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October 20, 2007

Bird's Eye View

The thing I’ve come to notice about men who keep what I suppose come under the category of trained birds- although I consider myself to be placed well above the level of trifling curiosity that that implies- is that, in almost every case, they fail to grasp the concept as fully as they perhaps should. My own fool- a doddering old man who stands as a frightening example of what can only be put down to inbreeding between cousins- seems perfectly happy to twitter on about this and that to me as he rambles about his study, once in a while feeding me a morsel of his food and grinning inanely as he does so, as though my need to eat is a strange and novel concept. Personally, I’m of the opinion he’d be much more suited to a parrot than a raven as highly trained as myself (not, no matter what the sparrows who perch on the ledge in the morning twitter to themselves, a crow with delusions of grandeur). Parrots are stupid birds and natural show-offs, and as such have a lot in common with the tufted buffoon with whom I’m forced to spend my days.

The buffoon had fallen asleep in his study again. The candles on the walls were still aglow and, somewhat more importantly to me, so was the candle on his desk, not inches away from where he had chosen to rest his head. This, in turn, was startlingly close to one of the family tapestries, a poorly-woven but I’m sure especially flammable stretch of material, the other end of which finished up not far at all from my perch. The scenario I kept playing out in my mind, in which I ended up a damn sight warmer than I would have liked as a result of a certain someone’s inability to hold his drink, did very little for my disposition towards him. I wish I could say that it was a rare occurrence, but alas not; one would be hard pressed to find an evening, especially one immediately following a court banquet, when the silly old fart didn’t collapse into his chair as a result of a few too many glasses of vintage port. It was rarer still that he’d manage to do it without damn near setting fire to the place. As of yet, though, luck (and occasionally a servant who could get the door open and snuff the wick before he roused himself; not a particularly difficult task, if you were aware of the candle in the first place) had seen to it that the royal ermines remained unscorched, not to mention what was left of the royal follicles.

Tonight, though, it was a sharp rapping on the door that broke into his evening nap. I watched him jerk himself awake in a most unregal manner, causing the dress crown he’d been wearing and that had slipped over his eyes as he slept to crash to the floor and roll equally unceremoniously into the coal store. The candle rocked in its holder, and- despite looking still half-dazed with sleep, perhaps even more so than usual- he managed to a hand on the base to steady it, which caused me no end of relief. With their usual creak, the hinges of the study door opened, even though the old man hadn’t indicated for his visitor to enter. Before too long, the boy whose timely knocking had prevented me from ending up in a similar state to the banquet’s roast goose slid his head around the door nervously; his body followed shortly afterward, and in very much a similar fashion. The old man lifted his attention from the candle for a moment, which had started to spill its wax in a now-setting stream onto the desk, and looked at the interloper.

June 2023

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