You can lead a horse to water

But it prefers warm beer and stale bread.

The miniature pony visited again yesterday. I have not seen her for nearly a month. Mitternacht was the name, if I remember, but she did not appear to remember having already met me. She asked for warm beer and the stalest bread. Let it never be said that the Lucky Leaf doesn’t go out of its way to satisfy a customer. The beer was easy, with the aid of a saucepan from the kitchen, a pint from the pump and the little brazier that for some reason, sits on the end of the bar, warm beer was achieved in minutes. As for the stalest bread, that was an exercise in exploration of the kitchen, and possibly, advanced biology. I declined to serve the stalest bread that I found on the grounds of it being rather green, and possibly host to an evolving civilisation. I put aside a couple of what might have been cooking experiments for safe disposal later.

Mitternacht seemed quite content with the meal thus proffered and even insisted on paying for it. I was just going to charge her for the beer, but she insisted that ‘the mare’, presumably meaning Aoibheann, usually charged her five midari. Well, as the tavern’s accountant, I could hardly argue with the concept of being paid for something I would otherwise have thrown away. She got most of the money back anyway, having been out picking herbs in the forest. I gave her four midari for the sorrel, wild garlic and sage she had picked.

You would think that by now, having spent almost two years dealing with the concept of conversation with other species, that I would be better at avoiding cross-cultural confusions. The matter of languages came up and I stupidly added “and I can ask for a beer and a BJ in half a dozen other European languages” to my list of languages spoken. This could have led to a very tricky conversation and a somewhat embarrassing explanation. Fortunately for my sanity, I was not called upon to explain the concept of oral gratification to a pony. She accepted my explanation of it being a part of human mating behaviour and probably not part of the equine experience. This did cause me to spend some time, later, reflecting on why it is I am so clumsy when talking about such matters. I was never shy when engaging in such activities in innumerable European whorehouses. Perhaps I am more of a product of my former society’s mores than I thought. It was a useful period of speculation, giving me some further clues as to Edmund’s personality and behaviour. I am still no nearer writing the next chapter, but at least I have a better idea of how he might react to things.

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