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  • Ellen King Rice

Naked Came a Fungus: Miss Leptonia Convexa captures a heart


“Chadwick, I must say,” said Douglas, Duke of Fir, as he slapped his riding crop against the side of his perfectly polished Hessian boots. “Miss Leptonia Convexa is the gal for me!”

Douglas hit his boot again. He was not sure why one smacked Hessian footwear with a short stick, but he did know it was a proper thing to do. From Regency times to modern garden wellies, one smacked one’s boots with a stick or stamped them in irritation. As with all things in the ‘first stare of fashion’, an explanation was not required. One simply kept up with things or one was . . . well, the regrettable term “unrefined” came to mind.

“I’ve never heard you speak of commitment,” said Chadwick, the thick-bodied Duke of Needle Duff as he adjusted his tan cravat to best set off his brown waistcoat. “Why is this Leptonia of such interest?”

“She’s captured my heart with her beauty,” Douglas sighed. “She’s of medium height, but ever so slender. She fancies a striped dress with the most adorable fibrous aspects.”

He sighed again. “I’ll admit. I’ve only ever seen her twice.”

“Only twice?” Chatwick shook his head. “She must be extraordinarily charming.”

“Indeed, she is!” Douglas smiled. “I saw her first two years ago on November 17. I noted the experience in my journal. She was with her twin, both in matching striped outfits with the most fetching navy-blue caps. Blue velvet caps! Utterly enticing!”

Douglas sighed. “They were in the P street park, near Maple’s place.”

“Maples!” Chadwick tilted his head. “Are you quite sure this Ms. Leptonia is not, ah, in a liaison with Maples?”

“It’s possible,” Douglas admitted. “Although it pains my heart to think so. She is very shy with a fleeting presence. I returned often that November and did not see her again.”

He grinned, “But I marked my calendar! On the first of November this year I began haunting the P street park. I was most diligent! And on the tenth of November, there she was!”


Douglas inhaled deeply. “And now I shall mark my calendar again. Next fall I shall seek her out and declare my undying affection.”

“Dear me,” said Chadwick. “You do set yourself to a challenge. A lovely miss who is only out and about a few days of the year? Are you sure you wouldn’t consider courting one of the Tufts? They’re a cheery lot. Out and about all the time.”

“A Sulfur Tuft?” Douglas’s eyebrows climbed high. “You must be joking.”

“I’ve always been rather charmed by the Tufts,” Chadwick said, stiffly.

“Well, you’re safe from their intrusive ways,” Douglas declared. “They are always trying to get their little hyphae into the Firs. Have done so for years.”

Douglas shuddered. “Tufts! There are so many of them! They are as abundant as sisters in a Jane Austen story.”

“Your affections are engaged, then?” Chadwick asked. “Miss Leptonia has carried away your blue-blooded heart with her blue-tinged ways?”

“Indubitably!” said the Duke of Fir. “There’s something special about a shy navy-capped beauty. She has won my heart completely.”


Let’s hope another writer takes up championing the Sulfur Tufts. It does seem they are being a bit misunderstood.


Ellen King Rice writes thrillers set in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Her books can be purchased at the Barnes & Noble store in Olympia, WA or on Amazon.com.


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