One little lonely moment on the train from Brisbane to the coast, and just like that

Some poetry is good, some bad, and some – like this – inspired. From Simon Kindt…

Simon Kindt

I am back on the train to Mount Koya
watching an old man at the station,
tending to the little gas lamp flames
that keep the points from freezing shut
while behind him, another man pulls branches
from the drying stack outside the shed, sings
and stokes the stove that keeps them both
from freezing in the air.
And here we are again —
hands sifting through a language
to describe two men tending to their fires
while I think about a cedar tree —
how it holds the fall of snow
and how a history is written in its rings.

Is there a name for the sound of snow
descending through the still?
Or the way a trail cut into a hill insists,
even as it fades and disappears, on being
followed?

I think I have spent a great deal of this life looking
for ways to leave the…

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A Humble Opinion

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Maybe it’s me; I guess it is.

I thought that the medical profession was motivated by vocation – a desire to make the sick well and defend the most vulnerable in our society.   Its values, as I perceived them, were founded upon an ancient and sacred oath.  In return for that vocation, society tends to pay its medical professionals as well as it can.  They enjoy a higher standard of living than most of us, a greater degree of respect, and a greater degree of job satisfaction.

Perhaps I set my standards too high, and perhaps the world is moving on from a place in which we can expect to be healed – I don’t know.  But it does upset the balance of my respect when I see members of the noblest of professions represented by university yearlings waving placards in the best traditions of the Socialist Workers’ Party.  And I do wonder if they realise how ingeniously they are being used.

Today they elected to strike.  That is, they decided to withdraw the conditions of their oath from ordinary people far less well remunerated, with far less reward, than themselves.  They showed themselves prepared to allow a risk of death to we poorer folks in order to advance their cause.

I have this message.

It is personal – forgive me.   It contains some anger.  Again, forgive me.

 You might not like the government, but a majority as defined by our voting system elected them and that contains at least an essence of democracy.  So, sorry, I thought the elected government’s mandate was to run the country?  I don’t remember voting for the British Medical Association, and I don’t expect them to hold the elected government or my health to ransom.  Yours is a political strike, heartless and cynical, with no regard for the nobility of the profession you decided to adopt.  It is not motivated by concern about additional hours, it is all about the possibility you might have to accept a reduction in your ‘Premium Payment’ for weekend working, and your case holds a colander-full of water, because even within your own profession nurses, care workers etc., a lot more poorly paid than you, do not share those privileges.   Stop whingeing and get back to work!

I understand some of you have threatened to resign over this issue.  I personally believe (if that is not merely a disguise for setting forth in private practice) you should.  If you lack that much dedication I would rather not be subjected to your ‘care’.

And who knows?  After you have had some experience of the real world and smelled the coffee, your attitude might change?

Eavesdropping on Elephants

Com’on everybody – add your voice to the cause! Reblogged from wildlifesnpits,

WildlifeSNPits

I’ve made it no secret that forest elephants are hidden giants, concealed by the vast canopy cover of Central African forests. To study them, one has to get creative. For me, it was collecting dung. For Dr. Peter Wrege, it’s sound. Wrege’s background is cemented in bird behavior, but for the past decade he has been heading the Elephant Listening Project, an organization to study and protect elephants using their sounds. I was able to see Wrege speak recently and will share with you some of the amazing work of the Elephant Listening Project.

391305_10150376348940841_1421604349_n Forest elephants I was able to observe during my Ph.D. research in Lope National Park, Gabon.

You may be thinking that elephants only make one sound, their trumpet, and that most of the time they are quiet. They are actually quite chatty, but most of the calls they make actually sound prehistoric and are more difficult…

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The Patient Sea

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waiting for the sun to setThe dusk had reached a late, frosted luminosity, as yet too bright to submit to the superiority of the car’s headlights.  A red line topped the western hills where the sun had been, a thin amber voile that misted from it faded upwards into deep blue.  Above the driver’s head the vault of sky he could not see was probably dark by now.  There were probably stars.  Was there a moon tonight?  He could not remember.

Ten more miles.

Davy knew his way too well; far, far too well.  He knew the last bend that parted the black mass of  woodland like a curtain.  Beyond, furniture of high buildings and a carpet of town lights, their crazed lines marching across one another to the blinking, blackening sea; and the sea quiescent beyond them, its patience infinite, waiting.  Far-off, a lighthouse thrust a spoke of brightness across the sky – a slowly rotating lance, its beam questing but finding nothing – nothing but clouds, white and ghostly, mildly put out at its disturbance of their privacy.

Oncoming cars, vans, lorries, flared past, a ceaseless procession; some blinding, some not.   There would be a turning soon.  A meeting of roads.

And a decision.

An hour ago he had driven from the airport knowing that he must arrive at this place, and now it was before him he could not suppress the eagerness in his heart.  Beneath a bridge the motorway; a glowing train of busy traffic beckoning, a magic carpet ride to hearts that welcomed him, love it was his place to accept.  Turn here, and in only a few hours his car wheels would crush the gravel of that familiar drive.  Love, food and rest:  he need only make that turn.

And yet…

As if other arms controlled the wheel – as if neither car nor mind were truly his – he did not turn.   The bridge guided him instead above the motorway, towards the town.

He knew his way here, too.  The wide main street, the sea road, San Bernardo Towers, the Cherrington Hotel standing gaunt upon its own headland, a little avenue with its attendant lines of beech trees, and in a line of cream-washed villas a cream-washed villa with a curving drive.  A door flung wide, arms flung wide.

“Davy!  Davy you darling!  What a surprise! How wonderful to see you!  My lord you look different, you do!  Have you grown?”

Belle, big and laughing, her ursine hug so warm and sincere:  how often had she greeted him with these same glad tears?  Had he eaten, had he been away?   “There was one of those news feed things about you.  Were you really in Hollywood?  You’re quite the star, aren’t you?  You’ll stay for supper.  You will.”

“Thank you.  I was on my way home.  I just had to say hello, to remind you I was still alive.  I’m not really a star, you know.  Far from it.”  He added deferentially.

“But you’ll stay for supper?”

Through the front door with its Deco geometry, into the hall and familiar glow.  Parquet honey floor, walls half panelled in oak, half painted in Buckingham cream; stairs to a higher floor.  Davy raised his eyes.   “Do you still let the room?”

“You know, I think you were my last tenant!  It’s just a store-room now.  We inherited some money when Robert died.  I’m quite comfortable these days.  Do you want to see it?”

HIs fingers played upon the smooth polish of the banister rail.  “No.  I’ll rest content with the memory.   Look, I mustn’t keep you….”

“Don’t be silly!  I have a pasta already prepared, and it’s Friday night, you know?   Una and Ros will be here any minute, I should think.”

Ah, he thought.  “You still have your Friday nights, then?”

He had expected, or hoped it would be so.  That was why he was here, was it not?  Or why he dreaded to be here?

The living room was still the same – chintz and comfort.  They ate pasta on their laps, talked with their mouths full.  Belle was effusive.  “You’ve changed so much, you know!  Filled out – and I don’t mean that unkindly.  I almost didn’t recognise you, Davy.”

“I was a student when I was here.  Students are always thin.”

The lean years.  The hours of practice in that little upstairs room.  The drama school with its impassioned principal, the desperate gathering of hopeless aspirants hanging on her every epigrammatic jewel.  How would he ever have risen from such beginnings were it not for Belinda’s father:  his contacts, his coaching?  It was often said of Davy’s profession that success was thirty percent talent, seventy percent luck.  Luck had come in the form of a party one Islington night, and the beguiling black eyes of Belinda.  Luck was a promise – she would be playing in her father’s production at the Haymarket and Davy would get the juvenile lead.  Then another promise.  They would marry in the spring.  Was the second conditional upon the first?

Sated, Davy was only vaguely aware of the doorbell’s call.  Perhaps he was thinking of Belinda and how soon he would be with her.  Just two hours away she would be waiting, expecting him.  He would be late, and he knew the cruelty of this wilful neglect.  He needed to be cruel.

“You remember Davy, don’t you?”  Belle was urging Una forward, her hand in the small of the petite German frau’s back.   Davy smiled.  Yes, they had met once or twice.  Una; shy, quiet, burbled acknowledgement.   “And Ros?   You remember Davy?”

He smiled as a reflex.  He smiled to cover his pain, seeing his hurting mirrored in Rosalind’s eyes – a flicker, no more.  But her response was steady.  “It’s been a long time.”   She said.

“How are you?”

“Oh, quite well.”

Belle’s smiling eyes flitted from Rosalind to Davy; as eyes might when following verbal combat.  Belle would have gossip to share later.

“Let’s have drinks.”  She suggested.

It was an evening of tales, of questions gently rebuffed, impertinences humorously countered, reminiscence and reflection.   Trivial Pursuit around Belle’s rosewood table and red wine to sip away the hours.  Davy, whose presence the older women found exotic, needed to do little to fulfil expectations other than be there, yet there was a wire about him, a tautness they might not expect.  Rosalind was quiet, almost withdrawn.  She spoke rarely.  Davy’s eyes kept finding her.  She avoided their gaze, although she could not mistake their meaning.

Time slipped by.  Twice Davy’s mobile phone vibrated in his pocket, twice he ignored it.  The women’s conversation washed around him, buoyed him up on its eddies and swirls, yet failed to disguise Rosalind’s icy silence.

The clock in the hall struck ten.   “I should go.”  Rosalind said.  “I have to start early tomorrow.  I work Saturdays now, you know.”

Davy affected a sigh.  “Me too.  I promised I would be in Dorchester long before this.”

Belle was genuinely alarmed.  “Davy, you can’t!  You’ve been drinking, my dear.”

“Only a little.  I’ll take a turn on the Esplanade first, to freshen up.  Then I’ll come back for the car.  I won’t disturb you.”

“You dear boy!  I’ve found you, and all at once I’m losing you again!”

“I found you, remember?  And I will again. Thank you for tonight, Belle.”

The villa released Rosalind, and Davy beside her, from its grasp.  A chill October breeze came off the sea.

“I thought I might take a stroll along the Undercliff.”  Davy said.

“You know I go home that way.”  Rosalind said.

“Let’s walk together then.”

“Yes.”  She wore a long coat with a high collar that framed her face and tucked in below her chin.

“You still live in Bardshire Crescent?”

“Yes.”

He complimented himself on his memory.  She struck out ahead of him, leaving him to watch the easy grace of her gait and listen to the rhythmic click of her heels on the paving.  “You needn’t follow.”  She murmured over her shoulder, as though she did not want him to hear.

“May I not, then?”

Her shrug was unconvincing.  “As you please.”

Where the avenue ended their road merged with a short, steep hill that led to the beach.  At the foot of the hill, no more than fifty yards away, stood the entrance to the pier, still alive, even in deepening winter, with the promise of light.  Stretching out like an accusing finger over the black water it dangled an invitation Davy was tempted to accept.   “Would you care for a walk on the pier?”

“It’s closed.  It’s winter, or haven’t you noticed?”

“Then why all the illumination?”

“I have no idea.  Maybe they just want to remind you there are some roads that have only one ending.”

Rosalind’s stride was rapid.  Davy, struggling to keep up with her, had to remind himself of the distance, the mile that followed the margin of the sea – the black, black sea that slipped and muttered in the shadows, patiently waiting.  Around him, streetlights that had no street (for no vehicles might use this road), interminable rows of beach huts, the rise of cliff, and the glitter of hotels above it.   Distant streetwise youths boomed on accelerators, anxious sirens spoke of pursuit.  Above him the sky – the moonless sky.

“At some point,”  She stopped so suddenly he almost fell into her.  Her tone was venomous. “You’re going to tell me our meeting like this was accidental.  You’re going to tell me you’d forgotten about Friday nights, aren’t you?”

Taken aback, Davy found himself leaning against the balustrade, and avoiding her challenge by staring out into the dark.  Far off, a navigation light blinked.  Further off, the beam of the lighthouse continued its unending swing.  “I’m not going to tell you that.”  He said.

“Then why, David? What are you doing here?  If you knew, or if you thought…”

“Maybe I didn’t think!”  He interrupted her.  “Maybe I had no idea what I was doing.   Maybe…”

“So you just roll up!  You just roll back the years as if nothing – nothing ever happened between you and this town; between…”

“Us?”

“Yes, us.”  Rosalind glared at him.  “My god, in the middle of a freezing night and leaning against that rail you still manage to look like a lounge lizard.  Didn’t I read somewhere about someone’s impending marriage?  Yours, if I’m not mistaken.  Why are you here?”

“Honestly?”  He said honestly.  “I don’t know.”

“Honestly!”  She said.  “Honesty to an actor is a word on a page.   I never did know when you were acting, or when you were serious.”

“Sometimes, I don’t know myself.”  He said humbly.  “Perils of the trade, I suppose.”  He asked suddenly:  “Are you with someone?”

Rosalind’s lips twisted into an edge of a smile.  “Am I in a relationship, do you mean?  No, I’m not.  Was our last thrash together the last time I went to bed with someone?  Again, no.  I’ve tried every conceivable way to forget that we ever happened, David.”

“Any success?”  She did not answer.

Davy again turned his attention to the wavelets, tried to attune his thoughts to their gentle motion, but his heart was in turmoil.  “I had to see you.  Don’t force me to explain, I won’t have a reason.”

She sighed, relented because she could not sustain anger with Davy – never could.  She came to lean against the balustrade beside him.  “I’m cold.” She confessed.  Tentative, he reached his arm about her shoulders.  Instinctive, she leaned into him and her breath was close.  “We didn’t work together, Davy.  We were bad for each other.”

“Being bad once seemed so good, though.”

“Did it?”

He grasped her shoulders, anxious she should face him.  She did not resist.  With a gentle hand, he brushed her hair away from her forehead, and kissed her there, softly.  Her skin was cold to his lips.  “I’ve never forgotten.”  He said.

The tear she blinked away might have been induced by that sharp onshore breeze.  “Don’t.”  She told him, but her voice was irresolute and her lips were tilted towards his, offering.  He met them in a kiss flooded with memories, of times past, of happiness and wanting.  It was fulsome and sweet, it might have been deep.  But then he was clinging, suddenly desperate and she, alarmed, squirmed from his hold, thrusting him back.  “I said don’t.”

He turned away instantly, abashed.  “I’m sorry.  I have no right….”

“Who is she, David?  I mean, apart from the director’s daughter?   Who is she?  You’re engaged to her.  That’s what I heard.  And this is how I heard it!”  she snatched her mobile phone from her coat pocket, waving it in his face.  “On Face Book from bloody I-told-you-so Jennifer.  Very brief and concise, very, very sententious, and liberally illustrated with your publicity pics – you and whoever-she-is holding hands, you and whoever-she-is embracing…”

“Jennifer’s a bitch.”

Rosalind shook her head, sadly.  “No, Jennifer was right.  She warned me not to become involved.”

“But are you – involved?   I mean in any way…”

“Oh for Christ’s sake!  You know I am!  Isn’t that why you’re here?  Truthfully now, isn’t it?”

“Belinda.”  Davy told her.  “Her name is Belinda.”

“Belinda Halprin.  A great name, I suppose; with a daddy who can raise you up from that terrible little school and make you a leader of your profession.  The fulfilment of dreams!”  Rosalind took his hands in hers, closing around his long, delicate fingers.  “But oh, David, I know you so well!   You don’t love her, do you?  You didn’t think you needed to.  Seduction – such an easy thing for you.  You don’t have to try, hardly at all.”

“You’re wrong; you’re so wrong.”  In his passion his hand clenched with hers, emphasising each word.  “I wanted to go to Belinda, yet I had to – I had to – come to you.  I had to try and see you again.  I’ve never once stopped thinking about you, wondering how you were, if I should write to you or leave you alone.  Ros, darling, I don’t know what I can do.  I’m trapped.  I love her for everything I want to be, but I want you, because you are who I really am.”

“Well, that was easy.”  She said.

“How do you mean?”

“You love her, you want me.  No contest.  Love conquers all, darling, doesn’t it?  Forgive the cliché.”

Davy sighed.  “Honestly, I think it may be the other way around.”

“There’s that word again.”  Rosalind leant upon the rail at his side, sharing his view of the black horizon.  “Do you want me to be honest?  I have no script, you see – I’m not reading from a page.  I love you, David.  I have never got over us.  I never will.   But until tonight that memory was a comfortable warm bed of embers;  and I can only forgive you for fanning it into flame once more because I see the little boy in you, and I think I can understand just how lost you are.  We could never be together, my love.   You may want your life back, but you’ve lost the one we shared irreparably, and I can’t help you.  It’s your problem – I hope you do love her, or if not, that you will learn to…”

“I could give it all up!”

“No, you couldn’t.  Or you shouldn’t; at least not for me.  It’s not my trap, David.”

She reached up, and her cool hand stroked his cheek.  “A pity.  A great, immense pity.  But I’m going to say goodbye now.   You walk that way, I’ll walk this.  And if you do ever return to my town, avoid Fridays, will you?”

Davy stayed for a while, watching the patient sea and the steady arc of the lighthouse beam.  When at last the sound of Rosalind’s heels had faded and the night was reduced to silence he turned towards the east once more, and as he retraced his steps he began to cry, freely.  With no-one to see him in the dark and tears streaming down his face he thought of her, and he wished for her, and he cried the more because he knew she was right.  Only as he neared the lights at the entrance to the pier did he attempt to wipe his face to respectability, regaining the confidence of stride his way of life had taught.

He arrived at the foot of that short rise that would lead him away from the seashore.  Here he stopped, as if transfixed; seeking to retrieve a terrible thought that had flashed through his mind then disappeared.  The hill to his left, the pier to his right.  A choice presented itself, one that was his alone to take.  A second decision.

With a deep intake of breath, Davy clambered over the barrier which guarded the way to the pier.

 

© Frederick Anderson 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fisher’s Child

The Keffer Lantyn Fells are works of the godhead to be sure, with their high peaks wreathed in shawls of cloud; and though cloaked white in winter they may be, when the spring thaw comes and crystal waters tumble from the whin stone shelves, their rich red silt brings sweetness to the Lantyn valley, the like of which is never seen in other lands.   I have watched from afar, both in the December chill and the spring running, and I would love them if I could.

But there is a devil in those hills.   Oh, I have heard folk tales from many lands, lurid legends of hideous creatures that lurk in rivers, or run screeching among the bare canyons of the high tops, of forest spirits and venomous sprites, but none to compare with this.  And none to have such dominion as this.  For beautiful as the sun-blessed Lantyn Vale may be, with its jewelled water and its willow scented glades, no human lives there, and no human ever will.

There were people once.   There was a village of fisher folk among the trees that line the upper reaches of the Lantyn waters, shy people nested like secretive birds who took succour from the river and huddled together when the snows came.  Their lives were filled with superstitious tales, of mythic birds and forest ghosts, and one legend, that of the file000282117682Perfect Fish, the god of the river, that gave substance to their being.  They honoured their protector, taking from the river only according to their needs.  And they were honest folk, before the coming of the fated child.

He who did the deed, they say, was a stranger to any charted shore – a ragged, rugged, rabid soul so oddly girded in shark-skin some would have it he was no land-born creature at all.  Yet he was a fisher by instinct, and he had learned of the riches that swam in the Lantyn River.  The woman?  She was daughter to a kindly village man who invited him to share their hearth, and come the autumn the fisher had shared much more.  All winter he taught those simple folk his ways with nets that they might plunder the river of its silver children, and come the spring when the woman’s belly was full he took his own harvest and went his way.

It is said the fisher man’s wiles led those honest villagers astray, that there, that winter, greed was born.  It is said the spirits were already angered when summer came and his child entered the world.  That is as may be, but even the spirits could not have been ready for such a child as this.

For all his poverty, the village man shared with his daughter and her child such as he had, and his grand-daughter had no cause for want or lack of love.   Yet from the very start it was clear she was of the fisher’s roving blood, given to straying alone into the upper forests, playing for solitary hours among the stony becks and brooks that fed the Lantyn’s waters in the valley far below.  At first she dutifully returned with evening, to sup at her mother’s table, and help prepare her grandfather’s nets.  She did this because she was taught that such was the way of the village, not knowing the cruelty these implements of her natural father’s craft wrought upon the free-swimming fish of the river.  But she was to learn.

As the child grew she passed all her hours wandering in the woods.  She began to learn the file5871300045735ways of the wild creatures living in darkest corners among the trees, even, some would have it, to speak in their tongue.  A wood-cutter from the village swore he came upon her once in earnest conversation with an otter that had built a holt in the bank of a stream:  she was crouched before the animal, he said, giving forth little chucking grunts and whistling sounds so perfect he could not tell girl from beast.  And it seemed to him the otter perfectly understood her.    Of course, such tales grow in the comfort of a warm winter fireside, yet there are always some who are ready to believe.

The villagers began to walk in awe, or even fear of the fisher’s child.  In her turn, she came less frequently to her parents’ home, but stayed day and night in the forest.  There were those who attested they had seen her amid a company of wolves, and some who said that one summer evening as she visited the river to drink she met with the Perfect Fish.  These witnesses spoke of a creature larger and more powerful that any salmon – of scales that flashed in all the colours of a rainbow as it leaped before the rose of the setting sun – yet in its great display of strength and beauty it caused not a splash or a ripple in the water, and thus did it affirm it was, indeed, a god.

Though fearsome in appearance, its eye was gentle.  It came to the girl to offer its wisdom.  She listened, she talked to it – she, seated upon the river’s bank, the fish-god idling in the shallows, long into that night.  A friendship was struck, something so deep and so sacred only death could break it; and thereafter her life belonged to the forest and the river.  She would not return to her village home.

From time to time down the years word had it the girl was seen, either swimming in the river or deep among the trees, but no-one could get close to her, or hear her speak, until it came at last to the summer of the Great Flood.

For days the Keffer Lantyn HIlls were buried in livid storm clouds.  Lightning flickered about the forest’s upper reaches, and the rain came like vengeance:  for a day, then a night, then another day.  The languid waters of the Lantyn River swelled to torrential fury;  fallen branches, whole trees rushed past the little village, frantic hands hauled upon the painters of escaping boats, gathered in nets mauled by the tumult.   Only the bravest or most hungry attempted fishing in such a storm.  Fortune for good or ill, they say, favours the brave.

As the legend is told, at the very moment the Perfect Fish was taken by a villager’s net, the storm ceased.   The waters calmed and in wonder the people gathered around to see their deity laid low.  They stared, they muttered primitive prayers, watched by its eye, and its look might have told them, had they been wise enough, that it understood.  But the greed that was their nature now would not release them, so that within minutes they all set about hacking and slicing at the great fish.

Which is how the great god of the Lantyn River died.

From his perch among the tall trees a redstart relayed the tragic news and by this means the wild girl heard of her beloved companion’s ignominious end.   Her wails of grief echoed and re-echoed through the valley;  the screams of her anger turned the river to blood.   There and then she uttered a sacred spell that was at once a curse and a death sentence upon the village and its people.  There and then she gathered about her all the creatures of the forest, all the denizens of the river and its banks and she made with them a pledge; that never more would men set foot in the Lantyn Valley, unless they should vanquish her first.

It was early the next morning when the villagers, fat with their spoils, woke to the sound of hooves.  Staring from their doors they probably never really believed what they saw – the onrush of wild deer, antlers tossing, trampling their huts and barging their walls to the ground; of thirsting wolves, rats swarming, sharp-toothed otters, badgers snarling like rabid dogs, each picking a throat and striking deep.   Birds, no matter how humble, that were become raptors, swooping and pecking at mouths and eyes.

A very few escaped, bringing to the outer world their story of the wild plague that erased their village.  The rest died.  Those who survived spoke of a demonic woman running naked through their compound with fingers of fire, setting roofs ablaze, making bonfires of their nets, and commanding the wolves to hunt them down.  In no more than a few minutes their homes were razed to the ground, and one by one, as though they were walking creatures, the trees advanced, and spread, and thrust new roots into the ground.  Before a seventh dusk the forest had taken back all it had yielded to the villagers.  There were no huts, no boats, no nets.  Sated wolves, well fed, slumbered where once the fisher’s steps had trod.

All sorts of rumours prevail, but no-one has ever returned to that valley to learn the truth, for  to set foot in those forests is to be attacked:  be warned should you ever try, for many have.  All wild life there is vicious, the wolves will hunt you down, the deer trample you beneath their feet,, the badgers and even the otters keep watch.  The trees themselves will reach down to strangle you, and even though you turn away, your dreams will haunt you for years thereafter.  Their general, it is said, is a wild girl who is immortal, and some claim to have seen her, and proclaim her very beautiful, but these are old men’s dreams.

For myself, I stay away.  Although I live not far from that devilish valley I have no yen to travel there.  Far from it, my fear will always be that the contagion might spread, for once the wild ones have seen the product of their power, why should they not attempt much more?   I tell myself such thoughts are foolish, but I have seen how, in the last year or so, my own dog, though he sleeps at my fireside still, regards me differently.   And last night, catching a fox among the bins, I could not escape the snarl of his teeth, or the malevolence in his eye.

 

© Frederick Anderson 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

 

Top-Class No. 1 Swami Fred. Get a life!

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I have decided to become a Guru.rainbow qigong 2

Wikipedia (who know about these things) define ‘guru’ as a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a teacher, guide or master of certain knowledge’

Well, I can do that.

Here is my problem.  All my life I have fairly effectively avoided the road to untold riches – not deliberately, and not, I like to think, for lack of talent; but because there were so many attractive diversions on the way.   Do I regret that?  I do not.  Am I the richer for life’s experiences?  Yes, I am.

Can you see where this is going?

In my ‘useful’ years I often wanted, but never needed money.   I got by.  Now that I am older and in my useless years, I want some.   I need some.   If I’m going to put up with all this other shit, illnesses and incapacities and failing this and falling that, I want to be rich.  And I want to be venerated.  I really do.

Now as far as I can see there are five roads to untold wealth.

I could have become a Captain of Industry.sinking shipB   At various stages of my life, I believe I tried this.  I always relished the idea of turning the ship around (like the metaphor?), being rewarded with a huge bonus, then retiring to a far country before the flaws in my grand plan were discovered and my chickens (a metaphor’s not a metaphor until it’s mixed) came home to roost.

I could have been a footballer, married a ‘personality’ and misbehaved at parties.  Obvious difficulty?  I can’t play football – never could.

I could have been a Consultant.  I have spent the greatest part of my life under the misapprehension that a Consultant is an acknowledged expert in his field.  Untrue.  A Consultant just has to make a few of the ‘right people’ believe he is an expert in his field.  The rest is down to pure luck.

So perhaps the Great Adventurer was more my thing?  Well, no.  Not really.  I could never see myself toughing it out in the unexplored jungle – all that dampness, all those bugs, and sleeping in a tent with an uninvited python: or in the freezing arctic gale, gamboling gaily on an ice flow with a playful polar bear.  Sadly, adventure for me is diving perilously into the unknown aisles of Sainsbury’s in search of a grail of sugar.  And even then, I wouldn’t consider it on a Saturday.  I’d want to be home for the weekend – definitely.

Might I have been a Distinguished Surgeon?  Leaving to one side my shaky hands, my very short temper and my even shorter attention span, could I have succeeded in the theatre of complex heart surgery, stooped above an inert, widely opened patient for many hours with a vast array of cutlery and an attentive crew at my every beck and call?  “Nurse, could you just hang onto these forceps for a minute?  I have to nip to the bathroom.”  Wouldn’t work, would it?

I could have been a Best Selling Author? No, scrap that one.

So, since I am too old for any other option, I am adopting a late career move in which my age is a positive advantage.  And I shall be distributing pearls of wisdom across the astral plane for you all to pluck and ingest at a bargain introductory offer price of $50.00 (£35 Sterling) per life-changing insight – all investments at this time to go towards the construction of my Mountaintop Retreat in West Yorkshire (easily reachable from several international airports and accessible from major cities, Manchester and Leeds).

Please feel free to come and help me build my temple to wisdom.  Bring money.

 

 

Brexit; a Pointless Referendum

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Cameron

…and a year’s supply of free pate…

 

Referendums are exceptional in UK, but it is likely one will take place this summer.  In a very little time loyal subjects of HM Queen Ltd are going to be allowed to vote ‘remain’ so they can stay not quite part of the European Union.  Of course, an illusion of a free vote on such an important issue must be maintained, so there will also be an option to vote ‘leave’ the EU altogether.  My advice is, don’t bother with it.

Those who think for us are anxious that a substantial number will select that option.  But not too many.  It would be embarrassing, after all, if the ‘remain’ vote was 70 or 80%.  Allegations of ballot-rigging would abound, protest groups would make inconvenient noises.  No, a sixty-forty split in favour of remaining should be sufficient, and could be proclaimed a ‘landslide’.  The people would have made a truly democratic decision – wouldn’t they?

The truth is, most democratic choices are reached undemocratically.  Unless someone behaves exceptionally clumsily, the choice with the most money behind it always triumphs.

As an exceptional curmudgeon and inveterate old-stager, I look back with nostalgic affection to days when simple propaganda was the parent of choice – when we, the rebellious people could be persuaded by a leaflet or two, a ‘Government Information’ film, or an authoritative  educational lecture to see the error of our ways and return to the fold of opinion advocated by the great and the good.  A stentorian voice would instruct us to put aside foolish dreams of freedom and individuality, and we would obey.   A penny off the tax on alcohol, threepence off tobacco would induce us to simper pleasingly and rest content.

No more.

I marvel at the array of tools which augment the present day spin-artist’s box.  Democratic manipulation is an intricate art, and rather like the Rolls Royce which is the last fading symbol of British engineering, its function should be as undetectable as it is silent, working smoothly beneath a well-polished exterior.   To assist our informed choice all the arguments in favour of staying with the EU or leaving it will be put, all information our masters feel we need  will be fed to us.  Coverage of salient points and consequences which affect us most will be impeccably balanced while that big engine murmurs discreetly, driving the ‘remain’ vote relentlessly forward.

On the face of it, the ‘remain’ crowd have a difficult task to convince us.   Like so many innocent children the ideal of a Common Market grew up to be a hideous monster.  It has few pretensions to democracy, and many ambitions as a neo-communist state.

Das Kapital (formerly known as Brussels) makes the rules, issuing random edicts from behind featureless doors whilst exacting tribute of millions of pounds every day.   Membership has destroyed Britain’s fishing industry and well nigh a third of the world’s prime fishing grounds, inflicted a common agricultural policy which works very effectively if you own a French smallholding, and bestowed laws upon us which, though commendable in theory, make their simplest practical applications expensive and unworkable.

So tightly stitched is the bureaucratic sack not one of these issues was even up for negotiation when our Prime Minister and knight crusader, David Cameron, sallied forth to challenge the Faceless Ones; to throw down the gauntlet on subjects such as immigration and Benefits, promising us he would sow the seeds for ‘real change’ within the European Union.   The Faceless Ones made some noises.  Cameron came home with a purse full of very watered down concessions to feed to the serfs; concessions, it turns out, that could be contrary to International Law, and likely to be voted out anyway by the European Parliament once his referendum is safely over.

No ‘real change’ then?

Honestly?  None.  Affecting change in the EU is a thankless task, unless it is undertaken by the core members, France and Germany.  Every door knocked responds with the same bland ‘occupé’.   So how does that immaculate engine ensure GB votes ‘remain’?

 

Well, bearing in mind that the balance of argument must be preserved, the spinners turn to those who are making the argument:  thus, all who support the ‘remain’ cause should be seen as upright and dependable, with a fairly low bureaucratic profile.  Those arguing to ‘leave’ must be high profile, iconoclastic figures given to excitement, air-headedness and cant.  Of course, you can find examples of each character type in either camp:  the skill exists in massaging public perception.   Thus Boris Johnson of the wild hair who wants us to vote ‘leave’ is something of a coup for the ‘remain’ camp.  We British, you see, don’t really like the amiable eccentric, no matter how clever and politically astute.  We abominate political falsehood, yet we recoil from those who tell us the truth.Viking Boris

 

(aside:  a current British nightmare is the prospect of Donald Trump as President of USA, Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, and Vladimir Putin as President of Russia – it could just happen!)

 

For or against, all those to whom we bend an ear must make their case in interview.  And the interviews will be strictly impartial in all respects, except in the opinions of the interviewer.  A good journalist can always swing an argument in his favour, without putting a word out of place.

 

Then there is fear.  The remain camp have all manner of ‘fear’ arguments to justify membership.  If we leave, we are told, our economy will collapse, our export trade with Europe will become complex and difficult.   The value of the Pound will diminish.  There will be unaccountable natural disasters and we shall all have to move to Bradford.

 

A few examples, then, of the spinner’s craft.  These incipient messages are carefully managed and discreetly scattered so we hear them whilst still believing we are being offered balanced argument.  The advantages of unfettered immigration will be propounded – after all the British Isles can safely nurture a population of two hundred million before the entire country is concreted over and people begin to fall off the edge.  Wise and logical warnings – that our health service, our social services, our police force and our infrastructure are already stretched to breaking point – will be gently tilthed over by entreaties for common humanity and the need for compassion, thus paving the road for anyone who preaches prudence to be treated with righteous disdain.

Only if the vote to ‘remain’ looks seriously jeopardised will the big guns come out.   Only then will the vote-winners which are known to always sway the serfs be brought into play: higher interest rates and more taxation.   By the 23rd June, when the referendum takes place, the machine will have ensured that the balance is safely in the ‘remain’ pocket.  However, should a disaster occur and we outdistance the  opinion polls; should a ‘leave’ vote prevail, no matter:  the government will step back, enter a protracted exit negotiation, the EU will dangle a few more meaningless carrots and a second referendum with subtly altered wording will follow.

So, my message to anyone who is interested:  vote ‘remain’ on June 23rd.  It will save us all a lot of trouble.

 

 

 

 

Digital Conversations

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The day is Saturday.  The scene is a town somewhere in Essex.  Noreen Scragshot stands before a department store window.  She takes her mobile from her bag and taps a name:

 

“Hi Trix:   it’s Noreen – you all right, mate?file9931276033013

Who? Paul?   Yeah, well, he texted me.  His signal’s real bad down there.

You better?

Your headache, and that?

Lovely!  Trix?  Guess where I am?

I am.  I’m outside Browngrow’s!  You should see the red halter tops they got in the window – you know, them ones with the glittery bits like the one Cassiopeia nearly wore at Baz’s party?   Get down here, mate!

What?

Oh yeah, I forgot the funeral!  So, so sorry.  She was a lovely woman, lovely.  We’ll miss her.   So who’s got the terrible twins – David?

He’s with you.  So who….

Wally?  Trix, love, was that wise?

Yeah, I know he gets on with them.  All the same….

Margie organised everything, didn’t she?  Bless her!  Did they give her a good send-off?

They didn’t!   Seriously?

Yeah, I know she was in the corps de ballet once, but I’m not sure a tutu is….

No, well if Margie said it was alright, I suppose.

Not a bad figure for a woman of ninety-seven.  David said that?

No, well, I supp-o-se.  Here, Trix, I hope you stayed off the bevvies at the reception, mate;  you know what you’re like.

Who?

NO!  Really?  Well, that’s Angelina for you.

She fell in the….   Trix, are we sure a chocolate fountain is entirely proper for a funeral?

Yes, I know.  Margie organised it.  Here, speak of the devil.  Listen, mate, I’ve got Wally on ‘call waiting’.  I’ll say ta-ra, yeah?  Speak to you soon…”

 

Noreen bids an unwilling goodbye to the halter tops and turns for West Street and home.  She takes Walter Bollomy’s call.

 

“Hello Wals.  How are you getting on?

Kids?

Oh, I know.  Trix never disciplines them, Wal.  No naughty step, see?

Yeah, I know she lives in a bungalow.  Little tip, darlin’.   They love to play hide and seek.

Yeah.

Get them going on that and it shuts ’em up for ages.

What?

You’re breaking up, Wals.  Something about ‘lots of boxes’?

Wally?

Oh, he’s gone.”

 

At the pedestrian crossing Noreen calls Paul Bagstart.

 

“Paul, darlin’.

Yeah, I got your text.  You’re not coming tonight – why, mate?  I’ve done the pancakes, and I done my special avocado fondant dip, and everything.

Hmmm?

Trix isn’t coming, Paul.   She’s got a funeral, hasn’t she?

What do you mean, you’ll be knackered?   I’m knackered, doing all that catering.  Cheers, Paul.  Thanks a lot, mate.

Yeah, you get lost, an’ all!”

 

Noreen cuts Paul off.  The crossing lights change.  Watching her ‘phone, Noreen collides with an elderly pedestrian.

 

“Here, Mrs!  You want to look where you’re going!”

 

Walter Bollomy’s name flashes.

 

“Silly cow!”

 

She opens Walter’s call.

 

“Hello Wals?

Line’s still bad.

Hide and seek.  Yeah.

What?

Wally?

Nope, lost you.  He’s gone.”

 

Noreen calls Charles Windrush

 

“Hey Chas?  It’s Noreen.

Blimey, you’re breathin’ ‘eavy an’ all.  What’s going on?   I was on to Paul just now and he sounded like he’d been pushin’ that Porsche of his.  Yeah, (chuckles) again. He never gets that out of breath normally – not watching football, and that.

You aren’t?   Both of you?

Yeah, I know you’re the only one with a roof rack.  What’s that got to do with anything?

Oh, you were helping Jack move house!  Of course!  I forgot it was this week.  How are you getting on?

All done.  What, so now you’ve got to get over to Wally’s?  For the footy, I suppose.

Yeah, well.

Listen, Trix is trying to call me back.  I’ll see you soon, yeah?”

 

Trixie Ballerdash’s name is flashing.  Noreen answers.

 

“Trix!  All right, mate?

How’s Angelina?

Aww!  You got her home, then?

She’s collapsed where?

Let her sleep, mate, it’s the only way.

Why’s Paul complaining?

Let me get that right; he can step over her but he can’t close the door.

Yeah, s’pose that is one door he’d need to close, isn’t it?

Just tell him to get on with it, mate.  Angie won’t know a thing.

Yeah. Listen, Trix, get over to Wally’s place and get the twins back.

I know,  mate, I know. It’s just, well, it’s just Wally, isn’t it?  He worries me, he does.

Well, Okay.  See ya!”

 

Walter Bollomy’s name is flashing

 

“Wally, what is it darlin’?

Wal, it’s no good; I can’t hear you.

Hide and seek, yeah.  Listen, Trix is on her way over….oh, bugger!

Look, Wal, there’s no signal, yeah?  Text me, darlin’.

No, TEXT me.  Tee, ee, ex….  Wal?

Wal?”

 

Noreen closes the line with a sigh.  She turns into the road which will lead her away from the town centre and up High Tower Hill.  The walk home is a pleasant enough stroll through avenues lined with larches – a matter of twenty minutes to Neverlands Crescent where she resides, or thirty minutes on six-inch heels. She will soon be within sight of the two bright orange pillars that frame her front door.  Jack Lopghast’s name flashes on her ‘phone.

 

“Jack!  Sweetheart!

I was just thinking of you!  I said to myself, Jack’s moving house today:  I must call him and see how he….

Yeah, how did you get on?

All gone smoothly?  That Paul’s a real broad pair of shoulders, isn’t he?  I wouldn’t say no to an Argentine Tango or two with him, Jack, I don’t mind admitting.

Ooo you dirty sod!  What d’you mean, he couldn’t raise so much as a laugh?  Yeah, he said he was knackered.

You both are?  Well, it’s moving, isn’t it – all the stress and that.

Chas has buggered off?

He’s left you and Paul to do all the shifting in?  That’s not like Chas, Jack, now is it?

Yeah, I know he’s the only one with a roof rack.  Let me tell you sweetheart, the way he drives, you’re lucky you haven’t got a houseful of matchwood.

Yeah.  Listen, sweetheart, where was he going?

He had to what?

Oh, gawd, I’ve got Trix on the other line.  I’ll get back to you, yeah?”

 

Noreen closes the call, and answers Trixie’s tone.

 

“Hi Trix!

What?

No, no.

Calm down, mate!  What is it?

Stop sobbing, I can’t hear what you’re saying, yeah?

Slow down, mate – take a nice deep breath.

Oh my god!

You’ve lost one of the twins?  Which one’s missing?

Daisy.  Daisy’s missing.  You’ve been right through Wally’s house and you can’t find her, yeah?

You called out for her?

What about little Robbo – doesn’t he know where she is?

They were playing Hide and Seek and Daisy was hiding.  No, so he wouldn’t know,would he?

No, I’m not bein’ stupid, Trix.  No, I’m not a plank – you got no reason to call me that.  What did Wally say?

You’re getting emotional, Trix.  Calm down, mate.

Here!  What are you accusin’ me of?

No.

No, I don’t care what Wally said, he’s a bleedin’ liar!  Hide and Seek was definitely not my idea!

No Trix, it’s no good blaming me.  I told you Wally was a bad choice, now, didn’t I?  You’ll have to call the police, mate.

You have;  that’s good.

Yes, you go.

Robbo’s what?

He’s licking Angelina?  Oh, the chocolate…

SODDIN’ HELL!

What?

Sorry.  Sorry Trix!  Chas just went flying past me in that van of his.  He’s a maniac, that man!  You look after yourself, Trix love.  I’ll get onto Wals and see what I can find out.”

 

Noreen taps Jack Lopghast’s name on her ‘phone.

 

“Jack, sweetheart, it’s Noreen again.  Sorry to cut us off, love, but Trix is in a right tiz.

Yeah, she’s lost one of her little monsters.

No, of course it’ll be all right, we ain’t got no paedo-tricians round here, nor nothing.  She’s just panicking, as usual.   Anyway, you were saying about Chas buggering off and leaving you and Paul to finish?  Funny thing, Jack sweetheart, Chas just passed me tearing down the ‘ill in his van.

Yeah.  Yeah, he did have something banging around on the roof rack, now you mention it.

‘At least you know the excuse was genuine’ – what do you mean?

An old cupboard out the back of Wal’s place – it’s been there for months, has it?

No, I don’t remember it.  Mind, I haven’t been round his for months, now I think of it.  Anyway, you told Wally to get it shifted because it made his garden look like a scrap yard?

Chas promised him he’d take it down the tip for him this afternoon, did he?

Wal told him he’d leave the back gate unlocked so he could nip in and pick it up, yeah?

That’d be what he had on the roof rack then, just now, when I saw him, wouldn’t it?

Probably.  Right.

Jack, sweetheart, I’m going to ring off now.

Yeah.  I think I’d better give Trixie a call…”

# 

Author note: 

Obviously, ‘Essex Woman’ is a wicked stereotype.  All Essex women are not married to footballers, showy, vulgar, insensitive or dense.   But the stereotype is much more fun, innit? 

© Frederick Anderson 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Of Canford Bluff

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  Don’t think us rude if we stare, stranger.  We get so few who visit here, you see.  Same weathered faces, same laboured jokes, but the beer’s good.  Arthur, he knows how to keep a good cellar, don’t you, Arthur?  Stay for a drink.  We’ll entertain you.  Chetsford Exmoor Somerset-021

Hartwood Farm?  Take the Brompton road a brace of miles, where it runs by Bretton Oaks, up Malton Hill, and if you turn left where you see the Wishing Stone there is a drovers’ track; it is there you may find it.  A mile or so.  A short mile, no more.

As the river runs about the foot of Hartwood Fell it leaves a basin of green land, not so large as you might think it, nor so green as you might wish it, but a farmer’s living once.  I knew him, the man. He who farmed that pasture – who lived there.  Sair, he was, with cheeks scoured black by the north-blown rain.  His name was Borden; Isaac Borden.

His home is standing, still, you’ll see it there, afore the narrow band of trees that skirt the Fell.  Of random stone it is, bare-laid on clay, and it might not be a house to make you proud, with no boards to warm your feet or plastered walls, yet when the easterly blows its flagstone roof holds firm against the worst, and when the river runs high from the fells in the spring rains it stands above the flood.  And there he spent all his years, did Isaac.

When I knew him he was old and he was broken.  But he was husband and father once, and inasmuch as a farmer is ever happy in these hills, he was contented with his lot.

What happened?  What was it led to his misery and his downfall?  Arthur, this man would like to buy me a pint, so my throat shall not dry.  I have a tale to tell.

He met her at the Wishing Stone.  She was waiting hooded in the snow for something she said would never come.  And he thought at first she was a wayward girl, but she was as hungry as she was cold, and so he took her in.  She warmed by his fire, she ate the hot soup he kept beside the hearth.  She pushed back her hood, she put her cloak aside.

They were married in the spring, Isaac and Mirabelle.  She bore him a son, she bore him a daughter, she stayed beside him through the years, but although he loved her best and knew her as well as any man can know a woman, there’s some would say she loved him not at all.

Now the daughter, Naomi it was, who paved their downfall.  A lonely child, as any child so raised must be, but with a yearning that might not be answered and a song in her head she could not name.  As she grew towards womanhood that song became more insistent, the words sweeter, until at last she took to wandering in the hills as if to search for it.  One summer forenoon when the heat was on the gorse and the curlews mewing she discovered what she sought.  Faint at first, it was, the music; the entice of rhyme but very near to silence.  Yet Naomi turned her steps to follow the tune:  she followed because she was curious; that at first.  Then, as the song grew louder, she followed because she must; because the music would not let her go.

Her head swam with the melody; her feet danced to the tune.  She climbed higher and higher, some said as high as Canford Bluff, and there she found upon the summit of the moor, as she thought, a fissure in the rocks whence the music came.   Such was the magic in her dance that she could go where no human might, and though the cut was no wider than the thickness of an arm, she slipped inside it.  She stepped through, into another world.

Isaac Borden waited, Jacob his son waited, hour upon hour all of that day, for Naomi to return.  You may not think of them as idle, for there is always work for poor farmers such as they, but they fretted and worried.  Mirabelle meantime, going about her tasks, she made no sign of worry.  As she worked she sang, a song neither man nor boy had ever heard her sing.  And when Isaac her husband spoke to her of Naomi’s tardiness, she smiled and made no answer.

Come that eve a thunderhead was building.  Jacob could contain himself no more.  Bearing his crook to guide his arm and setting his cowl against the lancing rain he set out, the boy, to find his sister.  In gathering dark, over rocks made slick by the downpour of the storm you might think his task was hopeless, yet he did not stumble and his stride did not vary.  Once and again bright lightning revealed his path, but a dozen times he might have slipped and fallen, were there not the strangeness of a pale green light that seemed to dance before him; and that light it was that beckoned him upward, until the music found him and drew him in thrall to the rocks of Canford Bluff.

Jacob saw his sister there, in a land beyond.  Through the narrow cleft he saw her figure dancing in a resplendent ballroom, with a score of courtiers all about her.  Jacob knew at once that he had stumbled upon the palace of the Fairy King.  He saw musicians in frenzy thrashing out the tune that had enticed him, fine ladies whirling to their rhythm, and watching over them all, upon his high crystal throne, the Monarch of the Wild People himself. His Majesty, he was as impressive a figure as you might expect – his stout body, too heavy for his wilted wings, clothed in rich silks and ermines, his round legs clad in white stockings, his feet in velvet slippers buckled with gold.   And the moment – the very second – Jacob set eyes upon him, the King’s frog-like stare matched his own!   Instantly, the boy felt a furious buzzing in his head.  White flashes skittered before his eyes and the stinging thrusts of a thousand fairy swords prickled upon his skin.   What could he do?    He called, he shouted as loud as he might to his sister:  “Naomi!  Naomi!”  But though she may have heard she paid him no attention.  He was too large to pass between the rocks; he could not reach her.  The stabbing swords became spears – they probed deeper, drawing blood – and try as he might, there was no riposte.  His assailants were too quick, their intent would all too soon become mortal.   Reluctantly, then, he turned away, but with one last vision in his head.  Utterly disbelieving, he saw his mother there among the dancers, looking up to meet his eye, and she was laughing!

When Jacob returned, bloody and torn, to his home, he discovered his father sitting in the pasture by the rushing river with tears upon his face.  And when they spoke and took some mead together the old man told how Mirabelle had left her wedding band upon his table, then walked without a word from his house; and how he knew at once what had happened, for these hills are rich in fairy lore.

“She was a child of the woods, my son.  I met her by the Wishing Stone and always knew in my heart it was so.  Your sister was destined; it was marked upon her.  Much as I have dreaded this day, it had to come.”

Now Jacob, he grieved for his father, but he puzzled how it was his mother’s seed had grown in his sister, yet not in him.  The years went by, and father and son struggled with the land each season in its turn.  The wild call did not visit Jacob’s ears again, though he worried greatly that it should.

Then one even, when the blackthorn bloomed snow white on the bough, and Jacob in his thirtieth summer, was returning from market on weary feet he discovered a maiden seated by the Wishing Stone.  Her head was cowled and her body wrapped in a gossamer cloak, so he knew her at once for what she was.  Nevertheless a wood nymph’s beauty intoxicates and a wood nymph’s voice is sweeter than song, so when she drew her veils aside; when she told him he was the one for whom she waited, he could not deny her. 

One winter they spent together in the cottage by the river, Jacob and Linantha, his bride.  And before they left in the spring Jacob learned how his wife well understood the wild blood that ran through his veins, for Mirabelle his mother it was who sent her to him.  

You see, upon that long-ago time when Isaac Borden met with Mirabelle at the Wishing Stone, she was waiting for her prince, rightful heir to the throne of the Fairy King.  He had not come, therefore she knew the usurper Malegon must have slain him.  When she lay with Isaac her purpose was plain.  She should bear two children with an earthling – the one a girl, who, with her wild blood, must become of age as a nymph.  The other a male child in whom the father’s seed was the stronger – who would remain with earthling kind until she sent a key.

So Mirabelle stirred the music in her daughter, and firm in her resolve, joined Naomi at court.  Together they charmed the fat usurper Malegon.  Naomi tempted and cosseted him, Mirabelle plied him with her sweetest wine, until he grew too fat and dissolute to defend his crown.  Among the courtiers was a girl so lovely all the courtiers fell upon their knees before her, and she was Linantha, Mirabelle’s niece.  Therefore Mirabelle selected Linantha as her key. 

Let Linantha and Jacob but lie together once, and Mirabelle knew the music would begin.  Jacob’s wild blood would be awakened.  Came the spring, and it was so.  Jacob bade farewell to his father, and with Linantha made his journey to the court upon the high fell.  The slaying of Malegon would be a simple thing.  Jacob would take his crown with Linantha as his queen, and Mirabelle, though thwarted in her wish to wear the crown, would be content to be the Queen Mother.

And there the tale ends. These things the old man revealed to me when I spoke with him; when he was old and broken and alone. He knew their purpose when they left that Spring, Jacob and his nymph bride.  As he believed, they had gone to take their place on the throne of the wild people, and he died believing his son was a king.  He never saw them again.

What really happened?  No-one knows – or no-one knew until today.  This very day, come to think of it.  Go to the house.  You may find what you are seeking there.   You will find the old man’s grave, in the field by the river.  But I think you know what you will find, just as I think I know you, because I see in you your grandfather’s face, your grandfather’s eyes.  And at last, the truth.  The coup failed.  Malegon still reigns as fairy king.

How should I know this?  Because you are still an earthling, for all the cold fire in your eyes. You were born on this earth.  But let us talk of the song playing in your head, son of Jacob.  Perhaps ’tis Canford Bluff you really seek?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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