Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Letter From The Missions...

My Dearest Darling,

It is hot here tonight. A sultry, restless heat that seems to hang in the air with all the listless energy of a paper bag full of warm custard. The natives seem unphased by it, but we who have grown up in cooler climates are not yet accustomed to it, and so are suffering terribly. Possibly the fact that the natives all have airconditioned houses, while our missionary accomodation is far more rudimentary - consisting of a tent beside the villiage cesspit - also has something to do with it.

Still, I must not complain. Captain Jones-Farnsworth is suffering far worse than I . Yesterday he received some terrible news from home - his favourite Labrador, Miffy, was apparently eaten by an alligator. We were all a little surprised at this, as alligators are not traditionally associated with Sussex, but we have no reason to doubt it. While this came as a blow to him, it was nothing compared to the shattering event which befell the Captain later in the evening, when - according to the locals and in a wholly unexpected and rather ironic twist of fate - he too was eaten by an alligator. While such an occurance is admittedly less surprising here than in Sussex, the fact that the Captain was last seen thirty feet up a palm tree pretending to be a rooster has us all a little puzzled. None of us even knew that alligators could climb, but the villiage Chief assures us this is the case.

Either way, it was a difficult evening.

But not to worry, tonight the villiagers are cooking up a special feast to cheer us up somewhat. A stew of some description, by the look of things. I'm not certain what the meat is, but it smells a lot like chicken.

Reverend Chumfoth sends his regards. He is such a good man. Always ministering to the natives at all hours of the day and night. He particuarly takes special care to watch over the villiage women during the days when the men are out hunting, and then at night he often joins the younger women of the villiage in their communal hut for prayer meetings. Several of us have expressed our willingness to assist him in this duty, but he says it is a burden that has been laid upon him alone. All of us are heartened by his selfless attitude. Personally I regret that since our arrival here I have not had any such burden laid upon me.

I received your last letter with much pleasure. Since our supplies ran out, we have been making do with leaves and suchlike, and several of the native species have nasty stinging spines which can make for quite awfully uncomfortable experiences if inadvertantly applied. While I'm not complaining, I must confess that it is nice being able to sit down again. And walk in a straight line. Please write more often, and longer letters.

Other than these small trials, our work here proceeds apace. I have been befriended by one of the Natives, a small boy whose name I cannot pronounce, let alone spell, but who I refer to as 'Betsy'. He's a talented lad, who is doing his best to make me comfortable here. Yesterday he took my clothing - which was, quite frankly, getting rather high - off for cleaning. I imagine he'll return it any moment now. In the meantime I am making do with a rather fetching palm frond and several lengths of braided hair from my beard.

Betsy was also very interested in my small library of books. I was happy to loan him several of my favourites by Rudyard Kipling, R.M. Ballentyne, Jules Verne, Daniel Defoe, and Chuck Palahniuk. I will look forward to discussing them all with him, particularly Fight Club.

In any case, my darling, the night grows long, and I grow weary. Later this evening it is my turn for alligator patrol and while I am a little nervous about this, owing to our lack of rifles and ammuntion, all of which went missing at around the same time as Captain Jones-Farnsworth, I do not expect any difficulties. Betsy has given me a stout pole made of a wood that the natives refer to as 'Breadstick' and which he tells me is ideal for defending myself, or anyone else against any alligators that I might encounter. He also informs me that before my patrol I should baste myself for several hours in a mixture of spices and warm oil. He hasn't explained why, but I can only presume it is a measure to ward off the alligators. He is a true friend, is Betsy. I shall have to have a meal with him and his family, at some point.

Give my best to Bunky and Binky, and to Boingo, Poingo and Droingo. I miss you all terribly, but console myself with the knowledge that we are doing good work here. And now I must go. The Reverend has just come back from his prayer group meeting, and looks utterly exhausted.

All my love,

Alfred.

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