Ella Minnow Pea a novel in letters

Six big devils from Japan quickly forgot how to waltz

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Six big devils from Japan quickly forgot how to waltz.


Riggy-roo, Octopus 20
Mrs. Mittie,

Help us.

Please. Something appalling has put my son Timmy in harm's way. The school says that he is eight. The school says he was eight last month. Since last month he has not given any care to what he says. He thought—we all thought—that he was exempt. That his exemption continues until Novemgroogy 13, when he turns eight. When he truly, legally turns eight. It seems that someone at the Vil­lage Archives got it wrong. Unless we can prove otherwise Timmy will have to leave Nollop. We haven't the necessary papers to prove our claim. We lost our last home, you see, lost everything in it to Hurricane Elspeth. Perhaps you might go to the school—might locate something to prove that Timmy won't turn eight until Novempoopy 13; thus Council proclamata cannot in any legal sense apply to him. Otherwise he will have to go!

We implore you.


Georgeanne Towgate


Satto-gatto, Octarchy 21
Mrs. Towgate,

I went to the school. With my erstwhile colleague Miss Greehy's assistance I spent the morning searching all the papers pertaining to your son. I must relay that nothing that might help your case came to our attention. I am truly sorry.


Mittie Purcy
PS. The tempera picture on your letter's verso is really lovely. I am par­tial to seascapes; it will gain a choice spot on my wall.

Sunshine, Octangle 22
Sweet, sweet Mittie,

I have ghastly news. They have Tassie. She awaits trial as suspect in those recent anonymous threats to the Council. Come as soon as you can. In the event there is a guilty ruling, expulsion will not con­stitute a legally punitive option. Such a ruling will only result in something much, much worse. Something I venture not even to say.


[Upon the Minnow Pea kitchen table]


Sunshine, Octane 22
Gwenette, loving spouse, Ella, my Ella,

A slip-up near a police goon. Now only minutes away: a rap on the portal, then a hasty trip to Pier Seven. Will I see you two prior to my leave? I'm sorry to hear the news concerning Tassie. Who is her lawyer? Are they even allowing her counsel? I might suggest someone. There isn't much time, though.

Will you see me go, or will you remain at the Correctional Cen­ter with Tassie? I will neglect something, I am sure. Without your help. What a help you have—


I simply can't do it anymore. And why should I? Why be so care­ful now? Moments away from transportation to the dreaded "Pier of Goodbyes." What's the point? What is there left to lose?

Like a retarded robot I go into the preprogrammed mode, plac­ing my brain on high-alert to avoid these Nollop-frowned-upon devil letters. The devils aren't in Japan! The devils are here. Satan is alive and well, right here in all his z-q-j-d-k-f-b, jumpy-brown-fox-slothful-pooch-quick-and-the-dead-glory—right here upon this devil's island of hatred and anger and unconscionable, inconsolable loss.

Hide this letter. Hide it well, but let me say the things that I must say. Before it's too late. Let me say that I love you both dearly. Let me say that I am so very sorry for returning to strong drink, for turning my back on you when you needed me most. Now that I have a voice, there are hundreds of other things I want to say. But cannot. Look into my heart and know them all.

And find it in your own hearts to forgive me.

You don't have to see me off. I know you're worried about Tassie. Be there with her, for her. But if you do come, please do me a small favor—a large favor, really. I'm not able to transport my miniature moonshine jugs to the pier. I would like to take them with me, though. You know that where I'm going they will be as good as money. You'll find them in my studio—stored together—all ten dozen of them. Half that number should suffice. Put them in one of the little crates; they'll be easier to convey that way.

Would you mind doing this one last thing for me? Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs?

Thank you.

Be well. Be safe.

Until we meet again.
Your loving husband and father,



Sunshine, Octonary 22
Notice to all Nollopians,

At precisely 12:00 tomorrow morning the letter "C" will cease to exist at all points on this isle. You will eschew its use or receive penalties as per earlier Council proclamata. We note that a "U" is gone as well. Its twin, however, remains intact.



Executive Secretary

Nollop High Council


Th* *ui** *r*wn *ox **mps ov*r the la*y **g


Monty, Otter-paws 23
Mrs. Mittie,

I value, nonetheless, your going to the learny-house to help my son. Little Timmy values it as well.

He is gone now. Timmy. This morning. With Nash, my spouse. I must remain. I must remain, as I am without violation. Nash has two. One among us must stay. I am the one. Our home, our prop­erty—it's all that we have, you see. Were we all to leave, they will expropriate it. They expropriate property, you're aware, are you not?

Please exonerate me. In your heart. I am so sorry that I was the one to report your violations. I'm so sorry that I was to learn what is truly important in our lives too, too late.

Write me as well. When time permits. I am the last one on my street. It gets so still, so lonely here at night. Eerily still. Anguish­ingly lonely. Not, though, when the L. E. goons motor through— their horns wailing. Hooligans. As a rule, though, it is ghostly silent here.

How are you set with rations? I will soon have to miss one meal every sun-to-sun. Are you giving thought to moving to Town?

I may wish to go with you.
Write soon.

Georgeanne Towgate
PS. The painting was mine. It pleases me that you wish to hang it in your home! I will paint you more.


Wetty, Onomatopoeia 25
Mrs. Mittie,

Where are you? You are not home when I go to your portal. When I ring, I note no movement within your house. Have you gone to Town? Have you gone to the States?

I am apprehensive. Am I now alone?


Thuringio, Otalgia 26
Sweet Tassie,

They will not let me into the prison to see you. I have spent the entire postnoon, all the early hours ensuing my arrival in town, waiting. Waiting here on the prison's visitors' lawn to see you.



They tell us nothing. (Will they even give this letter to you?) It is very upsetting. I want you to grasp how greatly I love you. I won't try to learn why you sent the threats. They push us all to the point where we say things, operate in ways that are not at all as we really are.

Were anything to happen to you, what then?

With all my love,



Satto-gatto, Ottoman Ruler 28
To Tassie's Mother Mittie,

My guess is that you are now with your sister, so I am routing this letter to her house. I am here in Nollop. (A stowaway, an illegal alien. I have spent the last 24 hours in nail-nipping intrigue!) All to see the one I love. To help the one I love. I am aware that they have put her in prison, though she will not stay there long. I will see to it. Wish me well.

Truly yours, Nate
[Upon the Minnow Pea kitchen table]


Sunshine, O Tempora! 29

While you were at the prison, attempting with your Aunt Mittie yet again to get in to see Tassie, men who were sent here to see me got themselves into our own sorry impregness with little struggle at all. Apparently, they were sent to interrogate me—the grilling per­taining to the now exanimate anti-high-priestal movement. Unhappy with my initial responses, they grew instantly perpy when I soon let slip an illegal letter. What enormous toothy grins! What mouth-enamel! You see, I gave them reason to transport me. To Pier Seven. Toss me right onto the emigrant trawler. No more Mum. One less agitator. (I am an agitator!) My leave happens very soon. As soon as I am through with this epistle to you.

It's a weeping shame. Why, I am not even given enough time to gather my things! All my possessions, your Pop's possessions are yours now, I suppose. Preserve them. Preserve our memory. I wish you to stay. You must stay.

Maintain the struggle. In our name. In our honor.

(I am so sorry that they will not permit me to see you prior to weighing moor. Give your Aunt Mittie a huge hug with my name on it. Tassie, as well.)

Until we meet again, sweet Ella.

With love always,

Your Mum


Sunshine, Overgarment 29
Mother, Ella:

You two must stop whiling your postnoons near the prison gates. They will not let you in to see me. Go now. There are things to attain elsewhere. You're aware, right? The things I mean?


(This is the last time I will terminate a letter in this manner now that "V" is soon to leave us. A new letter goes. So what else is new?)


Th* *ui** *r*wn *ox **mps o**r the la*y **g

[Slipped under the Minnow Pea front door]



Toes (Halloween), Oompahpah 31
Miss Pea:

Man was here. Young man. Southern U.S. While you were home. Got your relation. Got your Aunt. I let him get that Tassie— that angel girl—let him steal her, pure truth! I must sign paper say­ing this—per authorities. They were here—the authorities. They put me to signing this paper saying what happen.

Anyway, you got no reason to return to this prison anymore. Seeing that she is no longer here. They will put eye to your house, though. Might they show up there—Tassie-girl, your aunt, young Ameri-man. My guess, though, is that those three are gone-gone— set sail I'm sure to the States. Anyway, this is the thing: you no got to return.

Guess what? I go to the lash. A sentry who lets a prisoner go, he gets the lash, gets the whole nine-tail-lam. It's worth it, though. To see that sweet, pretty girl release! Hurrah!

Yours truly,

Sentry William P.



I am no longer in prison. Nate is the reason. He got us (Mother, me). We are on our way to the States. My horseman-gallant in shin­ing armor! I wish you were with us. Then again, it is important too that you remain in Nollop. Now rests almost solely upon you Enterprise 32. You will triumph, we are sure. Our hearts, our prayers are with you.

PS. I am trusting that the young shrimper we met in the north lagoon will get this letter to you. He was on his way to Nollopton to sell his haul. As a result, this letter may smell slightly shrimpish.

[Posted on the front door of the home of a woman who wears an orange hat]


Wetty, Nosegay 1
Woman in pretty orange hat:

My name is Ella. I saw you yesters, rummaging in the rear—that shut Italian restaurant on Main. No got to rummage. There are plenty eats in Wally's store at Eighth meets Elm. (Are you a shrimp cater?) "Wally, I hear, is a humane man. He is rationing eats—they will last longer this way. No money? No got to worry. We who are still here will help one another. I want to meet you. See me tonight?

I use to possess relations—my mother, my papa, my Aunt Mit­rie, her she-heir Tassie. Gone now. All those near to me, gone.

I am alone. Perhaps you are alone too?

See me tonight? My home: 4 houses east. I got stew tomatoes!

[Posted on the Minnow Pea front door]


Thirsty, Notaphily 2

Happy to get your letter. We possess a sense sometimes we are the only ones still here. We will see you not tonight. Tomorrow night, yes? I insist, though: my home. Little one—Penny—she is ill. She perhaps not so ill tomorrow, although she ought to stay in a little longer. We were not rummaging, we must say. We thought there was gas. Must get gas into our generator. How is your power? They supply us only one hour in the morning now. No one remain­ing at the power plant to man operations there.

Wally is a humane man, you are right. He is helping us in this trying time. We must all help one another.
Tanya T.

(the woman in the pretty orange hat)


Satto Gatto, No-trump 4

What a sweet time I was shown at your house last night! It was so pleasant meeting your spouse. It was a pleasure too, meeting your girl Penny. I am happy that she is nearly well.

I was also happy to meet Mannheim, also his young assistant Tom, although not please to learn that the institute is no longer open. Nothing is open any more, is this true? Tom tells me that the state operates now only to relate the next letters to omit. There are no other magisterial assertions. The thug-uglies arrest, thrash— then expel. The high priests generate their alpha-elisions, then return to their lairs to eat what tasties were put there, while praying to Nollop, paying homage to Nollop, stooping, prostrating, salaam­ing to Nollop. Ignoring all humanity in their Nollop-apotheosis.

Let us say Nollop were all-hallow preeminent Omnipotentate, why—still—shut out all those with whom one shares this planet? Were we put here on this earth only to worship? Exalting Nollop is to erase all that is non-Nollopian upon this isle. To utterly erase an upright, meritorious people. Genoerasure.

Oh the humanity!

So, tea tomorrow? I eagerly await your response.

PS. 43! 43! One step nearer our goal. I hope that Tom was all right with that hug.

My girl wove six dozen plaid jackets before she quit.


Sunshine, Norepinephrine 5
Miss Pea,

A pleasure it was to meet you two nights ago. Your smile warms me, illuminating the gloom. (The hug was pleasant as well.)

We are alone at the institute now—Mannheim, his girl Paula, yours truly. The entryways are hasp-shut; though we easily mount the trellis next to our lunette to gain entry. We then may toil on, without espy-ation. The other pupils—the other worthy assis­tants—they are, alas, all gone.


None, I am happy to say, went willingly.

We, Miss Pea, (may I appell you Ella?) are the only ones who persist now in Enterprise 32. The others who remain on this isle plow their energies into hunting aliments, into maintaining shelter in these unsure, austere times. As a people, we Nollopians now seem to exist only elementally. Outright primais we are now!

Piteous loss.

A loss, though, that I may not examine too long as my mission shouts my name. Our mission. We are true partners in this.

May I also note that you are pleasingly pretty? (I let that slip out, I am sorry! I meant it, though!)

Mannheim's girl Paula will rap on your portal soon. She will present our latest attempt. There is little time, 11 sun-to-suns. Then the 16th.

"U" is gone. I suppose you're aware. The 1st aeiouy to go. Up until now the other graphemes were not aeiouys. When the aeiouys start to go, Ella, writing to you turns exponentially more grueling. I will not throw in the towel, though. I trust that you won't either. I truly relish our partnership.

Perhaps we may sup together tomorrow night at the unilearnity? I will show you how to shinny up the trellis. I got lime gelatin!

Your ally,



Th* **i** *r*wn *ox **mps o**r the la*y **g

[Slipped beneath a neighbor's front door]


Monty, Nostromo 6
Hello there.

I am Ella—the one who smile at y'all yesters. Whose home is near. I am writing to people who are still here. Who I still see in the streets, who peep at me—wall-in, porthole, portiere people. Want­ing to say something, with anxiety stilling erstwhile galloping yam­mers. It is important that we say something to one another—any little thing. We are not low-tier animals. We are higher entities, am I right? Say something. A greeting. Anything.

It is important, as well, that we stay in nearness to one another— not only in the proximital sense—in the sense also as persisters— inheritors. We are all that remains—the ones who maintain the remnants—the Nollop that earlier was.

Retreat is not an option.


[Slipped beneath the Minnow Pea front door]


Monty, No-way 6
Insane woman name Ella:

Retreat is what we want. Go away. Let we alone.


[Posted on the Minnow Pea front door]


Monty, Nostomania 6

This letter I post on this here portal in hopes that Mittie might see it. That Mittie is staying here at her sister's home now. I hope hope hope it is so. I am in a home not too remote. Three homes away. It was empty when I got here. It is my home now.

It was a long trip—2 night-to-nights—to get here on shoe—to get to where my ally Mittie perhaps is. I ate twigs. I slept in sewer-arroyos. The yellow-sphere shone harshly on me. In the north I was near insanity. It wasn't pretty.

Isolate. Solitary. So lonely it was where I was. More so lonely than here. Here where Mittie is!

Please ignore not my appeal. As earlier. When one moment Mit­tie was there, the next she was not. I am so sorry as I mention ear­lier, the things that I perpetrate to harm Mittie. What I see now—it's all so plain, my past errors so apparent to me now. I saw into the glass swarthy; yea, now my eyes are open!

I want eagerly to go to my Nash, to my son Timmy in the States. I may not. I am to stay here. Nash tells me this is how I am to help those I esteem—the only way to retain what little we own. Yet it is hopeless, my staying there in that remote hamlet where we possess the tiny property. What is the worth? Why is my staying there more important than seeing the ones I esteem: my Nash, my sweet, lit­tle, not-yet-eight-no-matter-what-anyone-says Timmy? Mittie sees, right? How I so miss my sweet ones!

We help one another now, agree? I say I am sorry; Mittie says it is all right. Mittie assents to this, yes? Please say we are mates. Amigas. Say, please, that we are womanpals. I so greatly wish to hear these terms!
Georgeanne Towgate
(All letters still here! Yea!)


Monty, No no, Nanette 6
Georgeanne Towgate,

My mother's sister—the one thee wants—is gone. She went with her she-heir Tassie to the States. Tassie was in prison. The reason: she sent threats to the High Priests. They arrest her. She is happily no longer there. Alas, neither is the one thee wants.

This is, permit me to relate, why it was important that she exit thy hamlet so hastily. Not the one thee imagines. There was no ill will.

I shall sign on this moment as Georgeanne's ally! See, I am at times lonely too.

We eat together tonight, yes? Two lonely amigas.

I am eighteen. Yet my age is not important. Nothing is impor­tant next to Enterprise 32. I await thee.



Toes, Noogie 7

Here's the news: there is a new woman on my street. Her name is Georgeanne Towgate. She is lonely, shows great apprehension. I will try to help her. She is not at all similar to my Tom who is strong, wise, pleasing to the eye. Thy gelatin was so tasty. I am happy I met thee.



Toes, Noopers 7

No more gelatin nights now. Happy to report Enterprise 32 progress:

37! That's right: 37! Hip hip hooray!

It is all too awesome! Now only 5 to go. I will not sleep tonight. Neither will Mannheim.

Thy amigomate Tom

Zelda quickly wove eight nubby flax jumpers.


Tewstay, Nophemger 7
Greetings, Nollopians,

This is to inphorm ewe oph Statoot 28-63 past this morning with implorment phrom high elter R. Lyttle. Hensephorth, sitisens may—in graphy only—espress themselphs when warrant, threw yoose oph proxy letters, yet only as hear-twins. Any attempt to employ hear-twin graphemes in orality will warrant the most sepheerest penalties yonter the law.

Is this what Mr. Nollop woot want? On this, we are not sertin. Howepher, ewe may write to one another in this manner, ontil we rool otherwise.

Hamilton Phergewson


Tewstay, Nophemger 7

Yesters we open this portal to a Mr. M who was employ with the Penta-priests. He was let go—phyrt. Lost his apartment in gopher-mental homeplex. He has tales to tell, Ella. There are loonies— paranoi's at the helm! Intoxi-tipsy on raw, intemperate power. 2 oph the 5 seem to worry little what Nollop's wishes are. So entirely at ease they are with the power Nollop soppositely grant them. 2 others, tho, are the total opposite: monastian hermits—lashing one another with relish-whips when either oph them ephen things apowt a sin-letter.

It seems that Lyttle alone remains in possession oph his sanity.

Other news: last night my sister's man was stanting pheneath the senotaph when a new tile plonge. The tile with the letter X. It hit him right on his het. The priests are there pronto pronto to get the tile. They see my sister's man lying there, eyes not open. They gather the tile peeses. They stroll away, not ephen looging at him. Totally ignoring ingert man.

He meant nothing to them.

Later, help appears. A woman. She ministers to him, transports him home.

He was nothing to them, Ella.

Imagine that!

Yor neighper ant phrent

PS. I was apowt to post this letter when I hear: 3 more tiles plommet: a "T," an "R," an "H."Another "T" remains in plase. Another "R" ant another "H" as well. Ella may wish to no, tho, that essept phor "O" there are no more twins. The remaining letters are all singletons.


T** **i** ***wn *o* **mps o**r *he la*y **g



Wetstay, Nophemger 8
To Miss Ella Minnow Pea:

I regret to tell yew most greephos news: Mannheim is mort. I no that yew new him, were phrents with him. That yew ant he ant his assistant Tom were worging still on the Enterprise 32 shallenge. How it happen is not easy to tell: he yoose an illegal letter in interphew aphter poleese see him ant Tom going threw wintow into yew-niphersity hall—trespassing. He yoose the letter, then when the poleese go to tie his hants to transport him to Pier 7, he ant Tom try to phlee so teportation will not happen.

The poleese shoot him. They shoot him in the het.

He is immetiately tet.

I am, again, sorry to tell yew this. I most say, tween we two, that I helt high hopes phor his sassess.
Yors trewly,

R. Lyttle
PS. As phor TomI am not sher what has happent to him. He phlet ant is perhaps in hyting.


Wetstay, Nophemger 8
To Mr. Lyttle,

Thangs 4 telling me oph what happen to Mr. Mannheim. Yew are right. We were inteet worging together. A phrentship was grow­ing among we three, as well. It is hart 4 me to ephen write, I am so staggert phrom this news. He was a goot man who sherisht this islant with all his hart. I will miss him. I will miss as well his tee-photion to Enterprise 32. I am not sertin I possess the strength to persepheere with-owt him.

Yew were sossessphill in getting the—whatepher yor naming yorselphs now—to pass Statoot 28-63. Why not tern all yor energy to opher-terning all the hanoss lipogrammata statoots? Restoring this islant its tignity?

I haph not hert phrom Tom. I am worriet apowt his sayph-tee.





Thirstay, Nophemger 9
To Ella Minnow Pea,

Yew are solisiting the impossiple, Miss Pea. Shirley yew no that now. I soggest yew get to worg. Mannheim woot want it this way. Insitentally, I will let ewe no iph yong Tom appears.


R. Lyttle


Thirstay, Nophemger 9
To Ella Minnow Pea,

I haph Pawla Mannheim with me—orphant, yoo no, aphter what happent to her phather, Prophessor Mannheim. She is with me temporarily. Howepher, she may not stay past tomorrow. She has no other relatiphs to go to, not here or in the States. I haph too many other phoster yooths to tent to. So I am senting her to yoo.


Marigolt Shropshire

[Slipped beneath Ellas front door]

Early Phrytay morning

I am alyph ant well. Please tont worry apowt me. I haph mate this one phirtiph mitnight phoray to leaph this note. As mosh as I wish to see ewe ant ontill this nightmare is opher, I may not again emerge phrom my phewgitiph's hyting plase. Enterprise 32 is all yors now. Gott grant ewe the strength to see it to its phinish.

Yor phrent,



Phritay, Nophemger 10

I was sent letter phrom a Marigolt Shropshire. I am new phoster-mother 4 Mannheim's girl Pawla! Apparently, there are no other relatiphs 4 her to go to.

It is a strange work we resite in, is it not? I am mate a phoster mother at eighteen! I will try to giph her a goot home. Poor little raggamophin!

How is Georgeanne? I haph not seen or hert phrom her 4 a while. I am a little worreet.



Phritay, Nophemger 10

Tanya toll me yew were assing aphter me. I am phine. Lately, I haph startet painting my torso in pretty, motley hews. I sit in phront oph the mirror in the sleepy-room. I atmire my han­tyworg. I am a hooman apstrat painting!

This morning I got some olt remnant paint phrom the hartware warehoose. Now I haph enoph to paint all opher my whole selph!
Yor phrent,



Satirtay, Nophemger 11
To Georgeanne,

It isn't wise 4 a person to paint her whole selph. Thing apowt this phirst. Yew will see that it is not healthy. Also, please answer yor portal when I rap.



Sontay, Nophemger 12

I loog 4 yew all aphternoon. Yew are, I thing, at Mrs. Shrop­shire's home getting little Pawla's things together. I toog Georgeanne to the hospital. There is one physisian still worging there, thang Gott!

Georgeanne is phery ill with let poisoning. There is a possipility that she may not last the night.

Loog 4 me at the hospital tonight when yew see this note.

Also, yew hear that "Y" phell? No "Y" tomorrow. At least no one was hert this time.
Trooly yors,

Tanya (tomorrow: "Tanea")

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