Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the fourteenth letter, part 4

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning click here

tania and larry were running late. larry ground the gears of the two-seater as they hurtled through the night. below them some lights were going out.

sally had fallen asleep on tania's desk. she began to dream.

in her dream she was in a little boat off the coast of atlantis with bessie and ida, a couple of women from her workplace. the two of them were dressed as nurses, but sally wasn't. an impenetrable jungle loomed behind them, but as the boat floated ( they had no way to steer it ) they came to a small beach with a group of people - apparently the survivors of a shipwreck - seated on small suitcases and on pieces of driftwood. lord salisbury seemed to have taken charge. he was walking up and down the beach with his thumbs in his vest, which looked none the worse for wear.
behind him a group of three portuguese nuns huddled together on a log, and further back from the beach four spanish marquesas sat on their gilded suitcases.
on the shoreline hansel and gretel sat glumly on two small pieces of wood. they kept their eyes on lord salisbury, as if expecting commands from him.
the only other inhabitants of the beach were a red grizzly bear in the uniform of the swiss guards, a man with the head of an alligator wearing shabby and watersoaked evening clothes, and a large blue starfish wearing a hawaiian shirt and thick goggles.
lord salisbury motioned to hansel and gretel to go into the water and pull the little boat ashore.
"what about them?" gretel pointed to the bear and the alligator-man. "are they crippled?"
lord salisbury grabbed her by the arm and threw her into the water, where she stumbled but kept her feet. hansel followed meekly. in the boat, bessie and ida exchanged glances.
hansel and gretel pulled the boat ashore and sally, bessie and ida hopped out on to the sand.
bessie stepped up to lord salisbury. "what ship is this - that got wrecked - the titanic, the queen mary, what? you got anything to eat?"

"shipwreck! there is no shipwreck here!" lord salisbury responded in his most thunderous parliamentary tones. "everything is under control here - what gives you silly minnies the idea that there has been a shipwreck, eh?" he glowered at them. "now, i have a question for all of you - answer it as quickly as you can - no shilly shallying. you, you, and then you" he pointed at bessie, ida and sally in that order.
"so what is the question?" asked bessie.
"the question is - what is 785,493 multiplied by 630,877? quickly, now! no thinking!"
"493, 786, 143, 611," answered bessie.
"498, 022, 375, 911," from ida.
"495, 833, 362 ,011", said sally.
"those are good answers," replied lord salisbury, somewhat mollified. "very good answers, indeed. i see we are attracting a better class of applicant." he pointed at sally. "yours was the best. therefore you are awarded the post of third secretary to mr william jennings bryan, who is on safari with his daughter on the other side of the jungle." he handed her a thick wad of papers. "these are your articles of employment. do not lose them, or the consequences will be terrifying."
sally glanced down at the papers. they were written in hieroglyphics.
"now," lord salisbury continued, glancing around. "you can choose any other two persons here to be your assistants and go with you."
"take us!" cried bessie. "don't leave us here!"
"ok." said sally. "i'll take them." she never had much to do with bessie and ida at work. they stuck together, and sally had no friends. also, she avoided them because they were prone to talking and laughing and even singing (!) and thus attracting the attention of the supervisors.
" these two gentlemen will escort you to the safari site." lord salisbury motioned to the bear and the alligator man. "this is mister 51-" the bear - "and mister 53" - the alligator man. "all right then, get along with you. and do not - do not - lose those papers." he gave sally a final glare.
"don't we get anything to eat?" asked ida.
"the journey is not long," answered lord salisbury. 'i am sure mr bryan and his staff will have a splendid repast spread for you. now,if you will excuse me -"
"how come we never get to go?" gretel shouted from the shoreline. "we have been stuck here forever!"
"silence!" thundered lord salisbury. "i treat you too well. be thankful you don't have mr perceval or lord john russell to deal with."
there was a narrow path at the edge of the jungle and sally and her four companions started down it. although mister 51 and mister 53 were the "escorts" they brought up the rear and sally led the way down the path, clutching the articles of employment.
they had not gone far when
a scrawny little dog with the upturned teeth of a sabretooth tiger jumped out of the bush and began snarling at them.
"don't mind him," said mister 51. "that's just vanslyperken's dog."
is the second secretary," added mister 53.
"hey," said bessie. "do you guys know any songs?"
"sure," answered "how about 'the road to alamagoo'?"
bessie and ida and the two escorts began to sing,

on the road to alamagoo
where the skies are green and the trees are blue
a miller met a maiden fair
and at her he did stop and stare

the maiden was in rare disguise
that covered up her saucy eyes
the miller wore a feathered hat
that told the maid where he was at

and they were being spied upon
by agents of the bad king john
but the miller he was robin hood
and they escaped into the wood

on the road to alamagoo
where the skies are green and the trees are blue
a miller met a maiden fair
and at her he did stop and stare

"very good song," shouted bessie, "and very well sung
jolly companions every one!"

"how about 'the gypsy and the sultan'?"

a gypsy sailed across the ocean
to sell her magical love potion
she landed on a purple beach
within the sultans easy reach

the sultans men upon her fell
and took her to a prison cell
when to the sultan they did drag her
in the air she saw a golden dagger

they came to a turning in the path. sally kept on, looking out for snakes as the others continued the song behind her.

note: the characters and phrases indicated in red are taken from the novel "snarleyyow, or the dog fiend", by frederick marryat, published in 1837 and available on project gutenberg

the fourteenth letter, part 5

1 comment:

human being said...

omg! i love this whirling sensation this fantasy world of sally's dream created in my mind...

i have always loved dreams and interpreting them...

they have been one of my best teachers...

so happy the next part is up and i can read it now...