fines liberally to Mr. Buckhorn over the course of the six months or so he had been in the Islands.

Miss Fawnsworthy was pleased with this intelligence, noting that it provided ample scope for a scientific comparison between Mr. Buckhorn and his sire, especially if the sire had not slept well the night before. At this point, I saw out of the corner of my eye that Mr. Po'na was wearing a look of what appeared to be rather spurious innocence.

 Lady Gwladys, pleading embarrassment, declined to attend the proceedings at the magistrate's court, so it fell to both Mr. Po'na and myself to attend, along with local counsel for the Buckhorn family firm, which had been drafted to provide some personal services for Sir Josslyn. Evidently, someone had provided him with a good briefing, since his junior appeared to be a somewhat husky cat, who was keeping a weather eye on the client.

 Sir Josslyn himself was holding his stomachs and looking somewhat the worse for wear as he was led into the courtroom. Mr. Po'na advised me of the meal he had fed Sir Josslyn the night before; judging from the condition he was in and the details regarding the menu, I would say that the meal did not succeed, if Mr. Po'na's intent was to demonstrate the efficacy of native healing practices.

 The case being called, the magistrate picked up the record, and made a somewhat violent double-take when he saw the name emblazoned thereon. He looked back and forth from the record to Sir Josslyn, and finally cleared his throat.

 "Good heavens, do you have a fawn named Reginald?"

 Sir Josslyn's reply, edited both for clarity and profanity, indicated that the record of who he, Sir Josslyn Buckhorn, had sired or had not sired was not the Court's business, and if the Court knew what was good for it, it would keep its beak firmly shut. It was at this point that junior counsel sprang forward and managed, after some struggle, to quiet Sir Josslyn, through the utilization of a headlock hold.

 Senior counsel, a very dignified and suave mink, immediately began discussing the facts of the case, ignoring the fact that his client was registering disagreement, principally by the means of thrashing hooves and a bright purple colour. The presiding magistrate interrupted him.

 "That can't possibly be Reginald Buckhorn's father. I've seen Mr. Buckhorn in this Court many times, and he is far better behaved. I'll grant you, that's usually because he has a frightful hangover, but still, there's the principle of the thing. You, sir," he said, addressing Sir Josslyn, "if Reginald Buckhorn *is* your fawn, you should learn from him how to conduct yourself in Court."

 At this point, one of the Court officers began to assist junior counsel in subduing Sir Josslyn, who evidently had some intentions that were either rebellious or acrimonious in mind. Senior counsel purred on, ignoring the fracas taking place a few feet from him, and pointed out that the incident involved the mere assault on a maitre d'hotel. The magistrate clucked in irritation.

 "Oh, for heaven's sake, Mr. Vison, give it a rest. Even the blighters in the Althing haven't carved out an exception for biffing a maitre d'hotel. Mark you, I've come close to giving AndrĂ© a spur or two now and again. I'll show some lenience. 500 pound fine, pay the clerk on your way out..."

 It was I who had to pay the clerk of the Court with funds provided to me by Lady Gwladys, as Sir Josslyn had no paws free to write a cheque.


 Morning dawned on the Main Island to a calm breeze, with the loudest noise apparent to the Buckhorn (insect-bitten) ears being the sound of the surf, which had provided me with my breakfast a la Dunlop. It's like the chaps who write the memoirs of their adventures in far-flung colonies in the darker parts of the world. When things get quiet, too quiet, you can rest assured that the natives are going to be paying you a visit, and they will not be asking for a fourth for bridge.

 In my particular case, I thought it inevitable that the knee-high Napoleon had sat down and reconsidered his tactics. Or, rather, stood up and reconsidered his tactics. I had assumed from the vigour with which he was being chastised in the region of his tail by an irritated elder sibling that sitting down was not a viable option for at least a few hours.

 Said feline Field-Marshal was no doubt in the process of recruiting allies, figuring that there was safety in numbers, both from the standpoint of retaliation from yours truly, and the efforts of more senior members of the native class from interfering with the fun. Prudent measures were called for, which involved the use of a few largish pieces of driftwood to dig a shallow trench by the early morning light. An hour's work or so produced something that at least would protect some portion of the whitetail anatomy from direct fire. The preparation of small ramparts made me nostalgic for my days as a fawn, building sand castles on the beach, and making gifts of fiddler crabs to the Sire.

 The appearance of a small, sooty vulpine face, peering over a log shortly after I had planted the Olde Kelp Flag on the ramparts, indicated that the enemy forces were being gathered. Clearly a higher order of tactical intelligence was being demonstrated by my feline chum, as tight discipline was exercised over his command. I did catch sight of two small, brownish puppies toting a large plank, and a team of assorted species moving a decent-sized rock behind the log. I'm sure the local government's heart would be warmed by this display of inter-species cooperation. For all I know, they might have appreciated the patriotic fervor with which they were repelling an invader from beyond the seas.

 The commander-in-chief made an appearance, first using a small thumb to judge distances. He then vanished for a few minutes, while noisy and out-of-sight preparations were being made. Finally, he reappeared, standing on top of the log. Sticking his fingers in his ears, he blew me the fattest, juiciest Bronx cheer (or Spontoonie equivalent thereof) Ihad experienced in many a year. I took this to be the equivalent of the heralds of old that gave a trumpet fanfare before battle commenced.

I was ruminating on just what, exactly, this kitten was using for his bed-time reading (I was pretty sure there was no such thing as a colouring-book version of Clawswitz), when I saw L'Armee Grand assemble on top of the log. They were presenting a wide variety of backsides to my vision, but this proved to be purely incidental, as they promptly jumped off the log, and vanished from view. The answer to this riddle came in the form of a rather large melon, which came sailing through the air, tracing a delicate arc, before landing with a wet, squelching thud about a foot in back of my trench.

 The kitten, observing this, said something in the native lingo to his chums, and a few minutes later, there was a demonstration of the native skill in artillery, as the range was corrected and a particularly juicy, overripe melon impacted squarely on top of my own, rather harder and antler-decorated melon. The sight of melon pulp being wiped from whitetail buck eyes was a boon to native morale, the troops giving three cheers and a tiger to their commander, who wiggled his small furry bottom in my general direction, which reminded me once again that it had been spanked recently.

 "Head-tree UGLY is!"

 Veni, vidi, vici it wasn't, but this was viewed as the height of drawing-room wit by his chums, who soon took up the phrase as a battle-chant, with the result that my opponents combined the worst of an artillery attack with the worst of a George Formless radio programme. If one of the little darlings took out a ukulele, things could start to get desperate.

 All was certainly not quiet on the Western Front for the better part of an hour, as assorted produce was sent sailing in my general direction, combined with a brisk sniper fire coming from a half-dozen slingshots during the intervals when the head was incautiously poked above the rapidly crumbling ramparts. A counter-attack was out of the question, as I could imagine there would be hard feelings if an outsider such as myself were to dispense justice on Eager Youth.

"Apres Battle" Art by SusanDeer from 'Sire Relief' by EOCostello
"Holding the Fort" art by Susan Rankin

 There was thus little I could do, so I began to exercise my talents as a tenor, and render a performance of "Men of Harlech" at the little darlings. The kitten reverted from Field-Marshal to theatre critic, and began hurling overripe oranges in my general direction. A skirmish line loaded down with assorted fruit began to form, and it looked like the Last Stand was in the offing for yours truly.

 Salvation came not in the form of the cavalry, but a somewhat ponderous native policeman. Somewhat to my consternation, I recognized him as the chap who intervened during my misadventure with the muntjac. While this relieved the awkwardness of introductions, it did not relieve the awkwardness of trying to explain why I was under siege by a small gang of natives intent on recreating the Third Ypres offensive.

 The kitten said something in Spontoonie which I assumed was the equivalent of "Jiggers, fellers, the cops!" and the artillery and other weapons were abandoned in favour of a mass retreat, which was somewhat foiled by the appearance of other elements of the Law, which collared the lot. The last I saw of the kitten, he was being hauled away by the scruff of his neck by a somewhat unamused tiger. I thanked my lucky stars the P.C.s I dealt with as a fawn were never that big.

 The badger-rozzer ambled over to the battlefield, and peered into my trench, which was liberally bespattered with the remains of what had been dozens of pieces of fruit. It's hard to maintain one's dignity when one is wearing fruit salad all over one's face, but I made the game effort, nonetheless.

 The badger sighed, and opened up his notebook. "Oh. It's you. Hello, again, Mr. Buckhorn. Do you have any explanation..." He stopped, thought about it for a minute, and then closed his notebook again.

 "On second thought, never mind, Mr. Buckhorn. Even if I said you were involved, my sergeant wouldn't believe me, anyway."

 He started to walk away, and then stopped. "It would probably help, sir, if you learned a little more Spontoonie before you bought your lava-lavas from the local souvenir shops. Unless you think the text there is accurate..."

 I was starting to come to the disheartening conclusions that not only did I know what the text on my lava-lava mean, but I was starting to agree with it.


Back to Let's Doe It