It was an ancient T.V. set, in a corner of my sitting room. I was not even sure the thing worked, until coming in one day to find it, polished up and resurrected by my “Tenants in Crime”, Adelaide and Benny. The old pair had been two years now on Sonsie Farm, and I had long ago given up ever having my old life of solitude restored. They were always entertaining, never quarreled, and shared a Jackdaw like ability to drag home whatever they could scrounge, in donkey cart or old wagon. They had stood on their old steamer trunk, with some hocus-pocus, several twisted coat hangers, a horse shoe, and a ten foot garland of tinsel, had fashioned  an antenna, happily they sat before the T.V., watching The Queen’s Speech, munching on apples. Fzzwt, went a well aimed, gnawed core into the fireplace, slur-eech, of dubious teeth into another speckled Gravenstein. Times like this, I oft thought of Godfrey, the childhood we shared…how I wish he was here.  

We watched The Queen’s speech every year, had to listen on the radio when her Majesty had a chat. When a wee bit older, gathered round Godfrey’s Uncle Lou’s  telly we all sat. His family, all the cousins and mine, round the flickering telly we all sat.

I recall, on a bridge stood The Queen, with her purse and furry hat, a pebble she held, royal clean white gloves she had on. She tossed a stone, then another, into the water, Godfrey’s sister Alice called The River Avon. “That’s the bridge Romeo drowned Dickens , from, claimed Alice”.

“I knew of this nice lady, smiling demurely from school room wall and biscuit tin, but we did not comprehend why she stood tossing stones or the words she was speaking. Godfrey and I wrote the Queen a letter, casually inquiring of her castles and horses, ending our letter with the question of the wisdom we were seeking. “Why did you drop the pebbles in the water? Rather than kneel on the grass and scoop them out?.

We wrote a penny postcard to The Queen. Godfrey and I waited, for we were very young and believed we deserved a reply. And the Queen  wrote, despite the smeared seal, school girl typing, and Alice face down laughing on the setee, all excited Godfrey read the letter to me.

“To the naughty two children who dislike beets, and dare ask I, oh noble Queen,  why on such a cold day over bridge deck have me lean.” I, fine lady would not dare the stream bank, smell of trolls and eels that lurk, and risk like Juliet, be gulped and ate, to dredge a mere pebble from the murk”. Eat your beets, and Slibber Sauce, when heaped on your dinner plate- Love, The Queen.

It was addressed, “High Street, Pall Mall”, innocent, steadfast Godfrey hung The Queen’s letter on his wall. Twas Miranda the duck customer, as my Ma called her, gave us the answer, made it into sense for me. She sold duck eggs door to door, sometimes a fat mallard we plucked, roasted and ate. Miranda the duck customer, oft left her basket at the farm gate, rested by the pond on warm days with me and Godfrey.

She was wise, and kind to us, lived alone in her cottage hung with herbs, north of the farm, edge of the woods. She always had a tall, silver Lurcher dog, that never left her side, or seemed to age. Nor did Miss Miranda, for she wore a dark cape, strode when she walked, and the kids who teased and pelted us with beets feared her.

Wealthy Tenbrooks Smythe The Third claimed” cabbage nicked from her garden gave him warts”. “A most unpleasant child”, softly spoke Miranda, the duck customer. Tenbrooks heaved a turnip through the fish and chip shop window, “A most unpleasant child”, was stated by the fry cook in a newspaper quote. Miranda chose as I would, the company of her ducks, tame badger and goat.

“What did The Queen mean? Godfrey finally got to ask of Miranda. On such a winters day, dropping those pebbles in the water?. Said the wise duck customer- “The Queen dropped the stones for to show, how one wee pebble from that ripple she did disperse, never ceases to grow, affects in it’s tiny way the entire earth”.

Finally we had our answer, twas years later my Ma told me, duck customer  Miranda had been blind since birth. Godfrey and I , took note of the wonder of all things, like warm beach sand in summer, sugar crystals on sweet biscuits, sunlight that sparkled as ducks drifted, deep in simple contemplation.  “Be The Pebble, You And Godfrey” This is what Miranda the duck customer taught me. …

Plap, I awoke with a jolt, an apple tossed on my lap, Queen departing in a car, all pomp and glory. Adelaide and Benny in guffaw over my snoring, Beatrice dear, they begged, tell us a story….


6 thoughts on “MIRANDA THE DUCK CUSTOMER- From Beatrice

    • I think, the old girl will be chucking rocks till they have to get the fake hand to do it. Or the message is gotten there. As kiddies, we would bet if she would be out dapping stones, it will be odd without The Queen, indeed. Crazy, yes, must be why my ancestors were transported…

      • One of my relatives was transported to Aust for stealing a dress of a clothesline. I don’t know if he was a cross-dresser or just an entrepreneur.

  1. Oh my, I nearly peed at that comment. Casually investigating my relatives sordid past, on my mothers side, similar “Disgraceful Propensities”. My great grand pa on the old mans side came up from Kentucky, deserting the Un-Civil war. We had his 6 shooter gun, chased about the house with it, Ma sold it to pay a bill. Imagine being transported …

  2. One of the things I enjoy about your writing is the way you take us right into the middle of things, immerse us instantly in the relationships, the laughter, the sadness, the craziness, the fondness for Godfrey. And we assume we are a welcome part of the group. That’s quite a skilled trick, Sheila. My giggle-line this time: That’s the bridge Romeo drowned Dickens , from, claimed Alice”.

    • Thanks Janet- indeed you are more than welcome in my wee band of rogues. Alice was a very bright girl, yet rarely paid attention in class, but to gather Alice-ism’s. I don’t know if it is a skill, modesty forbids, but when I do write something, I place myself right deep in it. I have a story on the go, but am having some technical rubbish, bare with me, it will get sorted. Too-rah for the read, dear Janet.

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