Fig: two stars for what is usually a three star fruit. Some fruit-lovers believe that the bland grittiness of the fig is its best characteristic. My own appreciation of the fig, however, is restricted solely to aesthetics. The fig itself starts as a collection of hundreds of flowers, and each flower becomes its own minuscule fruit. This particular specimen was not as sweet as previous figs I have had, and tasted more of plant than of fruit. Despite my misgivings, I would gladly recommend that all my friends and family eat at least one fig at some point in their life.

My eldest nephew and I prepared to leave Salamander Manor early the next day. Syzygy, my batman, would stay and tend to what little remained of the orange grove. Before we left, Syzygy went down to the stables, where he found a small produce-cart. He loaded the two barrels of orange juice onto the cart, and found a young mule named Blotch to pull it. Neither the cart nor the mule would be much chop when it came to crossing the channel to the mainland, but they would be indispensable for the terrestrial portion of our journey.

Syzygy met us at the gate to see us off, and I instructed my eldest nephew on how to get Blotch moving with his whip. We called this command a “proot”, and since my eldest nephew’s whip was fashioned from an old bull’s pizzle, he was able to amuse himself quite well by enumerating all the possible combinations of the words and related phrases. By this metric, the start of our journey was not at all unusual.

Every so often, Blotch would stop to eat a cornflower growing on the side of the road, and my eldest nephew would threaten to crack the old bull’s pizzle again. His threats turned out to be empty, and we waited for Blotch to finish his meal. On the side of the road up ahead was a travelling fruit seller, whom I hailed. It would be prudent to ask this fellow if he had any oranges or pamplesmousse. He said that, yes, he had no oranges, but he did have a long island potato. As he was filling a sack with potatoes, I looked behind to see Blotch gobbling up his entire supply of figs. I quickly paid and grabbed the potatoes, before cracking the pizzle to get away before he noticed.