‘That’s awfully mean of Pater, don’t you think? Do you never get jealous of Pater’s ladies? I mean to say, Pater was mawwied twice before you came along and wescued him.’

‘Jealous? Jealous?’ Mater chuckled to herself. ‘No, of course not Agatha. It wasn’t Pater’s fault his mawwiages didn’t work out, you know. His first wife, Ophelia, suddenly decided she wanted to be a man and had the mawwiage annulled so she could have a gender change. And his second wife, Heidi fwom Hanover, why, she suffered fwom tewwible home-sickness and wan off with a German shot-putter duwing the Munich Olympics of ’72. By all accounts, according to Pater, she looked like she was the one who undertook a gender change.’

‘He does like his ladies on the large size, doesn’t he Mater? Not that you’re large, Mater. I’d say you’re more…more….’

‘Voluptuous is the word you’re looking for, Agatha, my dear.’

‘Is it?’ Agatha frowned and blinked her magnified owl eyes quickly.

‘Yes, voluptuous,’ Mater purred and became dreamy eyed.‘Why, when we were courting, Engelbert used to say I weminded him of Mae West.’ Mater then smiled provocatively and spoke in an American accent of sultry tones, ‘When I’m good, I’m vewy good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.’ Mater’s face suddenly flushed red and she squealed in embarrassed laughter as though she couldn’t believe as to what she had just said.

‘Oh Mater!’ Agatha laughed. ‘You’re such a scweam.’

Mater quickly fanned her face with a tea towel. ‘My Lord, I don’t know what came over me. Must be the fumes fwom the beetwoot wine.’ Mrs. Sparrow giggled and caught her breath and continued in a more controlled manner. ‘Oh, Pater knows which side his bwead is buttered. Gweat Gwandpapa Howatio made his fortune in tea plantations. If ever Pater seems to be getting too fond of his ladies I just ask – “more tea Vicar?” and smile innocently. Engelbert soon falls back into line.’

Mother and baby owl exchanged innocent smiles and burst into owlish hoots.

‘You’re such a card, Mater,’ said Agatha as a flash of inspiration to match Mater’s cunning sparked through her mind.

‘I say, Mater. Surely you don’t need to give all twelve bottles of beetwoot wine to the fete. Why not save a bottle or two for you and Pater? Help with Pater’s migwaine after an evening with his ladies? May even spark off Pater’s memowies of the wesemblance between your good self and Mae West’

‘Hmmm,’ mused Mater. ‘I say, Agatha old girl. That could be an excellent idea. An excellent idea indeed. Although Pater does find it exceptionally powerful stuff. On second thoughts maybe not.’

‘But surely Pater needs it, if only for medicinal weasons. You know how cwanky he can be if he gets a migwaine.’
Mrs. Sparrow hesitated and strummed the edge of the cardboard box with her podgy fingers. ‘Well, maybe just one tiny glass. I suppose one tiny glass can’t do any harm – can it?’

Agatha grinned. She knew full well that Pater would soon get a taste for the beetroot and Mater would resemble Mae West more and more with every sip. Slipping out to see her bestest friend in the whole wide world would be a piece of cake. Yes, thought Agatha, the Lord does work in mysterious ways.