Had it been a clear day, and had it not been the Fifth of Never, Cecilia might very well have chosen a different pair of shoes to wear. The fact that it wasn’t, and that it was, however, was probably what set the chain of events in motion that led to the predicament at hand. Well, it was possible that all this was true. Then again, anything was possible. Even the impossible. But that was another matter entirely.
Still, the green Mary Janes seemed such a right thing to wear, as it was a party on a ship, and wouldn’t it be true that they would compliment the color of the sea, which, being such a cloudy day would surely be a shade of green not unlike her shoes. So it all made perfect sense. Not that sense really had much to do with anything, but that too was another matter.
Raising the hatch and climbing out of her abode, Cecilia greeted the day and arranging her basket just so on her arm she skipped down the path to the lane where the taxis congregated awaiting important persons like herself to take them on their journeys. The willow trees sighed their greetings as she passed and she duly curtsied to each in turn.
At the Laughing Lamppost she turned about three times, as you do, and patted her head before continuing down the lane and doing a pirouette and bowing deeply to the driver of the first taxi in the rank. He greeted her in the arcane lanuage of the Cab Masters, it being the only language they deigned to speak, and which one needed to be fluent in if one wanted to ride in a taxi. They exchanged the ritual pleasantries and she indicated her destination. Soon they were on their way.
Arriving at the good ship Whimsey she gave the driver three flounder cakes she had brought along for the fare, that being their favorite food and their preferred remuneration. She bade him farewell and made her way up the gangplank to be greeted by the majordomo, who doffed his tricolored hat and bowed deeply in deference. He then escorted her to the fantail where the party was just getting underway.
Surrounded by all the important dignitaries that had gathered stood the Grand Poobah himself. Resplendant in his finest tourmaline robe and violet turban, he cut an elegant figure, holding court and being fawned over by his loyal sycophants.
Cecilia made her approach and curtsied. “Oh Grand Poobah, may I congratulate you on this, your most exalted birthday.” She took the birthday card out of her her basket that she had elegantly closed with the finest sealing wax she could find.
The Grand Poobah dropped the cabbage roll he was eating and pointed, his eyes widening in surprise. “What is the meaning of this?!” he demanded.
She followed the finger that pointed at her accusingly and looked down at her Mary Janes. “Beg Pardon, Your Grandness?”
“How dare you!” he sputtered, “what is the meaning of this?”
“But I…”, then it clicked, “A thousand pardons, I didn’t know you would wear that robe, only, it’s a cloudy day and…” trailing off, she stared at the deck.
The Grand Poobah, exalted though he was, did not care for explanations. “You realize, of course, what this means.” he leveled her with his gaze.
Acutally, she didn’t, but that was rectified quick smart. Turning to the majordomo he barked, “bring me the cards, now!”
The majordomo returned practically before he’d left with a deck of cards. The Grand Poohbah sat down at the table and indicated a seat for Cecilia. “One of us must fail”, he stated with finality. “Five card draw, the loser must remove the offending items.”
Clearly he meant the Mary Janes. He had no intention of losing. Still, she reflected, it seemed democratic of him to not simply command her to remove them, but it was known far and wide that the Grand Poohbah was a poker player of the highest calibre, and he was surely expecting that this would be a win – win situation for him.
He shuffled, she cut, he dealt. Picking up her cards with trepidation, she was relieved to see she had a high pair. But how to play this? If she threw them in he might sense she was trying to lose. That would enrage him, surely. She kept the pair and discarded three useless cards. She gulped when he discarded one. He dealt again, and with a deep breath she drew up her new cards. Her heart nearly stopped beating. When she looked up at him he was grinning from ear to ear.
“Four jacks,” he announced with great satisfaction.
Cecilia hesitated, but realizing there was nothing else for it, she laid down her cards. “Four kings,” she stated in a quiet voice.
The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. The Grand Poohbah turned a shade of red she hadn’t known until then even exisited. He rose from his seat and threw his arms in the air. Suddenly the sea around the ship began to boil and churn. There were many shouts of dismay and the majordomo rushed over and beseached the Grand Poobah to restore order at once.
The Grand Poohbah gazed upon his manservant with malevolence and then reconsidered. “Am I not a benevolent leader?” he asked of no one inparticular. All assembled agreed that indeed he was. Upon hearing the verdict he lowered his arms and the sea returned to normal. He turned his gaze upon Cecilia. “My child, you have won fair and square.” With that he removed his tourmaline robe and flung it in the air and with a flourish turned it into a winged pig that flew off toward the horizon. The majordomo produced a new robe as if from thin air, one of a much grander nature and color that matched the now turquoise water all around them. All was once again right with the world.
Cecelia curtsied to the Grand Poohbah and fetched the card from her basket once more. The Grand Poobah accepted it with grace and the festivities carried on through the day and into the night without further adventure.