Monday, 9 November 2015

This little piggy

The young Hernan was always quick to poke fun at any kind of affectation. Here he is again at his most ruthless

This little piggy
In which small town graces are no match for an insistent dinner guest

No one knows better than the society ladies of a country town how razor sharp can be the subtle derision of their comrades at arms. Woe betides anyone who falls foul of a small town gossip. A single comment is enough to cut to the quick.

To my mind there’s nothing more laughable than when the local crème de la crème presume to parade their colours, but the young ladies of a certain Andean district wished to have the pleasure of the notable scientist Tello’s presence at lunch at their home.
When he was travelling, Tello always tried to maintain a tight working schedule and loathed these types of occasion. He hated wasting time on after dinner chit chat and indulging the local gentry with social niceties, But unfortunately he was unable finally to escape the repeated invitations of this particular family and this time the ladies of the house had put on a real show.

The archaeologist smiled to himself at their elaborate affectations. On top of the best tablecloth were laid fine embroidered napkins. The family silverware had been polished to perfection and in addition there was a generous two bottles of vintage wine on display.

In contrast the household’s jovial host was a down to earth, unaffected fellow; a country type who immediately engaged his visitor in a lively and, it has to be said, rather uninhibited conversation.  He was not ashamed to speak warmly in the earthy, rounded tones of his native land. Only from time to time did he seem to regret his words and pause sheepishly under the admonitory glare of his surrounding daughters. It was obvious that the old man was an example of that unfortunate specimen; the parent who is doomed to mortify his poor long suffering progeny. 

Suddenly, in the middle of the meal, a patter of delicate footsteps announced the arrival of an unwanted visitor – it was a small pale pink pig.  It seemed that here was the real master of the house. He began to trot at his leisure around the dining room, his moist little snout enquiring after the source of delicious stew - the little treasure.

The daughters were disconcerted. They looked at each other anxiously, hoping that their distinguished guest had not noticed anything. One of them, dabbed at her lips rapidly with her embroidered napkin, excused herself from the table and hurried out of the room.

She must’ve gone straight out to the pig sty because within moments there could be heard an insistent banging of the little pig’s food tin, which was, I imagine, supposed to bring the animal running immediately. But the pig thought otherwise. He was no fool. He knew where the real feast was to be found, and installed himself resolutely beneath the dining table, from where you could hear the rhythmic slurping of his tongue.

The food tin rang out and rang out, but the pig did not budge. And why should he? If it was understood that it fell to him to clear the plates!
At last the poor girl returned, bringing with her the maid, doubtless so that she could remove the pig from the room. But on seeing them both, the pig began to snarl aggressively. This was the final straw for don José who could restrain himself no longer. He started to search around under the table with his feet for the pig. The daughter deduced with alarm what was coming next. Her father put down his knife and fork, pushed himself back from the table with his fingertips and, inclining his head, began to search around under the table, probing with his feet as he did so. It was obvious that some kind of intervention was becoming imperative.  One of her sisters, all of a fluster, came to the girl’s aid.

“Do please excuse us doctor,” she said with as gracious a smile as she could muster. “It appears that our dear little pig has escaped from its pen. We’ve raised him from a baby on a bottle you know and unfortunately the naughty little thing has become quite used to the run of the house.”
“Juana, Juana,” meanwhile called out the other sister desperately to the maid.

But too late, don José kicked out with such force that the sound of his boot on porcine ribs rang out clearly. Two or three more kicks followed suit and the room erupted; amid the ‘little treasure’s’ piercing squeals, “You little bastard, get out of there, out of here you dirty little bloody runt!”

Inconsolable in their distress, a silence settled on the girls, barely disturbed by the gentle strains of a dying etiquette fluttering to the ground like so much chaff in the wind.

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