Agostina Fallmutt had started off her career as the official biographer of Dr. Frederich Karl Haberlein, the medical officer of the district of Pappenheim, who was the reputed discoverer of the first fossil remains of the primitive reptile bird Archaeopteryx. On the title page of the biography she had written: "Which of the two following objects were blown away in a gale and drowned in the Solnhofen Lake - Dr Friedrich Haberlein or Archaeopteryx?".
At the time of publication, this enigmatic inference was ignored. The biography in its first edition certainly never sold more than five hundred copies. Agostina quietly continued to teach biology at Torquay, spending her weekends collecting material from the beach to make up into collages for her friends. Then Agostina wrote an article for the WSPB's weekly journal, The Rooster, in which she reconstructed an imaginary conversation between the two involuntary iconoclasts of Oxford University who destroyed one of the last dodo specimens.
The traditionally dour readers of the journal were amused, and Agostina was invited to speak at ornithological meetings and be interviewed for local television. Her ability to combine wit and avian blasphemy made her popular and her publishers felt ready to print a second edition of her Haberlein biography. The debate about bird origins was taken up on a wider front and the enigmatic question on the title page of the book became a shorthand and convenient way of summing up the complex issue. Agostina Fallmutt was diagnosed as a female woman, officially speaking Antoneen. She was treated for mild epilepsy, took pills for high blood pressure and was advised to take frequent rests. She suffered from phantom pregnancies like Mary the First of England, whose Portrait with a Parrot was pasted on Agostina's bathroom mirror.
Soon after the VUE, the hardier areas of skin on Agostina's body, on the fingertips, palms of her hands, soles on her feet, further hardened and new-toughened skin appeared on her elbows, knees and ankles which coruscated just above the elbows into protuberant gristle. Agostina took to wearing loose-sleeved blouses which kept the contours of her elbows hidden. She gave no evidence that she was distressed or unduly concerned by these unusual features. They may indeed have influenced a pamphlet she later published on avian cobs, wattles, wens and casques. With her change in fortune, Agostina went to Australia to study ratites, flightless birds like the kiwi and the emu, and more importantly, to research the large fossil record of their ancestors.
Agostina's French mechanic in Adelaide named her 'La Solitaire' on account of the lonely safaris she was prepared to take, driving in a battered Land Rover she referred to as 'The Goatsucker'. La Solitaire was also the name of an extinct flightless pigeon that had lived uniquely on the island of Rodriguez in the Indian Ocean. This bird was described by François Leguat as having small round masses of bone on each wing, enabling the cock birds to inflict damage on their rivals. Agostina must have been aware of the coincidence but she never remarked on it.
Agostina camped for seventeen months without human contact in the Bar-She cave near Lake Te-Anan on South Island, New Zealand, where a colony of Notorni, a ratite long believed to be extinct, had unexpectedly turned up in 1948. It was from this cave that Agostina wrote out her theory of Ratite Revenge. Ousted by greed and ignorance on the part of man, the Ratites were attempting a comeback, a return to their former supremacy. They had perpetrated the Violent Unknown Event to transform man himself into a Ratite.
When her thesis was published, and not by
the WSPB who thought it ridiculous, Agostina was pilloried, and on a number of different levels.
Her landlady sought a court order to get her removed from her flat in Torquay,
the paperboy burnt her newspapers, a local grocer accused her of stealing egg-powder
and her publisher withheld her royalties. Agostina took to driving her Land
Rover in circles on the beach at Torbay until that too was forbidden her by the
police who impounded the vehicle to search it for pornography. At the onset of a phantom pregnancy,
Agostina took to staying indoors in the daytime to avoid further calumny. She went walking at night.
The persecution ended tragically, for her body was eventually discovered in a boat-and-tackle
hut at Teignmouth. It was difficult to establish foul play, so the verdict was ascribed
to delayed effects of the Violent Unknown Event.
The Falls Biographies
Constance Ortuist Fallaburr
Appis (Arris) Fallabus
Ipson & Pulat Fallari
Bird Raspara Fallicutt
Sallis Pino Fallpinio
Erhaus Bewler Falluper