Looks cute – right…
Here is another tale from my anthology Goblin Tales concerning Glob’s old friend Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak…
Enter Gerald the Egg
In which Globular Van der Graff, (Glob), Makepeace Terranova (Make), Byzantine Du Lac (Byz), Eponymous Tringthicky (Mous), curmudgeonly old Neopol Stranglethigh (Neo), and especially Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, discover that the path of parenthood is a decidedly rocky one.
It had been a whole moon since the goblin brothers returned home after their abortive attempt to rescue Yathle’s cousin Ariadne, when her insatiable curiosity tragically ended her life.
Both Glob and Neo had taken simpleminded Byz to one side and told him that under no circumstances was he ever to play the beautifully haunting tune which unlocked the barrier between the world and the one beneath ever again, no matter how tempted he may be.
While they were all helping Yathle, Bejuss had flown off in search of a mate in the southern woods, desperately wanting a son of his very own. He would soon come to regret his decision in more ways than one…
“Rarrk – wake up yer lazy good for nothin slovenly apology for a raven, jus look at the state on yer!”
Bejuss opened his one bleary eye and peered across the nest to where his mate tapped one foot, glaring angrily at him. He was about to be subjected to yet another headache inducing outburst by the poisonous harpy who had made his life a total misery. For a brief moment he wondered where the beautiful young raven he had wooed three weeks earlier had gone. Surely this couldn’t be her could it?
“Oh the shame on it; me mother warned me bout the likes on yer. Why I took yer on as me mate I’s will never know; yer disgust me! I mus have been out on me mind. Yer are hardly the catch on the year are yer? Just look at the state on yer smelly feathers – euww! By the holy egg on the great raven, smarten yerself up at once; yer is a disgrace ter our kind. As for this shambles yer call our nest. It has so many holes in it, it’s a wonder I’s haven’t fallen through one by now. Repair it at once d’yer hear me, yer flee ridden bag on bones. Why I’s has put up wiv yer I’s really don’t know. Yer’ve brought me nothin but shame n torment. I’s cannot hold me head up in polite raven society thanks ter yer!”
“Pity yer didn’t fall through one on them yer old nag,” Bejuss muttered under his breath as his headache grew in intensity, before he replied to her latest tirade. “Yeth dearetht, me’ll make repairth immediately dearetht. Anything elthe dearetht?” he added sarcastically, wishing he were dead.
“Mind yer sit on yer future halfwit’s egg, I’s most certainly have no intenshun on doing so. When it is hatched I’s shall deny all knowledge on it, do yer hear me! If yer must insist on bringing it inter the world, then yer will hatch it on yer own. On secon thoughts, I’s is leavin yer n goin home ter mother ter get over the shame – rarrk!”
After she had flown away in high dudgeon to her mother, Bejuss breathed a sigh of relief as he reflected on how his circumstances had taken such a nightmarish turn for the worse.
The day he had set off from the home he shared with the five goblin brothers, he was in the highest of spirits. Spring was in the air and the mating urge coursed through his old veins.
As he flew from one raven colony to the next in search of a mate, the raucous laughter and derision heaped upon him by the available females when they set eyes on him hurt him deeply. Far from seeing a battle scarred heroic raven, all they saw was a tattered, deformed apology for one. When he tried to woo them with one of his love poems, they all laughed at his lisping speech and his twisted beak, cruelly mocking him behind his back.
And then at the very last colony on the western edge of the wood, one stunning young raven touched his heart with her gentleness and beauty. Her name was Eunice. Unlike the rest, she liked his poetry and his company, forgiving his speech impediment, his tattered feathers, deformed beak and one eye. She even laughed at his jokes. As an impressionable young female caught up in the fever of the mating season, for her it was true love. Bejuss would be her mate. In her mind she saw him as a worldly-wise raven; a raven’s raven if you like. Certainly an adventurous, battle scarred and brave raven.
Over the next two weeks, Bejuss told her of his life and adventures with Glob and his brothers while they gathered twigs together for their nest. She often feigned a fainting fit, falling against him and sighing while fluttering her eyelashes at this tough, yet kind example of the noble order of ravens.
Then came the day their idyllic relationship quickly soured when she found herself with egg. From that moment on, nothing old Bejuss did or said was good enough anymore for young Eunice.
As her time drew near she grew more demanding, insufferable and vindictive towards him. The day finally came when after an hour of absolute agony she finally laid their egg. Bejuss was over the moon with joy. Eunice definitely was not. As far as she was concerned in her post egg laying state of mind, she had been violated by a despicable old flea bitten scoundrel.
During the agonising hour the egg took to appear, she shifted herself painfully around in the nest desperately trying get comfortable as she strained and bitterly complained. Twice she almost fell through the gaping holes in the nest Bejuss had built for her. It wasn’t his fault that the nest was imperfect. After all, as he said later to his friend Glob, “yer try buildin a perfect netht wiv one eye n a twithted beak!”
Bejuss felt the faintest movement in the egg beneath him. He shifted his weight and fluffed his feathers to keep it warm. “It’th time we woth headin home Gerald lad,” he said to his egg. Carefully he stood up, stretched himself and then gently picked up the precious egg in his beak and flew back home to Glob.
Two days after the pair had arrived home the excitement of the imminent hatching gripped all who lived in the goblin brother’s household. None of them had ever been surrogate uncles for a birdy hatchling before.
Glob had made a cosy nest box lined with dry sphagnum moss and hung it on the wall above his bed, with a perch on the outside for Bejuss to take a break from egg sitting. By the time the chick finally emerged, like Bejuss, they would all live to regret the fact that he hadn’t simply dropped it on the way home.
After breakfast on that second day, Neo peered in through the hole in the nest box at Bejuss before he went on his daily visit to Miranda the mare and her new foal. “I’s wos jus wonderin why yer calls yer egg Gerald. Wot if it aint got a boy birdy in it, wot if it’s got a girl one instead?”
Bejuss looked back out at the goblin brothers from inside the snug nest box as they gathered around Neo, all wondering the same thing. “Rarrk – courth it’ll be a boy birdy, wot elthe wud it be? Me hungry, can me have a pickled worm pleath? Me got cravinth yer know, after all me pregnant n …”
Gerald the egg began violently shaking beneath the old raven, cutting its loving parent off in midsentence.
Bejuss endured several more hours of being bounced around inside the nest box, banging his head several times on the box’s oak bark roof, giving him a pounding headache into the bargain. In the end he could stand no more. He emerged bruised and battered to take a much needed rest on Glob’s shoulder by the window, where the old goblin fed him all manner of juicy worms, slugs and snails, especially pickled for him in mead, while Byz kept a close eye on Gerald. Eventually the simpleminded goblin younger got bored and nodded off.
Inside the nest box the faintest sounds of eggshell cracking began. Gerald bounced and rolled around and around. First one leg appeared through a hole in its shell, followed shortly by a second. Gerald stood up, dazed and disoriented. If Byz had been awake, he would have seen it charge across the inside of the nest box and head-butt the box’s wooden sides in its attempt to free itself from the rest of the eggshell.
Make sat outside their door warming himself in the sun, smoking his bestest briar pipe with Mous happily dozing beside him. Neo was inside the stable feeding the new born foal, grooming its mane through his long bony fingers, lovingly watched over by Miranda. Glob and Bejuss were gazing at the wooded world outside their home through heavy, sleep deprived eyes. Eventually the sun’s warmth sent them both to sleep.
Gerald felt around with its feet and found the opening to the nest box, hopped up and fell out onto the floor, after bouncing off Byz’ head.
“Rarrk – hath anyone theen Gerald, where’th me egg gone?” Bejuss screeched at the top of his voice, after he had flown back to the nest box to resume sitting. “Me egg hath run away from home! Gerald, Gerald, where are yer lad, it’th me yer daddy, pleathe come home.”
Bejuss’ anxious cries woke everyone up from their nap in the sunshine. Glob instantly organised a complete search of their home, after scolding Byz for failing in his duty. The simpleminded soul immediately burst into tears and hid under his bed furiously sucking his thumbs.
“Gerald where ith yer lad, come home, pleathe come home. Daddy won’t be angry, me promithe – rarrk,” the old bird sadly cried out as a tear welled up in his one eye.
Gerald had struggled to stay upright as it staggered around on the ground below the goblin brother’s home. Even when it had fallen off the oak’s great bough outside the door, the remainder of its tough shell still held firm. Several times Gerald had deliberately walked straight into a rock, trying to smash itself. It even rolled down a small slope hoping to break open at long last. Then it felt itself being picked up and turned over with its legs in the air, making it dizzy.
“Look mummy I’ve found a birdy egg,” Ylesse happily announced, as she ran inside to show her latest find to her mother, Agnitha. Between them they carefully cracked the rest of the eggshell and at last the chick inside was free.
“Rarrk!” the chick cawed indignantly, stamping one tiny foot and glaring angrily at them.
At that moment Glob appeared at Agnitha and Mica’s door out of breath, and politely knocked. “Mornins Agnitha, mornins Ylesse. Has either on yer seen an egg? Bejuss has lost his n he’s worried sick.”
They both stood to one side revealing the minute angry raven chick standing amid the broken eggshell fragments on Agnitha’s table. “Here she is Glob. You had better take her home to her father,” Agnitha smiled, gently handing the chick over, “she desperately needs feeding.”
Glob chuckled to himself as he carefully carried the irate raven chick home. “I’s can’t waits ter sees the look on yer old dad’s face when he finds out he’s gots hisself a girl birdy n not a boy. Gerald indeed; more likes Geraldine I’s thinks eh lass?” Geraldine failed to see the joke and pecked one of Glob’s thumbs.
When he walked through the door with Geraldine now angrily sitting on his shoulder furiously pecking his earlobe and glaring at everything in sight, Bejuss’ face briefly lit up. But his happiness and relief was short lived. “Ylesse found her n gots her out on her egg,” Glob announced, barely able to suppress his laughter despite the pain from his bleeding ear.
“Yer mean me got a girl birdy chick?” Bejuss spluttered as his face fell. “Oh no, it can’t be,” he said looking in disbelief at his daughter. Geraldine was the spitting image of her mother, despite the fact that she was covered in fluffy down. There was that same baleful look in her eyes; the same indignant cock of the head. Even when she impatiently tapped her tiny foot, Bejuss saw a miniature Eunice glaring back at him.
“Fraid so old friend, meets yer daughter Geraldine,” Glob replied, with tears of laughter in his eyes, as he carefully set her down beside her shocked father on the back of his chair.
Geraldine instantly pecked her father hard on his feet, legs and wings. When he lowered his old head to peer closely at her, she furiously pecked it, raising painful lumps and rattling his brain, demanding to be fed.
Over the next several days, he worked tirelessly bringing his angry young daughter food. At one point, he seriously contemplated committing chickicide. All he had to do was decapitate this miniature angry incarnation of Eunice with his razor sharp twisted beak, and his nightmare would end.
But his inbuilt instincts insisted he did his fatherly duty. By the time she was fully fledged, she had grown into a full size carbon copy of her mother in every way possible. While she would undeniably turn a young male raven’s head with her good looks in the future, like her mother, once she had accepted him she would make his life hell on wings.
At long last the day finally arrived when Geraldine flew the nest, much to the relief of Bejuss and the five severely pecked goblin brothers. Being constantly harangued by Eunice was bad enough, but for Bejuss to endure it for a second time from a pint sized version of her, was truly unbearable. “Good riddance yer hellion. Me hope all yer featherth fall out, it’ll therve yer right!” he muttered to himself while watching Geraldine climb into the air without a backward glance, on her first solo journey into the world.
Everyone inside the oak tree heaved a collective sigh of relief. Glob gave Neo a knowing wink. “Cheers up Bejuss lad, it cuds have beens worse,” he said nudging Neo to join in on his little joke.
“Worthe, how cud it be worthe?” the old bird grumpily replied while preening his tattered feathers.
“Simple lad,” Neo replied, with a mischievous look in his crossed eyes, “yer egg Gerald, might have been a double yoker. Jus think on it for a moment. Instead on one Geraldine, yer cud have hads two on them ter plague yer for the rest on yer days. Three, if yer include yer mate Eunice.”
Bejuss hung his head wincing at the nightmarish notion. Neo winked at Glob as he quickly left to see Miranda and her foal.
Glob sat looking out the window for a long time with a grin on his old face. Make and Mous took Byz outside onto the bough to stop his constant giggling. Even he got the joke. For a few moments they left poor old Bejuss alone in the rafters with his thoughts. He had had a lucky escape after his brief encounter with domestic bliss. “Never agin, never ever agin,” he muttered to himself, shaking his old head and feeling decidedly sick in the pit of his stomach.
Glob turned and looked up at his feathered friend. He couldn’t resist one last good natured dig at the old bird’s expense. “Of course she cuds jus comes back yer knows Bejuss lad. She’s probably gone ter fetch her mother. Wants me ter make yer nest box big enuff fer three? It’s no truble honest, I’s only thinkin on yer family n their happiness yer knows.”
Bejuss cursed and glared angrily at the silly grin spreading across Glob’s face. “Rarrk, juth thhuddup n leave me be can’t yer!” he lisped angrily.
Glob joined his brothers outside in the sunshine where they all roared with uncontrollable laughter. The day Gerald the egg had entered their lives would be the subject of much hilarity for many evenings to come.
The moral of the story has to be – be careful what you wish for, don’t you think?