Read The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 2 Online

Authors: Ishbelle Bee

Tags: #Pedrock, #Victoriana, #butterfly magic, #Professor Hummingbird, #Boo Boo, #Fantasy, #John Loveheart

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 2 (4 page)

BOOK: The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 2
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but

so

many

hearts.

Who should I pick?
The answer is simple
:

SOMEONE

JUST

LIKE

ME

I sit under the cherry tree with my wicked crown. Perhaps I should advertise in the
Times
?

King of the Underworld seeks Queen.

Good sense of humour. Fond of cakes.

Mad as a kilt.

 

I eat a cherry, ponder the significance of them as a fruit. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me!

I fall asleep; dream of dark spaces. Untangle myself from a net of the god of sleep. Little fish, little fish. I am in my underworld; the clocks now all move backwards.

I wander inside the dining room of this dark palace; see a coil of intestinal sausage lying on a platter amongst a selection of cut meats. I know I

m dreaming: these are all rooms within my head. This is my kingdom, this is my kingdom. Underneath the world. Underneath the layers; under skin and bone. Curious thing, this crown. It

s itching my head. I scratch and look about me at this dream; my underworld. My horror world. Tastes like golden syrup; surprisingly sweet.

I am shaken awake.


Mr Loveheart?

Mr Hazard grins, big teeth revealed through a fuzz of orange.

Wakey, wakey birthday boy. We

re all waiting for the party games.


Oh how fun!

and I leap to my feet and adjust my crown.

I walk with Rufus back across the garden lawn. The balloons are souls on a string. Someone let go.

I ring a little silver bell,
ding-a-ling
. The eyes of my guest are upon me.

Thank you everyone for coming to my birthday party. It is lovely to finally meet you all. And now I think we shall play a little game of pass the parcel. There

s a surprise for whoever wins.


Mamma
,

squeals Horatio,

I want the surprise!


And if you

re lucky,

I say darkly,

you shall get it.

 

 

(Five minutes later)

Observation by
Mungo, the Groundsman of Beetle Manor

 

I

m leaning on a shovel, observing a suspicious chrysanthemum.

Suddenly I hear an explosion followed by a scream and see young Master Horatio Beetle flying through the air and into the pond. Well, bugger me if I don

t race down there as fast as I can and fish the little nipper out.

He

s not happy. He tells me to
Sod Off
. I

m tempted to hit him over the head with my shovel but my grandmother taught me good manners, so I help the spoilt rascal back to his mother, who

s waiting for him by an overgrown rho
dodendron bush, holding a heart-
shaped balloon.

 

 

The Black Dog

I
t

s a mile walk along a woodland path to our Uncle

s house. The Reverend Plum whistles as he walks, gripping Boo Boo

s little hand. Her other hand is within the frog puppet, who looks about,
googly
-
eyed in wonder at his surroundings.


It

s simply a glorious day in God

s garden,

sighs Reverend Plum.

There

s a rummaging in the bushes and out steps a young gentleman wearing a purple waistcoat and jacket covered in red hearts. His hair is the colour of angels: a dazzling yellow. In his hands he carries a severed head, whose mutilated stump drips onto the path. He looks at us with his ink black eyes and smiles mischievously.

Good afternoon. I

m afraid if you

ve come for the party you

ve missed all the cake!

Boo Boo is laughing. The reverend screams. The young gentleman keeps walking across the path and into the forest on the other side. The blood trail of the severed head is splattered on the path like rose petals.


Why does the funny man have a head?

laughs Boo Boo.


He

s a madman! We

re all to be murdered!

screams the hysterical Reverend Plum.


I think we

re safe. He

s gone,

I say.

Reverend Plum makes us run the rest of the way.

My Uncle

s house is surrounded by a spiked iron fence and is gloomy looking and run-down. The house is a dirty grey colour with a small herb garden in the back which leads into a tumbling expanse of more woodland. Outside the gates sits an enormous black hound which growls at Reverend Plum.


My heart can

t take much more of this,

he says, clutching his chest. Boo Boo lets go of his hand and strokes the dog, who seems very pleased and then rolls over and gets his tummy tickled. I unlock the latch on the gate, which creaks open rather theatrically. The Reverend Plum composes himself and knocks on the door, dizzy with relief.

 

 

(the same day)

Aberystwyth station

Detective White
&
Constable Walnut

 

Walnut and I are on a train pulling out of Aberystwyth station, for the third time. A solitary sheep, who I

m sure recognizes us, stares and bleats, while rain pounds the roof of the train carriage, splattering the windows. The sky is a dismal shade of purgatory-porridge.

Walnut waves at the sheep.


What did I tell you, Walnut?

I say, exasperated.


Um
…”
He stops waving and looks at me shamefacedly.

You said

Don

t touch it or we

ll end up in Wales again

.


SO WHY DID YOU DO IT?


I
just
thought I

d give it a little polish, make it look nice for Inspector Badger.

The curse of this particular jewel transports not only the idiot who touches it but anyone standing within a few feet.

I sink back into my seat. I sigh, exhaling all the air from my lungs. Hopefully, I may pass out. We aren

t alone in this embarrassment. Constable Luck and the tea lady, Mrs Sultana, had both been stupid enough to fiddle with that accursed sapphire. Mrs Sultana, having made the most of her surprise day out, had visited her nephew. Apparently he

s a locksmith who lives up the road.


What do you think Chief Inspector Badger will do with the sapphire?

Walnut takes a cheese and pickle sandwich out of his jacket and takes an enthusiastic bite.


If he has any sense, he

ll throw it into the Thames.

I look out of the carriage window at the all too familiar swell and dip of vegetable green. The grey drizzle of skyline.

Walnut munches on his sandwich.

The ticket
inspector
appears with a wide grin.

Well, well,

he says, sliding the carriage door open.

You two again. You just can

t keep away from our beautiful land.

And he starts singing, his eyes glistening over with Welsh mists.

I take my pistol out and aim it at his head.

Stop that at once or I

ll shoot you.

 

 

Heads on Trees

Mr Loveheart D
ecapitates his
Wicked N
eighbours

 

I

m hiding in a bush, observing Fangus Oil, the local drunk who exposes himself to women and random sheep. He

s urinating against a tree singing

Scarborough Fair

, which alone is an excellent reason for his imminent demise.

I stand behind him and cough politely.

Ahem.


What do you want?

He turns, peering at me, wobbling
,
strawberry nosed, smelling like a decomposing corpse.


My name is John Loveheart and I would like your head. If you would place it in the bag please,

and I open the black velvet sack (with trademark love heart) that I

ve brought with me.


Are you a little bit funny in the head?

he says, and breaks into song:

Parsleeeey, saaaaage, rosemary and thyme

la la la.

I cut his head off immediately and sling it in the sack.

I creep further into the woods and find Daisy Dungbeetle picking poisonous mushrooms and placing them in her wicker basket. School
m
istress, avid reader of vampire n
ovels – a
nd part
-
time murderess.


Madam,

I step out amidst the toadstool ring,

I am here to stop your wicked ways,

and I aim my sword at her.

She hisses at me. Bares her teeth, flickers her tongue. Holds a black mushroom up and thrusts it at me.

I curse you with this fungus of the Dark Master.


Are you threatening me with a mushroom?

CHOP

I toss her head in the sack.

Lastly, after plucking some wild strawberries from the woodland path, I find Judge Thumpus Zop snoozing in his garden, a copy of the
Times
folded neatly on his lap. He has a reputation for cruelty. I tap his leg with my ancestral sword.


WHAT THE DEVIL?

he shouts, awakening from his slumber.


You have been a very bad boy, Judge.


What are you?


The Demon Lord of the Underworld

Ooh, now I

ve said it aloud it sounds rather impressive.


Oh crap.

He tries to sprint across the lawn and trips up over a basket of courgettes. Picks one up and tries to stab me with it.

I hang their heads from red ribbons in my gardens. What pretty dingle dangly things. Poke them and they wobble about.

What fun. What fun!

 

 

Mr Loveheart sneaks into Professor Hummingbird

s Gardens

It

s a lovely night for a spot of mischief. The cosmos above the little world of Darkwound is soapy; bubbles of star-froth white. Galaxies wink underwater.

The woods around the Professor

s moated castle are very thorny. I have already tripped over a warty root and I have had words with it. Given it a good talking to.

His gardens need tending, always a sign of a demented mind. His violets are shrivelled (a sure sign of his unhinged brain) and his water lilies look depressed. Poor things.

I scale the side of his castle, climb up the ivy. Launch myself onto his rooftops and look over his domain. Yes, I think to myself. He

s clearly a villain, for I spy weeds sprouting out of his chimney pot. Mmmmm. I stroll across the roof and find a window open and hang down and peer in. And there he is in his study,

MY GOD!

The wallpaper is hideous. Some sort of floral obscenity!

And his butterflies, hundreds of them framed in glass. Pierced through their hearts.

I smell a serial killer. What is that he

s scribbling? A wicked journal of his atrocities, no doubt.

I lose my footing and fall into the shrubbery below.
Whoops!
I may have buggered my ankle up.

Leaping out of the bushes I sneak round the garden, observing a very questionable looking potato plant, which I prod with my foot. It explodes in black pus. I need no further proof that he is insane, and cursed with a black finger when it comes to horticulture.

Aha! I find an open window on the ground floor and slip, unnoticed, into his pantry. Mmmmmm is that a pumpkin pie? I am so very fond of pumpkins, they are such an amusing shape.

The pie is excellent. I put my feet up on his kitchen table, eat another slice and contemplate my options.

I wiggle my ankle. Think about stuffing a sock in his mouth and beating him with his sinister potato plant. Make a mash of him

ya
w
n

I fall asleep, zzzzz
Just a
little doze. Wake up with a beetroot-faced woman staring at me.


What the bleedin

hell are you doing in my kitchen?

she yells, her face a bloated thing.

Oops! It

s morning.


Madam,

I say,

There

s no need to be alarmed, I was just sampling your delicious pumpkin pie.


Sling yer hook!

and she thwacks me with a tea towel.

GO ON, BUGGER OFF!

and beats me on the bottom with it.

I dart out of the window, shouting,

Farewell, good lady,

followed by,

I believe your potato plant may be dead.

She throws a pot at me, which narrowly misses my head and thuds against a tree.

BOOK: The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq., Volume 2
5.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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