Variation On A Theme Of Gerard Manley Hopkins

I caught this morning morning’s minion, with a combination of cunning, inhuman patience, and a big net weighted with baffles. I lay in wait from before dawn, behind an arras, primed by a flask of vitamin-enhanced Squelcho! from which I took regular slurps. Then, as morning broke, as the kingdom of daylight’s dauphin came prancing into the room carrying a breakfast tray, I pounced, leaping out from behind the arras, shouting, and chucking the net over him. He dropped the tray, and flailed and screeched, dapple-dawn-drawn, and I bashed him on the bonce with a brick and dragged him off to my lair elsewhere in the castle.

Later in the morning my father, the king, ran me to ground in a pantry, my heart in hiding, scoffing cake. He was in a filthy temper, because, of course, he had had no breakfast. That was why he came barging into the pantry; he was hoping to forage for toothsome treats among the leftovers. At sight of me, however, his hunger was suppressed by a great eruption of rage.

“Unworthy princeling!” he roared, “Preening milksop! Rancorous varlet!”

He continued with this tirade of insults for some time, his kingly boom growing louder and louder, so loud that the tins on the pantry shelves began to wobble and clatter.

Whether it is because of my twisted spine, my slobbering, or my pointy little head, my father harbours the conviction that I am unfit to succeed him on the throne of his shabby kingdom. Blind to my brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, he has been plotting to do away with me, enlisting the help of his minions, morning’s one and afternoon’s one and evening’s one, Freeman, Hardy and Willis. That he has no other heir, nor is likely to spawn one in his ancient dotage, does not seem to have occurred to him.

I, in turn, was plotting against the minions. Having nabbed Freeman at first light, I planned to entrap Hardy and Willis by similar means in the coming hours. Once I had the three of them safely imprisoned in my lair, I could move on to the next stage of the plot, though what that might be had not yet formed in my brain, buzzing and pulsating and rather too big for my abnormally tiny head.

For the time being, I simply stood there, twisted and hunched and scoffing cake, as my father heaped imprecations upon me in the pantry, and the tins on the shelves clattered and shook until one fell to the floor and as it hit the tiles I saw the metal

Buckle! AND a fire broke from it then, a billion times told lovelier, more dangerous than my father’s temper. The blaze that broke from the buckled tin of compressed reconstituted snacktime meat substitute was so surprising it even shut my father up. He stopped shouting and looked at it with awe and terror in his eyes.

The fire quickly burned down to blue-beak embers. I kicked the charred tin across the pantry floor with my club foot and snapped my fingers.

“Ah my dear,” I said to papa, “Fall, gall yourself, and gash gold-vermilion”, and I left the words hanging, and hobbled out of the pantry, stuffed with cake, to waylay Hardy, afternoon’s minion, as he came on duty.

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