The Duke of Loamshire leant on the balustrade surrounding the terrace on the garden side of Penistone Hall surveying his garden. He was inordinately proud of his garden, it was his one vice. Unlike so many others of his class whose vices were ruinous, his garden was merely ... expensive. But nor ruinously so. His younger brother on the other hand had deluded visions of how far the Duke’s fortune would finance his expeditions into the far corners of the globe. If a globe could be considered to have corners thought the Duke, a philosophical question that, at this moment, he didn’t feel outranked the major problem that he needed to give his consideration to.
The Duke stood and went down the steps onto the lawn, as he did so he passed a statue. Penistone Hall was famed for its statuary, much of it acquired by the third, or was it the fourth duke, he could never remember, on his grand tour of Europe, liberated from the barbarians who lived in the Italian peninsular and from the Greeks on the other side of the Aegean sea. Not, of course that the present Duke considered these people barbarians. Heavens no! He had the advantage of a classical education, whereas his forebear had been little more than an elevated peasant who just happened to do the reigning monarch an enormous favour, basically keeping him alive, which didn’t exactly make him popular with everyone. Well, almost nobody in fact. No, the Duke appreciated that these countries were the cradles of the civilisation that he himself endeavoured to uphold. On the other hand, the present denizens of those countries were an entirely different kettle of fish and certainly incapable of looking after important artifacts ... but he’d better not say anything like that to the duchess or there’d be hell to pay, but he was happy that this justified his keeping and enjoying them.
The Duke passed a number of other statues as he ambled slowly through the garden largely lost in thought. That is until he came to a statue that raised mixed emotions in him. Hidden behind a large plant was a statue of his mother-in-law. Mixed emotions for a number of reasons. The statue was the lady herself to the life, and might have been sculpted by a master craftsman. Her features were accurately modelled, the drapery of the dress finely modelled, her bosom almost appeared to be heaving, the skirt of her dress around her waist and her spread legs displaying her most intimate parts. And that summed up the problem that was exercising his mind, because this was not really a statue, but the lady herself. Turned to stone. Or more accurately a very attractive pink marble. He wasn’t too sure that ‘lady’ was actually correct, because at the point when she had become immortalised in marble she had been, or was being, rodgered by her coachman. She wasn’t the first person, nor indeed the last, to have suffered this indignity. Either being rodgered by the coachman, a noted randy cocksman, or turned to marble in flagrante as it were. In truth he was shocked, having spent years under the impression that his dear wife the Duchess must have been the result of rape, the idea of his mother-in-law, a veritable dragon, actually participating in a sexual act willingly being completely unthinkable. A shame, he mused looking at the well formed thighs, that he hadn’t known before the misfortune, a dalliance with the lady might have been amusing. And the pink marble really made her look quite toothsome. Ho hum... , he pulled his thoughts back to the present.
It had taken some time to identify the cause of the problems, and the Duke had not yet found a solution, which was what was presently occupying his mind. The first, and most immediate problem, was what to do with all the statues. He hadn’t realised what a randy lot the inhabitants of the hall and the nearby village were, the number of statues was simply amazing, and replacing the staff, the butler had been particularly difficult, and the local vicar too, maids on the other hand could be found without difficulty, although it had to be noted that the latest crop were not so pretty as previously; the duke surmised that they had used up all the pretty ones from the district. With the number of statues, both male and female, displaying their private parts, and particularly the ladies, their bosoms, together with expressions of sexual satisfaction, it was clear that there was only one cause, and it was the Duke himself, giving his wife’s maid a good seeing to in the middle of the maze, who realized what it was. As she reached her peak there had been a loud shriek not unlike the cry of a peacock, behind him and that instant it was a considerable shock to suddenly find that instead of a warm and excited West African girl surrounding his manly appendage it was suddenly encased in black marble. Yet another statue. There were now more marble statues than live people about the grounds, together with a number of chickens and not a few ducks. The noise occasioned the Duke to glance over his shoulder, and the girl in the throes of an orgasm had opened her eyes to look and was instantly turned to marble. Luckily for him, the Duke had little more than started on the event, had he finished too then his fate would have been sealed. And they already had one statue of a couple forever conjoined. What colour marble would he have been he wondered.
And what had he and the maid seen? That bloody bird.
The Duke wandered a bit further into the garden where he came to the statue of the vicar, his member sticking rigidly out of his britches. Quite a member too, the Duke thought. With all these statues in their varying states of undress he had been able to make some interesting comparisons between the different parts of the ladies and mens’ anatomies. With a giggle he thought it was apt that the house was called Penistone, and luck that it wasn’t called ... yes, well, that didn’t bear thinking about. Sometimes he had to admit to having a rather basic sense of humour.
The bird had arrived in a crate sent by the Duke’s younger brother from God knows where, and had initially been put in with the chickens that provided the household with fresh eggs, it was a small brown rather nondescript bird about chicken sized anyway, so it was thought that that would be alright. The bird, however, didn’t think so, and was a remarkably accomplished escapologist. It seemed completely impossible to keep it in anywhere and so it was decided that since it showed no signs of straying further than the house and garden it would be best to allow it a free run. There was a letter with the bird from his younger brother giving its Latin name – Lapis Osculus Turpitudinem – which the Duke’s classical education enabled him to translate as Stone Eyed Fucker, but no other information other than admonishing the Duke to take great care of the bird since it was the last of it’s species. And just as bloody well thought the Duke, if there was another of them they could create mayhem. That was a point he thought, was it male or female?
The Duke realised that it was almost time to dress for dinner and with a sigh, and one more rather wistful look at his mother-in-law as he passed, he returned to the house.