CHAPTER TWENTY TWO: A WHOLE RAFT OF ADVENTURE (PART TWO)
Melanie had taken to employing the word feckin in everyday speech, an Irish euphemism, to be sure – but in her cut glass English accent, it sounded only adorable so it did, even though she was still a chimpanzee in everything other than name.
Melanie the Chimpanzee – as she was now known to everybody – had had a number of treatments done to investigate the possibilities of a cure for her primatic changes induced by the spell of Floudh Rak the Weatherlock. The good news was that the tests that had come back from her blood samples indicated that most of the genetic variance between herself and humans – even at this stage – was no more than about 2 or 3 percent. So her humanity could be salvaged!
We set off after this evil weatherlock, himself swept downriver a day or two earlier, and the current took us along at a fair pace, around the first bend that led on to the wilderness, Old Man and myself sucking on our corn cob pipes full to the brim with Lucifer’s Leaves 'n' Buds, as they were called at the time.
An hour passed before our first encounter. Old Man was sitting aft smoking his cornpipe and steering the vessel while I was doing a jig towards the bow – practising my hornpipe – when Old Man Phelps gave a low whistle and pointed starboard. On the bank, we saw Shepherd Mick Dillon with his five hunderrredid sheep grazing at the water’s edge.
“Hullo, Mick!” I hailed, “Did the British come this way?” I pointed downriver, and Mick roared back
“That an’ they didn’t indeed ind in they did surely.”
Mick broke wind loudly and waved us on, his hand wiping his buttocks to sweep the gas downwind.
Old Man Phelps was delighted.
“Bodes well for us, so that does,” Old Man said, referring to Mick Dillon’s burst of flatulence.
“How do you mean?” I asked him.
“Well, expression there be that refers to it:
“If the shepherd farts, the clouds will part.
If the shepherd belches, the rain will pelt yiz.”
“A load of old nonsense,” I retorted, but no sooner had I spoken than the clouds did indeed break and huge streams of light burst through, revealing the golden shimmer of the sun on the river.
Continued in Part Three.