Encouraged by Sylvia's
response to the doves, Jeremy presented Miss Purefoy-McKinlay
with a large African Grey parrot as a means of beginning a
conversation when they encountered each other strolling outside
the Crystal Palace at Penge.
Lucinda was enchanted, and it
is said that within hours she had thrust Harrods into a state
of momentary non-plus by asking for cuttlefish 'by
the yard, and as fast as you can dry it!'
The bird's history caused her
some little inconvenience however, for it had once been owned
by a certain Hugh Smollette, a retired sea-captain late of
the Tasman sea. In consequence the bird would punctuate long,
gloomy silences with the word 'Scrotum!' screamed in
baleful and demonic tones, a practice which caused passing
pedestrians to blanch when Lucinda promenaded along Bond Street
with the parrot perched regally upon her shoulder.
Upon one such occasion she attempted
to remonstrate with the bird by tapping it firmly upon the
beak, at which it retaliated by nipping off the lobe of her
ear and fouling her jacket.
Galvanised by pain she flung the parrot from her, all the
while blaming Jeremy for her 'atrocious pain and embarrassment',
and threatening a series of lawsuits which were eventually
settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Jeremy, now thirty-six, was despondent.
'I shall give no more birds as love tokens,' he confided
to a breathless and wheezing Lenoir, 'for upon balance
they have brought me nothing but pain, degradation and disgrace.
My love of them has turned to hate, and the distraction of
both has affected my search for a breakthrough.'