So it started like this. The confectioner had suddenly lost his marzipan pig. One minute it had been quietly standing amid a field of rich green fudge, the next, the chocolate and praline gate was open and the hedge of nougat had been munched.
Flustered into a fit that resembled a good peaked meringue, the confectioner donned his lace bonnet and called for his wife, the butcher.
She came after the clock’s sugared hands had moved exactly ten minutes around the citrus face. Her apron was bloody. Crimson stains trickled in the deep crevices of her large hands. A plucked chicken was slung over her shoulder, its pinpricked bag of flesh lathered in golden slabs of butter.
She had not seen the swine. And she had the casing of sausages waiting to be stuffed.
Close to hysterics, the confectioner raced to the milliner. The boar-faced milliner with pork-chops whiskers was dusting off a porkpie. He had seen neither trotters or wiggly tail of the porker.
On the edge of a nervous breakdown, the confectioner dashed to the chandler. He was melting the fat of a pig in a gargantuan vat. Beside him stood an army of tiny candles in the shapes of piglets.
The confectioner felt a constriction twinge across his chest. He would try the undertaker. She was daintily applying rouge to an old sow’s sagging lips. The family’s crest, a boar’s head under which stood a pork barrel, hung over the corpse, the porcine features uncannily resembling the dead woman.
On the point of a mental breakdown, the confectioner crawled to the ostler. He was reclined on top of a hogshead, hogging a flagon of Old Thumper close to his piggish snout. He snorted at the confectioner and squelched his big black boots, made by the famous shoemaker Mr Pigstick, in the mud. He had not seen the marzipan pig. Although he had two cinnamon mares, a chocolate pony, and a lovely almond-eyed gelding.
Tears welling in his eyes, the confectioner turned to leave, his heart heavy like a sack of hard sugar never to make icing again.
And then he saw it. His pig. His marzipan pig.
The poet’s daughter with pigtails was sucking on the wiggly pink sugar tail. Already the pig’s eyes were gone and one of its legs was reduced to a sugar stump.
Bristling, the confectioner approached the little girl. She smiled and bit off the marzipan pig’s head.
The confectioner dropped to his knees. His face disfigured into the likeness of a wild boar before the spring rut. “Where did you get that pig?” he grunted.
Smiling demurely, the girl replied, “From your shop, stupid. You sold it to me this morning.”