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the Feral Wolf Twins Go To the Country
chapter 5: Amphibious Eforna

by Justice H. Baldenbrach   April 21, 2003
(as read to eli in a monotone voice by his robot babysitter)

It was a long, slow ride from the train station to the Von Kanker farm in Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung's big black carriage. Sir Leopold sat in the fore with his brother, who held the reins; Edith sat behind with little Sigmundt, who moaned feebly at every bump and dip in the road; and the twins sat in the rear, smiling and waving to all they passed, including chickens and large sections of air.

"Your Feral Wolf Twins are not very talkative," observed Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung.

"True," agreed his brother, "but that is because their brain-drug treatment has not yet had its full effect. Their linguistic capacity certainly remains undeveloped, but with repeated applications of Doctor Baxter's tonic, I expect they shall soon be fluent in English, French, and Esperanto."

"That is very fine," commented Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung. "But what would happen should their supply of this 'brain-drug' be suddenly discontinued?"

"That," the famous explorer replied darkly, "must never happen, for without their tonic they should almost certainly regress to their natural, monstrous state, and all our work would be lost."

By and by, the open fields and streams of the countryside gave way to a dark swampland of towering vegetation and bubbling pools of greenish scum; it was here that Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung's admiration of the land was most profound.

"This swamp abounds in all forms of twigs, nuts, and moss," he announced with enthusiasm. "Why, just looking about me, I observe three distinct varieties of twig, four species of moss, and there! A saucy pecan! Yum."

"Hello there, neighbor," called a voice from the side of the road. "My cousin has fallen in this ditch, and I'll have to trouble you to help me."

"Certainly, Miss Royce-Slaughter," replied Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung, quickly jumping down. "Let us look at your cousin."

"She has been in this ditch well over a week," observed the girl, tapping the polished tops of her Russian boots with a slim riding crop. "It is lucky I passed by."

Enid leaned over to take the reins before whispering in Sir Leopold's ear. "The Royce-Slaughter girl is an heiress; she lives in the big estate above the mill. She and her brothers are very cruel, for they made their blind cousin their drudge."

The heiress Diana Royce-Slaughter was about sixteen years old, and dressed in goggles and riding clothes. Her golden hair was cut short, like an Eton schoolboy's, and slicked away from her face; she stood astride a peculiar mechanical contraption that Sir Leopold tentatively identified as a "bi-cycle."

Her cousin, Eforna, in contrast, was thin and wasted, and dressed in a ragged smock. Her face might have been called handsome were it not for its sickly pallor and the quantity of verdure that had settled in her hair.

"This ditch suits me fine," said Eforna is a toneless rasp.

"Don't be a silly wretch," snapped the heiress. "Come back to the manse and I'll let you sleep on the clean laundry tonight."

"Nix," wailed Eforna, and abruptly hurled her soiled form into a deep pool of greenish scum.

"Will she drown?" asked Sir Leopold with some concern.

"No," sighed Diana Royce-Slaughter. "She has become amphibious, merely to vex me. She lived under a rotting log once for over a month--but she will come home when she gets hungry."

"Plenty of twigs, nuts, and moss around these parts, though," remarked Franklin Allgemeine Zeitung; but the heiress had already turned and wheeled away down the road on her "bi-cycle," and so she did not hear him.

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