Wednesday, 16 May 2012

'The Alchemist's Ear' by Yvonne Gubbins

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. This much was blatantly obvious, to the sow, at least. The ear in question had resisted all attempts at alchemical transformation. The sow, Betsy, was delighted with this as she’d grown quite attached to her ear, especially since it had started to attract so much attention and accompanying extra food rations. The alchemist, Ralph, was outright distraught at his lack of success with the ear. Perhaps, he thought, he could feed Betsy on a strict diet of Mulberry leaves, that was after all what silk worms dined on, and then he may have some success.
Ralph instituted the specialist diet. Betsy became disgruntled. Where were her rations of boiled potatoes with the lovely skins on? Where were her delicious apples and hazelnuts? What were these limp leaves doing here? And were those worms she saw amongst them? Betsy, a full grown Gloucester Old Spot, had been bred for living in apple orchards and woodland. The alchemist’s workshop was tolerated as a home as long as the apples appeared on a regular basis. She even allowed some grooming of her right ear while she chomped and munched her way through her trough of Granny Smiths.
Two days into her new enforced diet Betsy asserted herself. As Ralph approached with an armful of specially imported Mulberry leaves, thoughtlessly eating one of her beloved apples, she made her plan. Remaining perfectly still while Ralph muttered on about the intransigence of organic matter Betsy subtly shifted her weight and pointed her considerable girth towards her pen gate. Opening the gate holding the apple, a Golden Delicious today, in his mouth, Ralph made to throw Betsy her leaves. As he threw the leaves up Betsy squealed her most high pitched squeal then burst from her pen colliding with Ralph’s puny frame. The alchemist was knocked to the floor and promptly trampled by Betsy who was intent on getting that Golden Delicious out of his mouth.
  Ralph was stunned, groaning on the ground as Betsy devoured the apple in one swift crunch. Her hunger not yet sated Betsy cast about looking for another tasty morsel, the Mulberry leaves were ruled out immediately. You can’t make a silk purse out of my ear, thought Betsy, but let’s see if I can make an appetiser out of your ear Ralph!

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