Another wander into the slightly odd world of Larus, and we find the Reverend Pontius in need of a holiday…
The Purpose of Porpoises
The Reverend Pontius was searching for something, and that something, he realised with a twinge of guilt, was an excuse.
‘What I am seeking,’ he said aloud, ‘is an excuse for a day off.’ There, it was out, and no less shocking for there being no-one else to hear it.
The guilty words reverberated round the chapel rafters. There is nothing quite like an echo for emphasising something shameful. And shameful it was. Day off, indeed! Pontius looked at his shoes. The buckles, not quite silver, had been a gift from the people of the isle in grateful recognition of his years of service. He had tried to make himself useful, and had clearly succeeded. Yet here he was looking for an excuse to spend a day doing nothing useful at all.
Pontius tried to distract himself. ‘I should read an improving book,’ he said aloud, letting those words rattle round the rafters, too. ‘If only I had one,’ he added, under his breath.
But he did have a copy of the Olde Salte’s Guide to the Worlde. It was a strange book, a sort of seagoing encyclopaedia, though most of its pearls of wisdom were buried pretty deep. Pontius sat before it and opened it at random. The spirits will guide me to the right page, he thought, and bring me enlightenment. He peered short-sightedly at the book with its antique script and unpredictable spelling:
‘Porpoise Day,’ he read aloud, ‘according to ancient fishing peoples, this be a holiday that may be called on any day of the year for any porpoise whatsoever.’
Was porpoise an ancient spelling for purpose, Pontius wondered? But no, there it was, in black and white: porpoise. Porpoise the sea-creature not purpose the intention. Whatever it had originally meant, it would be very acceptable to an island full of fisherfolk and he saw himself calling such holidays with a perfectly clear conscience. ‘I shall use it sparingly, of course,’ he murmured. ‘For emergency porpoises only.’
If you like this story, and would like to meet the Reverend Pontius again, you can find out more about him in my novella Call of the Merry Isle, available at www.veneficiapublications.com and now available in ebook format from Amazon.