Friday, February 3, 2012

Tess and Cowslips

Wessex, 1890

“Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Froom Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their surroundings.” 

— Steady on, old chap. That’s a bit fruity, isn’t it?

— Well, that’s rather the point.

— I’m not sure readers are ready for that sort of thing.

— It’s only a description of the season.

— “Ready bosoms”?

— Certainly.

— Ready for what, pray tell?

— For nature to infuse them with life.

— Wink wink!

— They are ready to be impregnated by their surroundings, not a man. Really, must you always see the worst?

— Look — I’m only pointing out what your publisher inevitably will. What’s the novel about, anyway?

— It’s a tragedy about a maid struggling against the injustices of life. Her name is Tess. 

— And?

— And in order to replace a dead horse she is raped and bears a child who dies and is then married by a man who leaves her when he finds out, and she is opportuned once again by her rapist whose mistress she becomes before her wayward husband returns, whereupon she murders the father of her dead baby, runs off with the returned husband hoping to escape, but is apprehended and hung for her crime.

— Good Lord, man.

— One day it will be a classic of literature, I am sure of it.

— You, Sir, are off your rocker. This isn’t literature; it’s the worst kind of smut. You will be ridiculed as a purveyor of filth and mocked in the streets as your career circles the drain.

— So be it. How about some cowslip wine?

— Thought you’d never ask. Ah, the noble cowslip. It’ll carpet these English fields as far as the eye can see for generations to come. You mark my words.

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