26th April 2020

“The Walrus and The Carpenter were walking slowly along the shingly stretch of beach between high tide and low. The walrus’s stride pattern was somewhat unique, a drag, then a hop and finally a gathering and regal upward stretch. The carpenter was old, ancient even, perhaps as wizened as the mariner of literary fame. He wore a suit made entirely of small squares of Harris tweed stitched together in very rough blanket stitch, the kind sailors use to affix a temporary canvas for shade on a very sunny day in the tropics. The tweed suit was obviously extremely itchy because the carpenter accompanied each step with a scratching motion directed to some portion of his anatomy or other, sometimes with such violence one could imagine his skin being peeled entirely off. Good fortune had armed the Carpenter’s fingers with pointy yellowed talons for nails, the perfect accoutrement for both gripping pins before their hammering and the eradication of irritating and disturbing ticks. A man of few words and fewer thoughts Master Salacious Bates was inclined to take the occasional pull from the flask of grog ever present within his inside breast pocket. This ‘medication’ as prescribed by a quack of questionable knowledge from the Antipodes, was the cause of the large and ruddy proboscis that inflicted the center of his rotund puffy face.”

“Mister Tusk was a character of strange contradictions, having all the physical extremities of great blubbering flippery whilst possessing the soul and intellect of the true artiste. The twin tusks that sprang melodiously from his sea of whiskers were octagonal in design, something both bizarre and wonderfully appropriate for such a fashionable and dapper dresser, a point utterly proven by the declaration of his velvet tasseled waistcoat and beribboned monocle.

A native of the Newfoundland coast Walrus had been captured by a group of Nantucket whalers and kept as a pet of sorts for many years. It was their easy humor that had christened him Mister Tusk, his real name is totally unpronounceable in any but his own walrusy language and the moniker had stuck. His particular favorite snack was of course a nice spirited clam who he would address politely both at meeting and consumption. During his daily strolls with Carpenter he would occasionally spy a lonely mollusk and being forever the good Samaritan place the lost creature somewhere safe and warm, namely inside his belly.”

“Walrus had never seen Carpenter eat anything solid at all and wondered on occasion if his rather erratic gait might have been less spectacular with a reduction in rum consumption. However, such matters were really of such private concern that the ever-gentlemanly Tusk refrained from overly digesting on the subject.

The Carpenter would always do the right thing and offer his companion a pull. Walrus always refused politely, generally reminding the Carpenter that liquor was too strong for his fatty constitution.

Quizzically the Carpenter always removed his pill box tasseled chapeau and scratched harshly at the ginger knotted growth below before remarking that he had been considering the walrus’s protestations for some days and having experienced many a constitution, from the rather pompous democratic sort of old blighty to the oddly codified form that ruled the late lamented Edward Teaches ship the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ upon which he had the honor to be Master carpenter, he could recall none that had any rule against the consumption of good strong grog.

Mister Tusk could naturally think of several well placed and appropriate ripostes but was generally too occupied introducing rather splendidly plump clams to his ever-welcoming gut. Carpenter would accept his silence as proof to the proof of his vintage. Walrus would grunt in that remarkable tone that coincides somewhere betwixt bewilderment and belch saying, ‘Please excuse for being rude, it was not me it was my food’.”

Alice was quite naturally thoroughly enjoying the tale, laying in the sun-drenched soft grass in the company of such well-rounded storytellers was quite delightful. This was her second encounter with the Tweedle twins, and it was going so much better than the first. The Ritalin she had surreptitiously purloined from the Caterpillars stash and slipped into their drinking water was apparently working adequately and they seemed far less fighty. The calmness seemed to help their remarkable parable grow exponentially.

“It is a very beautiful tale, indeed.”

“It is, it is. A beautiful POEM, indeed!”

Tweedledee and Tweedledum began chortling in unison. Alice decided they were totally baked.

“But you have been telling a story. No poetry so far my dear boys.”

“Are we really your dears? Do you loves us? Are we your hearts desires?”

Alice ignored their obvious preoccupation with amorous soliloquy and instead kept focused on the lacking prose.

“Do recite the poems chaps, please, please. I do so adore a good rhyme.”

“Well Shakespeare it’s not tis true.”

Tweedledee was often the more literary critical of the pair.

“It does have some merits!”

Momentarily Tweedledum seemed to almost take exception to his brother’s slight slight but then a pretty cloud of bluebirds circled his brow and all was well.

“Mister Bates and Mister Tusker was a walking by the sea

The surf was rough as wants to be and soaked them to the knee

A rather nosy Orca was a listening from behind

And began to interrupt them in a manner so unkind

This chat is very private please refrain from dropping eves

Keep private what is private like the kerchief up your sleeve.”

Having recited the first stanza Tweedledum took a large bite out of a chocolate cupcake and started munching happily. Alice waited for him to continue but as time proceeded to elapse annoyingly turned to Tweedledee for assistance.

“The sea is full of barnacles and crabs that sidle by

Lobsters doing minuets and fish that really fly

Nothing is for nothing except in games of naught

Tomorrow is another day for turning dreams to salt.”

Alice presumed that these lines presented a chorus of kinds and so hummed along as best she could.

“The rhythm needs more solemnity.”

Tweedledum had reappeared from beneath his canopy of chocolate deliciousness and was now giving what he considered positive musical critique.

“Well you continue then Mister knows-it-all, Mister More Cowbells.”

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