Modern Fairy Tales.


The Fourteen Eggs.


Contrary to popular opinion, the farmer rose from his bed at five o'clock in the morning. He was a man of routine and could not rest until he had counted every last one of his porcelain decorated eggs. He owned the only complete set of Calitrant de Mercy's stupendous inventions.

The farmer kept the de Mercy Collection secreted in the depths of his cellar. The details of each egg were elaborately documented in a tortoiseshell-covered folder inlaid with de Mercy's initials. This record had been compiled by a religious sect of monkeys who had made illustrations of each egg with the perfection of a medieval manuscript.

For security reasons the fourteen eggs were stored at a distance from the documentation folders. Although they could be gloated over by only one set of eyes, they were displayed with opulence to show off their finest attributes. The museum cases, playing host to the individual eggs, basked in lighting of the most sensitive nature. The farmer pinched himself every morning as a reminder that he was truly the owner of the Calitrant de Mercy Collection.

One morning when the farmer descended into the cellar, he found that one of the eggs was missing. Distraught and overcome with rage, yellow bile frothed from his mouth. He did not at first notice that the glass of the display case was undamaged - only the egg was gone. The farmer checked through the special folder until he found the catalogue entry for the missing egg. Its official appellation was The Egg of Dreams. All the eggs gloried in titles of unprecedented pomposity, such as The Egg of a Thousand Transpositions, or The Egg of Retrieval.

What was the farmer to do? On close inspection and making a thorough search of the Internet, he found references to qualities and characteristics and indeed clues which might lead him to the whereabouts of the egg.

The farmer wasted no time and set out forthwith. "I will find that egg, if it is the last thing I do". He took with him a rucksack and plenty of museum packing to protect the unique object if he should find it. It was not long before his chosen road narrowed into a track which disappeared into a birch wood. At intervals of thirty yards he discovered messages pinned to the trunks of trees. "This way to the stolen egg," they announced. The farmer, panting heavily, followed the messages until they led him to a cottage constructed of aluminium sheeting. But this building was over forty years old and now bore a rather tarnished appearance. All kinds of thoughts preoccupied the farmer as he knocked on the front door. A lamprey, dressed in full evening wear opened the door, holding in its circular mouth the lost egg. The lamprey was possessed of an extraordinarily sensitive sucking mechanism which he had employed the night before to remove the egg. The ornament had melted through the glass like cream and the glass was instantaneously reinstated.

The lamprey told the farmer that in his view one individual shouldn't own the Calitrant de Mercy Collection. He had made the decision (having learned from a multi-lingual badger the location of the collection) to take The Egg of Dreams for himself. That way, democracy would be seen to be in practice. However, having pondered his moral position he resolved to come clean and return the egg.

The farmer thought for a while, slowly drawing his breath. As he did so he felt his body lengthening. His mouth grew large and round, like a sucker. As his inhalation increased, he faced the lamprey. The priceless ornament shot out of its mouth and into the farmer’s in a demonstration of magnetic transference.

The farmer returned to his farm. There, in his transformed state, he performed a delicate reversal of the theft. With his new mouth fastened like a lavatory plunger to the top of the cabinet, he carefully reinstated the egg, leaving the glass intact. Naturally, he was overjoyed to be in possession once more of The Egg of Dreams, but not a little irritated that the price of its recovery should be to spend the rest of his days as a parasite.

( Dec. 31 st 2003 )

Sections rewritten May/June 2008.


© Fabian Peake