Saturday, October 4, 2008

Genesis of a Legend

Come now, my children, come. For you who would know the truth behind the legend of Penny Fathrington, the time has arrived. Legion are the tales of his legendary largesse, but from whence did it spring? The seal is finally lifted (though not entirely). And, I swear by Merlin’s Beard to the truth of it all:

This is the story, first, of the Irish waif known then by her Christian name of Felicia Fathrington, torn from the bosom of her family on the Isle of Mann by the pirate band of the North Sea, known amongst their kind only as The Black Patch. She was raised according to the ancient code, first against her will but then fully embracing the same, proving her metal step-by-step until she finally found her true calling as the fearsome Tempest Queen (or, said some, the White Witch of the Waves).

It is the story of her fateful, short-lived union (under the numbing influence of dark highland grog) with the larger-than-life Wee Willie Wheatley, King of the Northern Leprechauns, and their only offspring, who was known then only as Red Rupert, a stout, blue-eyed lad possessed of a surprisingly gentle nature, and endowed with flaming red hair and certain magical gifts of the leprechauns, though marred by a disquieting “mad eye” that was perpetually drawn to the nearest body of saltwater.

It is the cautionary tale of the boy’s wild, yet magical, upbringing, partaking of the best (or, as some would have it, the worst) of both the pirates and the leprechauns, and his obsession with the coins of the realm – how he would dare, connive, deceive and wager with his fellows to acquire by any means, fair or foul, all the pennies he could, and how he horded the same in a well-concealed cave high above the crashing surf by Garrickfergus on the Northern Shore (and far more than a few farthings, I might add, and later on even more by way of the leprechauns’ magical minting of the same).

It is also the story of sweet Erin of Edinburg, she of the flashing emerald eyes and the heart of gold, who first saw the good in the pirates’ apprentice and whose love finally turned him to his life’s work – sharing his wealth in his own quixotic way with the poor orphans, street urchins and others among Britannia’s deserving poor.

And it is the story of Penny’s trusty steed, Balthazar, his loyal hound, Beadlebarf, and his life-long struggle with the adversary of his youth, the dark wizard of the fetid Inland Bog, he of the withered, hoary hand – Malovious (one of many tales for another time).

It is, finally, a story of redemption – the long (and ofttimes sad, sometimes joyful) odyssey of the lad’s private path of penance – learning to share his fathomless wealth with the poor in hopes of compensating, before his Maker, for the pirate excesses of an ill-spent youth; taking upon himself his mother’s maiden name (and adding thereto, with a touch of whimsy, his nickname among the leprechauns), as he grasped for his roots and some respectability; and how he, at long last, succeeded, being knighted secretly (for such was his modest wish) by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Yet try as he might, Penny could never entirely escape the wild ways of his youth and his strange fascination with the magical properties of Scottish red squirrel pelts and sparkling Welsh ribbon candy – vestiges of his arcane training amongst his leprechaun brethren during the cold, yet often merry, winter months of his adolescence as he grew in stature and acquired the hard-earned wisdom that “a penny saved is a penny earned, but better yet is a penny shared.”

Alas, I have perhaps revealed too much concerning the great Penny. Perchance, the muse will bid me to further illuminate his legend at some future time, but for now this must suffice. Long live Sir Penny!

W. t. W.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not e'en the balm of Gilead

Even now as I recollect what took place with me all those years ago, I can still feel the health that flowed into me body as I was nigh about to pass on from this dreary existence. If my memory serves me right this event took place back in the time of highlander rule. Those were the days, when man was not confined to the restraints of canvas briefs, just the loose rough wool of his tartan wraparound. Why me could not've been older then there are wolves to a pack, but I was a tad precocious for a man in his mid thirties. It was time for me to fulfill my birthright as the fifth child in a brood of six. I was off to slay a terrible foe, one of which I had only heard tales about through my older brothers. On their manpaths, each one had come back with the foot of this monster. It never seemed odd to me that there lived a monster with six feet, at least my brothers kept telling me that there was one more foot for me if I could get it. While on my manpath, I encountered what looked like a woman trapped between ye'olde apple cart and a jumping-juniper shrub. As I approached, the woman beckoned me come to her aid. As I got up to the cart I realized that those apples were not apples at all, but red painted dingle-whoppers. It was then that I knew I had been tricked, it was too late. The woman was Germanian, hence not very womanly, all it took was a swift sweep kick and a punch to neck and next thing I knew I was face down, mouth open in the back of the dingle-whoppers. What followed next was only part of the miracle that happened to me that day. Due to violent vomiting and my new found foul stench, the Germanian wench released me to fend for my self. But she exacted a price that left me without me tartan wraparound and a broken leg, that's right, that wench broke me leg. There I was, embarrassed to go home without a monster's paw, and even more embarrassed to go into town without me britches. I had to make do with some maple leaves and my hair to fashion a new pair of britches. I was off again but this time I realized that something was amiss, my trustee scabbard was gone, but wait, what was that noise, it was the monster. I had no time to prepare myself, so with one hand I covered my eyes and with the other I started to punch. Instead of receiving a beating I smelled something sweet, sweet like ye olde ribbon candy from yonder times of yore. My mouth was open and then it happened sweet ecstasy, better then the balm of Gilead it was. As I opened my eyes I caught a fleeting glimpse of what I knew to be was Penny Fathrington. Not only did he revive me with his sweet ribbon candy, but he left me a prize. A monster's paw. I'd never been so happy as I was at that moment, that mysterious benefactor. Not only did he save my life from the monster, but he also cured my body with the healing sweetness of ribbon candy. Thank you Penny, because of you I have secured my birthright as the fifth born.

Monday, May 5, 2008

One hundred weight and penny pound

Haallo Govenah! A penny for me troubles Govenah?! The young urchin scurried past the Governors guards. "Mister Govenah, please, tis Christmas time and me mates at the orphanage and I are painfully hungry". The guards finally caught up to the coarse haired orphan.

"You're ruining the Governor's parade ye filthy li'l orphan. I've got half a mind to make ye into a mince pie! Now get ye back to the orphanage ye li'l red-headed bastage!"

The urchin slinked away. Dejected at the prospect of returning to the orphanage empty-handed on Christmas Eve. A block away a shadow disappeared down the alleyway. "A penny fer yer troubles eh? Hah haaa", the shadow bellowed.

As he trudged up the stairs to the front door of the orphanage their could not have been a portrait of sadness more heart-wrenching in all the queen's land than the one painted on the face of ye red-headed bastage. "They're right they are. I'm nothin' but a worthless urchin! Why, me can't even find a penny for me fellow orphans on Christmas eve!" He flung open the the large iron door and began to shout, "I'm sorry. I failed all of ye's this Christmas Eve. I don't even deserve the holiday porridge head-mistress Quiddleton tis brewin' this very minute! I'm nothin' but a red-headed bas..." He stopped. This was not the reception he had expected. Why, all the orphans were in a perfect state of happiness. There was singing and playing. Children were sliding down the giant bannister one after the other, squealing with delight.
"He came, he did!", shouted li'l Billy Bailey as he slid off the bannister.
"Who came?", yelled the urchin, trying to be heard over the giant rush of noise.
"Why it was Penny Fatherington it was", was the reply from a chorus of orphans.
It was then that he noticed it seemed to be raining drops of gold. Wonderful, magical droplets of gold. But, it wasn't gold. Those raindrops were pennies. In fact pennies were everywhere; children were diving in and out of the huge piles of pennies that now filled the great dining hall. Look over there and you'll see li'l Lucy filling her britches with pennies. Over there Laddy and Darby are filling their little orphan mouths with great heaps of pennies. Never before had such a scene of happiness been witnessed in the lowly orphanage.
But, where's Penny Fatherington? The urchin looked everywhere, but there was not a trace. The only sign that he had been there was the note left on the great iron door.
"A penny for ye troubles ye big-hearted bastage - PF"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Tale of Wisdom, Warning, and Woe...

Tears were streaking down my ruddy british cheeks as I related my tale to a foul mouthed fawn. I was stuck in a cell made of ice and if I didn't speak he promised to mate me w/ the goblin in the picture. I don't even know if it's female. I begin my sad tale on the happy grassy fields of Mossburry lane. Lucy had just fallen in the cockelberry bush and was running to the house. Indubidably to have her head shaved once again. The cockleberry never leaves on it's own volition. She looks like more of a boy than I do when this happens. Peter was somewhere playing hoopscitch, and Susan was out collecting on her illegal gambling ring. But all of that is just pithy bother. What's important is that I was all alone. I had just ate 5 jars of marmalade and had quite the stomach ache!!! At that moment I declared that never again would I eat that sweet which in my tummy turned so sour. But this left a void!!!! lil' Eddy without a sweat!!! Why that is like the manor's ball without the foxtrot or the deval-buscheigh!!! It was at that moment of indecision that I heard a voice; warm, familiar and wise! It said, "sweet hard candy never made the boy a witches dandy!!" Sweet hard candy? the very opposite of mummy's warm liquidy marmalade? I turned to see the man behind the voice and to my surprise only saw a plate of sticky, warm, somewhat covered in hair ribbon candy!!! A faint sent of lathered horse could be smelt upon the air. This is the treat I would turn to. As i put forth my eager, trembling paw to partake of the hard goodness I caught a sight alltogether different out the corner of my eye! It was cubed, like Peter's ugly square face, and covered in powdered sugar. Really, Turkish Delight!? I've never had such fancy fare!! Pulling my hand back from the true and wholesome ribbon candy I reached for the sultan's sweet....Hmmh Sultan. As my hand grew ever closer I heard the voice again, "Sweet hard candy never made the boy a witches dandy." To my sadness I ignored it...and ate the Turkish delight. Now I've sold out my family and live in an ice cage. Possibly to be forced to sire a race of large goblin men. Please people, listen to the voice!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

dare ye ol' hobo hope?

My day had gone better than planned. I had just caught a chipmonk and when he wouldn't speak, or respond to Alvin, I did the next best thing. I ate him. At least this night I wouldn't have to swab the ol' meat locker cart w/ my bandana and suck for protien. I decided that it was time to take to take a nap. With the sounds and sights of the train yard soothing me to sleep I closed my eyes. Hoping for dreams of golden rail cars and night watchmen who left 5 cent recycleable cans. I hate having to steal cabbage for lunch. Sleep came quickly, the nightmare had to wait til I woke up...Wake I did. When my eyes opened my heart shut closed. I had hear the saying "As sad as a hobo who just lost his last pare of britches." I didn't hear it now...I just felt it. That along with a cool breeze gliding across my now bare white thighs. No britches = no hobo smile. And somewhere a dove cooed. Crying, I sat in my cart thinking about the adventures my pantalones would have without me. I was lost in despair. Right then I said out loud "I forsake the hobo life for ever!" I will now devote my life to cowboy poetry!" I thought at first it was just a whispering on the wind. A ye ol' brittish whispering? Then I turned my non infected ear to the open door and listened closer. To this day I swear I heard someone say. "Noble sir of Car # 13 manor, please the world needs your ticklish tales! Children weep when a hobo frowns!" Plus the train watchmen will cry if he has not a hobo head to knock before he sleeps!" That voice, that fatherly voice was like caffiene to my soul! With confidence renewed I leaped for joy. Subsequently hitting my head on the door and knocking my self out. When I woke I blinked and looked around. Wet, horse sented ribbon candy was in my hands and to top it all an old potato sack w/ two holes cut for my legs was by my side. Using my meat swabbing bandana as my belt I hitched my britches and continued on my journey. A Journey that would have ended except for the help of some mysterious benifactor!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Horse Sense

Yes, I was crying. I wasn't really hurt. The tears that streaked down my dust-covered cheeks we tears of shame. "Pippy doesn't have an onion! Pippy doesn't have an onion!" The other kids had stopped hucking dirt clods but the taunts continued to come. You see it was the fashion of the day to wear a yellow onion tied to one's waist. My folks were out of work and we had narry an onion to spare. As I looked down at my scuffed knee and muddy knickers I saw a shadow pass over me from behind and I caught a sweet sort of horsey-sweat scent in the air. "Why of course ee has an onion!" I looked back and perchance I imagined it, but me thinks I saw a wink come from that monocled eye. "But his onion is a red candy onion" he said as he produced what looked like a magical red onion the likes of which the King of Sheeba would have tied around HIS waist. When I looked closer I thought I saw chunks of hard candy and lint covering the onion. "Well I want one," said Jiffronson, the biggest of the boys. The kindly man smiled and handed it over. Jiff took several big bites then started crying. It was just an onion after all. "My mouth tastes like horse hoof" he yelled as he ran away. Before I could thank the man I hardly knew, he was gone, but a REAL red onion fell in my lap. I quickly tied it around my waist and, from that day on, when the other kids admired the cut of my gib, I thought of that kindly man what comes and goes leaving a trail of sticky lint behind.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

ribbon candy

I don't know how to start...Do I know the elusive Penny Fathrington? Can a man know a voice on the wind? Can you inhale the signiture smell of horse and ribbon candy that trailed the great man? Much like the stank that follows a dead moose. We all know the signs of him, but no, I don't know the famous benifactor. My tale starts with a downturn. An early frost had killed a part of my crop and I didn't have the heart to tell my wife. Gout had been particularly bad for her this year. So I went to the farmers market to buy more seed and see Hogzilla. To my despair Hogzilla had broken free, ate a farmer and then not satisfied he ate all the seed. Hogzilla, that beautiful beast, had run free to the wild...and the seed was all gone. Pulling my overalls over my head I began to cry. That's when I felt a sticky hand on my head. Pulling my hair as he removed it. I heard a voice of ye ole British Penny. Pulling my head out of my overalls, getting stuck only one on the shoulder loop, I looked up. The sun was shining brightly so I couldn't get a good look at his head. What I did see was a hand, a hand w/ ribbon candy in it. So willingly given. As I took the ribbon candy I noticed 2 things. 1. His hand was stained w/ the color of the hard candy. 2 the ribbon candy had paper and hair stuck to it. I believe as the legend goes that he keeps a handful in both pockets for just these occassions. Pushing my tears aside I stood to thank that mysterious benifactor. Only he was gone...After that the sun was brighter, the moist furry candy was sweeter, and I heard that Hogzilla would be back tommorrow. Bless that Penny, bless that Penny!!!!

Monday, March 31, 2008

A Man he was and the man he was destined to become: A tale of a Penny Fathrington

For not long ago in ye days of yore, there lived a quiet, humble, but brave man by the name of Penny Fathrington. Penny had many a journey and many an encounter with his fellow men, but today we tell the story of his humble beginings, for as time goes on olde Penny's stories grow a tad more mischievous.