Spontoon Island
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14 October 2005

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

"Let's Not Duello On The Subject"
by E. O. Costello & M. Mitchell Marmel

"Let's Not Duello On The Subject"
by E.O. Costello &  M. Mitchell Marmel

Reggie Buckhorn, Lodge,  Sgt. Brush, Inspector Stagg,
 Senor, Senora and Senorita de Ciervos, Po'na (c) E.O. Costello
Willow Fawnsworthy, Rosie Baumgartner (c) M. Mitchell Marmel

Part 3

 I don't exactly know if you can tell if someone has an accent in their squeal, but the squeal my playful effort had produced was most certainly not a Fawnsworthyesque squeal. It had a distinct accent to it. The form in the bed fumbled around, and turned on a bedside lamp. I was gobsmacked by what the light revealed. Deer? Check. Doe? Check. Very long, luxurious black hair-fur? Since when has Willow worn a wig to bed? This doe stared at me with saucer-like eyes, holding the bedclothes up to her.

 I think it was a good minute or so before I could figure out a line of questioning.

 "Errrrr. Um....this *is* Suite 2D, right?"

 The doe, with a trembling chin, nodded at me. "Si."

 "Um...gah...you're not Willow, right?"

 The doe blinked, and cocked her head. She then shook it. "Noooo...?"

 I looked around the suite. It certainly *looked* like Willow's room, the one time I was here...


 I leaned out the window to see what was going on, and saw Po'na standing at the foot of the ladder, looking up. I decided to get his attention.


 Po'na jumped about six feet straight up, his brush sticking out wildly, and landed on all fours, looking about frantically. Eventually, he saw me clambering out the window. I called him over with a finger.

 (Peace be unto thou. Myself thou requesting company, boychik. Self desire thou conversation subject creature with horns outlander sleeping-abode lady invade upwards.)

 Po'na shook his head, pointing up the ladder. (Po'na-self must...)


 Po'na was treated to the sight of five claws pointing at his nose.

 (Errrr...discussion have?)


 The doe was looking at me with a puzzled expression. Yes, there was a lot of that going around, and it certainly was catching, since *I* was dashed well puzzled.

 "Look, there's been some class of a mistake made. Awfully sorry and all that. Errr, I'll just go back the way I came..."

 I skittered back to the balcony, and made to climb down the ladder.


 I hauled Native Boy into the suite by the scruff of his neck.

"Ow! OW! Thou Po'na-self pain-causing request urgent cease same!"

 "All right, genius, spill it. What's going on?"

 Po'na squared his jaw at me. "Po'na-self negative speak."

 "Listen, I have *ways* of making you talk...!"

 Po'na pointed a finger at me, just as we all heard the clatter of the ladder.

 "YOU stay here," I hissed, and headed back out the window.


 Evidently, the best laid plans of whitetail bucks had done the aft gley routine, and a hasty retreat was definitely in order. On this point, no Field Marshal could have disputed me. So ladderwards, and thence downwards went the path of the buck. The descent, however, was rudely interrupted by something that felt a great deal like a rather large and active pincushion, or a saguaro cactus with a prankish sense of fun. One poink in the nose is bad enough. Just short of a half-dozen at the other end produced the inevitable surprised yelp, and a bolt back up the ladder. Near the top, I glanced downward. Nemesis, in the form of Willow's chum Miss Baumgartner, was present. It was obvious that she was in something of a mood, given the fact that the full battery of needle-sharp claws had been unlimbered and were ready for action.

 Readers should be aware that this was some kind of an historic moment. For once in my life, I was not glad to see a bartender.

 Since all hope of escape via the ladder seemed to have gone hence with Ninevah and Tyre, I headed back to the balcony, and looked about fretfully for some hidden means of egress. Speaking of revealing hidden things, a soft clip-clopping noise from the suite made me turn around. The doe had followed me out to the balcony, and was giving yours truly the once-over, and not lightly, either. At least one of us was happy with the change in circs.  I gave her the once-over, and was frankly alarmed. For one thing, she was obviously a rather young-ish doe. For another thing, the Creator had been very generous with the attributes that make a doe a doe. For yet another thing, the doe was dressed in a manner that made these attributes rather noticeable, given the thin, though blessedly opaque, material her nightie was made from. I leaned against the railing for support. She leaned over a little, and smiled.

 "Who you?" This said in a rather rich, heavily accented English that flowed like a glass of sangria.

 I gulped, and said the first thing that came to mind.

"Who *you*?"

 The doe smiled, and waved an admonishing forefinger at me.

 "No-no-no-no-no. I ask first. Who you?"


"Ahhhh! Reg-gie! Buenos noches, Reg-gie." She pointed at herself, and smiled even more broadly. "I am Inocenta..."

 In light of both her current state of dress, and the way she was looking at me, I thought whoever named her had either an overdeveloped sense of irony, or was guilty of the worst case of false advertising that I had ever seen. Another thought crossed my mind. Spanish maidens usually implied at least Spanish fathers, and likely Spanish brothers.

 Now, consider the situation Reginald Buckhorn faced at this moment.

Let B = whitetail buck, dressed only on a black lava-lava and native flower; Let D = young doe full of vitamins and health, dressed in a very expensive and very feminine nightie; Let S = moonlight suite, specifically, bedroom portion thereof; Let F = hypothetical buck-father with sizzling Latin blood, and/or male issue thereof :

[(B + D) + (S)] * (F) = P

Where P stands for an unquantifiable, but certainly large, amount of pain.

In short, this was not a safe place to be, and I felt that an exit was in immediate order. Unfortunately, there were no bushes to break a jump from the second-story balcony, so that was right out. I began to edge around Inocenta, hoping to gain the door to freedom.

No such luck, as she grabbed my arm.

 "No, no! Where you go? You stay, yes?"

 "Yes....no...I mean, blast it, look, I don't want to be rude..."

 The doe batted her eyelashes at me. "You no rude. You cute. Is not true what said 'bout English deer. Muy caliente!"

 My knowledge of Spanish is very limited, mostly to various types of liquid refreshment (which I could have used, right about now), but I could understand from context that Inocenta was making certain comments that were proving to be dashed awkward under the circs.

This context was being made plain to me by the fact that Inocenta was pulling me slowly over to her bed. This seemed like a very dangerous place to be, and I broke free, and began to bolt for the door. The doe seemed a bit quicker, and got there before me, mostly by bouncing off the sofa cushions. She blocked the door with her back, and I skidded just short of falling into her open arms, which would have been real trouble.

 "Tsk-tsk. Why you rush? Inocenta get you excited, yes?"

 That was a loaded question, to be sure, and one I was dashed well not going to answer.

I bolted back to the balcony. Discretion and subtlety be damned, and same was tossed to the four winds.


 Miss Baumgartner, down below, gave every impression (via Significant Glances and Eloquent Gestures) that any venture up or down the ladder would be met with the old Horatius on-the-whatsit routine. The Bespotted Brunette Brunhilde's expression was chilling, to say the least. Given my current attire (or lack thereof), that could be viewed as Not a Good Thing.

A fast clatter of hooves announced an impending arrival of the Latin Express, destination, Reginald Buckhorn. Luckily, I was able to duck fast and cause a miss-in-baulk on the part of Inocenta, who pivoted around gracefully, in a manner that would have triggered wild jealousy on the part of a prima ballerina. Unfortunately, I missed my bearings, and bumped into a table, instead of making for the door. Inocenta charged, and only swift hooves on my part allowed me to get to the other side of the table. Three or four rounds of ring-around-the rosie ensued, which served only to get the doe in a state of high merriment.

 "Ooooooh, you are naughty, naughty buck! If Inocenta catch, Inocenta *spank* you tail!"

I honestly would have preferred a lot more anger in this statement. As it was, this was said with a certain gleam in the eye and tone in the voice that indicated if any spanking was to bedone, it would not hurt Inocenta more than it would hurt me.

 Inocenta took a paw, and swept all the objects off the table with a thunderous crash, and then leaped onto the table, and across it. I took the only way out, which was under the table, and made a bee-line for the door to freedom. There was no problem opening it, as it had just been opened by a rather large, portly buck in a bushy black mustache and quilted dressing gown. I met the buck. Rather forcefully, in fact, sufficient to send us both to the ground.

 The buck, after feeling his head, looked at me with a wild surmise, and blinked a few times. Finally, expression came to him.

 "Who you?"

 I facepalmed. "Look, I'm awfully sorry, but I've just been through that with her..." I got up, and helped the buck to his hooves, hoping that all of this could be sorted out as an innocent error.

 Inocenta trotted up, bouncing on her hooves with excitement.

 "This Reg-gie, papa. He English. He come to ravish Inocenta!"

 I thought this was a blatant misrepresentation of the facts in the case, even if appearances were somewhat against me. I turned to the father, and began to argue my case. Alas, the only thing that came out was "Graaaaawk."  Hardly Socratic, I know, but a chap has a very difficult time using rhetoric when there's a powerful pair of buck-paws around his windpipe.


 Inocenta, for her part, disagreed with this tactic.

"Noooooooo! Nooooooooo! Por que usted desea lastimar Reg-gie? You leave him
'lone!" And with that, she grabbed me, and started pulling me away from her father. This would have been a good idea, had she done rather less grabbing, and rather more pulling.  As it was, she chose a strategic area to grab, and was clearly in the matter for the long haul.


 Aw, CRAP. What had that nudnik done NOW? I raced up the ladder. (Po'na! Law-
guardians! Urgent!)

The things you see when you don't have your Koduck Bruinie with you. Outraged Papa Deer throttling Lover Boy. Sensationally curvy (yum!) raven-haired doe in a rather clingy nightie (double yum!) pulling hard at the other end, and...yep, there goes the lava-lava. I'd never have figured Reggie for the type to wear pink silk boxers with little red hearts on them. The things you learn.

 I headed for Papa to break the hold on Reggie. Saved by the bell, or, rather, the suite door being slammed open by the manager...


 Fortunately, the timely appearance of, among other things, the hotel manager, Rosie Baumgartner, Po'na, and the Detective Bureau of the Spontoon Islands Constabulary brought matters to a fairly quick, if temporary resolution. Never had a buck more mixed feelings upon seeing the phizzes of the rozzers.

Inspector Stagg looked rather less pleased. In fact, he looked rather weary as he surveyed the cervine chaos, up to and including the fact that Inocenta was gleefully holding my lava-lava, and that I was currently in a minimal state of dress. The good Inspector pinched his eyebrows, and sighed.

 "If I ask what's going on here, am I going to regret it?"


 H'm. Think fast, cheetah. Lucky I had my specs with me. Luckier I was dressed for business, not pleasure. I settled the pince-nez on my muzzle.

 "Um. Inspector Stagg, isn't it? I've seen you in the papers. I'm-"

 Nature Boy couldn't restrain himself. "...an officious bossy-boots who ought to mind her own business."

 A finger pointed at Nature Boy. "Hush, you." I turned back to Stagg, smiling. Best to bring a big gun or two to bear, methinks. "I'm Rosalie Baumgartner, acting for duCleds Chemicals..."

 "WHAT?!" Reggie expostulated. "You're a bloody bartender for that girl's club, the Purple Nurple or some such-"

 I turned and froze him with a look, even though he had several inches of height and considerably more mass than I.  "SHEKET B'VAKA SHA!" For you goyim out there, that means "shaddap an' siddown." The ol' predator-prey thing. Works every time. Lover Boy shrank, sheketed and seethed.

 I turned back to the Inspector, smiling brightly. Nice looking. Has his daughter's eyes, too. Steady, gal, steady.

 "As I was saying *before I was interrupted* I am acting as agent for Leslie duCleds, who is in Instanbull -"

 "Not Constantelople?" Reggie asked plaintively, subsiding under withering glares from pretty much everyone except maybe Pocahoundas in the nightie there, who was looking at him with utter adoration, clutching his lava-lava.

 I continued. "Ahem. During his absence, I'm to watch over his secretary, Willow Fawnsworthy, who suffered a nervous breakdown recently."

 "I see," Stagg nodded. "And Miss Fawnsworthy is in this room?"

 Nature Boy was being irrepressable. "I think she's being held prisoner."

 I rolled my eyes and looked appealingly at Stagg. He favored Reggie with a glower.

"That's a rather serious charge," a wilting glance at the pink silk boxers, "Mister Buckhorn.  Have you any grounds for it?"

 "Look, just the other day, this bespotted bossy-boots, Dr. Meffit, Fr. Merino, Rev. Bingham, and small dark and ugly over there all ganged up on me in the bar at Shepherd's."

 Stagg turned inquiringly at Sergeant Brush. "Sergeant?"

 The good sergeant shrugged. "Well-"

 I stepped in. "If I may, Inspector?" A raised eyebrow bade me continue. "Father Merino and Doctor Meffit have both been in attendance in Miss Fawnsworthy's case. It was their recommendation that Miss Fawnsworthy be kept away from all forms of excitement and stress for a period of six weeks, including the company of Mister Buckhorn."

 I moved closer to Stagg. Woo. Business, girl, business. I murmured in his ear, "Although I don't know the details, I believe a penance from Father Merino is involved as well. Naturally, I can say no more." A stiffening of Stagg's back signaled that the point had struck home.

 Turning to Lover Boy, I grinned, with all teeth. "And darling, bubbe, I have one question for you: WHAT PART OF SIX *&^%$# WEEKS DO YOU *&^%$#$ WELL NOT  *&^&^%$#  UNDERSTAND?!"

 Papa butted in at this moment. "You are keeping 'way the buck from his doe?! But that is being outrageous!"

 Nature Boy, of course, agreed. "Outrageous, yes, that's the word for it!"

 Meanwhile, Stagg tried to keep track. "And you, Miss Baumgartner, are trying to keep Mr. Buckhorn away from Miss Fawnsworthy because-"

 "Because she's a bossy-boots."

 "I heard you the first time, Mr. Buckhorn."

 "Because Miss Fawnsworthy needs rest, and no excitement," I shrugged. "Mister
Buckhorn doesn't seem to grasp that concept."

 Papa huffed under his moustache. "Poof! A fine treatment for a doe, keeping away her buck."

Stagg was writing in his notebook. "And you are, sir?"

 The Spanish buck stood straight up. "I am Don Carlos Jaime Miguel Juan Enrico deCiervos y Comamenta, at your service. This, this is my daughter, Inocenta. Inocenta, I...stop that!"

 Little Miss Not-So-Inocenta was caught in the act of reaching for Nature Boy's boxers, with a view toward confiscating them, too. She got her paw smacked, and began to pout.

 "And how, Senor de Ciervos, do you enter into this?"

 "I know not this Miss Fawnsworthy. I hear the noises in the bedroom of my Inocenta, I come, I find this buck," he pointed at The Great Lover, "being chased by Inocenta.  Inocenta tell me this buck, he want to ravish her."

This sent the Inspector's eyebrows way up, and he looked at Valentino, and his heart-y boxers.  Valentino was saved from an answer by the sweetie.

"Si. This Reg-gie, he come into the room, he make the 'peek-a-boo' with his paws on my eyes. Poor thing, he look so confused, he find Inocenta and not this Willow."

"So he was not looking for you, then."

"No. He look for someone else. He find Inocenta."

"And did he attack you?"

Sweetie looked confused. "Please, attack?"

The Inspector blushed and coughed a little. The Sergeant stepped into the breach.

"Did bright boy over there use his paws on ya?" Unsubtle, but effective.

"Oh, oh, oh! Si, he use paws on me when he try to break free."

The Inspector was now good and confused. "Break free?"

"Si, I try to drag Reg-gie over to bed, he no want go there. He try to leave by balcony, someone stop him, he come back."

Nature Boy joined in. "Bloody right. Bossy-boots over there used her claws to stop me."

Thankfully, Stagg decided simply to ignore that outburst. "But what was Mr. Buckhorn doing in this room?"

Sweetie batted her eyelashes. "He come to ravish Inocenta."

Nature Boy yelped. "That's not true!"

The Inspector pointed at Lover Boy's attire. "How do you explain that, then?" Lover Boy put his arms across his chest. "I was wearing that under my lava-lava. Which, if you'll notice, Senorita Inocenta has in *her* paws."

"Si. Is true!" Sweetie waved the lava-lava gleefully. "He no let me get boxers, though."

 Lover Boy took a few steps away from Inocenta for his own safety and modesty, just as another, older doe wandered into the room. I guessed from *her* long black hair and dressing gown that she must be Mama de Ciervos. She took in the scene. She took in Lover Boy's boxers, and smiled. She looked Reggie in the eye and smiled wider.

 "Who you?"

 Lover Boy didn't take this question well, and gripped his ears, rocking back and forth.

This gave me an opening.

 "In any event, Inspector," I continued doggedly, "it's pretty obvious that Mister Buckhorn was trying to get into Miss Fawnsworthy's room."

 The Sergeant chuckled. "Heh. To ravish her?"

 I decided that on him, rotten durian looked pretty good. "I hope not."

 Lover Boy didn't like this line of discussion, and took a step toward the Sergeant.

Apparently, his dander was up. Sweetie came to his aid.

 "No-no-no. He play the 'peek-a-boo' I am thinking with the doe, yes?"

 Mama Ciervos was being brought up to date by Papa Ciervos. "Aaaaah! Is very romantic, yes. Is long time since you play the 'peek-a-boo' Carlos." She fetched him a smack across the ear as if to remind him of his duties.

Another county was heard from, as Po'na finally piped up.  "Truth-telling Reggie-buck is. Reggie-buck Willow-doe desire visit. Reggie-buckWillow-doe believe prisoner is."

The Inspector tried to slot this piece of information in.

"And you know this because...?"

Po'na sighed. "Reggie-buck Po'na-self tell fire-warriors visit, narrow-stairs get. Po'na self Reggie buck lava-lava give."

At this point, the Sergeant snickered, which got a heated response from Po'na directedat him.  (Silence-thou, Karok-son-Karok, elsewhile myself mate-precious thou future tell bully thou creature with horns outlander this same doe negative see.)



The Inspector, bless him, was still trying to do his job, so he stepped between the two native foxes before they got after each other.

"So, if I'm following everyone correctly, Mr. Buckhorn was being prevented from seeing Miss Fawnsworthy, and Mr. Buckhorn went to see Miss Fawnsworthy, in spite of warnings to the contrary, and ended up in this suite by accident..."

 Lover Boy spluttered. "It was not a bloody accident. This is Miss Fawnsworthy's suite."

 The hotel manager coughed. "*Was* her suite, Mr. Buckhorn. Miss Baumgartner had it changed yesterday."

 Lover Boy glared at me, and was about to say something, when he jumped about two feet and whirled around, his eyes wide open. The Inspector sighed.

 "Senora de Ciervos, I must ask you a personal question. Did you just pinch Mr. Buckhorn's bottom?"

 Mama sniffed. "Certainly not. I no pinch his bottom. I fondle it."

 The Inspector looked scandalized. "Why?"

 "It there, of course."

 Sweetie smiled at her Mama. "Si! Is true. My turn?"

 Sweetie didn't get her chance, as she got another paw-smack, and Lover Boy decided to hide behind the Inspector. From his hidey-place, he glared at me.

 "You've got no bloody right to do that."

 I scratched my ear. "Um, I have a telegram from Leslie duCleds that says I can, and a verbal confirmation from Father Merino that says I can. Inspector, would I need to get a court order against Mister Buckhorn?"

 The Inspector considered for a moment. He sighed. "Well, unless you do, legally you don't have the right to exclude him-"

 Lover Boy looked pretty smugly at me, until the Inspector continued. "Of course, there is the matter of Mr. Buckhorn breaking and entering, and committing assault and battery on Senorita de Ciervos..." And with that, the Inspector took out a set of paw cuffs.


 Well! This was a fine turn of events. I mean, I've had my share of run-ins with constabularies on three continents, but this was the first time I'd ever had the pawcuffs slapped on me. Usually, it's heave-ho with the buck-form into the drunk tank for a night.  And it didn't look good for Reginald at the moment. The cavalry turned up from an unexpected quarter, however.

 "What you do to Reg-gie?" Miss Ciervos was lightly fwapping Inspector Stagg's arm.

 "I am arresting him, miss." I suppose the Inspector thought this was self-evident from the pawcuffs.

"No-no-no. You no arrest him. Papa?!"

Papa scowled at his little one. "Quiet, Inocenta."

 Inocenta stamped her hoof. "I no quiet! You no arrest Reg-gie!"

 The Inspector was probably not used to young does in nighties disputing his rights to enforce the law as he saw fit, and looked at her with a puzzled expression. "Miss, I..."

 Inocenta waved a forefinger at the rozzer. "You touch him, I scream. Yes?"

 The Inspector rolled his eyes, and bent down to put the pawcuffs on me. At that moment, there was a terrific blast of noise. Inocenta had evidently taken lessons in breath control, as she was demonstrating quite adequately why does like her are sometimes called sirens. At this moment, she was doing a more-than-passable imitation of the Broadway Limited at full volume. Both of the foxes flattened their ears and stood on tip-toe. The Bespotted Brunhilde clutched her ears, as did Senor de Ciervos and yours truly. Inspector Stagg had dropped his pawcuffs in shock, and looked like someone had knocked him on the head with a large Easter ham. The hotel manager was looking around frantically, as there was little doubt that every hotel guest within a few hundred yards could hear the noise, and he foresaw many awkward conversations in his near future. Only Senora de Ciervos kept her head. She was using the interval to squeeze my rump again. After about fifteen seconds of this, Senor de Ciervos had had sufficient.

 "All right! All right! Stop! You win, Inocenta! Stop! I no press the charge against Reggie, yes?"

 Inocenta cut off the noise, and waved her flag cheerfully. "Gracias, Papa!"

 Inspector Stagg, still in something of a daze, woozily picked up his pawcuffs.
"Well...there is the matter of whether the hotel wishes to press any charges..."

 Inocenta glared at the hotel manager, and breathed deeply in an ominous fashion. The hotel manager waved his paws frantically, and assured the Inspector that there was no harm done and that he was sure the Grand Hotel would not wish to press charges against such an upstanding citizen as Mr. Buckhorn and could Senorita de Ciervos please not scream again as his nerves were under a great deal of strain already.

 Inspector Stagg sighed, and put away his pawcuffs. Bossy-boots Baumgartner didn't look pleased at this turn of events.

 "You don't mean to say that Nature Boy over there is going to walk, do you?"

 "Miss Baumgartner, please. I don't have any cause to arrest him, and unless you get a court order, I can't do anything..."

 Game, set and match to Reginald. I gave Bossy-boots a grin smug and serene. Bossy-Boots gave me a sour look. "I'm going to ask nicely for the last time, Reggie.  Leave Willow alone for the next six weeks..."

 Senora de Ciervos wished to be heard. "Or what? Why you keep nice young buck from doe? What business is it of you, bootsy?"

 Senorita de Ciervos wished to be heard. "Si. You are mean, nasty cat for keeping doe away."

 Senor de Ciervos wished to be heard. "Outrageous! Scandalous! Infamous!"

 Po'na wished to be heard. "Negative nice being is."

 Miss Baumgartner gave an imitation of an exasperated tea-kettle. "And just what do you lot plan on doing about it?"

 She had me there. What *was* I going to do? "Well, I...I...well dash it, I..."

 Inspiration struck Senor de Ciervos. "You fight the duel, yes?"

 I blinked. "Yes? Duel? What? Oh, right!" This seemed, on quick reflection, to be a corker of an idea. "Yes, you're right, Senor de Ciervos. Of course! Right, Miss Baumgartner. I'm going to challenge you to a duel. Er, why exactly?"

 Senor de Ciervos puffed out his chest. "She insult your honour, of course. And she keep you from doe."

 Comprehension dawned. "Oh...ah! Of course. Errr, shouldn't I be doing something with a glove, right about now?"

 Bossy-Boots looked like she wanted to do something with her claws, but kept her peace.

 Staggsy tapped his cane on the floor. "Ladies and gentlemen, let's not get carried away with ourselves. We all know perfectly well that duelling is illegal, and anyone carrying out...Sergeant, why are you coughing?"

 The Sergeant looked somewhat embarrassed. "Uh, sir? That ain't true."

 "What isn't true, Sergeant?"

 "Duellin'. I mean, here in th' Spontoons."

 The Inspector looked quizzically at his subordinate. "What about it, Sergeant?"

 "Well, it's like this, see? Duellin's legal."

 The Inspector nearly dropped his cane, and looked at his brother rozzer as if the latter had sprouted a second head which was reciting Urdu poetry. "Excuse me?!"

 Po'na filled in a few of the details. From what I was able to gather from his lingo, the local government had legalized duelling about ten years ago, in the hopes of selling licences to raise revenue. No one had taken them up on the offer, but the rule was still on the books.

 The Inspector was aghast. "Why?!"

 The Sergeant shrugged. "Well, that's th' Althing fer ya. Me, I think th' guy who came up wit' that been readin' too mucha them mushy romantic novels, but that's me."

 This looked promising. "So what you're saying is, if I want to have it out with Miss Baumgartner, I just have to get my paperwork in proper order, and follow the code duello in carrying the works out?"

 The Sergeant nodded, a bit reluctantly. "Yeah, that's 'bout th' size of it."

 The blood of generations of Buckhorns stirred in the veins. "Right! Well, I'm not jolly well going to let anyone stand between me and my doe." I turned to face La Baumgartner, who was looking around with mixed emotions, most of which were shock and puzzlement. I imagine predators aren't used to their prey standing up to them, and snapping their fingers at them.

 "Right. I challenge you, Rosie Baumgartner, to a duel for slighting my honour and preventing me from seeing Willow Fawnsworthy." Inspiration struck. "Take that!" The "that" in question was a vigorous, and heartfelt, poink in the nose with a forefinger. The Bespotted Bossy-boots gripped her nose with both paws, and looked shocked. "You will be hearing from my second. Po'na, my ricksha!" And with that, I strode out of the room,pushing rozzers and hotel managers to one side, and strolled out into the night air. Which proved dashed chilly, by the way.


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