A DREADFUL CRIME

18 Dec

About eight years ago Janie Cobweb arrived in a blog I wrote on MySpace, and since then she has had a career that has taken her across space and time, provided her with many a stepping stone in history and the future and here she appears as a prequel to her life… This part Three, the first three parts being  A Strange Conception and The Very Peculiar Birth, also on this site.

A DREADFUL CRIME

PLACENTA photo: Placenta alltheiphonepictures104.jpg  Autumn in medieval middle England. Leaves drifting from trees, strips of land golden with a rough harvest, spirals of smoke from crude cottages cleaving the air and merging into a stinking mist, children in rags raggedly running to help their parents in the three gigantic fields, the Lord of the Manor having someone soundly whipped for having injudicious coitus whilst not wed, the priest looking benevolently on enjoying the spectacle, scrawny dogs fighting over a dead midwife in the mud, Mistress Cobweb weeping as she held her new-born angel and rocking her gently whilst crooning about pain and death in a sweet country soprano.

All very normal.

And then the new mother felt her body tense yet again and then push, and a plate-sized placenta squeezed into the light of day.

“Mine!” squawked the baby, not yet half an hour old but gifted with the power of speech anyway.

“No, darling,” crooned the mother, “I am weary after my long labour and I need nourishment and nutrition. I will roast this meat and baste it with its own juices, and when it is done to a turn I will eat it! Then I will become strong enough to care for you, my sweetness.”

The child, its eyes unnaturally wide and fierce for one so young, scowled and opened its tiny mouth and shrieked “MINE” at the top of its new-born voice.

The word, loud as it was, drifted out of the cottage, across the muddy lane that separated it from one of the three gigantic fields that constituted the agrarian system within the community, into a huge number of toiling ears (and out again), swirled everywhere and ended up in the inner ear of the mighty Lord of the Manor, who had just finished arranging the aforementioned whipping.

“That sounds as if it started in Mistress Cobweb’s cottage,” he mumbled. “And it was brought to my attention that the fat Christmas man shagged her last winter whilst he was on his silly gift-giving round of the poor. I’d have him thrashed if he wasn’t a proper saint, but the Pope would be offended and that wouldn’t do! Having it away with dearest Mistress Cobweb, whom I almost love myself, ought to at least warrant a flogging!”

“She’s had a brat,” said a uniformed butler, though the word uniform in this instance was more a euphemism for ragged. “They say, do those in the know, that she’s roasting the afterbirth.”

“What!” howled the Lord of the Manor, suddenly enraged. “Did I not make a dictum only last week? Was it not inscribed onto parchment and pinned to every fourth tree down the main lane?”

“You did, sir,” quivered the butler.

“And what was my dictum?” roared the mighty one. “What did I have inscribed? What did it concern?”

“That you need meat for your suckling pigs, so that they be fat and meaty for the roasting season at Christmas, and that any women producing a brat should donate her placenta to the cause!” squealed the butler, visibly shaking. “I wrote them out and stuck them up myself!”

“My little piggies need that fodder!” growled the Lord of the Manor. “And I am the big man round here! I say what goes into their little pink mouths, and I order every morsel of afterbirth be brought hence so that my darlings may scoff them! So where is Mistress Cobweb’s?”

“Roasting on her fire…” mumbled the butler, wetting himself.

“Then we will go!” shouted the Lord of the Manor. “Take me to her!”

The butler might have said something along the lines of you know the way, you dirty old clown, you go there often enough when your passions run high and your lady wife has a headache which is at least once a week… but he was too scared to, so instead he guided the Lord of the Manor, one in rags and the other in gold-threaded finery, along muddy tracks and lanes to the home of Mistress Cobweb.

He flung open the door of her lovely cottage and stood in the entrance, his face like thunder.

“Where’s the meat?” he demanded.

Mistress Cobweb was in the act of munching a slice of placenta between two slices of bread, and she chewed and swallowed before replying.

“This is just the afterbirth,” she said, smiling sweetly. “Are you needing to lie with me? I won’t be long if you are…”

“That meat should be in the bellies of my pigs!” shouted the Lord of the Manor, and he turned to his slavering butler. “Take this woman,” he roared, “and before the sun sets this night, bind her to a stake and burn her! For that is the punishment for denying my pigs their meat!”

“Yippee!” squawked the tiny figure in its home-made cot.

Janie Cobweb was wide awake.

© Peter Rogerson 18.12.14

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2 Responses to “A DREADFUL CRIME”

  1. pambrittain December 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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