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  • Writer's pictureOliver Sun

THE LONG-AGO TALE OF BLAIR CALDWELL (Part I - Chapter 4)


Chapter 4 A Visit to Dr Cuthbert


 

A day passed and Elizabeth finally stopped whimpering about her lipstick. “What did, I ask, happen to Euclid, you think?” inquired Pierre. “I’m still very inquisitive, you know. I’m very concerned, too, for Euclid and in case you, Elizabeth, go on crying again, since lipstick is nothing, you know, but the disappearance of a prince is something.” Nobody answered, for they were having dinner and they had dinners in silence. After dinner, they took their showers and headed to bed. Pierre demanded to sleep in a small little bed only for him in the little family room where the hearth was lit. Pierre was very scrupulous when it came to beds; but he didn’t want to displeasure Mr Seamus and so he remarked it was quite easy-going and would not mind at all. “Good golly Pierre likes it,” commented Elizabeth afterwards. “You know how choosy a fox can be when it comes to beds… me too, really. When I brought my bed (for Pierre, too, of course) I was very choosy. I needed all of these questions to answered ‘yes’ by the seller: was it queen-sized? Was the mattress clean? Is it sturdy, and etc.” Mr Seamus went to bed shortly after a yawn or two, at half-past nine, as the owl called his nightly call; and the wind picked up in between the willows which rested, their heads bowed, drooped as they always were, by the tranquil river. Only the owl’s call broke the silence of the eerie darkness as the moon settled in the sky. It was ten o’clock and silence fell upon the wood completely, for the owl had gone out to distant places and the wind had settled, crawling out from beneath the lazy trees. Out in the wood, the wintery snow continued, as the rivers froze and the leaves withered and fell to where the breeze took them and all was quiet. It was midnight and not a dwelling stirred, not even a mouse. As the doorbell rang, on the Foxtail burrow (for there was a notice outside which read ‘please ring’), Pierre strode over to answer the door. “Who must it be at this time of night?” he said in irritation. A small mutt waited outside. It was easily clarified as a mongrel, for it had darker fur of all hounds, and mongrels had darker fur of all hounds. The mongrel seemed to be easily scared by Pussy, the cat who lay by the fireplace. “Good evening,” snapped Pierre. “Yes, sir. I have been sent by King Bartlett to advise every civilian on these roads to stay inside, for there has been some nuance in the thief of Euclid. King Bartlett says this…” “Do hurry up,” snapped Elizabeth at the small mongrel. “I do my best, you see,” replied the mongrel. “St Bud Mongrel, at your service. Bud for short. No need to call me St Bud Mongrel… in fact being called St Bud Mongrel is quite irritating, you know. But never mind that. Now, the king has orders.” “Carry on, Bud,” said Pierre, listening closely. “What’s the king to say?” Bud took out a piece of parchment and he read aloud, “By the orders of the king, every citizen must stay indoors until three o’clock… for there has been a recent nuance of the felon of Euclid and we do not want anybody else thieved. If any nuance perceived that citizen will be going to court first thing in the morning and most likely be sentenced to one year of prison to stay in safe hands, you know.” “Yes, Mr Mongrel,” said Mr Seamus, as he woke up and came coming down the hall. “I am sure there will be no nuance from us. Not that we stole Euclid on the day or what. A fine proper royal messenger can have full trust in us, you know, Mr Mongrel.” “Bud, if it pleases monsieur,” corrected Bud. “I can’t take any other name.” “Mr Bud Mongrel suits you,” said Mr Seamus. “Well then! Goodbye, Bud. Better visit the neighbours, I suppose, then. Don’t want them to be thieved, no, it’ll be utterly most horrible for the neighbours to be thieved… isn’t that right, Pierre?” “No it is not. I would much rather the neighbours to be thieved. In fact, they deserve it you know. I tell you, the other day, those two little skunk-boys came down the chimney into my burrow and blew off right in front of the pies. I regret not having the mantel on fire back then… but don’t worry, Bud Mongrel, we’ll follow the laws.” “I trust you will, monsieur,” replied Mr Mongrel. “Cheerio!” Pierre shut the door. “Outrageous!” he mumbled, his expression changing immediately after shutting the door. “Nonsensical! Ludicrous! Why do we have to stay inside the burrow? Culprits, the thief of Euclid must be found and be gaoled at once.” A day past, with a sullen Pierre. After three o’clock they were allowed out, at last, for at three o’clock there will be guards assigned to scatter around the wood, as the law said of the king’s. Pierre stayed sullen, and nearly tipped the cup over when he drank his tea. The next morning came, as the vivacious tune of the bluebirds filled the air with one of those of winter. Snow fell and the streets were deserted. Pierre got out his pipe and lit it. He sat down on his armchair with the pipe in his mouth sullenly, muttering to himself. Elizabeth was slightly concerned about his health but said nothing. After three o’clock, all the doors were allowed to be opened and the civilians were allowed to be outside. As Pierre sullenly sat and down on his armchair and did you-know-what, Elizabeth slipped out of the burrow and drove to Dr Cuthbert’s office, a well-known doctor in the wood who specialised in psychology. As Elizabeth knocked on the door, Dr Cuthbert replied, “Come in.” “Ah!” said the doctor, as Elizabeth walked inside, where a weasel was seated. “Elizabeth Foxtail, I presume? Now, why are you here? Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert, at your service. I have had some cases of fever, lately. But it doesn’t seem like you or anyone else has fever, madame… otherwise you would be much more stressed.” “Lorenzo Cuthbert, it is my husband, you see. Ever since King Bartlett carried out that new law, Pierre’s been trapped inside with a pipe, sitting in his armchair, eyes closed as if he is lifeless, even though he isn’t, of course. What do you think is happening to him?” “I see. Do you know anything else? I want to hear everything you discern, either it may be a certainty or a ‘I think’ sort of thing, you know. Carry on, Elizabeth Foxtail,” replied Dr Cuthbert placidly, as he scribbled something down on a piece of paper. “Lorenzo, I do not know any more, nor do I think of it,” replied the lady-fox. “Is that so? Well, this is a rather arduous client to cure. How about this, then? You shall go for now and I will not accept any more clients until I am able to solve your problem. I, as a proper psychologist and doctor, will accept you, madame. Now, how much shall it be?” inquired Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert. “Name your price. I’ll accept anything… as long as it’s fair, by the way. I don’t want to be paid a penny for this, you know.” “Let me see, Lorenzo. How will one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen do for you? Pounds, of course. Don’t you worry about me, I have plenty of money, you know. May I give you more than one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds, professor?” “Professor! Not yet, Elizabeth. ‘Doctor’ is fine,” replied Dr Cuthbert. “But, seriously, a good handful of one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds will do for me. Very well. You may pay me whenever you want. Now, you may head off and I’ll quickly do a few calls with my administrator before I’ll see what I can do about you.” “Thank you, Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert,” replied Elizabeth relievedly. “I was dead worried, you know… thank goodness I’ve found a trustworthy doctor. Cheerio!” and she left him, Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert, to his own work, as she drove home. It was quarter to four when she arrived back at the burrow. “Elizabeth! Where’ve you been? Are you alright? We were looking in every little nook and cranny for you and now you’ve showed up randomly despite us turning the whole place upside-down… but at least it got Pierre up from his armchair,” said Blair Caldwell, once Elizabeth arrived home. “But it’s good you’re here. I’m famished.” “Precisely speaking, daddy got up from his armchair for three seconds,” said Pippy, the eldest of the pups who newly learnt how to speak professionally. “Look, daddy is on his armchair again with that curvy-shaped thing in his mouth which seems to be on fire.” “Yes, yes, we don’t need the radio podcast from you, Pippy,” snapped Elizabeth strictly how mothers do it. “Now, I was at Dr Cuthbert’s, for I was concerned of Pierre’s health from sitting on his armchair all day. I promised I would pay Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert. Well, it was expensive… one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds.” “ONE THOUSAND, SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN POUNDS?” shrieked Mr Seamus. “IS THIS DOCTOR CUTHBERT A MADMAN? ONE THOUSAND… was it… SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN POUNDS?” “Dr Cuthbert is an honoured, award-winning doctor who specialised in psychology,” a deafened lady-fox said. “In other words, he is not stupid or insane or anything like that. In fact, I am, for I named a price to pay, and that price was…” “One thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds,” muttered Mr Seamus, slowly at last recovering, his hair frenzied. “In less complicated words, a handful of money. Even I don’t have enough to pay that and the leftovers to buy food and all that. But, yes, I have a low salary… in fact, I haven’t any salary now that I’ve quitted woodcutting.” By then, the telephone rang. “Ah! It must Dr Cuthbert,” said Elizabeth, as she went to answer the telephone. “It is Dr Cuthbert… Elizabeth Foxtail speaking. Yes, right. I shall pay you, Lorenzo, your money by next month.” Meanwhile, at the other end of the little ringing device was Dr Cuthbert, saying, “Ah, wonderful. Splendid. Apparently, Elizabeth, I have decided to simply raise your pay… a little bit, not a handful. One thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds and ninety-nine pence. Marvellous! Fair deal… goodbye! I’ll ring you back when I can help.” Elizabeth put down the telephone and said, “Ninety-nine more pence to pay it is, then. Count the money for one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds and that small, little extra, ninety-nine pence, to pay, Pierre. I’ll prepare tea, which’ll be shortcake.” “Pierre’s still on his armchair,” reminded Mr Seamus, in not a very contented tone. “A fox shall be outside, prancing around and hunting for rabbits rather than to be trapped in for the day in an armchair. Now I see that this Dr Lorenzo Cuthbert you speak of has a bit of a point, then… one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds and ninety-nine pence it’ll be, then. How about I count the money instead?” “Splendiferous, sir,” said Elizabeth. “Let me show you our moolah.” With that, the kindly lady-fox, followed by Mr Seamus, went over to a locked door. As Elizabeth slowly pushed a key into the keyhole, she looked around in case any gangster was watching – which, needless to say, was not. “Get in!” hissed Elizabeth. Mr Seamus obediently did so. Inside were a shedload of tiny little sacks, tied with ropes of any random length you could imagine. Mr Seamus thought, privately, that the family of foxes were rather rich, for it would be rude to say. But, as if reading his mind, the dear lady-fox quickly said, “You see, sir, we are very rich,” but Mr Seamus did not reply, since he was far too busy gazing at the shedload of moolah. “I will count them until I have one thousand, seven hundred and thirteen pounds and ninety-nine pence,” vowed the old man. “You won’t expect a penny less or more from I, no, not a single penny I promise you. I am, honestly, very smart in counting money.” “Be my guest, sir,” replied Elizabeth. “I’ll have tea prepared in a moment… and once we all gather around for my shortcakes, I’ll call you in and you can finish counting after tea. Now I shall depart. Oh, and Mr Seamus, count it very…” But the lady-fox suddenly paused for the future years to finish her sentence, for a heavy POOMF as if a rotund, plump man had fallen out of a lighthouse, which was not much of a likelihood, for rotund, plump men will not be falling out of lighthouses unless they are stupid and foolish enough to. “Golly!” cried Elizabeth. “What is happening?”




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