"Yes, Mr. Pumpernickel?"
He blushed attractively. "I-I have something I fear I must confess." He looked sheepishly at the floor which ironically contained no sheep but did possess three rather fine lambs and, for reasons unexplained, a panda.
Miss Elizabeth Breadpudding felt her heart beating madly beneath her modest dress. Would he, a man she had come to love and respect, finally propose? She could not hear him over the beating of her heart. She imagined life on his estate, the children they would raise (three: Saffron, Cynthia and Vlad). He was tall and well-built, a gentleman with a good living. It could be a good match.
"Did you hear me, Miss Breadpudding?"
Taken aback she stammered, "I-I'm sorry Mr. Pumpernickel. I must confess I am quite overwhelmed." He looked sad but determined. Had she misunderstood?
"Miss Breadpudding...although my respect for you knows no bounds and, I feel, we have established an understanding, I fear I cannot marry you."
"What?!?" she exclaimed, "I don't understand."
"Well, to be blunt, I think that while you are a good, plain, honest woman I find that my heart yearns for company more to my own aesthetic quality."
She shook her head in amazement. "You are saying you want a more...attractive woman?"
Mr. Pumpernickel raised his hands in protest. "No! Miss Breadpudding you are most lovely - the finest woman in all of Glouschesterparkpembertnighttomastershire, certainly. It's just that, my family tradition obliges me to marry a woman of the red haired persuasion and...."
"...I am a raven haired lady," She concluded his sentence. "Be brave," she thought and smiled.
Mr. Pumpernickel smiled in return. He looked hesitant as he offered his hand. "I hope we can always be friends."
Miss Breadpudding smiled and approached him. She placed both hands on his shoulders as if to kiss him. Her smile increased as she lifted her knee quite forcefully into his groin. Mr. Pumpernickel gasped.
"Screw you, jackass, " Miss Breadpudding explained. She left him lying curled in a ball on the ground.
Years passed. He still thought about that moment. He was getting older, now already 46, and his prospects quite bleak. After Miss Breadpudding had revealed her humiliation to her friends and family no respectable lady in Glouschesterparkpembertnighttomastershire would keep company with him. And no respectable English woman could be brought to his estate - for she would soon learn his dreadful secret and reject him for his mistreatment of so fine a lady. All because family tradition demanded that he marry a red haired woman.
As for Miss Breadpudding, she mourned him but a day and then found herself courted by one Mr. Baguette, a young handsome man with a good living and ever rising prospects (to her delight). They were married and had three little Baguettes (Saffron, Vlad and Pierre). These fine red haired children grew up strong, happy and healthy under their parents' care. The former Miss Breadpudding, now Mrs. Baguette, let her own hair return to its natural redness. "I coloured it in my youth," she explained to Mr. Pumpernickel when they chanced to meet one cloudy English summer day.
"You...You are a red haired lady?!?," he was astonished, "Why did you not tell me?"
She smiled in such as a way as to cause Mr. Pumpernickel to reflexively cover his family jewels.
"Mr. Pumpernickel," she began, "I did not tell you because you were being such a superficial ass. Once a man shows himself to be an ass, it is best to kick him in the nuts and find another. Good day, sir." And with that she left him behind.
He never recovered from his grievous mistake. Often ladies of the village would, in a playful mood, leave a red haired wig upon his doorstep. Mr. Pumpernickel would lose his fortune searching for the red haired lady - while the finest lady he knew had found happiness with a man who, unlike Mr. Pumpernickel, did not loaf. Miss Breadpudding, now Mrs. Baguette, had given him, he must admit, his just desserts.
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