Story for the Day: Mr Cluck
Beryn has many interesting and unique creatures on his land, but none so ridiculous and lovable as his prize cockerel.
|A WIP of the Ode to Cluck by Twisk, complete with hens. |
Twisk asked me not to post the newer version.
She said nothing about this one, however.
Placing his hand upon her back caused her to rouse. The first moments of wakeful confusion with muffled humphs and the delicate fluttering of eyelashes drew his attention, and all his notions of what might be done so secure her attendance in his bed every morning ceased.
She raised her head and descried the sun just peering over the horizon. It was morning: all her terrific notions of parting were returning. She was too comfortable, too warm, too sanguine for movement; she could not get up now, and the moment she recognized the broad chest beneath and the well-muscled arms about her, she groaned and buried her features against his stomach.
“Sunrise, Mer,” he gently reminded her. “Better get an early start if we wanna go drivin’ for a bit before I take you home.”
The drive to one of Beryn’s most treasured hideaways she could submit to rising for, but to return to the capital, to home, and to work, she certainly could not. “I don’t want to go home,” she grumbled indistinctly, pressing her wreathed lips against him.
He simpered and patted her back. “Aye, you do. Promised your Ma I’d bring you back safe.”
The promise to her mother must not be forgotten, but the question of “When will we see each other again?” began to furnish her with fresh agitation.
“No worries there, Mer. We got Moraig and the jaunty. I can come to town every day after my deliveries.”
“But you will be so tired, Beryn, and you will already have such a long day.”
“Aye,” his voice rumbled, his fingers grazing her chin, “and at the end of the day, I just wanna sit with my girl, and hear her try to sing.”
The blithesomeness of the moment seemed thrown away under the idea of their parting, however, and though she laughed, small heart did she have for any real display of sentiment. Her sensibilities were shaken, and the prospect of falling in love was not so much gratifying as it was vexatious. She was on the point of betraying her flourishing affections when a sudden sound from outside silenced her.
“There he is,” said Beryn, looking out the window.
She listened to the strange sounds. “That cannot be your cockerel.”
“Aye, that’s him. Better go down and let the hens out before he climbs the lattice and clucks us outta bed.”
Her eagerness to see the cockerel so long talked of revived her spirits, and after a few tender osculations and some promises of later wantonness, they were up and dressed, Meraliegh ready to meet the legendary creature and Beryn willing to make the introduction.
He ushered Meraliegh down the steps, and as she came to the small sitting room, her eye fell everywhere on the affluence of hues that, once concealed by the shadows of night, were now a garland of vibrant hues: the various ochers and ambers of the mandolins, the brilliant red of the bricks around the hearth, the greys and browns of the stone walls, the affluence of assorted tones in the many kneedleworks and patchworks spread round altogether produced a rich sundry as to enliven any dullness of spirits or of mind. She stopped and awed at the prospect several times over before she could continue any further towards the door.
“Ma sure liked her colours,” Beryn fondly observed.
“Yes,” was Meraliegh’s half-conscious reply.
The clucking just beyond the sitting room door increased and became interspersed with a loud rapping.
“He’s tellin’ me I’m late,” Beryn said. “Better open the door before he starts scratchin’ at it.”
She turned from the sitting room as the door to the porch was opened, and there, standing on the threshold, was Mr Cluck: his large red comb, long brown feathers, high breast, arched tail, wide stance, and canted head gave him a distinguished air so strange and yet to becoming in a fowl. He moved toward Beryn, his steps wary, his gestures quick and disjointed, staring up at him with an impatient look.
“Aye, I know I’m late,” said Beryn.
The cockerel clucked and seemed to be waiting for further reason to accomplish Beryn’s delay.
“I got a reason for bein’ late.” Beryn held out his hand toward Meraliegh. “This is Meraliegh Calcannan, Cluck. She’s gonna be visitin’ with us the while.”
The cockerel gave a few heated clucks.
“What do you mean another one? Ain’t my fault all the hens like me, you know.”
“Well, this one belongs to me and I ain’t sharin’,” said Beryn with playful firmness. “Be nice at least and say hello to Mer even if she ain’t your hen.”
A cluck and a scratch at the ground, and the cockerel turned up his nose.
“Well, I see how it’s gonna be.”
This assertion was thoroughly ignored, and the cockerel began pecking at Beryn’s feet and flapping his wings.
“Aye, we’re comin’,” Beryn assured him, shooing him away with a wave of his hand.
Meraliegh, who had been doing her utmost not to laugh at the ridiculous fowl, could restrain her mirth no longer. Her pursed lips ached from endeavoring to keep them closed, and though the cockerel’s manner and genius where certainly worthy of the title that Lochan and Beryn had accorded him, she must laugh at his officiousness. The long and fluffy feathers lining his legs gave him an affectation which, though prepossessing in a fowl, she could not help but find diverting. She grabbed at her sides and laughed till tears formed in the corners of her eyes.
“Well, now you’re after offendin’ him,” was Beryn’s feigned reproach.
“Am I?” Meraliegh laughed, her eyes misted over with tears of high glee.
“He don’t like folk laughin’ at his feathers. He’s real serious about ‘em. That right, Cluck?”
The cockerel flicked his comb back and began to preen his wings.
Beryn smiled and began walking through the door. “Watch him now,” said he, pointing to the cockerel.
As Beryn went to the coop to let the hens out for their morning graze, his cockerel gave a triumphant cluck and began hastening after him. He caught up with him, and when Beryn stopped to open the coop door, the cockerel began marching about his feet in circles.
“Tryin’ to round me up,” Beryn fleered. “I ain’t a hen, Cluck.”
“I can’t be a hen. That trough is too small for me.”
This reasoning, though sound, was not to be believed, and the cockerel clucked in opposition, stopping to refute all of Beryn’s assertions, and then going around him again, strutting in circles and pecking at the ground in hopes of having his large and unruly hen do as he bid.
Beryn shook his head at him, and then looked at Meraliegh, who was wiping the tributaries from her cheeks. “There’s no tellin’ him anythin’,” he declared, and there was nothing more to do than to stand aside and watch the hens pour out of the coop, all of them eager eat, and all of them just as eager to avoid Mr Cluck.