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Peter Bolton

(2nd April 1942 / Brecon)

The Love Potion


It transpired that two children lived in a rustic village,
And around the village stretched a forest of birches.
They were a boy and a girl and their names were Treffin and Fenilla.
As they grew they played together,
They talked and understood each other.
In the course of time they became inseparable.
They walked hand in hand through the forest,
And stood as graceful as the trees.
They did not behave in the modern fashion,
For their love was pure and untainted with lust.
All would come in its due season.

Life is a cruel mistress.
It does not allow the heart to rule.
Only money is the master.
Fenilla’s father fell sick.
The only way that the physician’s fees could be paid
Was for Fenilla to seek employment.
News came that there was a vacancy for a chambermaid in the palace.
An advertisement had been placed.
The work was not too onerous for Fenilla,
She was an industrious girl.
Her new mistress was well pleased.

The Lady Estella, for that was her name,
Prepared the most sumptuous rooms for her gentlemen callers.
That was the task allotted to Fenilla,
Who arranged the velvet cushions, the silken sheets
And the chocolate treats in their silver wrappings.
On the walls were tapestries of such an erotic nature that Fenilla turned her glances elsewhere
And, by the bedside, a phial of golden liquor.

One day however, her deflected eyes fell upon this decanter.
She wondered how it might taste.
Was it the famous whisky of which she had heard?
Perhaps she could risk the tiniest sip.
Nobody was looking; nobody would know.
So wonderful was the taste that surely it could only be whisky, from the finest still. Tempted, she drank a little more.
Then, feeling drowsy, she climbed into the bed.
Before long, Count Vauclan, the expected guest, entered the chamber that had been allotted to him.
He was a seasoned campaigner and liked to be ready in advance so he went at once for the potion and swigged it down.
From the same phial.
Then he sat down upon the bed.

You may have heard of one Tristram and one Ysault and their encounter with this draught.
It is easy to invoke fate in hindsight and to say that it was inevitably so.
I tell you that this is only a cover for man’s foolishness.
Fate being mocked by disregard of the instructions on the bottle.
If I were to ask my lover to take such a flask with me,
He would reply. “It is not necessary, ”
Surely we’re already bound to one another.
“There is no such thing as fate,
We make our own destinies.”
He might also declare.
“There’s no such thing as a love potion.”
He would be right.
The formula was lost long ago.

The laboratory where it was distilled existed then, in that kingdom,
But it was very expensive.
It was out of the reach of ordinary people,
Which is just as well!
I do not need to tell you that the Count soon discovered Fenilla under the sheets
And that their love for one another went beyond the bounds of understanding. Therefore, what then followed need not surprise us.
Lady Estella came in eagerly and was extremely annoyed.
She saw at once what had happened.
She had lost both a wooer and a chambermaid.
As this was how she had lost her previous servant,
She really would have to review her procedures.

Sure enough, Count Vauclan took Fenilla away to his civic mansion,
Where they could continue their passion in private.
Meanwhile, in the absence of his soulmate,
Treffin busied himself in preparation for their future.
His labours at the timber mill enabled him to construct a fine cottage,
All by his own hand.
He planted around it a garden, full of roses.
Although he was concerned at not hearing from Fenilla,
He believed that their love was eternal and could not be broken.
Fenilla’s father, however, grew very weak and in due course he died.
There was therefore no benefit from her labours,
Neither was she seen at his funeral rites.
Something was clearly wrong and Treffin would have to see to it.
He took Fenilla’s mother into his cottage and set off towards the city.

Once there, he enquired at the palace
Where he was discomfited to hear the servants sniggering behind the their hands.
Treffin’s enquiries eventually led to him being directed towards the Count’s stately home in the country.
Arriving hot and dusty from the trail,
He found there was no hope of being admitted into the presence of the lady of the house.
In the servants’ quarters he soon made the acquaintance of a parlourmaid called Quince, a rosy redhead.
Quince thought him a handsome fellow and, seeking to please him,
She smuggled Treffin into a room where he might accost his Fenilla.

“I am here, ” he announced, as he came forth.
Fenilla looked at him in shock.
“I did not call you, ” she said.
“Every bird in every tree called me, ” Treffin said.
“Look, Treffin, look what I have, everything that I might desire and more. Furthermore there is a love such as you would never believe between myself and Vauclan.
Where would you take me?
To a cottage in the country?
It was only a dream, Treffin.”
Fenilla was not hard of heart and, seeing that Treffin had swooned clear away, she summoned a maid.
Quince was not far away.
“Take this whisky, ” she said to Quince, “and administer it.
When he has recovered, there is no need to spare it.”
With that Fenilla retired to her husband in their suite.
Quince duly dosed Treffin and, as permitted,
Drained the bottle dry herself.
Of course, it was not whisky.
When they had finished their lovemaking and were idly kissing,
Treffin told Quince of his cottage waiting.
They married and lived happily ever after.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 20, 2013

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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This follows on from The Quandary.
Rowan arrives but Norris has been very good to Esme and she is loath to desert him for one who has been so dilatory in appearing. She hereby makes her position clear.

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