'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ten Cabbages

We've had all sorts of weather over the past week, from spring sunshine to snow. The daffodils have decided to come out anyway. There's more daylight to appreciate the garden, although the garden and the surrounding landscape look beautiful in the light of the moon. My grandfather once saw a scarecrow wedding in one of the fields late at night, beneath a full May moon. Both bride and groom wore black. My grandfather thought the bride must have been pregnant at the time because he saw a baby scarecrow just a few weeks later. Despite the baby's size, he was able to scare crows within a hundred yard radius. Real babies can do that as well.

My cousin Charlotte spent a lot of time thinking about ten cabbages. This scared her. She wondered why she should be so concerned about ten cabbages and be completely unaware of... She didn't know what she was completely unaware of, but she was sure there must have been many things that had evaded her attention while she thought about ten cabbages.

She tried to forget about the cabbages by throwing the net of her attention on other things, but she couldn't catch anything. She went to an art gallery and she tried to concentrate on the paintings, but she kept thinking about the cabbages. These thoughts also filled her mind at the roller-disco.

After days of fighting she finally surrendered to the cabbages. She satisfied her curiosity by visiting Imelda and saying, "Why did you put ten cabbages on the shelf in your dining room?"

"I was waiting for someone to ask that question," Imelda said. She provided the answer after making tea in her kitchen. She said she did it to attract the attention of a ghost called Ignatius who walks down the street every evening. He often looks in people's windows. She thought he'd be interested in the cabbages because many years ago, when he was still alive, someone had tried to kill him by throwing ten cabbages at his head. This attempted murder failed, but the would-be murderer didn't give up. He tried throwing many other things, such as pillows or soft toys, before he finally realised that harder objects might be more effective. He threw ten bullets at Ignatius, and this attempt failed as well, but it gave him the idea of putting the bullets into a gun.

He only needed one bullet to kill Ignatius. The murderer regretted it immediately because after he pulled the trigger he came up with the idea of a gun that fired cabbages. He was sorry he hadn't thought of that before. Imelda was hoping to lure the ghost of Ignatius into the house because he seemed very distinguished. He wore a top hat and he had outstanding facial hair. But when he saw the cabbages he hurried on down the street. Charlotte suggested that the cabbages wouldn't be very inviting to Ignatius because they'd remind him of his death. Imelda said, "I didn't think a ghost would be worried about death, but maybe you're right. He might still be bitter about his passing."

"You might be better off using something else to lure him in."

"Like what?"

"The only thing I know about men who wear top hats is that they love biscuits."

"How many men in top hats have you come across?"

"One. He used to keep piles of biscuits under his top hat."

"I suppose it's worth trying."

They went to the shop and they bought every type of biscuit they could find. They arranged the biscuits on plates that covered the table in Imelda's dining room.

They ate some of the biscuits as they waited for the ghost of Ignatius to show up. He finally appeared shortly after ten o' clock that night. He glanced in the window as he hurried past the house, but he re-appeared a few seconds later. He stared at the biscuits. He became so engrossed in the sight that his head went right through the window and he didn't even notice where it was. When he realised that part of him had entered the house he said, "I'm terribly sorry for intruding like this."

"That's quite alright," Imelda said. "Would you like to bring the rest of yourself in?"

"I'm afraid I don't have much to bring. Nevertheless, I'd be delighted."

He was too much of a gentleman to come in through the window (windows where there to get out of houses in a hurry) so he came in through the front door. He couldn't eat any of the biscuits, but the mere sight of them seemed to satisfy him, and he was delighted to have an opportunity to tell his biscuit-related stories. He told Charlotte and Imelda about the biscuit he was secretly eating during a lecture on the theory that thoughts were tiny insect-like creatures in your brain, and that some thoughts had drills and they'd drill a hole to make a comfortable bed. Sometimes they'd make a bed to sleep in and sometimes they'd make a double bed to mate with another thought. Ignatius believed this theory. A biscuit-related thought in his head had mated with many other thoughts and produced countless off-spring. A thought concerning forks had been just as promiscuous.

His biscuit stories were interesting at first, but after a few hours they started to get tedious. At two o' clock in the morning Imelda desperately wanted to get to bed, but Ignatius hadn't noticed any of the hints she had dropped. She'd yawned repeatedly and loudly. She tried looking at her watch every ten seconds. She even tried banging her head off the table, but he didn't notice. As a last resort she went to the kitchen and she came back with a bag full of cabbages. She threw them at his head. She missed with the first two, but the third one hit the target. It didn't exactly 'hit' the head of Ignatius because it passed right through, but it certainly seemed to have a profound effect on the way. He was too shocked to speak at first. When he finally managed to form a coherent sentence he said it was one of the most pleasurable experiences he'd ever had in his death, or even in his life. He believed that the ghosts of thoughts in his head must have felt the cabbage passing through, and this excited them. He could sense that some of his more promiscuous thoughts were particularly excited. He asked Imelda to throw another cabbage at his head. She loved throwing cabbages at people, so she gladly obliged.

When she'd thrown all ten cabbages she picked them up and threw them again. Charlotte got the impression that this was developing into something private between Imelda and Ignatius, so she went home.

The moose's head over the fireplace has been getting a lot of visitors over the past few days. The Cheltenham festival is on this week and the moose's head is a very good tipster, even though he doesn't like horses. Mabel, one of our neighbours, called around last night when the wife's uncle was there. He turned on the charm for her. He likes widows because they're less likely to have husbands who'll chase him away in the middle of the night, although some of those ghosts can be more terrifying than the husbands who are still alive. And the ghosts are normally much fitter.