It was seven 'clock in the evening in the den of the two
chipmunks. As he awakened Chipgheera stretched out all the toes on
his paws to get the sleepiness out of them. "Arrah! Whoo!" he said,
"It is time to gather nuts again!"
Chipgheera shared this den with his friend Dhaleloo, the Lazy
One, who often tried to sleep on and force Chipgheera to do all the
nut gathering. But tonight Chipgheera would have none of it.
"Up, there, friend!" he called in a friendly voice, for the
Law of the Park is that unpleasantness is to be avoided at all costs,
and if it cannot be avoided, well then, someone must die. And that
could really be messy.
Dhaleloo was apparently of a mind to play his old tricks, so
Chipgheera bonked him on the noggin' just for the nonce.
"Ow!" Dhaleloo exclaimed, rubbing his poor head, "Why didst
thou burst my poor skull asunder just now? I wouldst have gotten up
"Ye get up and ye do not get up," Chipgheera explained,
making for even more confusion, "By the broken lock that freed me
from that kid's cage with the treadmill, am I to be left to do all
the nut-gathering, considering that we must gather for three these
days?" And to this Dhaleloo had no reply, recalling the Law of the
Park that when one cannot avoid saying something stupid, to keep your
Just as the two friends were about to exit their den the
fading twilight was blocked out by a square face. It was Meppsaqui,
the Stupid One. And all the Chipmunks despise Meppsaqui because he
is stupid, he is always hungry, and because their mothers teach them
"Greetings, O most glorious of Chipmunk households!"
Meppsaqui exclaimed upon seeing them, delighting that it made them
uncomfortable. "Truly most glorious and sharp are the incisors of
the Seonee tribe, and most unfortunate are the nuts to be crushed
therein. Indeed, I should have remembered that the Seonee Chipmunks
have proceeded from the loins of many kings!"
"What doest thou here?" Chipgheera asked, sure he would not
like the answer, "Of a truth thou didst not pass by merely to greet
"Very well," Meppsaqui answered him. "I wish to remind thee
that Shere Khat, the Fat One, some years ago chased a small house
mouse-cub into this Park which had been separated from its parents.
At that time thou and thy friend didst have this mouse-cub entered
into the Seonee Pack of Chipmunks, though it vexed my master greatly
to have the Law of the Park so abused. Now that this mouse-cub has
come of age it is no longer under thy protection, and he will now be
coming to claim what is rightfully his. I have spoken."
At this point Dhaleloo, who had been silent, jumped foreward
in a rage that surprised his friend as much as it did their guest.
"Out!" he exclaimed, "Out and hunt with thy master! What have we,
the Nut-Log [the Chipmunk People] to do with thee? Thou hast
befouled the air enough for one night with thy evil breath, and if
thou dost not depart, then, by the Great Chipmunk who storeth the
world in his cheek-pouches, I will do something that will most likely
get me killed! Begone!"
Chipgheera recalled at this point that his roommate wasn't
too bright, either. But luckily Meppsaqui was too stupid to realize
his advantage and began to leave. "I go," he said, "but know that
tomorrow night my master will be here for the mouse. Ye can hear him
caterwauling yonder." And with a nasty flash of his teeth he was
Chipgheera patted his friend's head. "Well spoken, Brother!
But I fear that Shere Khat is very clever. For the Law of the Park
stateth that whensoever one who is bought into the Seonee Tribe of
Chipmunks who is not one born, then when the rotting carcass of the
nut that was the price is eaten up by the termites and the ant-people
the jig is up and it's every man for himself." And he shivered.
Dhaleloo looked sadly at his friend. "What is then to be
done?" he asked him.
"I have an idea, but it ist only a chance," Chipgheera told
him. "Quickly, go and call Gadgli to come straightway, for this
affects her very life."
Of course Dhaleloo knew that his friend was right and so
called for their charge Gadgli, whom they had saved from Shere Khat's
jaws at this very season a full summer and a rain and a fog and a
His chirrup was answered presently by the sound of small paws
scurrying over the ground from outside. Now while Gadgli had been a
house mouse, after Shere Khat had eaten her parents Chipgheera and
Dhaleloo had brought her up as one of the open field, so that she was
one with the pigeons and the deer flies and the ticks and the doodle
bugs and the chiggers, and moreover had never worn shoes in her life.
Soon their young charge had entered the den, her
long flowing hair reaching to her feet. It was in fact the only
covering she had for her body, for she had never known the standard
coveralls and goggles of house mice, as she was raised as one of the
wild peoples and thus, like this writer, had no shame.
"Thou didst send for me, my brothers?" she asked her mentors
upon arriving. Whereupon Chipgheera looked upon her and began calmly
to explain, "Hominahominahominahominahomina!"
"What is this, my brothers?" Gadgli asked in puzzlement,
"Some new master word I have not yet been taught? I thought I knew
all the speech of the urban wild folk, especially since that is what
the brochure said that came with the record."
Now Chipgheera recalled that since she had achieved puberty
the mere presence of Gadgli made both him and Dhaleloo as stupid as
little birds, and he loathed himself for his oversight. "Quickly
brother," he said turning aside to Dhaleloo, "Fetch for me the
blindfold that I may speak with Gadgli without being made as stupid
as a little bird, and don't you dare bring that one of thine with the
eye-hole poked in it. This is serious."
"Homina!" Dhaleloo answered, saluting (for he also had been
made stupid as a little bird) and at once left and returned with two
blindfolds, one for each of them. Once each put his own (with
Chipgheera insisting that Dhaleloo go first so there would be no
monkey business) Chipgheera was able to deliver his grim news to
"Gadgli," he bagan somewhat hesitantly, "rememberest thou how
Dhaleloo and I have often warned thee to beware of Shere Khat, and
never to wander from thy home in the park to enter the alleys or the
pizza-joints lest he worst thee?"
"Ay," she answered him, a grim look coming over her young
face, "I have heard the tale of how he didst murder my parents and
how thou and Dhaleloo didst save me from his jaws by purchasing my
entrance into the Chipmunk tribe at the price of a fat acorn, newly
plucked. I remember that he did swear to make a meal of me the first
chance he got after I was out from under the protection of the Law of
the Park. Ye have both told me that story for every rain and
hurricane season until I have heard it as many times as there are
fleas on us. But, my brothers, what has that to do with me?"
Chipgheera slapped himself in the face in frustration.
Sometimes Gadgli made herself as stupid as a little bird.
"This is what it hath to do with thee!" Dhaleloo shouted a
little more harshly than he intended, "Thy protection under the Law
is expired and now that foul fat eater of lizards and table scraps is
coming to make short work of thee! Arra! O Little Grub, seest thou
not the danger that thou art in?"
She thought for a moment. Then it hit.
"Ti-yi! Tungalee!" she cried. "And is it now that he comes
to make good his threat? He dareth do nothing but boast and
threaten, for I am a house mouse (at least that's what all the little
fascists in the pack keep saying about me) and none of the wild folk
can look me in the eye. Let him come. For I am skilled with the
knife and if need be will cut his mouth off and feed it to him."
"Gadgli, that logic of thine will get thee eaten," Chipgheera
murmered to himself.
But Gadgli overheard and asked, "How can that be? How can he
eat anything with his mouth cut off?"
At this point Chipgheera turned in exasperation to his friend
and said, "It is obvious that we are sorely in need of great wisdom
to deal with this threat against our light-headed charge. Get thee
quickly to Bangalore Bill, the ancient mouse who teacheth the Law of
the Park to all the young chipmunk cubs; to Bangalore Bill, who
knoweth all tongues of all urban wild folk; to Bangalore Bill, the
fat, sleepy brown mouse who alone is accorded membership in the
chipmunk tribe; to Bangalore Bill, who didst teach Gadgli all she
needeth to know to live among the wild beasts (even though that
apparently didn't work out very well); to Bangalore Bill, who . . . "
"Chipgheera . . . I KNOW the guy. We play mah jongg with him
every Wednesday, remember?"
"Well then, stir thy lazy body and fetch him here straightway
that he may enlighten us with his wisdom. And by the way, where are
the tiles?" Chipgheera responded to this, a bit embarrassed. But not
to worry, for the Law of the Park is that if any beast makes a fool
of himself, you may remind him of his shame on his deathbed, which
was much more delicious than momentary razzing at the time of the
gaffe. So Dhaleoo prepared to go on the hotfoot but then paused and
asked, "Chipgheera, why must I go? Why shouldest not thou?"
"I fain must stay to protect Gadgli," he replied, though he
didn't sound very convincing.
"And why should not I be the one to stay and protect her?" he
"Because thou wilt be going on the hotfoot to fetch Bangalore
Bill and will not be here if needed," Chipgheera said
"I have never been able to argue with thy logic," Dhaleloo
said, convinced once again of his friend's great cleverness. "I go
"Brother, pull off thy blindfold, but cast no looks backward.
The very life of our little Gadgli is at stake, and considering the
malice and cleverness of our enemy, I know what I know. Evil comes
here in a little while."
"Ay, my brother. I go. Homina!"
This last indicated that Dhaleloo had indeed put off his
blindfold, and his vanishing footsteps showed that he was now
embarked on his mission. "Fear not, Gadgli," Chipgheera said to
their charge, "for thy teacher Bangalore Bill will have knowledge to
pull thy life even from the gaping jaws of Shere Khat himself."
"That's great," she said, "When's supper?"
Dhaleloo headed at once through the wild tracts of the great
urban parkland to the lair of the great teacher of Seonee chipmunk
cubs. "Ay, perhaps Shere Khat could make short work of two chipmunks
and a helpless mouse cub," he thought to himself, "but his mere brute
strength will never prevail over the wisdom of the ages, transmitted
from the dawn of time to Bangalore Bill. Arooa! Woo!" he cried
aloud, and then suddenly exclaimed "URK!!!" For at that moment he
felt himself seized by clever paws and carried higher and ever higher
into the air. Time was of the essence, and now he had been captured.
"By this and by that!" he exclaimed angrily as he flailed
helplessly against the night air, "who and what art thou to use me in
such a manner?"
A female voice answered him. "I am Latifah, Queen of the
Night! Well, actually my name ist Ida, but 'Latifah' soundeth so
much more contempo, thinkest thou not?"
"Who art thou!" the captive demanded once again.
"I TOLD thee. I am Latifah, Queen of the Night, and I have
chosen thee to be my consort and rule my people by my side! Is it
not romantic, scrumptious one?"
Looking up, Dhaleloo saw that he had been swooped up by one
of the park bats, and she seemed to have matters with very definite
adult themes on her mind. "Madam, what meaneth this?" he asked.
"The bat people have no queen, due to very antiquated patriarchal
notions of primogeniture and a nascent strain of anarchism. Thou
art no queen. What meaneth this really? Wert thou sent by Shere
Khat to worst me?"
"Shere Khat, the Foul One?" his captor suddenly reacted with
horror in her voice. "The evil and cunning killer of little helpless
kibbles? Is he afoot in our park once again?"
"Ay, that is he," Dhaleloo replied with earnestness, sure now
that he would be set free, "and I go now on a mission to foil his
designs on our young charge."
"Nay, my delectable one!" she exclaimed, much to Dhaleloo's
chagrin, "Shere Khat shall never have thee, for thou art my king!
Together we will rule a mighty empire and do great things, just as
the man-pack, and thou wilt never be the prey of any foul beast, for
thou shalt enjoy diplomatic immunity as consort of the head of state
of a member of the world community! By the way, snookums, by what
name shall our new country be known? How doth 'The People's Republic
of Bill' grab thee?"
Now Dhaleloo knew that the bat-folk have no queen and that
this was just a silly girl with nothing but a foolish thought in the
vast emptiness of her noggin, though he could not fault her for her
incredibly good taste in consorts. Still, while he ordinarily would
not have been rude or cruel to such a sincere admirer, he could not
afford to observe the amenities with Gadgli's life in danger and time
growing so short before the daytime brought sleep to all the wild
folk. So he began to struggle mightier than ever against his
abductor's grasp and cried "Aroint!"
"And just how do I go about doing that?" the confused girl
sincerely wanted to know. Then her face showed a very naughty
expression indeed and she said, "Ist that thy term for what taketh
place after the wedding ceremony?"
"No!" he shouted.
"Then what meaneth it, my Only One?"
"It meaneth release me, Umbrella Arms!"
"U--umbrella arms?" she asked, coming to a hover as tears
began to form in her eyes.
"Aye! I have not time to spend pleasantries with thee, so
let me go, Queen Catcher's-Mit-for-a-Tail!!!"
It were better had Dhaleloo not said this, for nothing so
riles the bat-folk as being reminded of the membrane that connects
their hind feet to their tails. And sure enough, the would-be queen
went from being broken-hearted to being livid with rage.
"Ho ho! 'Catcher's-Mit-for-a-Tail,' eh? Well, we'll see
about THAT, Toots! By this and by that, what have we, the
Lincoln-Log [the Bat People] to do with ye foul eaters of nuts?
Faugh on all chipmunks! Who art thou to worst me, Rudolph? Very
foul-smelling, treacherous, evil things are ye indeed, Red of Nose
and Buck of Tooth! By the Great Bat from whose guano the world was
made, I don't have to take THIS! THAT for thy mission"--here she
slung Dhaleloo from her grasp--"and may Shere Khat make a meal of
thee, though he wilt probably need plenty of Ex-Lax afterwards!
Dhaleloo fell quite a distance, as his abductor had risen
high into the sky by that point, but he used his vast survivalist
skills as a wild creature and a "Soldier of Fortune" subscriber and
pulled his legs to his body and formed a ball of himself, so that
while he received many bruises upon landing he was yet able to arise
at once, dust himself off, and resume his trek. It also didn't hurt
that he fell on his head.
Meanwhile, the angry and broken-hearted girl who had provided
this little lacuna in his mission flew off in a huff, singing her
song of triumph over the insults to which she had been subjected.
* * * * * * * * *
This is the Song of Latifah
Latifah, Queen of the Night
The song that I made and sang at the injustice I endured
At the paws of that male chauvinist pig!
I, Latifah, awoke
Awoke, as is my custom, at the setting of the sun
And decided I was gonna find me a MAN, consarn it!
And from the firmament of the sky I beheld him
He who was my heart's desire
I wouldst have shared a throne with him
As soon as I got one, that is
Our lives would have been sweeter than the honey
That drippeth from the honeycomb
In a paradise of pomegranates.
Like the park birds I came early
Like the water I sat down
And Mister I called Hey mister
But would he have any of it?
He spurned me
Just like Charlton Heston did to Ann Baxter
In the movie of the same name
Well, thou hast blown it, Toots!
That's the last time I--YOW!!!
* * * * * * * * *
This last word was not a bold Eliot-Poundian poetic
innovation but came from the fact that while she was singing her song
the poor girl forgot to echolocate and so flew into a tree. Such is
the way of the world! But let us rejoin Dhaleloo on his mission to
find the wise Bangalore Bill.
Upon recovering his feet Dhaleloo saw that his abductress had
indeed carried him even closer to his destination than had he been on
foot, so she had in fact done him a favor. As he thought of this
irony he felt tears of sorrow and regret stain his cheek because his
keeping silent a few minutes longer would have saved him the entire
rest of the journey. But he recalled the ancient saying of the Park
that "when Ikki the Ichneuman meeteth Barney, all hell breaketh
loose," and that comforted him a great deal.
In a matter of a few more minutes he found himself at the
tree deep in the heart of the lush city park which was the home of
Bangalore Bill and his faithful teaching assistant (thanks to a
Guggenheim Fellowship) Loincloth.
"Arooa! Whoo!" Dhaleloo identified himself with the Master
Word before entering the den, for Bangalore Bill was nearsighted with
age but as strong as ever, and Loincloth was very protective, blowing
and infecting anyone who came unbidden.
"Enter then," came a gruff voice from within the tree. As he
did so his host strained to make out the identity of the intruder,
but it was Loincloth who finally told him who it was.
"By this and by that!" he exclaimed, "Is it indeed one of my
favorite pupils? Thou shouldst visit thy old teacher more often.
And bring something when you come. What meaneth this unexpected
"Bangalore Bill," Dhaleloo began gravely, "I am afraid
pleasantries must await another moon at least, for thy favorite pupil
of all is in mortal danger from her deadliest foe!"
Bangalore's eyes widened considerably. He knew what that
meant. He himself had participated in the ritual that initiated
Gadgli into the chipmunk pack.
"So the foul eater of helpless babes hath crept back into our
corner of the park to make good on his threat, eh? And right at the
moment that the Law loosens its protection."
"Bangalore, I know the Law of the Park is wise beyond measure
and has existed from the dawn of time, but I sometimes wish we could
have that particular law amended to extend its protection
indefinitely to those who are bought into the pack."
"Ay. I myself have written our legislator many times, but
you know these politicians. Well! Let us be off!" And he motioned
for Loincloth to accompany them.
"Thou hast perhaps an idea of how to vanquish this foul
scourge?" Dhaleloo asked as the three of them hurried along the path
to prepare for the baleful confrontation.
"Yea. That do I," Bangalore replied and then made no more
conversation but rather spent all his energy to arrive by the side of
his favorite charge.
It was getting over towards dawn and bedtime as the three
finally arrived at the mouth of the den of Gadgli and her protectors.
Dhaleloo bethought him to slip on his blindfold but his companions
entered as they were. They found Chipgheera inside wandering about
and banging his noggin on everything around, for he had had the
presence of mind to keep his blindfold on so that he would not be
made as stupid as a little bird. Upon Dhaleloo's announcement of his
company's arrival Chipgheera breathed a sigh of relief and called to
Gadgli, "Come, child, and meet one who perchance shall see thee
through the next night in safety." Gadgli immediately entered to see
what he could possibly be speaking about when she saw her old teacher
and ran toward him and embraced him with joy.
"Bangalore Bill, my teacher! Thou who didst teach me all
that I, by birth a house mouse, have needed to know to survive in the
Park! Thou who didst inculcate in me the knowledge of the Master
Words of the shrew folk, the weasel folk, the fox folk, the bird
folk, the mosquito folk, Seeger and Guthrie, ad infinitum! Thou who
didst teach me to read the nuts of the tree, the leaves, the winds,
the clouds, and the smells of the Park so that now no one can harm
me! Ti-yi! Tungalee!"
Bangalore fought back tears as he looked upon his old student
and exclaimed, "Hominahominahominahominahomina!" Then he turned
surprised to Loincloth and whispered, "Evidently my sight is better
than I thought, for the sight of my beloved Gadgli has made me as
stupid as a little bird. Fetch thou my blindfold and apply it for
"Art thou sure?" Loincloth asked him, using all his will to
keep his own eyes tightly shut, "Thou art surely entitled to more
than mah jongg in thy declining years."
"The one with the eye hole?" Loincloth enquired, delighting
in the mischief he was making.
"Nay! Now cut out this kidding post-haste, for this be a
matter of life and death!"
Loincloth saluted his master and, as Bangalore was still
embracing Gadgli, flew to his pocket and produced from it his
blindfold and affixed it to him. (*After all,* he thought to
himself, *who are we, the Rotten-Log [the Fly People], to argue with
our "betters"? But by the Great Fly of whom we are but the foot
stickum that enableth him to walk on the ceiling, I am going to go
Union one day!*) Then, while he felt he personally didn't mind being
made as stupid as a little bird, seeing that a life was at stake, he
similarly protected his own eyes as well.
"Yea, my favorite cub," Bangalore finally answered Gadgli in
Chipgheera hated to interrupt the reunion but knew that he
must. "Bangalore Bill, hath thy wisdom given thee a way to protect
our Gadgli and end this threat permanently?" he asked.
"Ay. That it has," he responded.
At this there was a general sigh of relief among them all, as
they had full confidence in Bangalore's ancient wisdom. "Then what
is to be done?" Dhaleloo asked in puzzled but confident anticipation.
"Gadgli," Bangalore addressed the object of their mutual
concern, "knowest thou the red flower?"
Her eyes showed recognition, though of course the others
could not see this. "What is that, my teacher? The red flower, that
blooms in the spring, tra-la? Ay, often have I heard thee mention
the red flower. Thou didst teach me that that is a man-thing, and
that I must avoid it at all hazards."
"Ah, but this time thou must leave the Park and procure the
red flower and bring it back hither!" he then said to the surprise of
"What is this?" was Gadgli's very understandable response to
this. "Leave the Park, my home? But thou hast taught me above all
things to never leave its protection and to avoid all contact with
the house mice and the man folk. And I have never disobeyed thee one
time, nor do I intend to start now. This is some kind of test, isn't
it? To see if I have indeed learned all thou didst teach me? That
MUST be what this is! Never fear, my master, for I will show thee
that I have learned well! I will NOT leave the safety of the Park,
my masters and brothers, nor will I go near the red flower that
blooms in the spring, tra-la. It is an accursed man thing, and thou
hast taught me never to have anything to do with an accursed man
thing. And the red flower is about as accursed a man thing as a man
thing gets accursed. So," she added finally, "did I pass?"
By this time Bangalore Bill had plucked almost all the hair
from his body in frustration. "Nay, but thou mayest indeed pass out
of the world if thou dost not now indeed procure the red flower,
tra-la and all, from the man-pack and return it speedily hither!"
"Art . . . art thou sure, then?" She asked on behalf of the
chipmunks and the fly as well as herself, for none of them could
believe what they were hearing. "I mean, this is not a trick to
flunk me out or anything is it? Because if it is it's really unfair
of thee to insist to the point of me actually doing it and . . . "
"By the Great Mouse who chewed the holes in the toe of the
sock that held the world in darkness!" Bangalore swore in
frustration, "Who are we, the Cheese-Log [the Mouse People], to argue
amongst ourselves? If thou wouldst die then do not as I say! But if
thou wouldst live and slay thine enemy into the bargain then fetch
hither the red flower, and do it quickly! The day grows near and
when next we wake Shere Khat will be here to claim thee for his jaws!
Now GO!!!!!" And his vehemence was such that without another word
or moment's hesitation Gadgli departed swiftly and stealthily to
leave the Park and seek out those mysterious beings called mice and
"Was that outburst really necessary?" Chipgheera finally had
the nerve to ask.
Bangalore sighed. "Ay," he said. "Now I do recall that
Gadgli did always tempt me to abandon my long-standing opposition to
"Wast he anything like Sergeant Slaughter?" Dhaleloo asked.
If they had not all been blindfolded at that moment it would have
gone hard with him, but of course they could not see to bonk him.
Dawn was indeed beginning to redden the eastern sky as Gadgli
ran swifter than any house mouse to the edge of the park and then
finally beyond it to a nearby alley. She here replaced speed with
stealth, which she also had in abundance, for she knew that danger
abounded here, especially from the cats and the superstitious house
mice who told tales of the mysterious wild Park Mouse who wore no
goggles or coveralls and was rumored to assume any shape she wished.
She came before not too many minutes to the classic arch-shape (as
seen in cartoons on TV) which indicated a home of the species. It
was in behind an Italian restaurant, notorious for overweight orange
cats, but she knew the hole itself would be safe from such a threat.
Luckily, not everyone was awake. A young girl mouse was playing with
a much younger girl mouse before a fire place in which a few coals
glowed brightly. Almost instantly Gadgli entered, gave one stern
look to the terrified children, and then scooped up a few coals into
a clay pot that was conveniently available as a plot device. And
then she was gone.
"MOTHER!" the older girl cried as the younger one screamed
with fright. A curtain parted and three mice hurriedly entered the
room--two young boys and their mother, who wore a red cape. They all
listened as the girl told of the terrible apparition.
"Ti-yi! Tungalee!" the Mother exclaimed. "Were it one of
thy brothers or Cynthia who said such a thing, I would not believe
it, but thou, Teresa, I have always found truthful. Children, that
does it! We are moving to Thorn Valley!"
"YAY!" they answered in one voice.
Gadgli headed home as quickly as she had come, blowing on the
coals to keep them hot as she had seen the girl do, though I forgot
to mention it. Soon she had re-entered the safety of the Park and at
last came again to her home and friends. "I have returned!" she
announced, "Very evil, smelly, noisy, and evil things are house mice,
indeed! But arooa! Woo! This thing will die if I give it nothing to
eat. What shall I do, my masters?
"My little wise cub!" Bangalore exclaimed, arising from the
game of blindfold mah jongg he was losing to the chipmunks. "I care
not what thou feedest it, as long as it remaineth alive until after
the next sunset. As it is, we have all had a long night and must
needs get our rest before the great contest before us."
The chipmunks and the fly all agreed, and Gadgli realized
that she had not realized during her mission just how sleepy she was
getting. So they all curled up on the floor (for the urban wild folk
have no need of beds or blankets) and were soon asleep, though Gadgli
made sure first to revive the coals with some of the ample amount of
Bangalore's hair which she had inspired him earlier to pluck from
It seemed but a moment before Gadgli awakened, but though she
was indeed tired, her steeled nerves did not allow her to oversleep.
The same could be said of the other four--well, except that Dhaleloo
had to be bonked awake by Chipgheera. But at any rate they
breakfasted on a quick supper of nuts and cheese, fed the coals again
to keep them awake, and prepared themselves for the contest before
them--a contest that meant life or death for their beloved Gadgli.
They all knew that either she or Shere Khat himself would die that
They waited for many hours with no Shere Khat, and they began
to think that he had indeed thought better than to attempt to make
good on his ancient threat. But at about midnight the moon rose, and
soon the bright orb of the night was blocked out of the entrance to
the den by a great square head. Shere Khat had indeed come! Of
course only Gadgli could see him, for the others were careful to
remain blindfolded, but the senses of the urban wild folk are indeed
sharp, and they heard, smelt, and felt him approaching. And at his
heels was his scavenging servant Meppsaqui, who had pointed out
Gadgli's home by saying, "My lord, this is the place!"
"RRROOOOOOOWRR!" roared Shere Khat in a roar that was one
great roar (if that makes any sense), "Come out, house mouse! Thou
wert my meat from the beginning, and to my jaws thou must now come!
Come out and I may perchance spare the lives of thy miserable
"Come in and get me!" she taunted him, much to the distress
of the others.
Shere Khat bared his great fangs (though they could not make
out his face as the moon was behind him) and said, "Fool! Who art
thou to worst me? Thinkest thou not that I could at any time enter
into thy squirrel's den and devour each one of ye? I am the King of
the Park! I kill at will! I offer thee the opportunity to give
thine own life freely without the loss of thy friends, but perhaps I
am over-generous! Who are we, the Val Lewton-Log [the Cat People],
to be insulted by hors d'oevres? By the Great Cat who maketh the the
moon his scratching post and the sun his ball of yarn (which bringeth
to mind a really interesting aboriginal myth which I really must
record for posterity some day), thou hast sealed thy fate AND that of
thy friends! Behold, I come!"
At this with a horrendous meow Shere Khat, followed by
Meppsaqui, bounded into the den. But Gadgli's face yet showed only
scorn and contempt, and no fear. Reaching out a hideously clawed
paw, he took her into it and held her up to his face, and exclaimed
He paused in confusion and then turned to Meppsaqui. "It
seemeth that my prey hath grown up since last I saw her," he said,
"and now the very sight of her maketh me as stupid as a little bird.
Give me the blindfold, thou idiot!"
"The one with the eye-hole?" asked Meppsaqui, too stupid to
be made stupid.
Shere Khat bared his fangs at him. "YES!" he exclaimed, for
he was evil.
It is then that something really marvelous and unexpected
happened. Dhaleloo had been shivering in the far corner along with
the others; indeed, he had always been the more cowardly and lazy of
the two chipmunks. But at this point something snapped inside him as
he thought of his beloved Gadgli being biochemically reduced to cat
chow within the digestive system of the monster cat, especially in
his . . . oh well, never mind. At any rate, he suddenly became a
fury. Disregarding the power of his beloved Medusa, he boldly
snatched off his blindfold and ran right up to Shere Khat and
exclaimed, "Thou big bully! Leave her alone and pick on someone
thine own size!"
Shere Khat turned to face him with his bared fangs. "Like
THEE, perhaps? Thou refugee from the Anthro Art Ring! Thou hast
sealed thy doom!" And forgetting Gadgli for the moment, he swiped at
Dhaleloo with his claws, knocking him back into the far wall and
leaving several ugly scratches.
However, in forgetting about Gadgli he had swiped Dhaleloo
with the paw in which he had been holding her, which meant that he
released her in his blow and she fell upon the floor. Without
wasting an instant, and made even more determined and cunning by the
ill treatment of her friend, she grasped the pot of embers, of which
all urban wild folk are deathly afraid, and held it before Shere
Khat's immobile and terrified gaze. Gadgli and the coals together
were making him as stupid as two little birds, and that's sayin'
"Foul slayer of helpless babes!" she shouted with fire
leaping out of her eyes, "thou wilt never kill again, for with this
red flower that blooms in the spring, tra-la, I drive thee from the
Park forever!" And she flung the entire contents of the pot in Shere
Imagine her astonishment then as the wicked cat began to
shrink and fall away before her very eyes. "You cursed brat!" he
cried, "Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melting! Who would
have thought a little girl like you would put an end to my beautiful
wickedness! Oh, what a world, what a world! Look out! Here I
gooooooooooo . . . ."
"I'm very sorry, indeed," said the little girl, quite
frightened to see the cat melt away in front of her like brown sugar.
Meppsaqui came up and pawed the mess that was all that was
left of his master. He looked up at her and said "He's dead. You've
keeled him." And thereupon he vanished without a trace from the rest
of the story.
Gadgli suddenly recalled poor Dhaleloo and ran to him. It
was not a fatal wound, but he was terribly bruised and had several
ugly scratches which had left dried blood stains. Her heart swelled
up within her at his near sacrifice of himself and she suddenly
realized what he meant to her.
"Oh my poor injured Dhaleloo!" she said, beginning to cry,
"How thy ribs are bruised on my account, and thy flesh torn on my
account! I am heartily sorry to my tail's end that I have been the
occasion of thy hurt! Here. Let me comfort thee!" Whereupon she
enfolded the astonished chipmunk in her arms and held him close.
"HOMINA!" was all the happy chipmunk could manage to exclaim.
Now while Bangalore Bill and Loincloth durst not remove their
blindfolds, the direction of Gadgli's and Dhaleloo's conversation
(for lack of a better word) was too much for Chipgheera to bear. He
tore off his blindfold and was horrified at the sight that met his
eyes, of Gadgli embracing Dhaleloo. Looking about in desperation he
espied a very sharp rock lying around on the floor of the den. In
supreme relief he seized it, and then, turning over each wrist in
turn, did a quick suicide job on himself. Then he scampered over to
Gadgli and held out his arms so she could see what had been done.
"What? And art thou also wounded?" she asked with the same
concern that she had shown for the other chipmunk.
"Homina blood! Spurting from homina wrists!" he cried
joyfully, dancing before her in an ecstasy of anticipation.
But Gadgli reacted with perfect horror. "Ti-yi! Tungalee!"
she exclaimed, "My beloved master! If thou do not speedily remedy
thy bleeding then thy life will be over in a very short time!
Dhaleloo!" she called, turning back to him, "Quickly! Take thou our
beloved friend and brother to the dirt-daubers that they might stop
his bleeding at once! There is no time to loose! Go now!"
Giving a quick salute Dhaleloo did as he was told, for he was
also distraught about his oldest friend's fate. So he snatched
Chipgheera up and began running with him as best he could. And all
the while the bleeding chipmunk was crying "No! No! Not now! Not
while I was so close to Homina Heaven!"
Dhaleloo carried his friend as long as he was able, but he
soon tired and had to put his friend down to accompany him as best he
could. Chipgheera felt weak. His head was throbbing. His senses
were swirling. He looked about him upon the beauty of the greenery
in this woodland he had so long called home and listened to the song
of the throstle-cock. And as it all hit home to him, he thought his
heart would burst.
"Dale Scarlet?" quoth he.
"Aye, Robin Chip?"
"I do bethink me that we two must be the two merriest souls
throughout the length and breadth of merry England!"
"Aye, that do I as well!" quoth Dale Scarlet, "methinks that
even though we are but poor outlaws, verily our life is sweeter far
than that of the great lords. They live in cold and dank stone
castles, while we have all the beauty of Sherwood Park as our home,
with the birds of the air as our minstrels and the lillies of the
field as our banners. But still," quoth he, "I often wish that we
did not have to live like hunted beasts, constantly pursued by the
vile Normans who stole from us our own good land, which we stole fair
and square from those uncivilized savage trouble-making commie
indigenous Celtic peoples, with their left-wing nature-worshipping
religion and all."
"Aye," quoth Robin Chip, "I myself often yearn for my
ancestral home at Locksley Oaktree, from which I was unfairly driven
by the Norman scourge. But I look at it this way. This is probably
going to be the last time Anglo-Saxons get to be poor left-wing
oppressed people for a while, so I trieth to make the most of it."
And to this Dale Scarlet could but agree.
Soon the two Merry Munks came upon their hidden camp in the
very deepest dingly dells of Sherwood Park, where it moreover was
bosky and dosky withal. And there preparing a repast of goodly
pasties, plover's eggs, and good stout acorn wine was the holy Friar
Jack and his holy acolyte Drawstring. The merry foresters whistled
within themselves as they gazed upon this feast, and they did bethink
them that never king or lord had such fine victuals whereupon
thereunto thereanent. Leastways.
Drawstring first saw them approach and greeted them with a
merry buzz as Friar Jack looked up from the pot of gravy he was
preparing. "How now," quoth the jolly Friar, "wherefore are ye come
on this merry Maytide morning, when Drawstring and I have spent so
much time to prepare this merry feast withal?"
"Aye," quoth Drawstring, "Ye both would fain play laggards in
the greenwood while the two of us must fain do all the work!" And he
winked one simple and one compound eye to show that he spake in jest.
"Nay, speak not so flippantly," quoth Robin Chip, "but let us
only make ourselves merry and I will tell ye what we have learned of
the plans of our good friend, the Sheriff of Cattingham." And at
this they spoke no further but used their teeth to better purpose,
thrusting their hands deep into the pasties and pulling at their
pottles of sack. This they followed with merry ballads of the olden
time, when people rode those big-wheeled bicycles, looked at
stereoscopics, went to magic lantern shows, and still had values.
Moreover, in those days a nickel wast a nickel. And at last when
each had eaten and drunk his fill and shed bitter tears at the
disappearance of moustache cups, Friar Jack pushed away his plate as
if to say "I want thee by me no more, good friend."
"Now," quoth Drawstring, "let us e'en hear of our good
Sheriff's plans withal."
At this Robin Chip stretched and yawned in satisfaction and
quoth, "It seemeth that our jolly Sheriff hath proclaimed a great
shooting-match in Cattingham-town, the prize to be a beaten arrow of
pure gold and four marks withal."
"Aye," quoth Dale Scarlet, "but that be not the prize on
which thy heart is set, I wot."
"Thou wottest correctly," quoth Robin Chip, his eyes fixed on
the image in his mind's eye.
"Nay," quoth Dale Scarlet, "I wot not verily but by deeming."
"Er, uh . . . wotever," quoth jolly Robin, "But verily thou
hast spoken sooth, good Cousin Dale. Fain would I draw a bowstring
for the bright eyes of the fair Maid Gadget." And he sighed here as
he dwelt, as a lusty youth is wont to do at such a time, on the
bright eyes of the lass that he loved best.
"Marry, I blame thee not!" Friar Jack roared with good
natured laughter, "Why, had I not taken vows to enter holy orders, I
fain would wield bow and cudgel for the bright eyes of a sweet lass!
And will she know what thou hast done?"
"Aye, that will she, for she is to sit at the Sheriff's side,
who beeth, unfortunately, of kin to her," quoth Robin, losing his
misty expression at the thought.
"And thou fearest not?" Drawstring inquired at the thought of
his beloved master drawing bowstring before the Sheriff.
Robin Chip and Dale Scarlett looked on each other with
visages of mischief. "Watch ye!" they exclaimed in one voice, and
then they each entered their respective dwellings among the trees.
They remained but a few moments before they emerged again, and both
Friar Jack and Drawstring looked on them both with amazement, for
they had disguised themselves perfectly. The holy Friar made a long
whistle at this feat, while Drawstring murmered "Mayhap merrily
"So ye see," quoth jolly Robin, "all has been prepared for.
Now get ye into the disguises we have prepared for ye that we may
count upon your buffets in the case of danger."
But at this Friar Jack and Drawstring looked sideways at each
other and the good Friar quoth, "Nay. I fear me that today we are to
say vespers, for though we are outlaws to the Norman oppressors, we
have never failed to perform our religous duties as good Christians
and have always recited the holy office."
At this Robin Chip was right sad, but though he liked not the
cloth, yet the Friar and his acolyte were ever good Saxons and
friends to the wronged and the poor, and so he sighed and quoth, "Far
be it from me to prevent ye from fulfilling your vows, so Dale
Scarlet and I wilt leave ye to say vespers and go alone to nock
arrows for the bright eyes of Maid Gadget." And at this Robin Chip
and good Dale Scarlet gathered their quivers, arrows, and bows and
turned their heels to stride into the greenwood and begin their
journey to merry Cattingham-town.
The holy Friar and his acolyte gathered up the dishes and
then, seeing that their companions had indeed left them, looked slyly
at one another. "VESPERS!" they both said in one voice, and then
retired to their respective hammocks for an after-meal nap.
Meantime Robin Chip and Dale Scarlet walked with a merry step
through the greenery of Sherwood Park in the bright afternoon sun.
It was the merry Maytide, and Dame Nature herself seemed to be
walking with them. The lark and the thrush sang their songs, the
turtledove coo-rooed to his lady love, and the throstle-cock was
cocking his throstle sho' 'nuff. The sweet smell of woodbine filled
the air, and both chipmunks felt they had never been happier in their
whole lives when there was a sound of a flapping of wings heard
approaching them, and presently Dale Scarlet saw that it was his own
sweet lass, buxom Foxglove of the Blue Bottle, who often passed much
needed news to the jolly outlaws. She seemed to be in some
agitation, and finally alighted panting beside her stout lad.
"Hulloa thou, Foxglove!" quoth good Dale Scarlet, always glad
to see the lass that he loved best, "Dost thou go with us to the
merry shooting-match that I may draw bowstring for thy bright eyes
"Nay!" she exclaimed when she had caught her breath, "But I
am come to warn ye that ye must not go to this shooting-match, as ye
both value your lives!"
"How now!" quoth Robin Chip grimly, "and what meaneth this
warning of thine, my good lass?"
"Ye must know--" Foxglove began, and then wrapped her wings
around good Dale, "--O my beloved, who art to me more than sevenscore
fat moths on an August evening!--ye must know that the purpose of
this shooting-match is to entrap ye, and for that reason ye must not
go--O my love, thou art altogether lovely; thou hast dove's eyes!"
And she kissed him right lustily at the very thought that he might
sup that night in Paradise.
"And how knowest thou this news, buxom Foxglove?" asked Dale
Scarlet when he had sufficiently recovered.
"Aye, I suppose I AM buxom, at that!" quoth she, smiling and
blushing at the same time (for verily it was her proudest
accomplishment). Then answered she, "O thou whose name is to me as
ointment poured fourth, it is because last night I wast serving ale
at the good Blue Bottle to a number of the Sheriff's rats, lizards,
cats, and moles. And presently a murmer arose and went about the
room until presently it came before me, even into mine ears." And
here she began to cry.
"Why criest thou about a murmer?" asked Dale, his good heart
heavy at his love's sorrow.
"Because . . . because it murmered against THEE, my love!"
"Marry come up with a murrain!" quoth he.
"What sayest this murmer of thine?" Robin Chip asked.
"Oh good Robin!" quoth she, "There beeth no real tournament
at Cattingham-town today, for all the other stout yeomen competing
are verily the Sheriff's men. I mean, the Sheriff's rats, lizards,
cats, and moles," she corrected, "and as soon as ye are recognized ye
will be captured or slain!"
But at this the two jolly foresters smiled and looked upon
"Wherefore do ye smile?" asked Foxglove.
"Canst thou not see?" Dale Scarlet spake unto her
triumphantly, "We will never be recognized because we are in
disguise!" And here the chipmunks winked at one another right
"Aye," quoth good Robin Chip, "and we are each disguised as
someone the Sheriff knoweth right well by sight, so that we shall
without fail fool him."
Now forsooth Foxglove used her ears and echolocation skills
more than her eyes, but she gazed upon them intently to see what
scheme they might have to outwit the Sheriff. And then she started
back and exclaimed in consternation, "But ye are disguised as each
The two chipmunks looked upon one another. "Thy point
Maid Foxglove realized that the jolly outlaws could not be
persuaded to abandon the perilous path on which they had begun to
tread. She sighed and looked at her stout lad, nodded in
acquiescence and at last spoke.
"O my love, my dove, my undefiled!"
"Well . . . actually . . . " he spoke to himself beneath his
"If thou must needs put thy body in such dreadful peril then
I have learned that there is little I can do to dissuade thee. Thou
hast escaped danger before. Mayhap Dame Fortune will smile upon thee
in this matter as well."
"We would still be right glad if thou didst accompany us that
Dale Scarlet might shoot for thy bright eyes," quoth good Robin Chip
"Yeah!" Dale Scarlet added, "I have just bethought me of
something! MAID GADGET'S bright eyes . . . and THY bright eyes . . .
together maketh . . . FOUR BRIGHT EYES! And shooting for FOUR
BRIGHT EYES is so much better than . . . "
"Dale. Shutteth up." quoth Robin Chip, and he bonketh him on
"Nay," the good lass answered them, "for I could never bring
myself to see either one of thee in danger." And her eyes here
lingered longer on Dale Scarlet than on his master. "Besides. Hast
thou ever had a BOSS? And I'm late for work!"
"Farewell, Maid Foxglove," quoth Robin.
"Aye," quoth good Dale Scarlet, "Farewell my love. I shall
draw bowstring for thy bright eyes nonetheless. And fear not. Thy
lad is far too clever for the Sheriff! Besides," quoth he, thinking
of his last statement, "Robin Chip will be there." And so the two
stout chipmunks once more turned their heels and strode off toward
"Farewell my love, and thee, good Robin Chip!" quoth
Foxglove, waving behind them as they left, "Farewell, and may all the
blessings of Saints Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Septimus,
Octopus, Nonymous, Martin of Tours, Moses of Khoren, Gregory of
Datev, Duke of Earl, Akond of Swat, Isidore the Farmer, Ephrem the
Syrian, Basil the Bulgar Slayer, Mott the Hoople, Mack the Knife, Man
from U.N.C.L.E., James, James, James, the other James, Hosea Bigelow,
and the sevenscore holy martyrs who were trampled to death beneath
the hooves of the horses of Hrullgar the Mad Tyrant of Franistan fall
upon thine honest brows and protect ye from all harm!" Then she
expired from lack of breath.
In a short time the two merry companions were upon the
outskirts of the town. Now whether or not the shooting-match was for
real, there was certainly no intrigue behind the May Fair which took
place upon the green before the city gate every five years. Robin
and Dale looked about upon the booths, the banners, and the wares.
Here they found the wrestlers' sawdust ring in which Eric o'Lincoln
of great renown was struggling against some jobber (rumors among the
smarts of a face turn was evidently a work by the pencils to generate
heat among the marks); here they came upon a display before which one
cried out, "FRRREEEEEAK-
animalstheyrealiveyoucanhearembreathin!" But soon they came upon
what was the end of their journey--the field set aside for the
The field was decked in many colorful banners flying in the
wind, and it was indeed a splendid sight. But it did look
suspicious, for it was surrounded by the Sheriff's men who were armed
to the teeth, yet appeared very empty in the center, which should
have been peopled with jolly archers from across the length and
breadth of merry England. At the head of this field sat the Sheriff
of Cattingham himself on a raised dais. And at his right hand sat
the one for whom they had taken this great risk upon themselves.
Maid Gadget, the fairest lass in merry England, sat bedecked in
splendid coveralls of linen decorated with trim of the finest Flemish
lace, and perched upon her head were goggles of the purest silver.
She evidently recognized them, for she smiled sweetly upon them, and
it came to pass that she cast her two bright eyes upon them,
whereupon they both were all to-shivered and their hearts brast.
"Aye, Dale Scarlet?"
"THEM eyes is BRIGHT!"
"Verily thou hast said a mouthfull!"
Coming to themselves momentarily, they saw that they were
shooting against only four "competitors," each of them from the
Sheriff's own body guard. First was Sir Snout of Snout Hall, a fine
figure of a Rat, but with a cruel streak withal. Next was Sir Wart
of Worcestershire, a sinister skulking lizard. Then was Sir Mepps.
The only explanation for his being among the guard at all was the
rumored one that he was the Sheriff's own brother, and it was either
this or Bedlam for him, as he had no brains in his head. And finally
was Sir Mole of Mole End, a good-natured and merry soul withal, whose
fur for some strange reason was often full of whitewash. At this
situation the heart of Dale Scarlet sank at the thought of the danger
to his master and himself, but before he could speak to his good
cousin the Sheriff's herald, an arrogant duck in a mask and cape,
stepped forward and proclaimed the rules of the game:
"Ye archers shall each shoot at yon target. In turn nock ye
yon arrows and draw yon bows, the archer whose arrow misseth yon
mark--the one in yon target yonder--being eliminated from the next
round. After the fourth round only two of yon archers shall be left
to compete against each other, the winner to receive yon arrow of
beaten gold, to be presented by yon fair maiden (Bodkins! THEM eyes
is BRIGHT!). During the tournament, any of ye archers who overshoot
into yon swimming pool of yon right worshipful Sheriff, shall be
beheaded by yon jolly churl. And I am required by law to point out
yon emergency exits in case of fire."
It was a right pretty speech, but no one had heard it, as the
herald had yonned so much throughout that all present had fallen on
The Sheriff turned to the fair Maid Gadget and asked, "Well,
my lass, seest thou any lads among these archers who striketh thy
fancy?" though he of course had noticed the only two archers who were
not among his own men.
"Golly nay!" quoth she, though of course she had recognized
her sweet lad and his cousin, and was praying fervently within
herself to the good St. Withold to shelter them both within the palm
of his fist.
"What are we to do, good Master?" asked Dale Scarlet of his
"For the time being we must lay low and shoot our turns, and
deal with whatever problems as they develop," answered he.
There is no need to trouble thee, jolly reader, with the
details of all the rounds of shooting. Let it merely be said that
Robin Chip was the greatest archer in all merry England, while stout
Dale Scarlet was (conveniently) the second best. Of course the best
strategy would have been to shoot miserably, but neither could bring
himself to perform better than his best. And besides, the vile and
cunning Sheriff had already recognized them. Thus they proceeded to
shoot the tournament.
During the first round there were two eliminations. First
Sir Mepps defaulted when he looked at the bow in his hands and said,
"Hey Boss, what is this thing?" And then poor Sir Mole, who failed
miserably because he could not see his hand before his face. But the
others shot well, with Dale and Robin Chip having the best shots
among them. In the second round Sir Snout was eliminated, and then
only Robin Chip, Dale Scarlet, and the sinister Sir Wart remained.
The Sheriff was already licking his lips at the kill he was
about to make when he asked Maid Gadget at this point, "Likest thou
these fine lads, my dear?"
"Golly. Aye," she answered, but without much heart. For she
saw the large number of armed men present and the sparseness of the
contestants (all but two the Sheriff's own men) and she thought
within herself, *Golly ciphered right much. I do bethink me that
this vile Sheriff hath used me to entrap my dear friends. I must
bethink of a plan to help them escape withal.*
"Dost any one of them particularly strike thy fancy?" the
Sheriff asked next, playing with his whiskers in a most evil fashion.
"Uh . . . not really," she answered, again without much
Thanks to Sir Mepps' forfit, It was only the third round that
saw Sir Wart eliminated, leaving only our two heroes to face each
other. They drew bowstring against each other somewhat reluctantly,
but as Dale Scarlet knew on which side his bread was buttered, Robin
Chip of course won the day, though their disguises had caused all to
marvel throughout the day at Dale Scarlet's superior skill.
The Sheriff grinned wickedly as he stepped from his dais to
greet the winner, while Maid Gadget reluctantly and with much
foreboding arose to present the arrow of beaten gold.
"Right well hast thou shot today, good--Dale Scarlet is it?"
quoth the Sheriff on meeting them.
"Much thanks to your Worship," quoth jolly Robin, trying to
sound like Dale.
"And thou also, vile outlaw and sworn nemisis of mine, hast
also shot well. I am surprised that thou didst not win today."
"Thou winneth some; thou looseth some," Dale Scarlet
answered, trying to sound like Robin Chip and failing miserably.
"And so Robin Chip, the greatest archer in England, hath had
a bad arrow day, hath he?" quoth the Sheriff. "In sooth I do believe
that thou art none other than that vile varlet, Dale Scarlet!" and he
reached out quickly and rubbed all the brown mud from off Dale
"And THOU, good 'Dale Scarlet,' I do believe to be none other
than that rogue and traitor, Robin Chip!" quoth the Sheriff in a rage
as he snatched off Robin's ingenious red rubber nose, or whatever
material they used to make red rubber noses back then.
Robin Chip glowered at the Sheriff. "I am no traitor!" quoth
he, his eyes aflame.
"Nevertheless," teased the Sheriff, "SEIZE THEM!" And his
vast number of armed men, who had surrounded the entire field
throughout the entire contest, moved in grimly to take them both
prisoner for certain execution. Both Merry Munks reached back to
their quivers, but found they had long ago used up all their own
arrows and had in fact finished the contest with an extra quiver
provided for just such a contingency.
The two good friends looked helplessly at one another,
fearing that this time the jig was pretty much up. But suddenly, all
were surprised to hear the Sheriff's voice exclaim "STOP!" even more
loudly than before. All paused and looked to see the Sheriff held in
a very tight and intimate hug by Maid Gadget, with a look of grim
determination upon her face that can only be described as absolutely
"Quickly!" she cried while the soldiers were temporarily
distracted by their master's plight, "Flee ye now down Foss Way and
get ye to the safety of Sherwood Park and good Friar Jack and
Drawstring! Do it now, whilst I make this vile villain as stupid as
a little bird!" And her two bright eyes flashed, showing that she
The two chipmunks were sorry to leave Maid Gadget behind, but
there was little choice in the matter. She had been their spy within
the Sheriff's castle, but had now blown her cover in order to save
them. The soldiers likewise realized that the "STOP!" had been
addressed to their master's captress and immediately resumed their
advance on the brave outlaws.
"Wench!" cried the Sheriff, feeling himself becoming stupider
and stupider, "Thou shalt pay for this! By the way," he thought to
add, "there isn't anything between thee and my brother Mepps, is
there? That could explain a great deal. DUH!"
Why doth that never happen to ME?" quoth Robin Chip, as he
and Dale Scarlet backed from the armed men approaching closer and
closer from all directions. But suddenly their was an explosion, and
a great amount of smoke as of a fire, and they found themselves
joined by none other than the Sheriff's buffoonish herald.
"Quickly!" he told them, "Flee from the field while my
mistress Maid Gadget and I keep these knaves distracted!"
"Whaddaya mean, 'MISTRESS?'" Robin Chip inquired testily, but
good Dale Scarlet had the presence of mind to yank him from hence by
his arm. They still had a few guards to deal with, but Maid Gadget
was finally able to release the Sheriff and toss a sword to each of
them, which she did right deftly. Robin and Dale thereupon struck
skillfully with their good blades until they had caused enough of
their opponents to think better of trying to take them that a path
among the soldiers began to open for them as they ran for the exit.
But when Maid Gadget had released the Sheriff in order to
provide swords for her friends, that vile wretch began to regain his
intelligence, and soon he sprung forth and cried, "Never mind the
wench and that idiot duck! Get ye after those two rogues!"
Whereupon the guards began to reorient themselves through the smoke
and to set out after our heroes. The Sheriff himself seized a blade
and shouted, "Forward!" intending himself to slay Robin Chip on the
spot when he came upon him, but at that very moment, Sir Mole (who
had been shooting on the practice range to ensure a better result in
the next tournament) didst mistakenly slip his fingers as he fired an
arrow, and that same arrow did fly into the area of the tumult and
thrust itself clean through the body of the Sheriff. With a cry that
evil rascal fell forward upon the ground, reddening the green grass
with his heart's blood.
"WHAT? I'm dying AGAIN?" quoth he in disbelief, "That doth
not happen in THIS story! Leastways," he muttered under his breath.
In the mean time, Robin Chip and Dale Scarlet had made it out
of the archery range and then through the booths and tents of the May
Fair. As they finally reached Foss Way they began to slow down and
catch their breaths, for they thought the worst of the day's
adventure was behind them. But speedily they heard cries of rage and
vengeance behind them, and they looked to see what seemed to be the
full force of the Sheriff's men coming after them, mounted upon swift
"By the platter of good St. Swithin!" quoth Dale Scarlet in
dismay, "Now how are we to escape?"
"Save thy breath for running and SKEDADDLE!" commanded good
Robin Chip, and the chase was on again.
They ran at almost a supernatural pace out of sheer
desperation and their thoughts of what would happen to them when they
were inevitably overtaken by the fresh horses. On and on they ran,
their lungs crying out for air, their tongues lolling from out their
mouths, and their poor legs screaming with pain. But on and on came
the unstoppable horde, their inhuman cries of victory already in the
ears of the two brave outlaws. They heard the snorting of the steeds
and the sound of their great hooves as the dust swirled up all about
them. At last they could go no further. They simply stopped in the
middle of the road as the rich dust filled their eyes and entered
their nostrils, blinding and choking them. In dumb hopeless
anticipation of what would soon happen Dale thrust his hands into the
thick dust of the road he and his companion had been on for what
seemed like such an unimaginably long time, brought them out again,
and spoke to his life-long friend.
"Yes, Nehemiah Dale?"
"This be good Pennsylvania farm land."
"Aye, that it be, Friend."
These were the first words passed among them for some time,
and you really could not blame them. For their leader, who picked
the spouses of all the members of their tight-knit little community,
had actually chosen them to be the husbands of his own two eldest
daughters. This meant not only that their wives would be the most
beautiful of all in the community (or so it was rumored; they were
required to dress so modestly that no man really knew what they
looked like), but it meant status as well. It was an indication that
they would assume the leadership of the venerable elder after his
passing. It was a strange mixture of both physical and spiritual
"Yes, Nehemiah Dale?"
"Which of the two daughters do you think he will choose for
each of us?"
"I do not know, Friend, but I believe he will give his eldest
daughter to me."
This would mean that Ezra Chip would in fact outrank him as
leader of the Friends when the time came, and had not getting angry
been against his strict religious beliefs, Nehemiah would have done
so at that time. "Why does thee say that?" he asked, gritting his
"Thee does not want to know," Ezra Chip answered
matter-of-factly. Indeed, he would have said so smugly had not
smugness been against his strict religious beliefs.
"I does to!" Nehemiah Dale responded with some vehemence.
"Very well," Ezra Chip said as the two of them came to a halt
on the road, "The reason I will wed Jemima Gadget and thee will marry
young Kezia Foxglove is because thee is voluptuous."
"I is--I mean I am not!" he protested vehemently.
"Thee is being voluptuous again," said Ezra Chip, "It is a
good thing that we are forbidden by our strict religious beliefs to
throw things in one another's faces, and that I am so strict about
adhering to said beliefs."
"Now thee is being prideful, which is also against our
beliefs!" Nehemiah Dale retorted in satisfaction.
"Oh yes? Well THEE is being a fault-finder!" Ezra Chip
exclaimed, gritting his teeth, though being careful not to cross the
line into gnashing. "And if there is a deplorable combination of
vices it is being a voluptuous fault-finder! One day thee is going
down the slippery slope and become a TALE-BEARER!"
At this warning of ultimate transgression Nehemiah Dale lost
all his hot blood and looked down upon the dust of the road, which
they were all supposed to surpass in humility. "I--I'm sorry,
Friend. I did not mean to degenerate into such a sewer of vice
merely on the road to the house of Armageddon Jacob. Will thee
forgive me?" And the look he gave his dear companion would have
melted a stone.
"Well . . . I suppose I HAVE to, seeing as how it is required
by our strict religious beliefs," Ezra Chip answered, being sure not
to sink into flippancy by smiling. "I tell thee, sometimes thee is
so voluptuous that were I not a pacifist I would bonk thee on the
"Oh, thank thee, Ezra Chip, for not so bonking me!" Nehemiah
Dale said in a voice of true penitence and gratitude, "and I promise
I will try to stop being so voluptuous if thee will guide me! I
suppose it is just one of my sinful character traits. Thee has no
idea how hard it is for me not to be voluptuous. I--I can't stop!
HELP ME!!!" And he climbed onto his friend and forced him to fall
backward upon the ground as he looked into his eyes with panic at the
thought of being found wanting.
After Ezra Chip had convinced his friend to get off him he (I
must! I must! I've passed it up once before. But now the madness
is too strong! TOO STRONG!!!!!) picked himself up, dusted himself
off, and started all over again. (THERE! I've said it, and I'm
GLAD!) Soon he was helping him remember always to step first with
the right foot, to make only perpendicular ninety degree turns, and
walk only in a straight line, in accordance with their strict
religious beliefs. Thus in a little while they arrived at the farm
of Armageddon Jacob. Though this worthy had led the community for
forty years, his own farm was no larger than that of any of the other
Friends. Moreover, it could never be said that he did not practice
the virtues he demanded of the others. They were not sure where he
might be this morning; he was usually working in the field, but he
had set the time for this appointment.
Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale walked up the steps of the modest
cabin onto the front porch and knocked. For a while they heard
"Perhaps he has forgotten and is in the fields," Ezra Chip
said to his friend, "Let us sit out here on the chairs."
"I want to sit in the swing!" Nehemiah Dale answered, his
penitence of only a moment ago forgotten, "Why isn't there a swing?"
Ezra Chip slapped his palm across his face in frustration.
"There is no swing, Friend Dale, because swings are devices of vanity
and mischief. I thought thee was sorry for being so voluptuous."
"That is being VOLUPTUOUS?" Dale responded in shock. "If
that be the case, then, I suppose I am."
"SILENCE!" Ezra Chip exclaimed in horror, clapping his hand
over Nehemiah Dale's mouth, "If he hears thee, that will be the end
of our happy future with his fair daughters!"
"Well, maybe it's not worth it."
"HOW CAN THEE SAY THAT?!" Ezra Chip roared, forgetting the
possibility of being overheard.
"Well, I think that thee takes things too seriously. I think
we should simply enjoy life and have fun," Nehemiah Dale declared
It was a while before Ezra Chip could find his voice after
that one. But when he did, he lost it.
"BLASPHEMY!" he thundered, "What a life of sloth and vanity
thee is suggesting! Has thee no aspirations? I have always wanted
to lead a small band of do-gooders, so I suppose we have very little
in common after all! Since thee is so lacking in ambition or
devotion to our ways, why does thee not just leave our community?!"
"Ah-HAAAAAAAA!!!" Nehemiah Dale exclaimed at being handed
this trump card (except he would not have known to call it that; he
might have been voluptuous, but not that much!), "so thee is
AMBITIOUS, huh? I believe that little fault of thee's calls for
Ezra Chip was here overcome by his own characteristic fault,
and so he threatened, "If thee so much as INTIMATES to Armageddon
Jacob that I am prone to that vice, then I will have nothing left to
lose, and will thus be free to bonk thee on the noggin'! And I WILL,
too! Just see if I don't!" And he clenched a fist forebodingly.
"Thee and whose host?" Nehemiah Dale responded menacingly.
At this point in the confrontation they were interrupted by a
faint buzzing sound as the screen door flew open briefly and then
again sprang shut. In embarrassment and anxiety they looked up to
see that it was Armageddon Jacob's chief assistant, Most Chaste
"Uh, hi! We . . . we were just waxing wroth at the sinful
habits of today's world!" Ezra Chip said quickly as sweat beaded up
on his brow, "You know. Taking oaths and military service and . . .
and voting and such like."
"Yeah!" Nehemiah Dale agreed, "That's the ticket! Waxing
wroth! Er . . . not a lottery ticket, you understand! Just . . . a
ticket! But not one to a theater or a carnival or a circus or a
Greyhound stagecoach or that secret cockfight every Saturday night at
Obadiah Snout's or . . . "
"Shutteth up, Friend!" Ezra Chip whispered to him from out
the side of his mouth.
"It's more like the ticket to the annual Shirley Jackson
Memorial Lottery we have every June, and that's GOTTA be all right
because without it . . . "
"I take it that thee are here for thees' appointment with
good Armageddon Jacob about his two eldest daughters," Most Chaste
Fastener interrupted flatly, without indicating one way or another as
to whether he had picked up any damning--well, not damning, but you
know what I mean--information from the conversation of the two closet
backsliders. They could only nod profusely in return. "Well then,"
MCF continued, "thee must both wait out here on the porch until Elder
Armageddon returns from the field. He has not forgotten thees'
appointment with him, but he may be delayed by his work." The two
Chipmunks were only too glad to sit down in the chairs and do this.
MCF likewise remained on the porch with them, and they all looked
anxiously toward the field to see if they could make out the
approaching form of their spiritual leader.
The hot summer sun beat down on the three on the porch as
they waited. Soon they were all sweating from the heat, but the two
chipmunk Friends had the added conditions of nervousness and anxiety
to deal with as well, so they had it much worse than the solemn fly.
It was nearing noon and the two suitors were becoming progressively
more nervous when suddenly they heard MCF exclaim, "Friends, I see
him coming yonder!" They reacted to this with a mixture of relief
and even greater agitation.
At first it was a small speck on the dusty road coming from
the field. Then as the speck came closer they could make out the
long black cloak and hat, the moustache and long white beard, and
finally the rather stout figure of the Elder. It was indeed pious
Armageddon Jacob. Armageddon was a truly awesome figure, for he had
led this little community, as I stated before, for forty years, yet
his eye was not dimmed; neither was his natural force abated
(whatever the Sam Hill that may mean). Armageddon never asked anyone
to perform a task he would not willingly do himself. Even now he was
covered with dust from his hard toil, for it was his custom to hitch
himself to the plow and make his horse drive HIM. In no time the
lively Elder stood before them just off the porch. His pious sweat
streamed from his pious brow onto the pious ground, turning the pious
dust into pious mud beneath his pious feet until it squished between
his pious toes. At his glance the two suitors were terrified, for it
seemed he could peer into one's very soul. They were also worried
about MCF informing him of certain things he may have overheard. But
the assistant spoke nothing, and finally Armageddon ascended onto the
porch, opened the front door, and motioned with his head for them to
follow him inside.
As soon as the door closed behind them a swift blur dashed up
to greet them. "Oh papa!" the little girl said, hugging the
venerable elder, "lunch is almost ready and--who is THAT?" This was
directed towards Chip.
"These are the young brethren who are come to meet thee's
sisters, my child," he answered, "Are they ready to be presented?"
"Yes, Father," she said in a disappointed tone, "May I not
wed THAT one? He's cute!"
"Nay, my child," he answered her, "but never fear. Thee will
wed a good respectable pious man when the time comes. Now go and
fetch thee's sisters! That is Keren-happuch Tammy, my youngest," he
explained to the chipmunks after the child had left in a little bit
of a huff, "She has not yet attained the age when she must cover her
At this point the two elder daughters entered the room. At
least that is what the suitors assumed;
they were so wrapped up in modest clothing that who or what they were
was not really discernable. Armageddon then motioned for all present
to be seated and for Keren-happuch Tammy to leave the room again,
which she did reluctantly. The suitors sat in two chairs on one side
of the room and the girls opposite them on the other side, with the
venerable patriarch sitting against a perpendicular wall between the
two couples, MCF on his shoulder. Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale could
not for the life of them figure out if their prospective partners
were nervous, but they were perfectly certain that they themselves
After a very uncomfortable silence of several minutes
Armageddon Jacob cleared his throat and began ticking down his list
of theologically correct positions with which his sons-in-law had to
agree, including opposition to such vices as taking oaths, performing
military service, voting, capital punishment, eating meat, alcohol,
dancing, bingo, cards, mah jongg, celebrating Christmas, pitching
horse shoes, and secret societies. Both young munks held their
breath as they waited for the hammer to fall, but Ezra Chip was
relieved that ambition was never mentioned, and Nehemiah Dale felt
the same at the omission of voluptuosity.
When he had finished checking their orthodoxy Armageddon
Jacob nodded in satisfaction and walked over to his daughters.
Taking one by the hand he said, "Ezra Chip, to thee I give my eldest
daughter Jemima Gadget."
*Yes!* the aforesaid chipmunk said to himself, more out of
the position this conferred than anything else.
Continuing to the other daughter Armageddon took her by the
hand and said, "And to thee, Friend Nehemiah Dale, I give my second
daughter, Kezia Foxglove."
"Fine by me" he responded, as he was not as needful of
authority as his friend.
"Then it is settled," Armageddon sighed in satisfaction.
Both suitors got up to go to their respective future wives
but Armageddon quickly cleared his throat and showed stern
displeasure on his face. Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale both sat down
hurriedly and even the daughters from beneath their bonnets and veils
seemed somehow to indicate sadness and disappointment. After some
moments of silence Armageddon Jacob finally spoke again.
"Thee will court for ten years," he told them, "followed by a
five year engagement while you build homes and farms for my daughters
by the sweat of thees' brows. Thee may hold hands on the
twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, with a kiss on the cheek on the
fiftieth. And on the diamond jubilee, when my precious roses are
sufficiently withered that they are no longer a snare unto the frail
youths of our community, they may show thee their faces."
Suddenly Keren-happuch Tammy bounded in. "Poppa, may I skip
the veil and just go ahead and wither at age twelve?" she asked
"Child!" her father said sternly to her, after which she
again reluctantly withdrew.
"Now," he continued to the assembled young people and to his
assistant, "my daughters will serve us our food." At this the two
arose eagerly to go into the pantry, and returned in less than no
time with five bowls of something or other which they set on the
simple wooden table in the corner. This was moved away from the wall
sufficiently for the chairs to be placed around it, but they then
left the room, apparently to eat by themselves in the kitchen so as
not to immodestly reveal the snares that were their faces. Not to
worry though, for Keren-happuch Tammy soon joined them and sat right
next to Ezra Chip, much to his consternation and discomfort. She
also cast him such looks (at which, oddly enough, her father only
laughed in amusement) that he could hardly get his food down.
Ezra Chip knew to keep his mouth shut, but his friend had
this little problem with being voluptuous and eventually felt
compelled to ask about the tasteless hard stuff. This was of course
alarming to Ezra.
"Do thee like thees' bowls of sticks?" their host asked.
"There be some who would call them "grape nuts" and sell them to our
fellowmen for a profit. Abominable! I was careful to include plenty
of thorns in this batch for self-mortification. But do be careful to
spit out the ants so as not to be cruel to animals."
Finally Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale had had enough of this
healthy natural dish (another of their secret vices was putting milk
and sugar in theirs at home) and pushed their bowls to the center of
"Poppa, may I have what they have left?" Keren-happuch Tammy
"No, my child," he answered her, "Thee must learn to eat in
moderation, and this food will be put back for another day." Then to
his guests he said, "Are thee done already? Thees' bowls are yet
half full, and I notice that the ants are of a species with painful
stings, and that is an excellent opportunity to gain practice in the
holy virtue of dourness. Besides, King Solomon said 'Go to the ant,
"Uh, no thanks!" both chipmunks answered him.
For a while they sat about the table in silence as their
meals digested or (in the case of Ezra and Nehemiah) poked holes in
their stomachs. Ezra Chip was very fearful that his light-headed
friend might say something foolish and get them both in trouble, so
he thought he had better get some conversation started on a safe
topic. Looking nervously at Tammy, who was batting her eyelashes at
him like Senator Ervin, he said, "Armageddon Jacob, thee has truly
fine children. Where is their mother?"
Suddenly the earth seemed to stop turning. Most Chaste
Fastener had a look of horror on his face. Even little Keren-happuch
Tammy dropped her spoon on the table and remained frozen and
open-mouthed. As for their host, there was a look of absolute fury
in his eyes that seemed totally contrary to his character. "NOW look
who has goofed up!" Nehemiah Dale said sideways to the offending
party, "It is Shun City for us, and THEE is supposed to be the smart
Armageddon was literally shaking all over by this time, but
suddenly he stopped and resumed his former demeanor, with a very sad
and forlorn look on his face. "Thee could not know," he told them,
"and as thee are to marry my daughters I will tell thee the story,
provided thee will solemnly AFFIRM (and that is a very important
point) to tell no one."
Considering the two suitors' terror of but a second before,
this sounded very reasonable indeed.
"Excuse us, my child," Armageddon said to his youngest
"But Poppa! I want to . . . "
"No! This is not for thee, my innocent flower of Eden!" he
said sadly but resolutely, "Please join thee's sisters."
"I will escort her," MCF volunteered.
"Thank thee, old friend!" Armageddon said with relief. And
so Tammy, accompanied by Most Chaste Fastener, went into the kitchen
leaving the chipmunks alone with the imposing patriarch.
"I know to thee I seem to be one who has never known young
love," he told them at last, "but that is not so. Many years ago,
before I became the leader of our community, I had a beautiful young
wife who outshone the sun in the sky for splendor. She was French,
of Huguenot extraction, and her name was Delilah Desiree." And here
he sighed. "I thought she was content in our life here, and she
seemed happy at the birth of the first two children, but . . .
something was eating away at her. She was . . . ambitious."
At this Ezra Chip swallowed hard and looked at his dear
companion with almost fear, as Nehemiah Dale knew his secret fault.
Armageddon Jacob resumed.
"Well, thee must know tht Most Chaste Fastener was not my
first assistant when we came here. My first was Eglon (now Eglon was
a very fat cat). But when he was shunned for gluttony, I found a new
assistant: Esau Errol. At first I thought I had chosen well, as he
had appeared dedicated to our beliefs since he was a lad. But little
did I know that he had a great hidden vice lurking in his soul. He
was . . . he was . . . VOLUPTUOUS!"
Now it was Nehemiah Dale's turn to cast an anxious look at
"I could see that my dear wife was becoming very dissatisfied
with our simple life here," he continued, "but Esau Errol I never
suspected. Finally after young Keren-happuch Tammy was born ten
years ago, they both disappeared, leaving me to raise three daughters
on my own. That explains, I hope, why I have become so much stricter
in my interpretation of our practices over the past decade. Anyway,
their disappearance did not long remain a secret. For I found a note
only a few days later, evidently written the very morning they left,
in which they boasted of what they had done and then gave their
reasons. They ADMITTED that she was ambitious and that he was
voluptuous. And on learning this, I am afraid I did something
terribly wrong. I . . . I swore an oath!"
"NO!" both his listeners exclaimed in disbelief.
"Yes. I did. And how long and how often I have repented
"Er, uh . . . exactly what was this oath, Armageddon Jacob?"
asked Nehemiah Dale.
Armageddon looked straight through him. "I swore that if
ever I came upon two people together again, one of whom was ambitious
and the other voluptuous, I would stone them both with stones so that
The gulp that followed was heard around the world. They
tried to maintain their composure as they tugged at their collars and
wiped sweat from their brows. "That's terrible, alright," Ezra Chip
offered, "It's a good thing that our strict religious beliefs forbid
the taking of oaths!" To which Nehemiah Dale added, "Yes sir-ee! A
"I am afraid the moral theology on this point is not quite
that simple," Armageddon said to their dismay. "It is true, as thee
say, that our strict religious beliefs forbid the taking of oaths.
However, when once an oath is taken, those same strict religious
beliefs demand that the oath be fulfilled as soon as possible, else
the swearer has increased his transgression thirtyfold. Yes, that's
right, thirtyfold." And he looked very thoughtful.
"Well . . . well, look at the time!" Ezra Chip shouted
nervously. "We've got to get back to do our chores!"
"Yeah, that's right!" Nehemiah Dale said as he joined his
friend in rising from the chair and beginning to back towards the
door, "Chores! That's the ticket! Well, not a TICKET ticket, like
to a skating rink or a . . . "
"Shut up, dear friend!" Ezra Chip said between his smiling
Then Armageddon Jacob arose also and went over to them, a
look on his face that seemed to indicate that he carried the burden
of the world on his shoulders, a burden that he fain would have
removed at long and dear last. "Do thee know of any such two people
among us?" he asked them, his eyes at once indicating both innocence
and a grim determination to do this fell deed.
"Uh, no! Not at all! Er, does thee know of any voluptuous
types running around loose amongst us, Friend Ezra?"
"No! Certainly not! Uh, does thee know of any with ambition
among us, Friend Nehemiah?"
"Nary a one!" he answered. "Isn't that too bad? Well, we'll
be going . . . !"
"That is indeed too bad, too bad," Armageddon Jacob said,
inclining his face to the floor in sadness, "That means only one
thing. I have raised two daughters, who are now in thees' good and
pious hands. I cannot raise sweet, innocent young Keren-happuch
Tammy with this hanging over my impious head. So from this moment I
am making it my whole task to SEEK OUT and DESTROY two such villains!
Then, then I may depart this world in peace."
Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale were fairly hugging each other
for support in the face of this deadly threat, when suddenly a
buzzing noise was heard again and all three looked up to again see
Most Chaste Fastener, who appeared to be in some agitation.
"Quickly, good Armageddon!" he shouted, "a grave threat to
public morals has entered the camp!"
"It wouldn't be an ambitious and a voluptuous person
together, I don't suppose?" he inquired without much hope.
"I am afraid not, Armageddon! A politician has come among
Armageddon seemed to wave the whole thing off. "Though his
ways be different from ours, let us extend to him the right hand of
hospitality. We need not emulate his sinful ways."
"But he is handing out literature!" he added.
"All the same. A stranger has come among us who does not
know our ways. Let us offer him peace nonetheless."
"For Van Buren!"
"THE KINGDOM OF SATAN HAS COME AMONG US!" thundered
Armageddon Jacob. "Where is this beast from the pit?"
"He is at the well, and a great crowd is listening to him!
Hurry, Armageddon!" the fly said in a voice of near panic.
Armageddon Jacob flew out the front door, pulling off his
coat (showing two still very muscular arms) and shouting "IT'S
CLOBBERIN' TIME!" as he went. For according to the community's
strict religious beliefs, Loco-Focos were the only exception to the
prohibition of violence against any man.
This news only worried the two chipmunks even more. "What's
this world comin' to?" Nehemiah Dale asked. But before his friend
could answer, MCF addressed them. "Hurry, friends! While he is
distracted thee may both flee with thees' betrothed. A carriage is
standing at ready and the maidens are waiting for thee. Hurry!"
Ezra Chip and Nehemiah Dale were quite stunned at this turn
of events, but they did not tarry over it. The fly led them into the
kitchen where two practically mummified girls had all their baggage
packed and ready. "Good-bye, my sisters!" said poor Keren-happuch
Tammy, "Now get going before Pop comes back! I will join thee in
freedom when it is time for me to put on a tow sack. Sheesh! No
offense, but thee both look HIDEOUS in those get-ups! And Jemima,"
she added, casting a covetous eye toward Ezra Chip, "if thee doesn't
like this one for any reason, he's MINE! Does thee hear me?" A
muffled sound came from one of the bundles in response. "Well, just
see that thee keeps thee's word, then! Now go!" And hear the
precocious squirrel rushed to the front door to keep a look-out.
Most Chaste Fastener then lead them outside to the back of
the house where a horse-drawn carriage with a driver was waiting.
"Of a truth I am sorry to so trick thees' father," he told the girls,
"but I know life is too hard for thee here after that unfortunate
episode with thees' mother. Go and be happy!"
"But what will thee do when Armageddon Jacob returns?" Ezra
Chip asked with genuine concern.
"Not to worry," MCF answered, "Keren-happuch Tammy and I have
a cheese all ready to distract him. That will put him under for a
week, and when he comes to he shouldn't remember anything. Go!"
The chipmunks held the door open and assisted the two bundled
figures aboard, which was no easy task, and then tossed the luggage
up to the driver. As soon as they had all entered and the doors were
shut Most Chaste Fastener flew up to the driver. "Get out of this
county as quickly as thee can!" he said, and then promptly bit both
the horses on their tushes. The effect can well be imagined. Off
they went, with the poor driver almost falling off, and soon the
little settlement where they had all spent their entire lives
vanished behind them in a cloud of dust.
After they had ridden for some time they heard a muffled
sound coming from one of the living clothes racks, at which point
Ezra Chip told them, "Thee may both show thees' faces now."
"Yeah! Let's see what kind of deal we got!" Nehemiah Dale
Both maidens eventually were able to stick their arms through
the tents they were wearing and then somewhat tentatively remove
their head coverings. "Well?" they asked together when their faces
were in full view for the first time sense puberty.
"HominahominaHOMINA!" Ezra Chip reacted.
"Lu-CEEEEEEELE!" Nehemiah Dale exclaimed.
Both girls blushed appealingly. Jemima Gadget looked at Ezra
Chip and said, "Is thee my husband-to-be? Please excuse me for
saying this, but . . . golly. There! I've said it and I'm glad.
Now please forgive me!"
Kezia Foxglove, who seemed to be somewhat shy and unsure of
herself by nature, took one look at Nehemiah Dale and lost it.
"Hi-thee, cute stuff!" she said, batting her eyelashes at him
while she giggled like one right taken.
Nehemiah Dale blushed. "Does thee have any objections to
marrying a voluptuous fellow?" he asked nervously.
"Not at all," she answered, "I have a bit of a problem with
being buxom, myself."
"Do thee suppose we can all start talking normally now?"
Jemima Gadget asked, "We've done this for three stories, and it's
really starting to get to me."
"Does thee thing we should?" Kezia Foxglove asked cautiously,
"It could be a slippery slope from there. Thee never knows."
Ezra Chip, wanting to impress his beautiful betrothed, and in
truth to overshadow his companion, spoke up at last. "Well, I say
let's give it a try! AHEM! Here goes. You!" And they all gasped
while Ezra shielded himself from the bolt of lightning. But the bolt
of lightning never came.
"Well, whattaya know . . . ?" Jemima Gadget then said,
gasping when she realized how she had said it. And after this they
all started talking that way.
"You know," Ezra Chip said to Nehemiah Dale as they both
looked at their beautiful soon-to-be-wives, "I think this is the
beginning of a beautiful life together for each of us!"
They even voted that year. But not for Van Buren. They
weren't that far gone.
And they all lived in happiness and contentment for the rest
of their lives.