A Very Curious Bird

The house-breaking continues:


There is but one word for it. Chaos.

Wait, no – is that the word I want? Perhaps ‘disarray’ would be better. Or ‘pandemonium’, perhaps? Or even, should you feel inclined, ‘anarchy’?

The long and short of it is that a bird has entered your house. How he/she/it got in remains unclear (further research is needed before I can confirm the sex to which the subject under investigation belongs). My first thought was through the chimney, but then I remembered that you have no chimneys. This prompted a rethink, which led in time to the conclusion that it must, for now, be categorised (like so many dear incidents) under the word ‘mystery’. What does it matter in the long run?

Unless, of course, it made its way through the letterbox. Do you think that could be possible, bearing in mind that we’re obviously dealing with a very curious bird here? What kind of bird, I cannot say; rest assured it is a curious bird. I might even go so far as to say that it is a curiously cultured bird. Quelle surprise, quoth the reader. It would have to be a cultured bird to have decided to enter your house, non?

I say cultured: this isn’t to say that it hasn’t had its – shall we say – ‘lapses’, or ‘difficult moments’. To put it another way, there are droppings all over your collection of antique yoghurt pots (or whatever they are; I have never been able to tell). There are also a few stray feathers here and there. On top of all this, I suspect it might have pecked the stuffing out of your green baize armchair. But otherwise the funny little creature has behaved itself remarkably well. I found it in the guest room, reading a volume from Balzac’s Human Comedy (Illusions Perdues, I think). I say reading: what I really mean is dying on an open page. Not so much dying, now I think of it, as dead. But it amounts to the same thing, given time.

I suppose your first thought will be this: did I give it a Christian burial? To which the answer is this: no, I most certainly didn’t. For it so happens that I have, over the last few days, developed a strong interest in taxidermy (why the surprise, my friend? I am a man of many interests: you know that). It all started on Thursday night at The Crippled Bee, where I met a charming woman who works at the local natural history museum. The rest, as they say, is history. Or natural history, in this case. Which is to say that she has promised to give me a few lessons on ‘mounting’ animals (that’s the official term for ‘stuffing’ them, believe it or not). And where better to start than with our feathered intruder?

So, all in all, you have a lot to thank me for. Not only did I apprehend the dead bird, and remove it from its final resting place, but I promise to return it, fully mounted, to your very own mantelpiece. It was, after all, a cultured bird – and deserves to live its merry afterlife in such cultured surroundings as your house can offer. I will place it, I think, opposite a copy of Balzac, so it can continue its reading where it left off. What a dear bird it was!

This happening has, naturally, put the brakes on my continuing search for your missing memoirs. Once I have mounted Lucien, though, you can be sure that I will turn my attention to this matter. Oh yes, indeed.

Meanwhile, send my love to your wife. Any remaining fondness you may keep for yourself.

J-P Sertin


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