Hidebound Hump Day — Cornelis Drebbel 30

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Saturday Evening Post, 1937. Delivery boy ringing doorbell, waits with man in formal attire (and top hat) who has his head through a cut out in a big Valentine card

Saturday Evening Post, 1937

Happy Valentine’s Day, my chuckaboos!

I know this image is not from the right era, but the dashing man looking all afternoonified, made me think of something Cornelis might do.  I think Valentine’s Day around him would be positively naty narking.

Back in 2015, Christoph Fischer sent the “things” for this chapter.  Christoph is a blogger, reviewer, and the author of many compelling novels.   I’m currently reading “The Body in the Snow,” and I’m having a great time.  If you asked Christoph to let you see a photo of his Valentine, he might show you something like this…

4 Labradoodle puppies

Christoph’s Labradoodle Puppies

It’s time for Hidebound Hump Day!  If there are Valentines where our heroes are, then they are surely in shades of violet and lavender.  

Previously with Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

Chapter 28  Our bricky friends met a very gentlemanly, large, chimpanzee. He also happened to be dressed in a suit and hat.  Oh, and he was undeniably purple.  

Chapter 29   Felicity figured out at least part of the mystery of the “trained” chimpanzees, but we still don’t know who was using them.  Can Cal Hicks, the ape version of Calvin Hixon, somehow help our trio reach Copper’s real daddy?  Felicity also saw a portrait of primate doubles of herself and Ignatius Belle, and it caused her to ponder her capricious feelings about the handsome innkeeper.

All aboard!

Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers

30 — Babylon, Toothpick, Alpine

Harper's Bazar, March 1896, Victorian woman riding bicycle with red heart design background

Harper’s Bazar, March 1896

Cornelis Drebbel had that look in his eyes — the twinkle-eyed look that never failed to worry me.  That expression would make you think he came from ancient Babylon — powerful, affluent, and downright sinful.  However, he actually wasn’t born until 1572.  I knew that expression meant he thought he was being clever.

Young Copper was a regular church bell.  While the amethyst ape, Cal Hicks, was distracted by Copper’s animated conversation, the alchemist cast a considering gaze his way.

“What are you up to Cornelis Drebbel?” I narrowed my eyes and whispered in a warning tone.

“It’s important that we get back to our own world, don’t you think?” he asked drolly.  “If there was a version of myself here, then that me would have had a laboratory or a workshop of some sort.  I suspect this ape knows where it is.  But how to get him to disclose the information…” the Dutchman pondered.

“Why not just ask him?” I sputtered in exasperation.  “There needn’t be any subterfuge.  He already believes you are, well… you.”

Cornelus Drebble With Eclipse and Sundown rev

Rob Goldsteins vision of Cornelis Drebbel inside his submarine

The Dutchman’s mouth twisted to one side.

“Oh, I suppose you’re right.  You do have a way of taking the fun out of things, Felicity,” he said drolly.

“Mr. Hicks,” I began.

“Dear one, please do call me Cal,” he said in a fatherly tone and added a little bow.

That felt a little too much like something a gal-sneaker would say, but I smiled and nodded agreeably, determined to give our host the benefit of the doubt.

“Would it be possible for you to show us to the Lord of Alchemy’s laboratory?  Cornelis doesn’t like to admit to having lost so much of his memory — temporary though it may be.  I think being amongst his things would help him remember.  Besides, he dotes on this submarine and would love to repair it,” I said.

The amethyst ape was eager to comply.  I gave Cornelis a sidelong look.

“See,” I told the Dutchman.  “Simple as that.”

Surprisingly, Absinthe seemed to object.  He fluttered around the alchemist’s head, chirping excitedly.  Remembering how impossibly potent one of his poots could be, it made me nervous to see the Green Fairy so agitated.

“Calm down old boy,” Cornelis said soothingly to Absinthe.  “Everything will be fine.  If I so much as sense something a hair out of the ordinary, I’ll come back here straight away.”

Green fairy skunk

Absinthe, the Green Fairy, by Teagan

At the words “out of the ordinary” the tiny skunk-like fairy shrieked.  I had to agree.  Everything in this world was out of the ordinary.

As we exited the submarine, Absinthe followed.  He seemed torn between flying protectively around Copper and Cornelis.  The girl turned back and gasped delightedly.

“Look at the submarine!” Copper cried.  “Isn’t it beginning to turn purple?”

Absinthe zipped through the air and quickly circled the submarine.  He came back, with nervous sounding chirping.  He hovered six inches away from the alchemist’s nose, looking quite excitable.  Cornelis looked from Absinthe to the submarine.

“It’s becoming part of the amethyst world,” Copper said in awe.  “If we stay will we turn purple too?” she asked in a way that made it clear she found the prospect of such a transformation delightful.

“We might at that,” Cornelis answered in a wry voice.

Finding the Lost De Milo (2)

Finding the Lost De Milo, by Rob Goldstein

I thought he had gone to hide when Absinthe darted back into the submarine.  However, a moment later he emerged with a seabag floating behind him.  The tiny fairy seemed to be handier with levitation than Cornelis.  Absinthe continued to levitate the bag until he reached me.  Then he unceremoniously dropped the bag at my feet.

The seabag came open and out rolled a frightful looking head.  I gasped and nearly screamed, but closer inspection showed it to be some kind of hideous mask.  It had two big round goggle eyes and a long snout that ended at a flat circle and a leather strap to hold it to the wearer’s head.

Absinthe levitated the mask over to Copper.  She was quick to understand that he meant her to wear it if needed.  When I saw that the bag also contained several bottles, I thought the Green Fairy was still concerned about this strange environment.  When we first arrived, he had given us bottled water; fearing things of this world would be harmful to us if consumed.

gas mask

As I returned the bottles to the bag, I discovered a charming silver toothpick holder.  It was shaped like a little gazebo with a domed roof supported by columns.  Within was a crystal bird with wings outstretched.  Tiny holes in the rounded roof held toothpicks.

“Why ever would he think we’d need toothpicks?” I murmured, bemused.

Cornelis suddenly appeared at my elbow.  He knew it annoyed me when he did that.  It never failed to be disquieting, and it always entertained him to startle me.  He smirked.

“Absinthe isn’t far off the mark,” Cornelis whispered.  “There is a very real danger that we could become trapped here.  However, we would have to be here for a very long time before that potential became a reality.  This is a measuring device,” he explained, pointing at the toothpick holder.  “If the toothpicks begin to turn purple, it is a warning.”

Seeing my widening eyes, he was quick to elaborate.

“Many of the effects can be mitigated,” he waived away my concern.  “For instance, a little lavender hue is of no real concern.  But if all the toothpicks turn purple, then we are in serious danger of being unable to return home.  Should the bird turn purple,” he added pointing to the crystal ornament in the center of the gazebo.  “Well, then it is too late,” he finished with a wry twist of his mouth, which suggested that was a real possibility.

The Green Fairy was still agitated, but the purplish color of the undersea vessel seemed to have changed the cause of his worry.  Absinthe fluttered over to Cal Hicks and chirped once.  The ape chuckled, still marveling at the tiny fairy.

 

Reading Ape purple

Cal Hicks, the amethyst ape

“You are the most delightful shade of green,” he said in a mystified tone.

“He wants you to lead us,” Copper translated.

“Ah, so he does!  This way then,” directed the purple primate as he adjusted his bowler hat and pointed with his amethyst topped walking stick.

After about fifteen minutes of walking we reached a clearing.  In its center was a sprawling building.  It was only one story tall, except for a broad, towering dome in the center.  Cornelis gazed at the facility in childlike wonder.

The sound of clamoring hooves and the clanking of a bell made everyone turn.  A lavender Alpine goat ran out of the building and barreled into Cornelis.  The Dutchman landed on his back with a thud.  The goat sniffed happily at his face.  She made the oddest warbling behh sound.

I had become accustomed to the amethyst ape’s warmhearted chuckle.  So, I was surprised to hear him laugh uproariously.  He recovered himself somewhat and turned to me to explain.

“The Lord of Alchemy allowed us to keep a herd of milk goats behind his laboratory.  There was something about the grass there that improved their milk greatly.  I’ve always pondered if that was because this grass has a greenish tone,” Cal Hicks told me, but then shook his head.

“But I digress again,” he apologized.  “Cornelis Drebbel made a pet of this particular goat.  However, I always told him that it was she who thought he was the pet.  She’s quite possessive of him.”

1920s man w-goats

Wikimedia commons, circa 1920. (Altered by Teagan)

Cornelis clamored to his feet.  The lavender goat gently head-butted the Dutchman and nearly knocked him over again.  She nibbled at his coat sleeve and pant legs, ignoring his attempts to brush her away.  From time to time she uttered that strange warbling behh sound.  It really was funny, and I couldn’t help laughing.

Copper had no compunction about offending anyone.  She wrapped her arms around the goat’s neck, hugging the animal.  The girl laughed so hard she toppled over.  Fortunately, the goat seemed to take to her.  The next thing I knew, the large goat had maneuvered Copper onto her back.  Copper sat astride the goat as if she was about to take the animal for a gallop.  The oddest part was that it looked perfectly natural.

All the laughter was abruptly cut short by a trumpeting screech.  I looked to the amethyst sky from which the sound came, but saw nothing.  Cornelis looked apprehensive.  The ape, Cal Hicks, trembled fearfully.

“Quickly!  Get inside,” Cornelis ordered pointing toward the building that was the laboratory of the version of him that inhabited this world. “Quickly,” he added with a sharp pat to the goat’s rump.  “Hang on tight, Copper!” he called.

The lavender goat bolted toward the laboratory, carrying Copper on her back.

“What was that?” I exclaimed.

Cal Hicks came to himself as we all ran behind the goat.

“I was so sure it was dead,” the amethyst ape said.  “That was the hunting call of the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater!”

Purple one horned dragon

Racheal Marie, Pixaby

***

Real World Notes

Duffle bag.  The term dates back to 1677, when it was used to describe a coarse woolen cloth having a thick nap or frieze.  The name comes from Duffel, a town in Flanders, Belgium, where the thick duffel cloth used to make the bag originated in the 1600s.  During most of the 1900s, a duffel bag typically referred to a specific style of cylindrical, top-entry bag.

Victorian Vernacular

Church-bell A talkative woman.

Gal-sneaker:  A man devoted to seducing women.

Make a stuffed bird laugh:  When something is utterly preposterous.”

Mind the grease:  When you need people to let you pass, use this phrase as you would “Excuse me.”

***

I hope our heores find something in the laboratory to help get back to their own world.  Yet with the one eyed one horned flying purple people eater out, and apparently on the hunt, will they be able to reach the laboratory?

Next time when the “three random things” are from Olga Núñez Miret.  Be at the steampunk submarine port to find out where Glass Eye, Silver Vinaigrette, and Sextant take Copper, the Alchemist, and the Woman in Trousers!  

My chuckaboos, I’ll be looking for you when the steampunk submarine comes into port next week.  Mega hugs! 

***

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 and 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 

A Tricky Little Valentine

Cowgirl valentineHello everyone.  Thanks for coming back.  During the past four weeks we’ve all been playing with my mini-series on the five senses.  However, since Valentine’s Day is this weekend I decided to write a short story for the occasion.  Next weekend I’ll be back with the fifth and final part of the mini-series.

If you know me at all, then you are not expecting a romance, certainly not a typical one anyway.  This is an odd little story I jotted down on impulse, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.

The narrator made one previous appearance here at Teagan’s Books in a short story called Kokopelli’s Daughter.  It’s just a little flight of fancy.

Kokopelli’s Daughter and Valentine’s Day

Moments after sleep blanketed my tired mind, my eyelids sprang open.  I shot out of the bed and ran toward the kitchen in a state near panic.  As I skidded around the corner I flipped on the light switch.  I stumbled to a stop at the calendar that hung beside the refrigerator.  A moan escaped my lips when I saw the date — February 13th, but only for a couple more hours.

How could I have forgotten?  Being Kokopelli’s daughter I unconsciously exert a unique magic on Valentine’s Day.  It’s a very tricky sort of magic too.  My father is a music spirit, but also the eternal trickster.  The magic of that genealogy is a dirty trick forever played on unsuspecting people through me.  The joke is also on me as often as everyone else.  It’s uncontrollable, and it gets stronger and stranger each year.1955 February Valentine calendar

The picture on the calendar should have been a good enough reminder.  A bewildered boy holding one heart-shaped box of candy, greeted by two identical girls — it was a painful reminder of one year’s disastrous Valentine’s Day.  That year desires doubled on one side of a couple, but were cut in half on the other.  I was surrounded by angry twosomes… not to mention my own overly amorous date.

Another year I happened to be in Japan on Valentine’s Day.  I had no idea the gender roles for were reversed there in that women bought chocolates for men.  The magic that surrounded me on that day wreaked havoc, and not just roles, but men and women themselves were reversed for miles around me.

After that year I made a point of taking myself to some remote corner of the world on Valentine’s Day.  Yet somehow the date had escaped me.  The best I could do would be to simply get as far away from civilization as I could manage in the short time remaining before midnight.

I jumped into a pair of jeans and threw on a leather jacket.  I ran out of my “painted lady” Victorian home on Haight Ashbury.  I hurried down the stairs and vaulted into my yellow 1928 M-Type MG Midget.1929 MType MG Midget

I headed the Midget up the coast to Highway 101.  Even if I “helped” the car travel faster, I couldn’t get far enough away before midnight.  However, at least humanity would only be on one side of me.  The ocean would be on the other.

When the clock struck twelve, I felt it deep inside without even looking at my watch.  I pulled the MG off the highway and walked down to a deserted beach.  Sitting down on the sand, I gazed up at the cloudless sky.  With a groan I saw that fate conspired with magic to make things worse.  The moon was full.  There were formations on the face of the moon that some people referred to as the “rabbit moon.”  However, I knew the truth of that.  The shape on the moon was not a rabbit, but Kokopelli!

Vintage Rabbits MoonI glared at the luminous orb.  Soft chuckling emanated from the heavens in return to my spiteful stare.  Then the trickster appeared beside me.

“Do you know, hija,” my father began.  “It was the twisted magic of this night that brought your mother to me.”

I answered with a silent gaze, waiting for him to continue.  I thought of my mother, Themis, the Greek goddess of Justice.  The odd mix of my parents gave me constantly warring impulses.  Because of Themis I was forever compelled to see justice done.  Yet my nature was also to be a trickster like Kokopelli.

“Play for me, hija.  Play upon the beautiful flute your mother gave you,” he urged offering me the flute I had left at home.

“You play far better than I could ever hope to play.  If you want music, then play for yourself,” I said irritated.  I turned my head toward the moon which was suddenly and suspiciously devoid of “rabbit” like formations and shadows.  Abruptly his duplicitous intent sprang with clarity to my mind.  “You would have me bring her to you!  Themis would never forgive me,” I admonished my father.

“If you play for me,” he urged purely devious.  “I will mix my greater magic with your accident riddled, enchanted emanations.  You could have a Valentine’s Day the likes of which mortals can only dream,” he pressed and then smirked when he saw the sharp expression on my face.  “And by dream I do not mean nightmares.  How hurtful that my daughter would think such of me,” he added with such a preposterous pout that I rolled my eyes.Kokopelli

“No?” he asked again proffering my multi-colored flute.

My answer was a loud snort.  Kokopelli began to play the flute himself.  He danced slowly on the beach as he played.  Fish began to summersault out of the ocean, flipping seafoam into moonlight glittered heart shapes before they splashed back into the sea.

I felt movement at my side.  Turning, I was stunned to see my mother beside me.  Themis smiled at me gently, but fire smoldered in her eyes when she turned toward my father.

“Just one dance,” she whispered.  “Just this once.”

Kokopelli and Themis danced.  The flute appeared on the sand beside me.  Though it was untouched, the music continued.  I knew their dance would soon progress to movements no one wanted to see their parents make.

I strolled down the beach and out onto a jetty.  I heard the loud noise of something large as it slapped the water.  A great fishtail with scales shimmering in the moonlight, arced down to again slap the water.

Music from my magically played flute wafted to my ears.  I rolled up the legs of my jeans and strolled into the ocean.  Hundreds of tiny fish jumped into the air, also making heart shapes in the reflected light of the full moon.

heartI continued to walk and soon the water was hip-deep.  Then the large shimmering tail slapped the surface again.  A merman beckoned to me playfully.  I looked back down the coast and saw that Kokopelli and Themis still danced.

The magic that was part of me twisted fitfully on Valentine’s Day, but my father’s enchantment was holding things in place, at least for that span of time.  So I decided to seize the moment.

As I took the merman’s hand the tune of the flute trilled.

 

The End.

***

I hope you’ll come back next time for the fifth and final installment of the mini-series on the senses.

Mega hugs!

Teagan

Copyright © 2016 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Your Valentine from Atonement, Tennessee

AT Valentine 2

I thought it would be fun to post a Valentine for all of you — in the form of a short story.  I admit the idea of writing a story for everyone came to me a bit late, so I knew I’d have to scramble to get it finished in time, especially since I wanted to post it a day before the holiday.  I didn’t even know what it should be about, what setting, what sort of characters.  Then I thought I’d make an “Atonement” story, but one that is not in the novel at all.

This tale features one of the Atonement, Tennessee characters — the sheriff, Robin Warden.  If you’ve read the novel, you’ll probably think he’s an odd choice, but that’s what makes it fun.  The sheriff is not the most endearing citizen of Atonement.  This short story takes place quite a few years before the timeline of the novel, with a much younger Robin who is only a deputy sheriff. He has recently come to the town of Atonement and of course, strange things happen.

Forgive me if it gets just a little bit corny — after all, it is supposed to be a Valentine.

Hugs,

teagan

An Atonement, Tennessee Valentine

Hey Robin!  Where’s Batman?  He might let you drive the Batmobile if you’re real nice to him.”  The bullies hadBatmanRobin never outgrown their taunts.  Whether they were ten, twenty, or fifty, those jerks would harass him with the same old thing, Robin Warden thought as he landed on his chest with a thud.  Why had he thought of them?  He had been away from those guys for a month.

What was so wrong with looking like Burt Ward, or being named Robin?  Well, all right — he supposed he could understand how the jokes were tempting.  What he didn’t understand was why they got such a kick out of the same old jabs.

Robin picked himself up and continued looking for the pig.  He’d been chasing it all afternoon.  He couldn’t believe a stupid pig kept getting the better of him.  Maybe that’s why he had thought of the bullies he’d grown up with back in Asheville.  The pig was dragging his self-image through the mud. Literally.

True love heartHis breath froze on the air as he sighed… February in Atonement, Tennessee — “East Bumbles,” the back end of nowhere.  Then he realized that it was Valentine’s Day and he was even more annoyed.  Robin secretly had daydreams of a perfect Valentine’s Day, bringing flowers to a beautiful girl, romance, the whole hearts-and-flowers nine yards.  One year the guys had found out, and he’d never heard the end of it.  As if his unfortunate resemblance to the TV Batman’s sidekick didn’t give his tormentors enough fuel for their quips, they teased him about Valentine’s Day too…

He gave a derisive snort at the memory, and a porcine snuffle seemed to answer from the other side of a bush.  With a lunge he almost had the pig that time.  Almost.  It slipped out of his grasp like a magician, and it ran faster than anything that might someday become bacon had a right to run.  Robin patted his chest to make sure the deputy’s badge was still there.  At least he had that over the guys back home.  He was a real deputy sheriff.

“I’ll show those jerks,” he thought.  “I’ll be driving a real ‘Batmobile’ when I get my own police car, or close enough.  They’ll never match that,” he promised himself.  “And I’ll catch that dang pig or die trying too!”

Scrambling to his feet, Robin ran after the pig again.  He was amazed that his Valentine’s Pig ValentineDay was being spent that way.  He asked himself what difference it made.  He hadn’t made any friends in the tiny town of Atonement yet.  There weren’t many people his age period.  He’d only met a couple of girls, and they weren’t interested in him.  He let out an irritated breath.  The blasted pig might as well be his Valentine.

A glance at the cloudy sky told him night would come early.  He picked up his pace in the chase after the pig.  Leaves crunched as he pounded the twisting path, running, sliding, gaining, and losing.  Sometimes he wondered if the little porker intentionally let him catch a glimpse of it.  Once it actually seemed to be waiting for him to catch up.  Robin was so exasperated he could have screamed.

Until the unwanted memory of the bullies intruded on his thoughts, Robin had thought signing up for the Interstate Sheriffs’ Department exchange program had been the worst mistake of his life.  To think he’d believed he was bored living in Asheville, North Carolina!  It was a wonderland of excitement compared to Atonement, Tennessee.  However, after he thought about it, chasing livestock through rural Atonement was probably better than dealing with the bullies and jerks back home. Robin shook his head resignedly.

Gate Ajar Night

It was really clouding up, and it would be dark soon.  Robin thought uneasily that he wasn’t exactly sure where he was anymore; the pig had led him on such a chase.  That was kind of unnerving.  He’d only lived in the area for a matter of weeks.  The idea of being lost, in the woods, on a winter night was not something he liked to consider.

Then he caught sight of the little rascal running up a trail.  With a burst of energy Robin poured on the speed.  That sorry pig was not going to get away again!  It was headed straight for a tall iron fence.  The pig kept running.  So did Robin.  He finally had it cornered.  Or not…  Were some of the iron bars bent aside?

The young deputy cursed as the pig went through the gap in the fence.  However, Robin Warden wasn’t any bigger than Batman’s sidekick with the regrettably similar name.  He slipped through the damaged bars and made a heroic dive for the pig.  It complained loudly when he caught it by its back feet.

The wind kicked up as he tied a rope securely around the wriggling animal.  He was so intent on his task that he didn’t notice how threatening and dark the black clouds became.  Abruptly the pig became unexpectedly still.  That’s when Robin realized the earth was trembling.  A loud thump proved something heavy had fallen, but he didn’t see what it was.  An earthquake?  He knew Tennessee sometimes experienced very small quakes.

A sharp crack made him jump half out of his skin.  It sounded like lightning, but there was no flash, just the sharp, sudden sound.  Robin looked over his shoulder and saw that a huge old oak tree had a wide split down the center of its trunk.Split tree

The frightened pig huddled against him.  For a moment it didn’t dawn on Robin that he was holding the animal.  The ground stilled.  Robin and the pig looked at one another with wide startled eyes.  The pig looked as embarrassed as Robin felt.  At least the guys weren’t around to see that awkward moment.  He set the pig on the ground and stood up.

Robin took a deep breath.  “Oh crap!” he muttered when he saw that he’d dropped the rope.  However, the pig sat calmly back on its haunches, like a well-trained pet on a leash.  Robin quickly bent down and snatched up the rope before the animal could change its mind.

Mystified by the pig’s sudden change in behavior, he scratched it behind the ears.  It seemed to smile, but he guessed that was just the shape of its mouth.  He patted the pig’s head and said, “Good pig.”  Even as he spoke the words they sounded ridiculous.

Robin spotted the source of the heavy thud sound.  A tombstone was overturned.  He looked around at a very old and rundown Mausoleum_dreamstime_xs_20242963cemetery.  At least he knew where he was — the old Sunhold estate’s graveyard.

A snuffling sound drew his attention.  There was another pig behind the tumbled gravestone.  Then he saw a third pig a few feet away, rooting in the tall dead grass.  The more Robin looked around, the more pigs he saw.  There were at least a dozen.

Twilight descended and Robin stood in perplexed awe, looking at all the pigs.  As the light dimmed, the pigs seemed to emanate a pale glow.  The one he had spent most of the day chasing looked up at him with its smiling face and he took a reflexive step back.  The pig had blue eyes.  “What the—” he muttered, wondering how he had failed to notice that.

The blue-eyed pig nudged Robin’s knee and swung its head toward the damaged oak as if it meant for him to look.  The rent in the tree trunk shown with blue light that reminded him of the cobalt vase his mother had, a deep rich blue.

The pig took a few steps toward the tree, as much as the rope would allow.  However, the animal didn’t tug at the leash.  Robin stood rooted to the ground.  As twilight deepened the glow from the pigs became more apparent.  The other pigs walked tranquilly toward the tree.  The one on his rope sat back down, seeming patient and at peace.John_Collier_Queen_Guinevre's_Maying

The cobalt blue radiance expanded beyond the tree.  All the pigs snorted and snuffled in a way that sounded… pleased.  Then a girl stepped out of the glow.  The luminous pigs continued to look peaceful, but somehow Robin could feel that they were happy and excited.

At first Robin thought the girl was little more than a child.  But as she approached, Robin saw that she was in fact a petite woman.  Long ash blond hair fell in waves like a river of moonlight that reached almost to her knees.  Pale blue flowers were scattered through her tresses.  As she moved the blossoms seemed to bob on the currents of the moonlit river of her hair.

Robin stood in open mouthed astonishment.  She was so beautiful that he couldn’t speak; so purely lovely that there was no room in his mind to question the strange circumstance of her appearing.  Finally the idea that he should say something tickled in his stunned thoughts.  He tried to talk, and managed to make some kind of sound, but the noise that came from his lips reminded him of a hog squealing.

The radiant pigs gathered in a half circle at her feet.  They became quite noisy as they looked at one another and then up at the tiny woman.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  Grunt, snuffle, snort.  The porcine grunts took on a specific pattern and rhythm, and gradually came together as if the pigs were chanting.  They seemed to grunt the same three syllables repeatedly, go-eh-win, go-eh-win.  Finally the grunting chant flowed into the sound of a name, Goewin.

He gazed up at her in silent wonder.  No face had ever been so sublime.  No name had ever bQueen and knighteen so poetic.  Goewin.  She spoke his name and he thought he might die from the happiness the sound gave him.  Robin didn’t realize that he had dropped to the ground on one knee, amid the glowing pigs that clearly adored her.  He felt unworthy of her touch when she laid her hand on his head and told him to rise.  He was no better than the pigs… probably even less.  At least the pigs could glow.

With weakness in his knees, Robin struggled to his feet.  As he stood he looked into her eyes.  He was astonished to find that they were lavender and as bright as any faceted amethyst.  Then when Goewin returned his gaze, Robin felt so light of heart that he was surprised he didn’t float into the air.

She exclaimed in delight.  “Oh you found her!  Deme, you naughty pig!  Your brothers and sisters came right away, but you roamed the countryside in your game, getting this kind man to chase you,” she admonished the pig, but her voice was gentle.  “Robin, I really am sorry that Deme led you on such a chase.  She took an instant liking to you.  To her it was a great game,” Goewin told the young deputy.

It never occurred to him to question how she knew his name, or that he had been in pursuit of the pig all day.  Robin could barely string two words together.  She seemed to understand when she paused briefly.  Goewin continued to talk, but he was sure she meant to give him a moment to adjust to the strange situation and her presence.  By chattering she gave him time to find his voice.

“It truly is important that I get these pigs back where they belong.  Do you know that 2 Pigsthere has already been at least one war over these pigs?” she asked, but nodded as if answering for him.  “Yes.  And it was a very foolish prank that let them get away this time.  How very shortsighted of that trickster to do such a thing.  But you, Robin, have helped set things aright.  You have my eternal gratitude,” she said as she lowered her eyes and curtsied deeply.

She actually curtsied, he thought.  First she’d placed her hand on his head and told him to rise.  Now she curtsied to him.  It made Robin feel like he was a knight of Camelot and she was a princess.  Suddenly he felt strong and valiant, as if he wore the brightest armor.  Then when he glanced at himself he gasped.  He was glowing!  A little anyway — the light wasn’t nearly as bright as the radiance of the otherworldly pigs, but he was definitely glowing.

His reaction made Goewin giggle.  It was like chimes, he thought.  Her laugh made him smile.  Robin didn’t know how long he stood looking at her like a dumbstruck fool.  He didn’t even care if he was being silly.  They looked into one another’s eyes, they laughed, he thought they even sang.  Later he couldn’t say what they talked about, what they actually did, but he never forgot the bliss he felt.  Moreover, he realized he might never feel such things again, so he simply enjoyed it.

Midnight moon farieRobin remembered noticing the various changes to the sky as the hours passed.  Then as pink and gold clouds streaked the morning, Goewin left.  She didn’t ask him to come with her.  Robin was pretty sure that she knew he was afraid to venture that far from the world he knew, so she didn’t invite him.  The young deputy could have kicked himself for that fear, for not asking her to take him with her.  However, Goewin touched his face and her hand sent a vibration that reached from his chin through his scull.  After that all he could feel when he thought of her was joy and peace.

However, that happiness didn’t stop him from going back to that same spot in the old cemetery every Valentine’s night.

The end.

 Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

No part of this writing, blog, or book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.