THE DISCOVERY, AND EVENTUAL FOUNDING OF THE NORTH SEA ISLAND OF BENNINGTON
“This hill that stands before us!
Map it first.”
These were the exact words spoken by Lady Beverly Anastia in the year 1588 as she made her way over the grass-covered hollow that would soon contain her castle. Using pale hand for shade against sun, Lady Beverly began twirling around in circles, and was soon dizzy with the prospect of undiscovered land. “Found utopia, this island. A utopia for all those who have suffered thy bitter guardians of hate. A Queendom for thy Barnacles, lonesome as they may be.”
History now shows that it was only after being lost for days on end in the fog of the North Sea that a fleet of Barnacle Utopian sailing ships happened upon the eerily quiet island. The twin captains of the fleet, Radulfus and Reginaldus Bonassio, proclaimed simultaneously while sailing north up the island’s river that, “Dover, we are not.”
The Barnacle Utopians on board were rather disappointed at arrival, for they’d planned to sprinkle flowers and sodden leaves on the dock workers of Dover while singing the Barnacle’s version of Green Grow’th The Holly, a carol later plagiarized by King Henry VIII:
Green Grow’th the holly,
So doth the Barnacles,
Though winters blasts blow na’er so high,
Green Grow’th the Barnacles.
Gay are its founders,
Hedgerows and fertile lands,
Resting bodies are smug and safe.
Where swung the founders.
And now our song is almost done,
And we can no longer stay,
So bless you all,
Working yee’s death,
And may o‘ ‘topia be thy Way.
The Bonassio twins dropped anchor at a tranquil bend of the river, and it was Captain Radulfus Bonassio who was first to note both the calmness and shade of the island’s river. “Thy tint o’ so seducing mulberry.”
There were wild valleys of brush to be found on both sides of the bend. Looking out at such from stern of lead ship, Lady Beverly Anastia ordered up two survey teams. The northbound was commandeered by Her Lady, and leading the southbound was her French lover, June Verlee.
“Be courteous, be cautious, and by all means, be curious.”
Leading her survey party over the jut, and up towards the summit of grumpy hill, Lady Beverly was in the transports of delight upon discovering that the land below her was in the shape of an alphabetic letter quite familiar to the Barnacle Utopians.
“Shaped like a U, she is!”
With mapmaker, songwriter and lute player in tow, Her Lady ran towards the summit in elated pomp. Her songwriter noted that, “Her Lady whisked her feet o’ haste, reverie to thy’ day. Since this day, a beautiful day, so many days away. Scared by mob, chased by mob, a mob of Eastern Prussians. To thee crest, there she runs, Her Lady of Utopia! O’ Utopia!”
Arriving at the barren, rocky summit, her survey crew noted that the flora-rich land below, which only minutes earlier spoke of virgin wonders, had disappeared due to low-level clouds. Out of breath, yet shaking with prospect, Lady Beverly declared, “Here we do stand on thy skin o’ Lord’s back. Forever off limits this jagged height will be to thy commons, for this is thy Lord’s playground. Of their skin it is made, of skin it shall remain. Below is thy fruitful land in which the Barnacle Utopians shall live and remain. Inside of thy soul, atop this soil, we are eternally free to roam. Tranquility is ours, yet we shareth this land with thy Lords, who mustn’t be disturbed per chance our discovery this day will vanish. For thick this fog is. Songwriter?”
“Yes, your Lady?”
“A ditty, to glorify discovery. Your lyrics shall praise thy day when her final breath occurs. Lute player?”
“Yes, your Lady?”
“Until thy songwriter has completed lyrics, I command upon you to locate a summit boulder to inscribe with chisel instrument that my body is to be brought to this very summit when Her Lady’s final breath arrives. Left in open air my body will be, and may all Queens of this land forever lay their bones on skin o’ Lords.”
“Yes, your Lady.”
Off went the lute player and songwriter, the latter scribbling lyrics that rhymed with boneyard.
“Yes, your Lady?” the mapmaker Bennington Billington asked.
“Do follow me.” And as Her Lady and mapmaker made their way out from under cloud line, the fair-to-middling island appeared once again. In the distance, one could spy the northern highlands, and beyond, her seas. Landlocked this discovery was not. “Here on this hill, and down below. This is thy Queendom. Map it all. I will take it.”
And as Bennington Billington excitedly began to sketch with the finest of consignment cartography tools, Lady Beverly huffed her way back down the hill. A distance had grown between the two when Bennington shouted down, “If you do not mind thy act of asking, my Lady, where exactly are we?”
“Bennington, my good man!” Lady Beverly shouted back, her arms sweeping the land, and mulberry-tinted river which divided. “We have arrived at the next life!”
Once the survey of the northern jut of the island was complete, Her Lady had herself and Bennington Billington rowed to the south side of the island in order to rendezvous with her lover, June Verlee, who was accompanied by the Barnacle Utopian’s:
Dearly missing June after hours of separation, Her Lady kissed the golden lips of her French lover before inserting layers of tongue, which prompted the sandwich maker to start making sandwiches, and the botanist to collect a sample of Hedge Mustard.
“Have we not happened upon paradise, June? At peace we can be with our love here. No longer will masked men beat us senseless through open window. How those windows will now remain open! Now...do tell your Lady what was discovered beyond such shoulders of loveliness.”
With a righteous gleam on her face, June reported, “Your Lady, we happened upon him.”
Him was a small, silver-haired man with years of island living displayed in his primordial posture and freaky eyes. The islander paid little mind to the Lady and her lover, for the ends of his beard that was two-feet in length was being braided by the Barnacle Utopian’s hair braider, Julie. The islander shyly stroked the left cheek of Julie as all others inspected him.
Lady Beverly demanded an explanation, and June Verlee provided. “Says he was dropped off here as squatter so long ago, it was, that he can’t recall what squatter is to do but wait through seasons of middle years, catching fish with wooden bucket. This dogged old man...he claims this is Protestant land we stand upon. He believes any new arrivals without material to build with must have got lost in fog of sea.”
“Under what roof has he been sleeping?” Lady Beverly asked. “No signs of establishment seen from atop thy hill. No smoke from fire. Where is your roof and chimney, fair squatter?”
“Me chimney be me coat sleeve, your Lady,” the old man spoke through nearly toothless gums. “Many snows I say ‘why, why thee only giveth me one coat when theys dropeth me off?’ Autumn coat at that. Coat or roof? Coat or roof? Ha! Coat or roof, what she be.”
Her Lady removed her own coat from shoulders and handed it to the squatter. “Here, do take mine. I have many others for your people when they arrive.”
“Beverly coats you have, me Lady,” the old man spoke, his freaky eyes growing wide at the comfort of mink furs. “Smells of beaver back, she does. Might warm, thy beaver be. Me not seen a beaver one since ripe twenty.”
“How old are you now, fair squatter?” the mapmaker Bennington Billington asked.
Peeved at such a question, the bitter Protestant spit to the ground. “Young ‘nough to still kick yee’s bottom for askin’. Who’s got ‘eee whisky?”
Lady Beverly Anastia soon ordered her:
her veggie counsel
the elderly squatter
back to London in order to present a claim of land located “amongst dense fog off thy Strait of Dover, likely to thy north of.” The claim of land was to be deeded as: a Queendom ruled by Her Highness, Lady Beverly Anastia, and a Queen forever after by way of hereditary accession, or selective adoption.
The High Courts of London, relieved to be ridding their own island of the Barnacle Utopians, all too willingly recognized the freewheeler’s land grab. The High Courts took solace in the knowledge that their own English explorers and mapmakers had proven a dozen times over that there remained no undiscovered land, or islands, in the North Sea territory.
The High Courts deeded the claim as such:
BENNINGTON (fantasy island), EST. 1588 BY LADY BEVERLY ANASTIA AND HER BARNACLE UTOPIANS. GODSPEED, OR BY SPEED WHOMEVER THY BE WORSHIPING.
Bennington Billington, who’d managed to pull quite the wool over the eyes of Her Lady with the christening of the island, would eventually be Mulberry River tossed for placing his drafting compass inside June Verlee while she napped in the Forest of Earthly Delights - a tract of land that is now present day Pmolan.
Floating his way back to England atop a priceless collection of early Ottoman Empire maps, Bennington Billington went the way of Silent City while attempting to scale the Cliffs of Dover, which he’d mistaken for a bunk bed in the midst of famished delirium.
The elderly squatter, who’d been living alone on the island for more than forty years, was deemed sole landowner of a 5x11 tract of soil whereupon a tree branch had held his coat or roof. Not pleased with the High Court’s decision, the squatter pissed himself on the spot in order to receive a pair of sympathy trousers after having worn the same two legs of fabric the last half century.
©2019 Dave Gunn