The Gauls have a long history of suppressing rural talent, dating back to Cacofonix the Bard, who was physically retrained from performing at banquets in the time of Julius Caesar. The latest victim of this culture of draconian censorship is Maurice, who performs morning airs on the Atlantic resort of Île d’Oléron. But there is an essential difference between these two artistic martyrs. Cacofonix followed his calling, while Maurice is following the order of nature. He has no choice in the matter.
Maurice is a cockerel on an island which has become a tourist resort, and his crowing is keeping a visiting neighbour awake. His owner, herself a singer, argues that his species has been crowing from remote antiquity. Indeed, it’s in cold print — their cousin in the Holy Land ticked off Peter for denying the son of god thrice. The problem is the visitors who come to the island in search of tranquillity, not the domestic fowl who predate them. It is rare for birds to become involved in cases of man-animal conflict — such prowess is generally reserved for creatures red in tooth and claw — but Maurice is a marked chicken.
The second French fowl thus threatened, he faces the legal charge of being a health hazard, a ground that an increasingly hypochondriac human race takes very seriously. It is clearly absurd, since the neighbour would be far healthier being awakened by a living alarm clock, in good time for a morning constitutional. But the cockerel is fortunate enough to have other neighbours on his side, who have rallied behind a petition. And the mayor agrees that suppressing a cockerel’s song is an unnatural act against the order of nature. If only Cacofonix had enjoyed such local support, he could have been recognised today as the father of death metal.
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