Pooh the Pomeranian met his end precisely when spring did. And in the six month following, Mr Henry Yielding, the most dear and devoted of owners, remained in a particularly bad way. So it was at mid-morning the door bell rang at number seven Berwick Square in London where Caesar, an old school friend, came to call upon Mr Yielding.
“You have a guest, sir,” said the butler.
“Oh pooh, who would call at such a time as this?” Henry blubbered.
“He has required of me to announce him in a very particular way, though he has asked for your permission that it may be done so.”
He sniffed, “Yes, do I suppose.”
The butler cleared his throat and read from a little paper. Behind the door did Caesar mouth the words.
“It is he that king Caesar,
That flirts with danger tall
That wise old Caesar
Who likes his money least of all.”
“What in the heaven’s name was that?”
“He has assured me it is poetry, sir.”
Caesar entered the room and took off his hat and replaced it after a low bow. “I like very much to have poetry read before entering a room.”
“That is no poetry I’m familiar with.” said Henry, gloomily.
“Hush hush old friend, I assure you it is! It is poetry.”
“Why must it be poetry?”
“Because I have written it myself!”
Caesar turned to fancy the prospect of the lounge, tutted, then strode over to the curtains and pulled them open.
“You keep yourself awfully dark, old Henry, when there is good news about still.”
“Good news!” said Henry. “Nothing is good news. People bring me their good news and I can hardly bear it. And what does society define as good news? They say it must be… meeting new circles in town, or the purchase of a parasol from Westons, or god forbid, a wedding. Is there a race on this earth that doesn’t insist a wedding to be good news?”
“Surely a wedding must be good news?”
“No indeed it is not! A wedding is simply news. It can neither be good nor bad; for a wedding is now talked of so frequently that any excitement on the subject can only be in a polite sort of nature. How long must one wait before they are told of an engagement between two young people? I think I hear of it almost every hour. It neither escapes the vibrations in the air nor the ink in the newspapers. Good news– bah!”
Through Henry’s little speech, Caesar had taken to eating almost every sandwich that had been brought in for morning tea. One of his many little economies was to eat his meals at others’ houses. He spent ample shillings elsewhere– on his hat or his waistcoat or his boots.
“You are perfectly horrid,” said Caesar, sucking the mustard from each finger. “We as a society talk too little upon the subject of marriage. I feel it an impertinence. So I have come to cheer you up. And what good news I have!”
Caesar sat on the lounge. Unfortunately he had sat atop the crocheted tapestry of poor old deceased Pooh, the Pomeranian. Caesar had noticed this when Henry turned from him dejectedly with a broken sob. He sprang up immediately.
“Forgive me dear friend, but why is such a piece spread over a lounge? Surely it is much worthier of a stretch of wall or a little niche or even the museum. Yes, why stop at a wall in the home when it can be placed on a wall in the museum?”
Seeing that Henry became in such a good humour at this speech, Caesar took the opportunity to reverse the topic completely.
“But dear old boy, I have come to bring you my good news. I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love!”
“Very much. I have proposed and have been quite accepted. I am to marry at the end of the month.”
“What father gave you permission to marry their daughter, Caesar? Surely he must have refused you. Why, you haven’t a penny to your name!”
“You are quite right. My finances at the present are very hard up, but he and I came to such a perfect agreement. Her father is to pay for the wedding and I am simply to arrange our future lodgings. Which is certainly why I have come, don’t you see? You have such a taste for property. Surely your taste is better than those many others who are set to undertake property. Why, look at your home for example, is it not the height of fashion? Who would I come to for better advice?”
“Indeed, but Caesar, you yourself said your finances are quite irreversible. I only ask how you intend to purchase such a property?”
“My dear fellow, it has already been arranged. All I require is your taste. Yes! Your refined taste. Your wonderful approval is all that you need grant me, and I shall be able to seal the whole in writing. If you will come with me at this instant I can show you the very place. It is only just north of Hunting Downs. In Ahbeeabee.”
“No Henry, the place is called Ahbeeabee. And what a perfectly agreeable and charming place it is. I need not spend a penny!”
They stepped off at the station in Hunting Downs, and Caesar called a hansom to take them shortly onwards to Ahbeeabee. With a small cough, he allowed Henry to arrange the bill. Caesar managed a sizeable portion of his little economies by small coughs.
Together they fell out of the cab and into the rubbish tip that was to be the newlyweds’ home. Caesar immediately covered his mouth with Henry’s pocket square.
“And here we are!” cried Caesar. “How she shall love Ahbeeabee.”
“Bless you,” said Caesar.
“Pardon me for saying,” said Henry. “I must be mistaken. You do not intend to bring your newlywed to this rubbish heap! And whilst those mounds and foothills of rubbish are of the great, sturdy, British kind, I see no house among them!”
“It is my full intention, Henry, to make this rubbish tip my lodgings,” he said earnestly. “The smell could indeed be better, but certainly she and I can live here and be as happy a couple as any. That old rubble over there would make the perfect foundations for a house and maybe, when time and season allows, I shall prepare a pretty garden for her. Do not all ladies fancy a garden where they can enjoy the pleasures of the out-of-doors whilst sitting under the shelter of a little gazebo of some sort?”
Henry’s face paled in concern. “I cannot give my consent to this,” he croaked. “I shall not. The rubbish tip is quite one matter, but combine it with the matter that Ahbeeabee is exactly half way between the country and the town. One is either a town man or a country man and neither can be achieved here!”
“You are mistaken,” said Caesar. “I have already made acquaintance with the neighbours. And isn’t this a perfect singularity of country living? Why, if one was in town you would not even think of approaching the neighbours without being introduced to the proper social circles. You see there over yonder, under that mound of garbage resting on a little mattress? That there is George the neighbour. He is quite certain that Ahbeeabee is one of the most suitable places for living. And here comes another neighbour to greet us now. She has told me her name is Princess.”
Henry’s concerned and yellowing complexion turned really quite pink from excitement. For coming toward them, with a regal haughtiness in her stride, was a decidedly grandiose Pomeranian.
“Oh, could this really be true? I am not dreaming am I, Caesar?”
“My honest word you are not. This is my neighbour, flesh and blood and fur.”
“Dost thou need a home, little one?” cried Henry to the little dog. “I am certain you and I would find each other most suitable.”
Caesar frowned seriously and shook his head, “No indeed not, old fellow. Princess will tell you also; Ahbeeabee is really a very agreeable place. Truly. Her home is over there yonder under that stack of old newspapers, don’t you see? No, Princess is not in need of a home. She is in need of a companion.”
“A companion?” said Henry.
“A companion.” said Caesar.
“Why, this could hardly be more perfect.” Henry rose and clapped Caesar around the shoulders. “I too am in need of a companion and wouldn’t we make a suitable pair, Caesar? Princess and I?”
“Yes, but Henry, as I have said: Princess already has a home, here in Ahbeeabee. The ‘rubbish heap’ you call it. And you yourself have a home in Berwick Square, indeed that point is quite irreversible.”
“Oh Caesar, that is not quite a troubling matter,” said Henry. “I will come to live here in Ahbeeabee, a very charming place as George the neighbour seems to account for it. And to my wonderful tastes it is indeed a marvellous little part of the world. And, you will take my lodgings at Berwick Square. There, it is quite a simple, trivial little thing is it not?”
“Why of course.” said Caesar. “That seems to suit us both quite well. I must say, I am in debt to you for suggesting it.”
“No, no surely, it is I that am in debt to you, old fellow. It is quite agreed then?” said Henry.
“Quite,” said Caesar.
“Oh Caesar, you have made me the happiest man alive!”
Caesar carried his new wife across the threshold of Berwick Square. On the lounge they sat together; she atop Caesar’s lap and Caesar atop the crocheted tapestry of Pooh the Pomeranian.
“Oh darling,” said Caesar. “You have made me the happiest man alive!”
“Are you sure, Caesar dear, that we have not asked too much of your old friend Henry?”
“Pish, no. In any case, he has just a suitable a station. Finer perhaps. My dear, you are not worth so much rubbish!”
“Oh Caesar, how you flirt with me!” said she, “A finer station? Yes, I suppose he may do.”
“The finest, most assuredly.”
“Well, now that you have mentioned it Caesar dear, perhaps he does. You see, what use has a married woman of town? One might fancy the country is the proper home for a married woman; where the little delicacies of exchanging pies and cakes might make any a loyal friend for as long as their existence.”
“Do you really think this way, darling? Is it your wish that we should live in the country?”
“Oh, Caesar dear, it is my wish above all.”
“Well, I shall see to it at once darling, if that is what you really wish. I have been meaning to call upon my old friend in the country who very recently lost his Siamese.”
Words by Jaymi Santoro