Jacob and Wilhlem Grimm’s “The Dog and the Sparrow”

dog and sparrow

A shepherd’s dog had a master who took no care of him, but often let him suffer the greatest hunger. At last he could bear it no longer; so he took to his heels, and off he ran in a very sad and sorrowful mood. On the road he met a sparrow that said to him, ’Why are you so sad, my friend?’ ’Because,’ said the dog, ’I am very very hungry, and have nothing to eat.’ ’If that be all,’ answered the sparrow, ’come with me into the next town, and I will soon find you plenty of food.’ So on they went together into the town: and as they passed by a butcher’s shop, the sparrow said to the dog, ’Stand there a little while till I peck you down a piece of meat.’ So the sparrow perched upon the shelf: and having first looked carefully about her to see if anyone was watching her, she pecked and scratched at a steak that lay upon the edge of the shelf, till at last down it fell. Then the dog snapped it up, and scrambled away with it into a corner, where he soon ate it all up. ’Well,’ said the sparrow, ’you shall have some more if you will; so come with me to the next shop, and I will peck you down another steak.’ When the dog had eaten this too, the sparrow said to him, ’Well, my good friend, have you had enough now?’ ’I have had plenty of meat,’ answered he, ’but I should like to have a piece of bread to eat after it.’ ’Come with me then,’ said the sparrow, ’and you shall soon have that too.’ So she took him to a baker’s shop, and pecked at two rolls that lay in the window, till they fell down: and as the dog still wished for more, she took him to another shop and pecked down some more for him. When that was eaten, the sparrow asked him whether he had had enough now. ’Yes,’ said he; ’and now let us take a walk a little way out of the town.’ So they both went out upon the high road; but as the weather was warm, they had not gone far before the dog said, ’I am very much tired–I should like to take a nap.’ ’Very well,’ answered the sparrow, ’do so, and in the meantime I will perch upon that bush.’ So the dog stretched himself out on the road, and fell fast asleep. Whilst he slept, there came by a carter with a cart drawn by three horses, and loaded with two casks of wine. The sparrow, seeing that the carter did not turn out of the way, but would go on in the track in which the dog lay, so as to drive over him, called out, ’Stop! stop! Mr Carter, or it shall be the worse for you.’ But the carter, grumbling to himself, ’You make it the worse for me, indeed! what can you do?’ cracked his whip, and drove his cart over the poor dog, so that the wheels crushed him to death. ’There,’ cried the sparrow, ’thou cruel villain, thou hast killed my friend the dog. Now mind what I say. This deed of thine shall cost thee all thou art worth.’ ’Do your worst, and welcome,’ said the brute, ’what harm can you do me?’ and passed on. But the sparrow crept under the tilt of the cart, and pecked at the bung of one of the casks till she loosened it; and than all the wine ran out, without the carter seeing it. At last he looked round, and saw that the cart was dripping, and the cask quite empty. ’What an unlucky wretch I am!’ cried he. ’Not wretch enough yet!’ said the sparrow, as she alighted upon the head of one of the horses, and pecked at him till he reared up and kicked. When the carter saw this, he drew out his hatchet and aimed a blow at the sparrow, meaning to kill her; but she flew away, and the blow fell upon the poor horse’s head with such force, that he fell down dead. ’Unlucky wretch that I am!’ cried he. ’Not wretch enough yet!’ said the sparrow. And as the carter went on with the other two horses, she again crept under the tilt of the cart, and pecked out the bung of the second cask, so that all the wine ran out. When the carter saw this, he again cried out, ’Miserable wretch that I am!’ But the sparrow answered, ’Not wretch enough yet!’ and perched on the head of the second horse, and pecked at him too. The carter ran up and struck at her again with his hatchet; but away she flew, and the blow fell upon the second horse and killed him on the spot. ’Unlucky wretch that I am!’ said he. ’Not wretch enough yet!’ said the sparrow; and perching upon the third horse, she began to peck him too. The carter was mad with fury; and without looking about him, or caring what he was about, struck again at the sparrow; but killed his third horse as he done the other two. ’Alas! miserable wretch that I am!’ cried he. ’Not wretch enough yet!’ answered the sparrow as she flew away; ’now will I plague and punish thee at thy own house.’ The carter was forced at last to leave his cart behind him, and to go home overflowing with rage and vexation. ’Alas!’ said he to his wife, ’what ill luck has befallen me! –my wine is all spilt, and my horses all three dead.’ ’Alas! husband,’ replied she, ’and a wicked bird has come into the house, and has brought with her all the birds in the world, I am sure, and they have fallen upon our corn in the loft, and are eating it up at such a rate!’ Away ran the husband upstairs, and saw thousands of birds sitting upon the floor eating up his corn, with the sparrow in the midst of them. ’Unlucky wretch that I am!’ cried the carter; for he saw that the corn was almost all gone. ’Not wretch enough yet!’ said the sparrow; ’thy cruelty shall cost thee they life yet!’ and away she flew.

The carter seeing that he had thus lost all that he had, went down into his kitchen; and was still not sorry for what he had done, but sat himself angrily and sulkily in the chimney corner. But the sparrow sat on the outside of the window, and cried ’Carter! thy cruelty shall cost thee thy life!’ With that he jumped up in a rage, seized his hatchet, and threw it at the sparrow; but it missed her, and only broke the window. The sparrow now hopped in, perched upon the window-seat, and cried, ’Carter! it shall cost thee thy life!’ Then he became mad and blind with rage, and struck the window-seat with such force that he cleft it in two: and as the sparrow flew from place to place, the carter and his wife were so furious, that they broke all their furniture, glasses, chairs, benches, the table, and at last the walls, without touching the bird at all. In the end, however, they caught her: and the wife said, ’Shall I kill her at once?’ ’No,’ cried he, ’that is letting her off too easily: she shall die a much more cruel death; I will eat her.’ But the sparrow began to flutter about, and stretch out her neck and cried, ’Carter! it shall cost thee thy life yet!’ With that he could wait no longer: so he gave his wife the hatchet, and cried, ’Wife, strike at the bird and kill her in my hand.’ And the wife struck; but she missed her aim, and hit her husband on the head so that he fell down dead, and the sparrow flew quietly home to her nest.

 

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Chapter 6 of my new sci-fi novel!

It’s been a while since I’ve posed an update for my sci-fi novel, so here is chapter 6 (it still has yet to be named by the way). If this is the first chapter you’ve come across please check out the prologue, chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, and chapter 5.

Disclaimer: these chapters have not yet been professionally edited so there will most definitely be mistakes that I did not catch. Also this series contains violence, moderately strong language, and a touch of gore. Reader discretion is advised.

Chapter 6

Welcome Aboard the N.E.S. Bengal

 

Kira shut her eyes as soon as she felt her molecules tearing themselves apart. The pain was agonizing, but only for a moment. When she next opened her eyes she took a gasping breath and braced herself against the glass cell of her teleportation capsule. The pain was gone but she still felt as if she had come up for air after being under the water for much too long. Her heart pounded against her chest like the beat of one of Artemis’s annoyingly loud 20th century rock songs. She stared wide eyed at the luminescent platform beneath her feet before the sudden sound of someone knocking on her capsule brought her back to her senses.

“Sergeant Leonid?” called a muffled, high pitched, female voice. “Sergeant Leonid? Are you alright, ma’am?”

“She’s not used to being ripped apart and reassembled again,” replied Artemis’s muffled voice.

Kira’s raised her eyes just enough to see two pairs of feet standing in front of her teleportation capsule. She recognized Artemis’s large black boots, and figured the smaller pair of boots must have belonged to the woman her first spoke. However, she did not feel well enough yet to lift her head up any further.

“Sergeant Leonid isn’t used to being teleported?” the female voice asked. “Teleportation training is a prerequisite for being authorized to access the Bengal, isn’t it?”

Kira watched Artemis shift his weight from foot to foot. “Um … well, y-yeah?”

Kira scowled at Artemis’s stammered reply. They hadn’t even been there five minutes and they were already causing suspicion. After taking a deep breath, she straightened up and smoothed back her short, dark brown hair. “You’ll have to forgive me, solider. It’s been a while since training, and a simulation is nothing like experiencing the real thing.”

Pushing back her shoulders she raised her chin and pressed her palm to the capsule’s evacuation button. The door slid open with a whistling breath and Kira stepped out, doing her best to keep her balance despite how shaky her legs felt.

She gave Artemis a look that she hoped would tell him to stop talking, before turning her attention to the new women. She was pretty with blonde hair that was pulled back into a tight bun and a broad—although slightly nervous—smile. Thankfully, her stunningly pink eyes—definitely a surgical modification—studied Kira with more curiosity than suspicion.

“I hope you don’t take offense to this, Sergeant Leonid, but you’ve got to be the youngest Chief Master Sergeant I’ve ever met,” the young woman said, tilting her head to one side. “My biometric scanners say you’re about twenty-one years old, correct?”

Biometric scanners? Kira thought, feeling the blood drain from her cheeks. God I hope that isn’t a standard issue program… Although Kira’s heart was threatening to beat right out of her chest, she forced herself to calm down. “That’s correct—“ Her gaze darted down to her uniform stripes for only a moment before flickering back up to meet the woman’s hot pink eyes. “Senior Master Sergeant.”

“Oh my gosh! You must be some sort of prodigy!” she cried with enthusiasm that Kira found inappropriate for a woman of her ranking. “Oh, sorry! I know your names from the teleportation roster, but you probably have no idea who I am. My name’s Penrose Lemta, but most people call me Penny.”

“I think I’ll call you Sergeant Lemta, if you don’t mind,” Kira replied, sounding colder than she’d intended—she was still a bit out of sorts from teleportation. However, she wasn’t going to apologize for her tone. Penrose was her ‘subordinate’, and she would treat her as such to keep up appearances.

Artemis nudged her sharply in the side, flashing Penrose one of his charming smiles. “Don’t mind her, Penny. K’s just a little grouchy from the trip—and I thought she was bad after those teleportation sims we had to go through a couple months ago!” Artemis said, slapping Kira hard on the back.

Kira coughed from the impact and shot him a deadly glare. Penrose laughed, placing her hands on her slender hips. For a woman with such a small and slender frame, Penrose had an ample amount of chest. Artemis eyes flickered from her breasts to her face a few times before seemingly making a conscious effort to keep his line of sight above her shoulders. Kira sighed inwardly. Don’t be dumb, Artemis. A blind man could see those are modified.

Penny chuckled, apparently unfazed by Kira’s chilly demeanor. “Don’t worry, Sergeant Leonid, the first teleportation is always the worst,” she said in an upbeat tone. “Why don’t we take a walk to get your systems recalibrated, hm?”

Artemis grinned. “Sounds good to me. What do ya say, K?”

Kira didn’t really feel like walking just then, but she decided to push through her discomfort. Thus, she nodded. “Yes. I’d like to get acquainted with the ship as soon as possible.”

“Yeah! We’re really interested in that MCTA stuff. Can you takes us there first?” Artemis asked a little too eagerly for Kira’s tastes.

“MCTA is being tested in our engineering division,” Penny explained. “Only level three security clearance personnel with division eight or higher engineering downloads can access the facility. I’m a navigator so I couldn’t escort you two into the engineering department even if I wanted to. If you really want to see what’s going on over there, Sergeant Hartford, you can ask Sergeant Leonid to get you clearance since she’s the only one between the three of us with access to that department.”

Kira clasped her hands behind her back as she had seen Noire do many times before—she had always thought it made him look so authoritative. “Engineering can wait, Sergeant Hartford. We’ve been assigned to the Bengal to work, not to sight-see. I’m certain we’ll have plenty of time to explore after Sergeant Lemta has shown us around.”

“Sure, sure,” Penny said waving to them as she led the way out of the small teleportation chamber. “The officers encourage us to take advantage of all the N.E.S. Bengal has to offer when we have the time. Honestly, it’s pretty relaxed around here unless you’ve got trials on your schedule for the day.”

“Trials?” Artemis asked.

“Yes, trials,” Penny replied, briefly glancing back over her shoulder at them as she led then down a long metallic hallways without windows. The large square tiles beneath their feet lit up as they walked across them. “You were briefed about your roles aboard this ship, weren’t you?”

“Refresh our memories,” Kira said in a monotone.

“All Tora Corp soldiers brought aboard the Bengal are required to participate in the testing of TCEs at least eight hours a week—that’s the mandatory minimum,” Penny said.

Artemis scratched his head. “Uh, I think my mind beans are still scrambled from the trip. What’s a ‘TCE’ again?”

Penrose paused in her tracks and spun around to face them, causing both Kira and Artemis to freeze in place. “Mind beans?”

Kira released a breath she had not known she’d been holding in and chuckled hoping that it didn’t sound too relieved. “Yes. That’s what Sergeant Hartford has instead of a functioning brain. Please forgive his ridiculous euphemisms, Sergeant Lemta.”

“Pfft!” Artemis said, waving his hand in Kira’s direction. “’Mind beans’ is gonna catch on, and when it does you’re gonna be sorry you didn’t hop on the ‘bean train’ sooner. And at least I don’t make up words—what the hell is a ‘u-phone-ism’ anyway? Sounds like old tech.”

Kira stared at him for a long moment. “Any sort of intelligence is wasted on you, isn’t it?”

Penny laughed, tilting her head back towards the domed metal ceiling a few feet above. “You two have known each other for a while, haven’t you?”

Artemis playfully ruffled Kira’s hair. “Heck yeah! Me and K go way back, don’t we, kiddo?”

Kira grabbed his hand and threw it back down to his side. “Regrettably.” Kira straightened up and cleared her throat. “Now, you were about to remind Sergeant Hartford what a TCE is, weren’t you?”

“Oh! Right,” Penny said, wiping the amused smiled from her face. “TCE stands for ‘Tora Corporation Experiment’. So far we’ve got about a thousand experiments and counting locked away in our onboard containment facilities. Class three personnel, like you, are cleared for testing green and yellow division TCEs. Red division TCE testing is reserved for level five personnel only—basically only the highest officers on board have that sort of clearance. Anyone below a level four security clearance isn’t even allowed to enter the red division containment center.”

Not our problem, Kira thought and decided not to ask any more questions on TCEs. Their primary goal was the MCTA which seemed to at least be within her reach. Artemis was charismatic enough to pry some information out of the tighter lipped Tora Corp employees, so she would leave Cain’s little task to him. Kira didn’t care what they were keeping in the red division, though she sensed from the hint of frustration in Penny’s voice that she did care. Again, that wasn’t her or Artemis’s problem.

Kira kept quiet as Artemis casually flirted with Penny until they reached the end of the long hallway. Penny paused in front of a pair of brushed metal doors, still blushing from Artemis’s last compliment. She pressed her hand to the touchscreen on the door and a hollow female voice sounded throughout the hallway. “Access granted, Senior Master Sergeant Penrose Lemta. Clear to scan Tora Corp employee data chips?”

“Clear, Mia,” Penny said cheerfully before turning to face them. “Alright, Sergeants, arms at your sides and face forward, just like in base training.”

Kira and Artemis did as they were instructed, allowing the ship’s A.I. to scan them. It hardly took more than a second before the A.I. spoke again. “Chief Master Sergeant of Tora Militia Artemis Hartford, and Chief Master Sergeant of Tora Militia Kira Leonid cleared for entry. All access to appropriate level three security areas granted.”

“Thanks, Mia,” Penny said as the door slid open for them. “By the way, that was Andromeda—Bengal’s onboard A.I. I call her Mia for short and so do a lot of other employees. She’s the most sophisticated A.I. around. She monitors nearly every part of this ship.”

Nearly?” Kira asked.

“Well, I’m told that the only parts of the ship Mia’s been barred from monitoring are the red division testing facilities—there aren’t any audio or video devices allowed in there,” Penny explained. “Don’t get me wrong, Mia’s still got that area locked down tight with protocol security measures, she just can’t see or hear what’s going on in there.”

So it all comes back to the ‘red division. This woman must really be obsessed, Kira thought as Penny led them into a large central hub area. Like the Tora Corp Transportation center on earth, this room’s ceiling was made of thick, tempered glass. Kira found it truly amazing that it didn’t shatter beneath the extreme pressures of space. The glass allowed them a lovely view of Earth which floated amidst a seat of blackness and distant stars. Although the hub didn’t have many furnishings—there a few uncomfortable-looking metal benches pushed against the wall, a couple of plants protected behind glass enclosures, and a massive laser projection up on the far wall which Reid Zarlok’s scruffy face was taking up. Zarlok winked and gave all of his employees passing through the hub a ‘thumbs-up’, his grin looking too wide for his face.

As in the transportation center on earth, the hub was bustling with people dressed in militia uniforms, lab coats, and expensive, tailored suits made from the finest materials money could buy. Though, as Kira scanned the room, she saw that there were no more data chip scanners of any sort—she supposed Andromeda had all that under control.

Penny led them through the crowd of people to a large counter arena right beneath Zarlok’s ridiculously huge projection. The bored looking solider behind the desk who was tossing a ball of blueish energy up and down, immediately sat up at attention when he caught sight of Penrose. Kira could tell by his stripes—or rather, lack thereof—that Penny was his senior officer, which meant she and Artemis were as well.

With a quick snap of his fingers the ball of blueish energy disappeared and he smiled broadly, his cheeks turning pink. “H-hello, Sergeant Lemta! New soldiers?”

Kira guessed that the boy must have been around her age—maybe a little younger, but not by much. Penny nodded once. “Yep, yep! They’ll be needing their orientation packets.”

“Right,” the solider said, flicking his forefinger and thumb out causing a translucent blue screen appear before him. “Mia, please pull up new recruits identity data.”

“Immediately, Senior Airman Jones,” replied Andromeda’s smooth, womanly voice from somewhere behind the desk.

The translucent blue screen filled with lines of information—which Kira couldn’t read because they were backwards to her—along with both Kira and Artemis’s pictures.

Jones tapped the screen a few times before minimizing it. “Alright Sergeant Hartford, and Sergeant Leonid, you’re orientation files are being downloaded to your data chips right now,” he said with an exuberance that only came from youth.

Kira, on the other hand, was not as excited as Jones. Instead of having that information that was supposed to be downloaded to their data chips immediately at their disposal, she and Artemis would have to study it, and study it well. She would probably have to connect Archimedes to Artemis’s language chip to help him navigate the ship—after all, he was not as competent with studying as she was.

“Alright, are your maps downloaded?” Penny asked, setting her hands on her scant hips. Kira and Artemis exchanged hesitant looks and murmured ‘yes’. “Okay! Let’s start our tour then.”

Kira briefly shut her eyes and released a steadying breath. Thank goodness they were still going to be given a tour. As Penny marched toward the large archway to their left—one of the four large archways leading away from the hub—Kira turned away from Jones and gently nudged Artemis in the side. “Pay attention,” she hissed. “We’re both going to need to know the lay out of this ship.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Artemis said with an airy wave of his hand. He ruffled her hair. “Chill out, will you? I got this.”

Kira grimaced as Artemis’s hand fell from her head back down to his side and he started after Penny. Needless to say, his ‘I got this’, hadn’t exactly inspired confidence. He had said that many times before when he clearly hadn’t ‘got it’. She just hoped for his sake, as well as her own that this time he actually meant what he said.

 

Penny showed them the different sections of the ship, and, as Kira had anticipated, the layout of the N.E.S. Bengal was quite complicated. I guess I will have to program Archimedes to give him directions after all, Kira thought glumly to herself as she glanced over at Artemis who looked utterly confused.

After being shown the cafeteria, mall area, weapon range, training facilities, the mental hospital—which they had been told Tora Corps criminally insane test subjects were held—and beta-testing areas, Penny finally led them to the section of the Bengal that they were most interested in. “And here we are,” Penny said brightly, thrusting her arm toward a pair of reinforced steel doors. “Tora Corp’s famous engineering labs! Behind these doors the greatest inventions the world has ever seen are being developed. This is where you’ll be working, Sergeant Leonid. Aren’t you excited?”

Kira could not stop the slightest of smirks from forming on her lips. “More than you realize, Sergeant Lemta.”

Kira’s stringent gaze fell upon the ominous steel doors set into the sterile white wall before them. This should be a quick job. I’ll get in, grab the MCTA while Artemis snoops around for information on Tora Corp corruption, and then we can leave.

Almost as if reading her thoughts Penny went on to say, “Oh! I should tell you now that the rules are the strictest in the engineering labs. Protocol is followed to a T there. No authorized materials go in no prototypes come out of there without express approval from General Kipling. The anti-gravity shoes are fun, but trust me they’re not worth borrowing for a joy ride—Sergeant Aldan got discharged for just trying to sneak those babies out of the lab.”

“How’d he get caught?” Artemis asked.

“Mia,” Penny replied simply. “She’s got eyes and ears all over this place. Besides that there are scanners all throughout the Bengal that run independently from Andromeda’s programing. Between the scanners and Mia, it’s pretty much impossible to get away with shenanigans here.”

Artemis snorted a laugh. “Shenanigans…”

“It means ‘mischief’, you dolt,” Kira snapped, having to restrain herself slapping him in the stomach. “Stop laughing.”

Penny chuckled. “Well, to be fair, it is a pretty funny word.”

Right?” Artemis said, his eyes lighting up as he and Penny shared a strange ‘idiot moment’.

Kira shifted uncomfortably watching Artemis and Penny smile at one another like they had forgotten she was there. She cleared her throat loudly, jarring them out from their daze. “Shall we continue our tour now, Sergeant Lemta?”

“Yes, of course!” Penny said, her cheeks turning pink as she averted her eyes from Artemis and hurried past them. “Follow me! We’ve still got a lot to see.”

Artemis was just about to prance off after her like a dog that just had been called to a meal when Kira grabbed his arm and tugged him back. “Artemis, I swear to god, if you mess this up I will never forgive you. This is dangerous. Do you understand that?” she whispered harshly.

“Huh? What are you talking about?” Artemis asked, raising a brow.

Kira merely shot him a knowing look in response.

“What? Penny?” Artemis asked, laughing softly, so as not to draw attention. “I’m just being friendly. Cool your jets, K, we’ll be fine. I ain’t gonna mess anything up for us.” He then leaned in closer. “We probably shouldn’t be talking about this here because of, you know … GLaDOS.”

Kira’s face scrunched up. “Who?

“Portal reference?”

Kira shrugged and shook her head. “I don’t know what apertures have to do with this.”

“Seriously? You’ve never heard of Portal and you choose to say aperture?”

“Why is that so strange? It’s synonymous with the word porthole.”

“No! Not porthole, Portal! You know, the video game?”

Kira cast him an apathetic look to which Artemis rolled his eyes. “Okay, never mind that. Just, you know, watch what you say,” he said, discreetly nodding to one of Andromeda’s touch screen command pads. Now she understood. He was worried about the ship’s A.I. overhearing them and for good reason. Kira would have to create some sort of scrambling programming to shield Andromeda from recording their private conversations.

He clapped his hand on Kira’s shoulder. “Look, we’ll talk later. Let’s just finish our tour, yeah?”

Before she even had a chance to reply, Artemis strode forward, following after Penny. Kira clenched her jaw and grudgingly went after him. She would knew she would have to keep a keen eye on him—he got distracted so easily, especially when buxom women were involved.

Penny led them though a large common area and down a long hallway at the end of which were two double doors with the word ‘Dormitories’ glowing upon a glass pane above them.

“Since you two are Chief Master Sergeants you get your own state rooms. I heard they’re really nice—I can’t wait until I get promoted to your levels!” Penny said, flattening her arms down to her sides so she could be scanned.

Artemis and Kira mimicked Penny by pressing their arms flat against their sides as well. The doors beeped and slid open with a breathy squeak that reminded Kira of the sound decontamination chambers make with their release their antibacterial mist. Penny led them through the doors and down another hallway lined with metallic wainscoting. There were doors at regular intervals on either side of them.

“This is generally where the E-1’s stay. They’re bunk rooms that house about four people each. Men’s dorms are on the right and women’s dorms are on the left. After curfew Mia locks all the bunk rooms in this section to prevent any hanky panky, if you know what I mean.”

“I don’t think there are many definitions for ‘hanky panky’, so yes, I know what you mean,” Kira replied monotonously.

Artemis laughed loudly and slapped her hard on the back, the force of which nearly made her stumble forward. “Don’t be such a wet blanket, K! Penny’s just tryin’ to liven up the tour for us.”

“Sergeant Leonid is all business I see! General Kipling is going to love you,” Penny said, winking back at Kira. Her face suddenly brightened up with excitement. “Hey! Maybe you’ll even get to meet Mister Zarlok! Sometimes General Kipling holds banquets for upper division enlisted and Mister Zarlok is usually in attendance. Sometimes Mister Zarlok will promote you right on the spot and then you get transferred to the Tora space station orbiting Neptune. You guys are E-9s so you’re shoo-ins for at least an invite!

Kira made a face. “I thought Tora’s Neptune station was just a myth.”

“So did I until my friend Jodie got promoted and sent there,” Penny said. “She’s been so busy she hasn’t even gotten the chance to write me.”

They continued down the long E-1 hallway, and at the end of the corridor was a glass elevator. They stepped inside and Penny said, “E-7 through E-9 please.”

As soon as she gave the command the elevator moved up so smoothly Kira could only tell they were moving by the floors the rushed past the elevator’s glass walls in a blur of white, gray, and black. When the elevator came to a halt they stepped out into a large, domed chamber with doors lining the concaved wall before them. Directly across the hall from the elevator was a huge archway that led to another hall. There was a fountain in the middle of the room that gushed a glowing bluish substance that was most certainly not water—Kira’s best guess was plasma.

Penny threw out her arms, smiling broadly. “And here we are! Home sweet home! This area is the E-7 and E-8 rooms. We, unfortunately, have to bunk in pairs here.” She motioned to the door directly to their right. “That’s mine and Maria’s room, for future reference,” she said, flashing Artemis a flirty smile.

He grinned and began to move towards her, but Kira grabbed his arm and held him back. Unfortunately she couldn’t stop him from saying, “The A.I. doesn’t lock the doors after curfew up here, does it?”

Penny only giggled in response and motioned with her hand for them to follow her. Penny led them down an archway and to a much smaller domed room with a glass ceiling from which one could view the starry heavens that surrounded them.

“And here is the E-9 chamber. This is you guys,” Penny said. “There are laser plaques on the doors, so just find your name and head inside—I’m sure you guys will want to rest before dinner in an hour or so. I remember when I was first teleported up here, the journey kicked my butt!”

Kira nodded her thanks and excused herself to find her room—she didn’t think Artemis and Penny were too broken up over her sudden desertion. She found her door quickly and wasted no time in entering her chambers. The room was spacious and separated into several sections by frosted glass dividers. There was a small kitchen area at the back of the room with a food tablet and beverage dispenser, a little metal table and two metal chairs. The living room area had a rectangular, uncomfortable looking, white couch and the latest model of laser projectors was on to displaying Reid Zarlok with his big cheesy grin, giving her the ‘thumbs up’. She scowled and said, “Projector off.” The projector shut off on her command and all the remained was a blank, white wall.

The bedroom area was plain with only two nightstands on either side of the bed—that looked about just as comfortable as the couch—a dresser, and an interactive mirror mounted on the wall. Beside the sleeping area was the bathroom which featured a shower, toilet, sink, and mirror—nothing exorbitantly fancy.

However, the very best part of the room was the ceiling. Just like out in the hall the ceiling was made of glass allowing her to see the beautiful cosmos that they were weightlessly floating in. She fell back on the bed and was glad to find that it was far more comfortable that it first appeared. She stared up at the starry sky above her and for a moment she forgot that she was only there to steal some dumb hunk of metal. For a moment she just reveled in the magnificence and serenity of space.

For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli’s Song Against People”

I will let loose against you the fleet-footed vines –
I will call in the Jungle to stamp out your lines !
The roofs shall fade before it,
The house-beams shall fall;
And the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall cover it all !

In the gates of these your councils my people shall sing.
In the doors of these your garners the Bat-folk shall cling;
And the snake shall be your watchman,
By a hearthstone unswept;
For the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall fruit where ye slept !

Ye shall not see my strikers; ye shall hear them and guess.
By night, before the moon-rise, I will send for my cess,
And the wolf shall be your herdsman
By a landmark removed;
For the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall seed where ye loved !

I will reap your fields before you at the hands of a host.
Ye shall glean behind my reapers for the bread that is lost;
And the deer shall be your oxen
On a headland untilled;
For the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall leaf where ye build !

I have untied against you the club-footed vines –
I have sent in the Jungle to swamp out your lines !
The trees – the trees are on you !
The house-beams shall fall;
And the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall cover you all !

 

Man, I’ve been off my game, guys! I’m sorry I’ve missed so many updates. A lot of exciting things have happened with The Prince of Prophecy Vol. III: Changing Tides, and it’s kept me really busy! I’m going to try to stay on top of these posts, but if I get a little behind I’m sorry in advance–right now I’m running my own three-ring circus.

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Lewis Carroll’s “She’s All My Fancy Painted Him”

She’s all my fancy painted him
(I make no idle boast);
If he or you had lost a limb,
Which would have suffered most?

They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.

He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?

I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.

If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.

My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.

Don’t let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.

 

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Hans Christian Andersen’s “A Rose from Homer’s Grave”

ALL the songs of the east speak of the love of the nightingale for the rose in the silent starlight night. The winged songster serenades the fragrant flowers.

Not far from Smyrna, where the merchant drives his loaded camels, proudly arching their long necks as they journey beneath the lofty pines over holy ground, I saw a hedge of roses. The turtle-dove flew among the branches of the tall trees, and as the sunbeams fell upon her wings, they glistened as if they were mother-of-pearl. On the rose-bush grew a flower, more beautiful than them all, and to her the nightingale sung of his woes; but the rose remained silent, not even a dewdrop lay like a tear of sympathy on her leaves. At last she bowed her head over a heap of stones, and said, “Here rests the greatest singer in the world; over his tomb will I spread my fragrance, and on it I will let my leaves fall when the storm scatters them. He who sung of Troy became earth, and from that earth I have sprung. I, a rose from the grave of Homer, am too lofty to bloom for a nightingale.” Then the nightingale sung himself to death. A camel-driver came by, with his loaded camels and his black slaves; his little son found the dead bird, and buried the lovely songster in the grave of the great Homer, while the rose trembled in the wind.

The evening came, and the rose wrapped her leaves more closely round her, and dreamed: and this was her dream.

It was a fair sunshiny day; a crowd of strangers drew near who had undertaken a pilgrimage to the grave of Homer. Among the strangers was a minstrel from the north, the home of the clouds and the brilliant lights of the aurora borealis. He plucked the rose and placed it in a book, and carried it away into a distant part of the world, his fatherland. The rose faded with grief, and lay between the leaves of the book, which he opened in his own home, saying, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

Then the flower awoke from her dream, and trembled in the wind. A drop of dew fell from the leaves upon the singer’s grave. The sun rose, and the flower bloomed more beautiful than ever. The day was hot, and she was still in her own warm Asia. Then footsteps approached, strangers, such as the rose had seen in her dream, came by, and among them was a poet from the north; he plucked the rose, pressed a kiss upon her fresh mouth, and carried her away to the home of the clouds and the northern lights. Like a mummy, the flower now rests in his “Iliad,” and, as in her dream, she hears him say, as he opens the book, “Here is a rose from the grave of Homer.”

 

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Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s “The Hare and the Hedgehog”

This story, my dear young folks, seems to be false, but it really is true, for my grandfather, from whom I have it, used always, when relating it, to say, it must be true, my son, or else no one could tell it to you. The story is as follows.

One sunday morning about harvest time, just as the buckwheat was in bloom, the sun was shining brightly in heaven, the east wind was blowing warmly over the stubble-fields, the larks were singing in the air, the bees buzzing among the buckwheat, the people in their sunday clothes were all going to church, and all creatures were happy, and the hedgehog was happy too. The hedgehog, however, was standing by his door with his arms akimbo, enjoying the morning breezes, and slowly trilling a little song to himself, which was neither better nor worse than the songs which hedgehogs are in the habit of singing on a blessed sunday morning.

Whilst he was thus singing half aloud to himself, it suddenly occurred to him that, while his wife was washing and drying the children, he might very well take a walk into the field, and see how his turnips were getting on. The turnips, in fact, were close beside his house, and he and his family were accustomed to eat them, for which reason he looked upon them as his own.

No sooner said than done. The hedgehog shut the house-door behind him, and took the path to the field. He had not gone very far from home, and was just turning round the sloe-bush which stands there outside the field, to go up into the turnip-field, when he observed the hare who had gone out on business of the same kind, namely, to visit his cabbages. When the hedgehog caught sight of the hare, he bade him a friendly good morning. But the hare, who was in his own way a distinguished gentleman, and frightfully haughty, did not return the hedgehog’s greeting, but said to him, assuming at the same time a very contemptuous manner, how do you happen to be running about here in the field so early in the morning.

I am taking a walk, said the hedgehog.

A walk, said the hare, with a smile. It seems to me that you might use your legs for a better purpose.

This answer made the hedgehog furiously angry, for he can bear anything but a reference too his legs, just because they are crooked by nature. So now the hedgehog said to the hare, you seem to imagine that you can do more with your legs than I with mine.

That is just what I do think, said the hare.

That can be put to the test, said the hedgehog. I wager that if we run a race, I will outstrip you.

That is ridiculous. You with your short legs, said the hare, but for my part I am willing, if you have such a monstrous fancy for it.

What shall we wager. A golden louis-d’or and a bottle of brandy, said the hedgehog.

Done, said the hare. Shake hands on it, and then we may as well begin at once.

Nay, said the hedgehog, there is no such great hurry. I am still fasting, I will go home first, and have a little breakfast. In half-an-hour I will be back again at this place. Hereupon the hedgehog departed, for the hare was quite satisfied with this.

On his way the hedgehog thought to himself, the hare relies on his long legs, but I will contrive to get the better of him. He may be a great man, but he is a very silly fellow, and he shall pay for what he has said. So when the hedgehog reached home, he said to his wife, wife, dress yourself quickly, you must go out to the field with me.

What is going on, then, said his wife.

I have made a wager with the hare, for a gold louis-d’or and a bottle of brandy. I am to run a race with him, and you must be present.

Good heavens, husband, the wife now cried, are you not right in your mind, have you completely lost your wits. What can make you want to run a race with the hare.

Hold your tongue, woman, said the hedgehog, that is my affair. Don’t begin to discuss things which are matters for men. Be off, dress yourself, and come with me.

What could the hedgehog’s wife do. She was forced to obey him, whether she liked it or not. So when they had set out on their way together, the hedgehog said to his wife, now pay attention to what I am going to say. Look you, I will make the long field our race-course. The hare shall run in one furrow, and when the hare arrives at the end of the furrow on the other side of you, you must cry out to him, I am here already. Then they reached the field, and the hedgehog showed his wife her place, and then walked up the field. When he reached the top, the hare was already there.

Shall we start, said the hare.

Certainly, said the hedgehog.

Then both at once. So saying, each placed himself in his own furrow. The hare counted, once, twice, thrice, and away, and went off like a whirlwind down the field. The hedgehog, however, only ran about three paces, and then he crouched down in the furrow, and stayed quietly where he was. When the hare therefore arrived at full speed at the lower end of the field, the hedgehog’s wife met him with the cry, I am here already. The hare was shocked and wondered not a little, he thought no other than that it was the hedgehog himself who was calling to him, for the hedgehog’s wife looked just like her husband. The hare, however, thought to himself, that has not been done fairly, and cried, it must be run again, let us have it again. And once more he went off like the wind in a storm, so that he seemed to fly. But the hedgehog’s wife stayed quietly in her place. So when the hare reached the top of the field, the hedgehog himself cried out to him, I am here already. The hare, however, quite beside himself with anger, cried, it must be run again, we must have it again.

All right, answered the hedgehog, for my part we’ll run as often as you choose.

So the hare ran seventy-three times more, and the hedgehog always held out against him, and every time the hare reached either the top or the bottom, either the hedgehog or his wife said, I am here already. At the seventy-fourth time, however, the hare could no longer reach the end. In the middle of the field he fell to the ground, blood streamed out of his mouth, and he lay dead on the spot. But the hedgehog took the louis-d’or which he had won and the bottle of brandy, called his wife out of the furrow, and both went home together in great delight, and if they are not dead, they are living there still.

This is how it happened that the hedgehog made the hare run races with him on the heath of buxtehude – buxtehude is a village near hamburg – till he died, and since that time no hare has ever had any fancy for running races with a buxtehude hedgehog.

The moral of this story is, firstly, that no one, however great he may be, should permit himself to jest at any one beneath him, even if he be only a hedgehog. And, secondly, it teaches, that when a man marries, he should take a wife in his own position, who looks just as he himself looks. So whosoever is a hedgehog let him see to it that his wife is a hedgehog also, and so forth.

 

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Rudyard Kipling’s “Letting in the Jungle”

Veil them, cover them, wall them round —

Blossom, and creeper, and weed —

Let us forget the sight and the sound,

The smell and the touch of the breed!

Fat black ash by the altar-stone,

Here is the white-foot rain,

And the does bring forth in the fields unsown,

And none shall affright them again;

And the blind walls crumble, unknown, o’erthrown

And none shall inhabit again!

You will remember that after Mowgli had pinned Shere Khan’s hide to the Council Rock, he told as many as were left of the Seeonee Pack that henceforward he would hunt in the Jungle alone; and the four children of Mother and Father Wolf said that they would hunt with him. But it is not easy to change one’s life all in a minute — particularly in the Jungle. The first thing Mowgli did, when the disorderly Pack had slunk off, was to go to the home-cave, and sleep for a day and a night. Then he told Mother Wolf and Father Wolf as much as they could understand of his adventures among men; and when he made the morning sun flicker up and down the blade of his skinning-knife — the same he had skinned Shere Khan with — they said he had learned something. Then Akela and Gray Brother had to explain their share of the great buffalo-drive in the ravine, and Baloo toiled up the hill to hear all about it, and Bagheera scratched himself all over with pure delight at the way in which Mowgli had managed his war.

It was long after sunrise, but no one dreamed of going to sleep, and from time to time, during the talk, Mother Wolf would throw up her head, and sniff a deep snuff of satisfaction as the wind brought her the smell of the tiger-skin on the Council Rock.

“But for Akela and Gray Brother here,” Mowgli said, at the end, “I could have done nothing. Oh, mother, mother! if thou hadst seen the black herd-bulls pour down the ravine, or hurry through the gates when the Man–Pack flung stones at me!”

“I am glad I did not see that last,” said Mother Wolf stiffly. “It is not MY custom to suffer my cubs to be driven to and fro like jackals. I would have taken a price from the Man–Pack; but I would have spared the woman who gave thee the milk. Yes, I would have spared her alone.”

“Peace, peace, Raksha!” said Father Wolf, lazily. “Our Frog has come back again — so wise that his own father must lick his feet; and what is a cut, more or less, on the head? Leave Men alone.” Baloo and Bagheera both echoed: “Leave Men alone.”

Mowgli, his head on Mother Wolf’s side, smiled contentedly, and said that, for his own part, he never wished to see, or hear, or smell Man again.

“But what,” said Akela, cocking one ear —“but what if men do not leave thee alone, Little Brother?”

“We be FIVE,” said Gray Brother, looking round at the company, and snapping his jaws on the last word.

“We also might attend to that hunting,” said Bagheera, with a little switch-switch of his tail, looking at Baloo. “But why think of men now, Akela?”

“For this reason,” the Lone Wolf answered: “when that yellow chief’s hide was hung up on the rock, I went back along our trail to the village, stepping in my tracks, turning aside, and lying down, to make a mixed trail in case one should follow us. But when I had fouled the trail so that I myself hardly knew it again, Mang, the Bat, came hawking between the trees, and hung up above me.” Said Mang, “The village of the Man–Pack, where they cast out the Man-cub, hums like a hornet’s nest.”

“It was a big stone that I threw,” chuckled Mowgli, who had often amused himself by throwing ripe paw-paws into a hornet’s nest, and racing off to the nearest pool before the hornets caught him.

“I asked of Mang what he had seen. He said that the Red Flower blossomed at the gate of the village, and men sat about it carrying guns. Now I know, for I have good cause,”— Akela looked down at the old dry scars on his flank and side — “that men do not carry guns for pleasure. Presently, Little Brother, a man with a gun follows our trail — if, indeed, he be not already on it.”

“But why should he? Men have cast me out. What more do they need?” said Mowgli angrily.

“Thou art a man, Little Brother,” Akela returned. “It is not for US, the Free Hunters, to tell thee what thy brethren do, or why.”

He had just time to snatch up his paw as the skinning-knife cut deep into the ground below. Mowgli struck quicker than an average human eye could follow but Akela was a wolf; and even a dog, who is very far removed from the wild wolf, his ancestor, can be waked out of deep sleep by a cart-wheel touching his flank, and can spring away unharmed before that wheel comes on.

“Another time,” Mowgli said quietly, returning the knife to its sheath, “speak of the Man–Pack and of Mowgli in TWO breaths — not one.”

“Phff! That is a sharp tooth,” said Akela, snuffing at the blade’s cut in the earth, “but living with the Man–Pack has spoiled thine eye, Little Brother. I could have killed a buck while thou wast striking.”

Bagheera sprang to his feet, thrust up his head as far as he could, sniffed, and stiffened through every curve in his body. Gray Brother followed his example quickly, keeping a little to his left to get the wind that was blowing from the right, while Akela bounded fifty yards up wind, and, half-crouching, stiffened too. Mowgli looked on enviously. He could smell things as very few human beings could, but he had never reached the hair-trigger-like sensitiveness of a Jungle nose; and his three months in the smoky village had set him back sadly. However, he dampened his finger, rubbed it on his nose, and stood erect to catch the upper scent, which, though it is the faintest, is the truest.

“Man!” Akela growled, dropping on his haunches.

“Buldeo!” said Mowgli, sitting down. “He follows our trail, and yonder is the sunlight on his gun. Look!”

It was no more than a splash of sunlight, for a fraction of a second, on the brass clamps of the old Tower musket, but nothing in the Jungle winks with just that flash, except when the clouds race over the sky. Then a piece of mica, or a little pool, or even a highly-polished leaf will flash like a heliograph. But that day was cloudless and still.

“I knew men would follow,” said Akela triumphantly. “Not for nothing have I led the Pack.”

The four cubs said nothing, but ran down hill on their bellies, melting into the thorn and under-brush as a mole melts into a lawn.

“Where go ye, and without word?” Mowgli called.

“H’sh! We roll his skull here before mid-day!” Gray Brother answered.

“Back! Back and wait! Man does not eat Man!” Mowgli shrieked.

“Who was a wolf but now? Who drove the knife at me for thinking he might be Man?” said Akela, as the four wolves turned back sullenly and dropped to heel.

“Am I to give reason for all I choose to, do?” said Mowgli furiously.

“That is Man! There speaks Man!” Bagheera muttered under his whiskers. “Even so did men talk round the King’s cages at Oodeypore. We of the Jungle know that Man is wisest of all. If we trusted our ears we should know that of all things he is most foolish.” Raising his voice, he added, “The Man-cub is right in this. Men hunt in packs. To kill one, unless we know what the others will do, is bad hunting. Come, let us see what this Man means toward us.”

“We will not come,” Gray Brother growled. “Hunt alone, Little Brother. WE know our own minds. The skull would have been ready to bring by now.”

Mowgli had been looking from one to the other of his friends, his chest heaving and his eyes full of tears. He strode forward to the wolves, and, dropping on one knee, said: “Do I not know my mind? Look at me!”

They looked uneasily, and when their eyes wandered, he called them back again and again, till their hair stood up all over their bodies, and they trembled in every limb, while Mowgli stared and stared.

“Now,” said he, “of us five, which is leader?”

“Thou art leader, Little Brother,” said Gray Brother, and he licked Mowgli’s foot.

“Follow, then,” said Mowgli, and the four followed at his heels with their tails between their legs.

“This comes of living with the Man–Pack,” said Bagheera, slipping down after them. “There is more in the Jungle now than Jungle Law, Baloo.”

The old bear said nothing, but he thought many things.

Mowgli cut across noiselessly through the Jungle, at right angles to Buldeo’s path, till, parting the undergrowth, he saw the old man, his musket on his shoulder, running up the trail of overnight at a dog-trot.

You will remember that Mowgli had left the village with the heavy weight of Shere Khan’s raw hide on his shoulders, while Akela and Gray Brother trotted behind, so that the triple trail was very clearly marked. Presently Buldeo came to where Akela, as you know, had gone back and mixed it all up. Then he sat down, and coughed and grunted, and made little casts round and about into the Jungle to pick it up again, and, all the time he could have thrown a stone over those who were watching him. No one can be so silent as a wolf when he does not care to be heard; and Mowgli, though the wolves thought he moved very clumsily, could come and go like a shadow. They ringed the old man as a school of porpoises ring a steamer at full speed, and as they ringed him they talked unconcernedly, for their speech began below the lowest end of the scale that untrained human beings can hear. [The other end is bounded by the high squeak of Mang, the Bat, which very many people cannot catch at all. From that note all the bird and bat and insect talk takes on.]

“This is better than any kill,” said Gray Brother, as Buldeo stooped and peered and puffed. “He looks like a lost pig in the Jungles by the river. What does he say?” Buldeo was muttering savagely.

Mowgli translated. “He says that packs of wolves must have danced round me. He says that he never saw such a trail in his life. He says he is tired.”

“He will be rested before he picks it up again,” said Bagheera coolly, as he slipped round a tree-trunk, in the game of blindman’s-buff that they were playing. “NOW, what does the lean thing do?”

“Eat or blow smoke out of his mouth. Men always play with their mouths,” said Mowgli; and the silent trailers saw the old man fill and light and puff at a water-pipe, and they took good note of the smell of the tobacco, so as to be sure of Buldeo in the darkest night, if necessary.

Then a little knot of charcoal-burners came down the path, and naturally halted to speak to Buldeo, whose fame as a hunter reached for at least twenty miles round. They all sat down and smoked, and Bagheera and the others came up and watched while Buldeo began to tell the story of Mowgli, the Devil-child, from one end to another, with additions and inventions. How he himself had really killed Shere Khan; and how Mowgli had turned himself into a wolf, and fought with him all the afternoon, and changed into a boy again and bewitched Buldeo’s rifle, so that the bullet turned the corner, when he pointed it at Mowgli, and killed one of Buldeo’s own buffaloes; and how the village, knowing him to be the bravest hunter in Seeonee, had sent him out to kill this Devil-child. But meantime the village had got hold of Messua and her husband, who were undoubtedly the father and mother of this Devil-child, and had barricaded them in their own hut, and presently would torture them to make them confess they were witch and wizard, and then they would be burned to death.

“When?” said the charcoal-burners, because they would very much like to be present at the ceremony.

Buldeo said that nothing would be done till he returned, because the village wished him to kill the Jungle Boy first. After that they would dispose of Messua and her husband, and divide their lands and buffaloes among the village. Messua’s husband had some remarkably fine buffaloes, too. It was an excellent thing to destroy wizards, Buldeo thought; and people who entertained Wolf-children out of the Jungle were clearly the worst kind of witches.

But, said the charcoal-burners, what would happen if the English heard of it? The English, they had heard, were a perfectly mad people, who would not let honest farmers kill witches in peace.

Why, said Buldeo, the head-man of the village would report that Messua and her husband had died of snake-bite. THAT was all arranged, and the only thing now was to kill the Wolf-child. They did not happen to have seen anything of such a creature?

The charcoal-burners looked round cautiously, and thanked their stars they had not; but they had no doubt that so brave a man as Buldeo would find him if any one could. The sun was getting rather low, and they had an idea that they would push on to Buldeo’s village and see that wicked witch. Buldeo said that, though it was his duty to kill the Devil-child, he could not think of letting a party of unarmed men go through the Jungle, which might produce the Wolf-demon at any minute, without his escort. He, therefore, would accompany them, and if the sorcerer’s child appeared — well, he would show them how the best hunter in Seeonee dealt with such things. The Brahmin, he said, had given him a charm against the creature that made everything perfectly safe.

“What says he? What says he? What says he?” the wolves repeated every few minutes; and Mowgli translated until he came to the witch part of the story, which was a little beyond him, and then he said that the man and woman who had been so kind to him were trapped.

“Does Man trap Man?” said Bagheera.

“So he says. I cannot understand the talk. They are all mad together. What have Messua and her man to do with me that they should be put in a trap; and what is all this talk about the Red Flower? I must look to this. Whatever they would do to Messua they will not do till Buldeo returns. And so ——” Mowgli thought hard, with his fingers playing round the haft of the skinning-knife, while Buldeo and the charcoal-burners went off very valiantly in single file.

“I go hot-foot back to the Man–Pack,” Mowgli said at last.

“And those?” said Gray Brother, looking hungrily after the brown backs of the charcoal-burners.

“Sing them home,” said Mowgli, with a grin; “I do not wish them to be at the village gates till it is dark. Can ye hold them?”

Gray Brother bared his white teeth in contempt. “We can head them round and round in circles like tethered goats — if I know Man.”

“That I do not need. Sing to them a little, lest they be lonely on the road, and, Gray Brother, the song need not be of the sweetest. Go with them, Bagheera, and help make that song. When night is shut down, meet me by the village — Gray Brother knows the place.”

“It is no light hunting to work for a Man-cub. When shall I sleep?” said Bagheera, yawning, though his eyes showed that he was delighted with the amusement. “Me to sing to naked men! But let us try.”

He lowered his head so that the sound would travel, and cried a long, long, “Good hunting”— a midnight call in the afternoon, which was quite awful enough to begin with. Mowgli heard it rumble, and rise, and fall, and die off in a creepy sort of whine behind him, and laughed to himself as he ran through the Jungle. He could see the charcoal-burners huddled in a knot; old Buldeo’s gun-barrel waving, like a banana-leaf, to every point of the compass at once. Then Gray Brother gave the Ya-la-hi! Yalaha! call for the buck-driving, when the Pack drives the nilghai, the big blue cow, before them, and it seemed to come from the very ends of the earth, nearer, and nearer, and nearer, till it ended in a shriek snapped off short. The other three answered, till even Mowgli could have vowed that the full Pack was in full cry, and then they all broke into the magnificent Morning-song in the Jungle, with every turn, and flourish, and grace-note that a deep-mouthed wolf of the Pack knows. This is a rough rendering of the song, but you must imagine what it sounds like when it breaks the afternoon hush of the Jungle:—

 

One moment past our bodies cast

No shadow on the plain;

Now clear and black they stride our track,

And we run home again.

In morning hush, each rock and bush

Stands hard, and high, and raw:

Then give the Call: “Good rest to all

That keep The Jungle Law!”

Now horn and pelt our peoples melt

In covert to abide;

Now, crouched and still, to cave and hill

Our Jungle Barons glide.

Now, stark and plain, Man’s oxen strain,

That draw the new-yoked plough;

Now, stripped and dread, the dawn is red

Above the lit talao.

Ho! Get to lair! The sun’s aflare

Behind the breathing grass:

And cracking through the young bamboo

The warning whispers pass.

By day made strange, the woods we range

With blinking eyes we scan;

While down the skies the wild duck cries

“The Day — the Day to Man!”

The dew is dried that drenched our hide

Or washed about our way;

And where we drank, the puddled bank

Is crisping into clay.

The traitor Dark gives up each mark

Of stretched or hooded claw;

Then hear the Call: “Good rest to all

That keep the Jungle Law!”

 

But no translation can give the effect of it, or the yelping scorn the Four threw into every word of it, as they heard the trees crash when the men hastily climbed up into the branches, and Buldeo began repeating incantations and charms. Then they lay down and slept, for, like all who live by their own exertions, they were of a methodical cast of mind; and no one can work well without sleep.

Meantime, Mowgli was putting the miles behind him, nine to the hour, swinging on, delighted to find himself so fit after all his cramped months among men. The one idea in his head was to get Messua and her husband out of the trap, whatever it was; for he had a natural mistrust of traps. Later on, he promised himself, he would pay his debts to the village at large.

It was at twilight when he saw the well-remembered grazing-grounds, and the dhak-tree where Gray Brother had waited for him on the morning that he killed Shere Khan. Angry as he was at the whole breed and community of Man, something jumped up in his throat and made him catch his breath when he looked at the village roofs. He noticed that every one had come in from the fields unusually early, and that, instead of getting to their evening cooking, they gathered in a crowd under the village tree, and chattered, and shouted.

“Men must always be making traps for men, or they are not content,” said Mowgli. “Last night it was Mowgli — but that night seems many Rains ago. To-night it is Messua and her man. To-morrow, and for very many nights after, it will be Mowgli’s turn again.”

He crept along outside the wall till he came to Messua’s hut, and looked through the window into the room. There lay Messua, gagged, and bound hand and foot, breathing hard, and groaning: her husband was tied to the gaily-painted bedstead. The door of the hut that opened into the street was shut fast, and three or four people were sitting with their backs to it.

Mowgli knew the manners and customs of the villagers very fairly. He argued that so long as they could eat, and talk, and smoke, they would not do anything else; but as soon as they had fed they would begin to be dangerous. Buldeo would be coming in before long, and if his escort had done its duty, Buldeo would have a very interesting tale to tell. So he went in through the window, and, stooping over the man and the woman, cut their thongs, pulling out the gags, and looked round the hut for some milk.

Messua was half wild with pain and fear (she had been beaten and stoned all the morning), and Mowgli put his hand over her mouth just in time to stop a scream. Her husband was only bewildered and angry, and sat picking dust and things out of his torn beard.

“I knew — I knew he would come,” Messua sobbed at last. “Now do I KNOW that he is my son!” and she hugged Mowgli to her heart. Up to that time Mowgli had been perfectly steady, but now he began to tremble all over, and that surprised him immensely.

“Why are these thongs? Why have they tied thee?” he asked, after a pause.

“To be put to the death for making a son of thee — what else?” said the man sullenly. “Look! I bleed.”

Messua said nothing, but it was at her wounds that Mowgli looked, and they heard him grit his teeth when he saw the blood.

“Whose work is this?” said he. “There is a price to pay.”

“The work of all the village. I was too rich. I had too many cattle. THEREFORE she and I are witches, because we gave thee shelter.”

“I do not understand. Let Messua tell the tale.”

“I gave thee milk, Nathoo; dost thou remember?” Messua said timidly. “Because thou wast my son, whom the tiger took, and because I loved thee very dearly. They said that I was thy mother, the mother of a devil, and therefore worthy of death.”

“And what is a devil?” said Mowgli. “Death I have seen.”

The man looked up gloomily, but Messua laughed. “See!” she said to her husband, “I knew — I said that he was no sorcerer. He is my son — my son!”

“Son or sorcerer, what good will that do us?” the man answered. “We be as dead already.”

“Yonder is the road to the Jungle”— Mowgli pointed through the window. “Your hands and feet are free. Go now.”

“We do not know the Jungle, my son, as — as thou knowest,” Messua began. “I do not think that I could walk far.”

“And the men and women would be upon our backs and drag us here again,” said the husband.

“H’m!” said Mowgli, and he tickled the palm of his hand with the tip of his skinning-knife; “I have no wish to do harm to any one of this village — YET. But I do not think they will stay thee. In a little while they will have much else to think upon. Ah!” he lifted his head and listened to shouting and trampling outside. “So they have let Buldeo come home at last?”

“He was sent out this morning to kill thee,” Messua cried. “Didst thou meet him?”

“Yes — we — I met him. He has a tale to tell and while he is telling it there is time to do much. But first I will learn what they mean. Think where ye would go, and tell me when I come back.”

He bounded through the window and ran along again outside the wall of the village till he came within ear-shot of the crowd round the peepul-tree. Buldeo was lying on the ground, coughing and groaning, and every one was asking him questions. His hair had fallen about his shoulders; his hands and legs were skinned from climbing up trees, and he could hardly speak, but he felt the importance of his position keenly. From time to time he said something about devils and singing devils, and magic enchantment, just to give the crowd a taste of what was coming. Then he called for water.

“Bah!” said Mowgli. “Chatter — chatter! Talk, talk! Men are blood-brothers of the Bandar-log. Now he must wash his mouth with water; now he must blow smoke; and when all that is done he has still his story to tell. They are very wise people — men. They will leave no one to guard Messua till their ears are stuffed with Buldeo’s tales. And — I grow as lazy as they!”

He shook himself and glided back to the hut. Just as he was at the window he felt a touch on his foot.

“Mother,” said he, for he knew that tongue well, “what dost THOU here?”

“I heard my children singing through the woods, and I followed the one I loved best. Little Frog, I have a desire to see that woman who gave thee milk,” said Mother Wolf, all wet with the dew.

“They have bound and mean to kill her. I have cut those ties, and she goes with her man through the Jungle.”

“I also will follow. I am old, but not yet toothless.” Mother Wolf reared herself up on end, and looked through the window into the dark of the hut.

In a minute she dropped noiselessly, and all she said was: “I gave thee thy first milk; but Bagheera speaks truth: Man goes to Man at the last.”

“Maybe,” said Mowgli, with a very unpleasant look on his face; “but to-night I am very far from that trail. Wait here, but do not let her see.”

“THOU wast never afraid of ME, Little Frog,” said Mother Wolf, backing into the high grass, and blotting herself out, as she knew how.

“And now,” said Mowgli cheerfully, as he swung into the hut again, “they are all sitting round Buldeo, who is saying that which did not happen. When his talk is finished, they say they will assuredly come here with the Red — with fire and burn you both. And then?”

“I have spoken to my man,” said Messua. “Khanhiwara is thirty miles from here, but at Khanhiwara we may find the English —”

“And what Pack are they?” said Mowgli.

“I do not know. They be white, and it is said that they govern all the land, and do not suffer people to burn or beat each other without witnesses. If we can get thither to-night, we live. Otherwise we die.”

“Live, then. No man passes the gates to-night. But what does HE do?” Messua’s husband was on his hands and knees digging up the earth in one corner of the hut.

“It is his little money,” said Messua. “We can take nothing else.”

“Ah, yes. The stuff that passes from hand to hand and never grows warmer. Do they need it outside this place also?” said Mowgli.

The man stared angrily. “He is a fool, and no devil,” he muttered. “With the money I can buy a horse. We are too bruised to walk far, and the village will follow us in an hour.”

“I say they will NOT follow till I choose; but a horse is well thought of, for Messua is tired.” Her husband stood up and knotted the last of the rupees into his waist-cloth. Mowgli helped Messua through the window, and the cool night air revived her, but the Jungle in the starlight looked very dark and terrible.

“Ye know the trail to Khanhiwara?” Mowgli whispered.

They nodded.

“Good. Remember, now, not to be afraid. And there is no need to go quickly. Only — only there may be some small singing in the Jungle behind you and before.”

“Think you we would have risked a night in the Jungle through anything less than the fear of burning? It is better to be killed by beasts than by men,” said Messua’s husband; but Messua looked at Mowgli and smiled.

“I say,” Mowgli went on, just as though he were Baloo repeating an old Jungle Law for the hundredth time to a foolish cub —“I say that not a tooth in the Jungle is bared against you; not a foot in the Jungle is lifted against you. Neither man nor beast shall stay you till you come within eye-shot of Khanhiwara. There will be a watch about you.” He turned quickly to Messua, saying, “HE does not believe, but thou wilt believe?”

“Ay, surely, my son. Man, ghost, or wolf of the Jungle, I believe.”

“HE will be afraid when he hears my people singing. Thou wilt know and understand. Go now, and slowly, for there is no need of any haste. The gates are shut.”

Messua flung herself sobbing at Mowgli’s feet, but he lifted her very quickly with a shiver. Then she hung about his neck and called him every name of blessing she could think of, but her husband looked enviously across his fields, and said: “IF we reach Khanhiwara, and I get the ear of the English, I will bring such a lawsuit against the Brahmin and old Buldeo and the others as shall eat the village to the bone. They shall pay me twice over for my crops untilled and my buffaloes unfed. I will have a great justice.”

Mowgli laughed. “I do not know what justice is, but — come next Rains. and see what is left.”

They went off toward the Jungle, and Mother Wolf leaped from her place of hiding.

“Follow!” said Mowgli; “and look to it that all the Jungle knows these two are safe. Give tongue a little. I would call Bagheera.”

The long, low howl rose and fell, and Mowgli saw Messua’s husband flinch and turn, half minded to run back to the hut.

“Go on,” Mowgli called cheerfully. “I said there might be singing. That call will follow up to Khanhiwara. It is Favour of the Jungle.”

Messua urged her husband forward, and the darkness shut down on them and Mother Wolf as Bagheera rose up almost under Mowgli’s feet, trembling with delight of the night that drives the Jungle People wild.

“I am ashamed of thy brethren,” he said, purring. “What? Did they not sing sweetly to Buldeo?” said Mowgli.

“Too well! Too well! They made even ME forget my pride, and, by the Broken Lock that freed me, I went singing through the Jungle as though I were out wooing in the spring! Didst thou not hear us?”

“I had other game afoot. Ask Buldeo if he liked the song. But where are the Four? I do not wish one of the Man–Pack to leave the gates to-night.”

“What need of the Four, then?” said Bagheera, shifting from foot to foot, his eyes ablaze, and purring louder than ever. “I can hold them, Little Brother. Is it killing at last? The singing and the sight of the men climbing up the trees have made me very ready. Who is Man that we should care for him — the naked brown digger, the hairless and toothless, the eater of earth? I have followed him all day — at noon — in the white sunlight. I herded him as the wolves herd buck. I am Bagheera! Bagheera! Bagheera! As I dance with my shadow, so danced I with those men. Look!” The great panther leaped as a kitten leaps at a dead leaf whirling overhead, struck left and right into the empty air, that sang under the strokes, landed noiselessly, and leaped again and again, while the half purr, half growl gathered head as steam rumbles in a boiler. “I am Bagheera — in the jungle — in the night, and my strength is in me. Who shall stay my stroke? Man-cub, with one blow of my paw I could beat thy head flat as a dead frog in the summer!”

“Strike, then!” said Mowgli, in the dialect of the village, NOT the talk of the Jungle, and the human words brought Bagheera to a full stop, flung back on haunches that quivered under him, his head just at the level of Mowgli’s. Once more Mowgli stared, as he had stared at the rebellious cubs, full into the beryl-green eyes till the red glare behind their green went out like the light of a lighthouse shut off twenty miles across the sea; till the eyes dropped, and the big head with them — dropped lower and lower, and the red rasp of a tongue grated on Mowgli’s instep.

“Brother — Brother — Brother!” the boy whispered, stroking steadily and lightly from the neck along the heaving back. “Be still, be still! It is the fault of the night, and no fault of thine.”

“It was the smells of the night,” said Bagheera penitently. “This air cries aloud to me. But how dost THOU know?”

Of course the air round an Indian village is full of all kinds of smells, and to any creature who does nearly all his thinking through his nose, smells are as maddening as music and drugs are to human beings. Mowgli gentled the panther for a few minutes longer, and he lay down like a cat before a fire, his paws tucked under his breast, and his eyes half shut.

“Thou art of the Jungle and NOT of the Jungle,” he said at last. “And I am only a black panther. But I love thee, Little Brother.”

“They are very long at their talk under the tree,” Mowgli said, without noticing the last sentence. “Buldeo must have told many tales. They should come soon to drag the woman and her man out of the trap and put them into the Red Flower. They will find that trap sprung. Ho! ho!”

“Nay, listen,” said Bagheera. “The fever is out of my blood now. Let them find ME there! Few would leave their houses after meeting me. It is not the first time I have been in a cage; and I do not think they will tie ME with cords.”

“Be wise, then,” said Mowgli, laughing; for he was beginning to feel as reckless as the panther, who had glided into the hut.

“Pah!” Bagheera grunted. “This place is rank with Man, but here is just such a bed as they gave me to lie upon in the King’s cages at Oodeypore. Now I lie down.” Mowgli heard the strings of the cot crack under the great brute’s weight. “By the Broken Lock that freed me, they will think they have caught big game! Come and sit beside me, Little Brother; we will give them ‘good hunting’ together!”

“No; I have another thought in my stomach. The Man–Pack shall not know what share I have in the sport. Make thine own hunt. I do not wish to see them.”

“Be it so,” said Bagheera. “Ah, now they come!”

The conference under the peepul-tree had been growing noisier and noisier, at the far end of the village. It broke in wild yells, and a rush up the street of men and women, waving clubs and bamboos and sickles and knives. Buldeo and the Brahmin were at the head of it, but the mob was close at their heels, and they cried, “The witch and the wizard! Let us see if hot coins will make them confess! Burn the hut over their heads! We will teach them to shelter wolf-devils! Nay, beat them first! Torches! More torches! Buldeo, heat the gun-barrels!”

Here was some little difficulty with the catch of the door. It had been very firmly fastened, but the crowd tore it away bodily, and the light of the torches streamed into the room where, stretched at full length on the bed, his paws crossed and lightly hung down over one end, black as the Pit, and terrible as a demon, was Bagheera. There was one half-minute of desperate silence, as the front ranks of the crowd clawed and tore their way back from the threshold, and in that minute Bagheera raised his head and yawned — elaborately, carefully, and ostentatiously — as he would yawn when he wished to insult an equal. The fringed lips drew back and up; the red tongue curled; the lower jaw dropped and dropped till you could see half-way down the hot gullet; and the gigantic dog-teeth stood clear to the pit of the gums till they rang together, upper and under, with the snick of steel-faced wards shooting home round the edges of a safe. Next instant the street was empty; Bagheera had leaped back through the window, and stood at Mowgli’s side, while a yelling, screaming torrent scrambled and tumbled one over another in their panic haste to get to their own huts.

“They will not stir till day comes,” said Bagheera quietly. “And now?”

The silence of the afternoon sleep seemed to have overtaken the village; but, as they listened, they could hear the sound of heavy grain-boxes being dragged over earthen floors and set down against doors. Bagheera was quite right; the village would not stir till daylight. Mowgli sat still, and thought, and his face grew darker and darker.

“What have I done?” said Bagheera, at last coming to his feet, fawning.

“Nothing but great good. Watch them now till the day. I sleep.” Mowgli ran off into the Jungle, and dropped like a dead man across a rock, and slept and slept the day round, and the night back again.

When he waked, Bagheera was at his side, and there was a newly-killed buck at his feet. Bagheera watched curiously while Mowgli went to work with his skinning-knife, ate and drank, and turned over with his chin in his hands.

“The man and the woman are come safe within eye-shot of Khanhiwara,” Bagheera said. “Thy lair mother sent the word back by Chil, the Kite. They found a horse before midnight of the night they were freed, and went very quickly. Is not that well?”

“That is well,” said Mowgli.

“And thy Man–Pack in the village did not stir till the sun was high this morning. Then they ate their food and ran back quickly to their houses.”

“Did they, by chance, see thee?”

“It may have been. I was rolling in the dust before the gate at dawn, and I may have made also some small song to myself. Now, Little Brother, there is nothing more to do. Come hunting with me and Baloo. He has new hives that he wishes to show, and we all desire thee back again as of old. Take off that look which makes even me afraid! The man and woman will not be put into the Red Flower, and all goes well in the Jungle. Is it not true? Let us forget the Man–Pack.”

“They shall be forgotten in a little while. Where does Hathi feed to-night?”

“Where he chooses. Who can answer for the Silent One? But why? What is there Hathi can do which we cannot?”

“Bid him and his three sons come here to me.”

“But, indeed, and truly, Little Brother, it is not — it is not seemly to say ‘Come,’ and ‘Go,’ to Hathi. Remember, he is the Master of the Jungle, and before the Man–Pack changed the look on thy face, he taught thee the Master-words of the Jungle.”

“That is all one. I have a Master-word for him now. Bid him come to Mowgli, the Frog: and if he does not hear at first, bid him come because of the Sack of the Fields of Bhurtpore.”

“The Sack of the Fields of Bhurtpore,” Bagheera repeated two or three times to make sure. “I go. Hathi can but be angry at the worst, and I would give a moon’s hunting to hear a Master-word that compels the Silent One.”

He went away, leaving Mowgli stabbing furiously with his skinning-knife into the earth. Mowgli had never seen human blood in his life before till he had seen, and — what meant much more to him — smelled Messua’s blood on the thongs that bound her. And Messua had been kind to him, and, so far as he knew anything about love, he loved Messua as completely as he hated the rest of mankind. But deeply as he loathed them, their talk, their cruelty, and their cowardice, not for anything the Jungle had to offer could he bring himself to take a human life, and have that terrible scent of blood back again in his nostrils. His plan was simpler, but much more thorough; and he laughed to himself when he thought that it was one of old Buldeo’s tales told under the peepul-tree in the evening that had put the idea into his head.

“It WAS a Master-word,” Bagheera whispered in his ear. “They were feeding by the river, and they obeyed as though they were bullocks. Look where they come now!”

Hathi and his three sons had arrived, in their usual way, without a sound. The mud of the river was still fresh on their flanks, and Hathi was thoughtfully chewing the green stem of a young plantain-tree that he had gouged up with his tusks. But every line in his vast body showed to Bagheera, who could see things when he came across them, that it was not the Master of the Jungle speaking to a Man-cub, but one who was afraid coming before one who was not. His three sons rolled side by side, behind their father.

Mowgli hardly lifted his head as Hathi gave him “Good hunting.” He kept him swinging and rocking, and shifting from one foot to another, for a long time before he spoke; and when he opened his mouth it was to Bagheera, not to the elephants.

“I will tell a tale that was told to me by the hunter ye hunted today,” said Mowgli. “It concerns an elephant, old and wise, who fell into a trap, and the sharpened stake in the pit scarred him from a little above his heel to the crest of his shoulder, leaving a white mark.” Mowgli threw out his hand, and as Hathi wheeled the moonlight showed a long white scar on his slaty side, as though he had been struck with a red-hot whip. “Men came to take him from the trap,” Mowgli continued, “but he broke his ropes, for he was strong, and went away till his wound was healed. Then came he, angry, by night to the fields of those hunters. And I remember now that he had three sons. These things happened many, many Rains ago, and very far away — among the fields of Bhurtpore. What came to those fields at the next reaping, Hathi?”

“They were reaped by me and by my three sons,” said Hathi.

“And to the ploughing that follows the reaping?” said Mowgli.

“There was no ploughing,” said Hathi.

“And to the men that live by the green crops on the ground?” said Mowgli.

“They went away.”

“And to the huts in which the men slept?” said Mowgli.

“We tore the roofs to pieces, and the Jungle swallowed up the walls,” said Hathi.

“And what more?” said Mowgli.

“As much good ground as I can walk over in two nights from the east to the west, and from the north to the south as much as I can walk over in three nights, the Jungle took. We let in the Jungle upon five villages; and in those villages, and in their lands, the grazing-ground and the soft crop-grounds, there is not one man today who takes his food from the ground. That was the Sack of the Fields of Bhurtpore, which I and my three sons did; and now I ask, Man-cub, how the news of it came to thee?” said Hathi.

“A man told me, and now I see even Buldeo can speak truth. It was well done, Hathi with the white mark; but the second time it shall be done better, for the reason that there is a man to direct. Thou knowest the village of the Man–Pack that cast me out? They are idle, senseless, and cruel; they play with their mouths, and they do not kill the weaker for food, but for sport. When they are full-fed they would throw their own breed into the Red Flower. This I have seen. It is not well that they should live here any more. I hate them!”

“Kill, then,” said the youngest of Hathi’s three sons, picking up a tuft of grass, dusting it against his fore-legs, and throwing it away, while his little red eyes glanced furtively from side to side.

“What good are white bones to me?” Mowgli answered angrily. “Am I the cub of a wolf to play in the sun with a raw head? I have killed Shere Khan, and his hide rots on the Council Rock; but — but I do not know whither Shere Khan is gone, and my stomach is still empty. Now I will take that which I can see and touch. Let in the Jungle upon that village, Hathi!”

Bagheera shivered, and cowered down. He could understand, if the worst came to the worst, a quick rush down the village street, and a right and left blow into a crowd, or a crafty killing of men as they ploughed in the twilight; but this scheme for deliberately blotting out an entire village from the eyes of man and beast frightened him. Now he saw why Mowgli had sent for Hathi. No one but the long-lived elephant could plan and carry through such a war.

“Let them run as the men ran from the fields of Bhurtpore, till we have the rain-water for the only plough, and the noise of the rain on the thick leaves for the pattering of their spindles — till Bagheera and I lair in the house of the Brahmin, and the buck drink at the tank behind the temple! Let in the Jungle, Hathi!”

“But I— but we have no quarrel with them, and it needs the red rage of great pain ere we tear down the places where men sleep,” said Hathi doubtfully.

“Are ye the only eaters of grass in the Jungle? Drive in your peoples. Let the deer and the pig and the nilghai look to it. Ye need never show a hand’s-breadth of hide till the fields are naked. Let in the Jungle, Hathi!”

“There will be no killing? My tusks were red at the Sack of the Fields of Bhurtpore, and I would not wake that smell again.”

“Nor I. I do not wish even their bones to lie on the clean earth. Let them go and find a fresh lair. They cannot stay here. I have seen and smelled the blood of the woman that gave me food — the woman whom they would have killed but for me. Only the smell of the new grass on their door-steps can take away that smell. It burns in my mouth. Let in the Jungle, Hathi!”

“Ah!” said Hathi. “So did the scar of the stake burn on my hide till we watched the villages die under in the spring growth. Now I see. Thy war shall be our war. We will let in the jungle!”

Mowgli had hardly time to catch his breath — he was shaking all over with rage and hate before the place where the elephants had stood was empty, and Bagheera was looking at him with terror.

“By the Broken Lock that freed me!” said the Black Panther at last. “Art THOU the naked thing I spoke for in the Pack when all was young? Master of the Jungle, when my strength goes, speak for me — speak for Baloo — speak for us all! We are cubs before thee! Snapped twigs under foot! Fawns that have lost their doe!”

The idea of Bagheera being a stray fawn upset Mowgli altogether, and he laughed and caught his breath, and sobbed and laughed again, till he had to jump into a pool to make himself stop. Then he swam round and round, ducking in and out of the bars of the moonlight like the frog, his namesake.

By this time Hathi and his three sons had turned, each to one point of the compass, and were striding silently down the valleys a mile away. They went on and on for two days’ march — that is to say, a long sixty miles — through the Jungle; and every step they took, and every wave of their trunks, was known and noted and talked over by Mang and Chil and the Monkey People and all the birds. Then they began to feed, and fed quietly for a week or so. Hathi and his sons are like Kaa, the Rock Python. They never hurry till they have to.

At the end of that time — and none knew who had started it — a rumour went through the Jungle that there was better food and water to be found in such and such a valley. The pig — who, of course, will go to the ends of the earth for a full meal — moved first by companies, scuffling over the rocks, and the deer followed, with the small wild foxes that live on the dead and dying of the herds; and the heavy-shouldered nilghai moved parallel with the deer, and the wild buffaloes of the swamps came after the nilghai. The least little thing would have turned the scattered, straggling droves that grazed and sauntered and drank and grazed again; but whenever there was an alarm some one would rise up and soothe them. At one time it would be Ikki the Porcupine, full of news of good feed just a little farther on; at another Mang would cry cheerily and flap down a glade to show it was all empty; or Baloo, his mouth full of roots, would shamble alongside a wavering line and half frighten, half romp it clumsily back to the proper road. Very many creatures broke back or ran away or lost interest, but very many were left to go forward. At the end of another ten days or so the situation was this. The deer and the pig and the nilghai were milling round and round in a circle of eight or ten miles radius, while the Eaters of Flesh skirmished round its edge. And the centre of that circle was the village, and round the village the crops were ripening, and in the crops sat men on what they call machans — platforms like pigeon-perches, made of sticks at the top of four poles — to scare away birds and other stealers. Then the deer were coaxed no more. The Eaters of Flesh were close behind them, and forced them forward and inward.

It was a dark night when Hathi and his three sons slipped down from the Jungle, and broke off the poles of the machans with their trunks; they fell as a snapped stalk of hemlock in bloom falls, and the men that tumbled from them heard the deep gurgling of the elephants in their ears. Then the vanguard of the bewildered armies of the deer broke down and flooded into the village grazing-grounds and the ploughed fields; and the sharp-hoofed, rooting wild pig came with them, and what the deer left the pig spoiled, and from time to time an alarm of wolves would shake the herds, and they would rush to and fro desperately, treading down the young barley, and cutting flat the banks of the irrigating channels. Before the dawn broke the pressure on the outside of the circle gave way at one point. The Eaters of Flesh had fallen back and left an open path to the south, and drove upon drove of buck fled along it. Others, who were bolder, lay up in the thickets to finish their meal next night.

But the work was practically done. When the villagers looked in the morning they saw their crops were lost. And that meant death if they did not get away, for they lived year in and year out as near to starvation as the Jungle was near to them. When the buffaloes were sent to graze the hungry brutes found that the deer had cleared the grazing-grounds, and so wandered into the Jungle and drifted off with their wild mates; and when twilight fell the three or four ponies that belonged to the village lay in their stables with their heads beaten in. Only Bagheera could have given those strokes, and only Bagheera would have thought of insolently dragging the last carcass to the open street.

The villagers had no heart to make fires in the fields that night, so Hathi and his three sons went gleaning among what was left; and where Hathi gleans there is no need to follow. The men decided to live on their stored seed-corn until the rains had fallen, and then to take work as servants till they could catch up with the lost year; but as the grain-dealer was thinking of his well-filled crates of corn, and the prices he would levy at the sale of it, Hathi’s sharp tusks were picking out the corner of his mud-house, and smashing open the big wicker chest, leeped with cow-dung, where the precious stuff lay.

When that last loss was discovered, it was the Brahmin’s turn to speak. He had prayed to his own Gods without answer. It might be, he said, that, unconsciously, the village had offended some one of the Gods of the Jungle, for, beyond doubt, the Jungle was against them. So they sent for the head-man of the nearest tribe of wandering Gonds — little, wise, and very black hunters, living in the deep Jungle, whose fathers came of the oldest race in India — the aboriginal owners of the land. They made the Gond welcome with what they had, and he stood on one leg, his bow in his hand, and two or three poisoned arrows stuck through his top-knot, looking half afraid and half contemptuously at the anxious villagers and their ruined fields. They wished to know whether his Gods — the Old Gods — were angry with them and what sacrifices should be offered. The Gond said nothing, but picked up a trail of the Karela, the vine that bears the bitter wild gourd, and laced it to and fro across the temple door in the face of the staring red Hindu image. Then he pushed with his hand in the open air along the road to Khanhiwara, and went back to his Jungle, and watched the Jungle People drifting through it. He knew that when the Jungle moves only white men can hope to turn it aside.

There was no need to ask his meaning. The wild gourd would grow where they had worshipped their God, and the sooner they saved themselves the better.

But it is hard to tear a village from its moorings. They stayed on as long as any summer food was left to them, and they tried to gather nuts in the Jungle, but shadows with glaring eyes watched them, and rolled before them even at mid-day; and when they ran back afraid to their walls, on the tree-trunks they had passed not five minutes before the bark would be stripped and chiselled with the stroke of some great taloned paw. The more they kept to their village, the bolder grew the wild things that gambolled and bellowed on the grazing-grounds by the Waingunga. They had no time to patch and plaster the rear walls of the empty byres that backed on to the Jungle; the wild pig trampled them down, and the knotty-rooted vines hurried after and threw their elbows over the new-won ground, and the coarse grass bristled behind the vines like the lances of a goblin army following a retreat. The unmarried men ran away first, and carried the news far and near that the village was doomed. Who could fight, they said, against the Jungle, or the Gods of the Jungle, when the very village cobra had left his hole in the platform under the peepul-tree? So their little commerce with the outside world shrunk as the trodden paths across the open grew fewer and fainter. At last the nightly trumpetings of Hathi and his three sons ceased to trouble them; for they had no more to be robbed of. The crop on the ground and the seed in the ground had been taken. The outlying fields were already losing their shape, and it was time to throw themselves on the charity of the English at Khanhiwara.

Native fashion, they delayed their departure from one day to another till the first Rains caught them and the unmended roofs let in a flood, and the grazing-ground stood ankle deep, and all life came on with a rush after the heat of the summer. Then they waded out — men, women, and children — through the blinding hot rain of the morning, but turned naturally for one farewell look at their homes.

They heard, as the last burdened family filed through the gate, a crash of falling beams and thatch behind the walls. They saw a shiny, snaky black trunk lifted for an instant, scattering sodden thatch. It disappeared, and there was another crash, followed by a squeal. Hathi had been plucking off the roofs of the huts as you pluck water-lilies, and a rebounding beam had pricked him. He needed only this to unchain his full strength, for of all things in the Jungle the wild elephant enraged is the most wantonly destructive. He kicked backward at a mud wall that crumbled at the stroke, and, crumbling, melted to yellow mud under the torrent of rain. Then he wheeled and squealed, and tore through the narrow streets, leaning against the huts right and left, shivering the crazy doors, and crumpling up the caves; while his three sons raged behind as they had raged at the Sack of the Fields of Bhurtpore.

“The Jungle will swallow these shells,” said a quiet voice in the wreckage. “It is the outer wall that must lie down,” and Mowgli, with the rain sluicing over his bare shoulders and arms, leaped back from a wall that was settling like a tired buffalo.

“All in good time,” panted Hathi. “Oh, but my tusks were red at Bhurtpore; To the outer wall, children! With the head! Together! Now!”

The four pushed side by side; the outer wall bulged, split, and fell, and the villagers, dumb with horror, saw the savage, clay-streaked heads of the wreckers in the ragged gap. Then they fled, houseless and foodless, down the valley, as their village, shredded and tossed and trampled, melted behind them.

A month later the place was a dimpled mound, covered with soft, green young stuff; and by the end of the Rains there was the roaring jungle in full blast on the spot that had been under plough not six months before.

 

This story was a little long, but I hope you enjoyed it all the same! For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Lewis Carroll’s “Coronach”

She is gone by the Hilda,

She is lost unto Whitby,

And her name is Matilda,

Which my heart it was smit by;

Tho’ I take the Goliah,

I learn to my sorrow

That ‘it wo’n’t’, said the crier,

‘Be off till tomorrow.

 

“She called me her ‘Neddy’,

(Tho’ there mayn’t be much in it,)

And I should have been ready,

If she’d waited a minute;

I was following behind her

When, if you recollect, I

Merely ran back to find a

Gold pin for my neck-tie.

 

“Rich dresser of suet!

Prime hand at a sausage!

I have lost thee, I rue it,

And my fare for the passage!

Perhaps she thinks it funny,

Aboard of the Hilda,

But I’ve lost purse and money,

And thee, oh, my ‘Tilda!”

 

His pin of gold the youth undid

And in his waistcoat-pocket hid,

Then gently folded hand in hand,

And dropped asleep upon the sand.

 

For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Honey, I’m Hoooome!

So after a nice, week-long vacation from my home computer … I realized how much I missed posting things. Over the past few days I’ve been working on my new book The Prince of Prophecy Vol. III: Changing Tides which will be released in October of this year! I’m super excited and I’ve been working really hard alongside my editor (Samantha Cook) and illustrator (Eren Angiolini) to produce the best book in the TPoP series yet. The beta-readers love it so far which is a great sign, and I’m looking forward to sharing the story with more people once it’s a little closer to completion.

For now, however, I do have something to share with you guys… The very first cover WIP (work in progress) that I got from my illustrator (it’s a sneak peek as to what’s gonna be on the cover)!

destan and evie wip

Pretty cool, right? From this, you can just imagine the action I’ve got in store for you guys with this book! Stay tuned for more Prince of Prophecy updates (there will be a lot more in the near future).

For new fairy tale, Prince of Prophecy, and Writer’s Corner updates every Wednesday and Saturday, follow this blog!

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Bond of Friendship”

We’ve recently made a little journey, and already we want to make a longer one. Where? To Sparta, or Mycenae, or Delphi? There are hundreds of places whose names make the heart pound with the love of travel. On horseback we climb mountain paths, through shrubs and brush. A single traveler looks like a whole caravan. He rides in front with his guide; a pack horse carries luggage, tent, and provisions; a couple of soldiers guard the rear for his protection. No inn with soft beds awaits him at the end of a tiring day’s journey; often the tent is his roof in nature’s great wilderness, and the guide cooks him his supper-a pilau of rice, fowl, and curry. Thousands of gnats swarm around the little tent. It is a miserable night, and tomorrow the route will head across swollen streams. Sit tight on your horse lest you are washed away!

What reward is there for these hardships? The greatest! The richest! Nature reveals herself here in all her glory; every spot is history; eye and mind alike are delighted. The poet can sing of it, the painter portray it in splendid pictures; but neither can reproduce the air of reality that sinks deep into the soul of the spectator, and remains there.

The lonely herdsman up on the hills could, perhaps, by the simple story of an event in his life, open your eyes, and with a few words let you behold the land of the Hellenes better than any travel book could do. Let him speak, then! About a custom, a beautiful, peculiar custom. The shepherd in the mountains will tell about it. He calls it the bond of friendship, and relates:

Our house was built of clay, but the doorposts were fluted marble pillars found on the spot where the house was built. The roof almost reached the ground. Now it was black-brown and ugly; but when it was new it was covered with blooming oleander and fresh laurel branches fetched from beyond the mountains. The walks around our house were narrow. Walls of rock rose steeply up, bare and black in color. On top of them, clouds often hung like white living beings. I never heard a bird sing here, and never did the men dance here to the sound of the bagpipe; but the place was sacred from olden times. Its very name reminded of that, for it was called Delphi. The dark, solemn mountains were all covered with snow. The brightest, which gleamed in the red evening sun the longest, was Parnassus. The brook close by our house rushed down from it, and was also sacred, long ago. Now the donkey makes it muddy with its feet, but the current rolls on and becomes clear again.

How well I remember every spot and its deep sacred solitude!

In the middle of the hut a fire was lit, and when the hot ashes lay high and glowing, the bread was baked in it. If the snow was piled up high round our hut and almost covered it, then my mother seemed to be her brightest. She would hold my head between her hands, kiss my forehead, and sing the songs she never sang at other times, for our masters, the Turks, did not like them. And she sang: “On the summit of Olympus, in the fir tree forest lived an old stag; its eyes were heavy with tears. It wept red, yes, and even green and light-blue tears. Then a roebuck came by and said, ‘What ails you, that you cry so, that you weep red, green, yes, even light-blue, tears?’ The stag replied, ‘The Turk has entered our city. He has fierce dogs for the hunt, a goodly pack.’ I will drive them away across the islands,’ said the young roebuck. ‘I will drive them away across the islands into the deep sea!’ But before evening the roebuck was slain, and before nightfall the stag was hunted and killed.”

When my mother sang this her eyes became moist, and a tear hung on the long lashes. But she concealed it, and turned our black bread in the ashes. Then I would clench my fists and say, “We’ll kill the Turks!”

But she repeated the words of the song, ” ‘I will drive them across the islands into the deep sea!’ But before evening the roebuck was slain, and before nightfall the stag was hunted and killed.”

For several days and nights we had been alone in our hut, and then my father came home. I knew he would bring me sea shells from the Gulf of Lepanto, or maybe even a sharp gleaming knife. But this time he brought us a child, a naked little girl whom he had carried under his sheepskin coat. She was wrapped in a fur, but when this was taken off and she lay in my mother’s lap all that she possessed was three silver coins fastened in her dark hair. And father explained to us that the Turks had killed her parents, and told us so much about it that I dreamed about it all night. Father himself had been wounded, and my mother dressed his arm. His wound was deep, and the thick sheepskin was stiff with blood.

The little girl was to be my sister! She was so beautiful, with clear, shining eyes; even my mother’s eyes were not gentler than hers. Yes, Anastasia, as they called her, was to be my sister, for her father was united to mine, united in accordance with an old custom we still keep. They had sworn brotherhood in their youth, and had chosen the most beautiful and virtuous girl in the whole country to consecrate their bond of friendship. I had often heard of the queer and beautiful custom.

So now the little girl was my sister. She sat in my lap; I brought her flowers and feathers of the field birds. We drank together of the waters of Parnassus and slept head to head beneath the laurel roof of the hut, while many a winter my mother sang of the red, the green, and the light-blue tears. But still I didn’t understand it was my own countrymen whose thousandfold sorrows were reflected in those tears.

One day, three Frankish men came, dressed differently than we were. They had their tents and beds packed on horses; and more than twenty Turks, armed with swords and muskets, accompanied them, for they were friends of the pasha, and carried letters from him. They only came to view our mountains, to climb Parnassus through snow and clouds, and to see the strange, steep black rocks surrounding our hut. There was no room for them inside our home, nor could they stand the smoke rolling along the ceiling and out at the low door; so they pitched their tents in the narrow clearing outside our house, roasted lambs and birds, and drank strong, sweet wine, which the Turks did not dare to drink.

When they left, I went with them for some distance, and my little sister hung in a goatskin on my back. One of the Frankish gentlemen had me stand before a rock, and sketched me and her, so lifelike as we stood there, so that we looked like one being-I had never thought of it before, but Anastasia and I were really one person. She was always sitting in my lap or hanging on my back in the goatskin, and when I dreamed she appeared in my dreams.

Two nights later other men came to our hut, armed with knives and muskets. They were Albanians, brave men, said my mother. They stayed only a short while, wrapping tobacco in strips of paper and smoking it. My sister Anastasia sat on the knees of one of them, and when he was gone she had only two silver coins in her hair instead of three. The oldest of the men talked about which route they should take; he was not sure.

“If I spit upward,” he said, “it will fall in my face; if I spit downward, it will fall in my beard!”

But they had to make a choice, so they went, and my father followed them. And soon afterwards we heard the sound of shots! The firing increased; then soldiers rushed into our hut and took my mother, myself, and Anastasia prisoners. The robbers, they said, had stayed with us, and my father had gone with them; therefore we had to be taken away. Soon I saw the robbers’ corpses, and I saw my father’s corpse too, and I cried myself to sleep. When I awoke we were in prison, but the cell was no worse than the room in our hut. And they gave me onions to eat and musty wine poured from a tarred sack, but ours at home was no better.

I don’t know how long we were held prisoners, but many days and nights went by. It was our holy Eastertime when we were released. I carried Anastasia on my back, for my mother was ill and could only walk slowly, and it was a long way down to the sea, to the Gulf of Lepanto. We entered a church magnificent with pictures on a golden background. They were pictures of angels, oh, so beautiful! but I thought our little Anastasia was just as beautiful. In the center of the floor was a coffin filled with roses. “The Lord Christ is symbolized there as a beautiful rose,” said my mother; and then the priest chanted, “Christ is risen!” Everybody kissed each other. All the people had lighted tapers in their hands; I received one, and so did little Anastasia. The bagpipes played, men danced hand in hand from the church, and the women outside were roasting the Easter lamb. We were invited to share it, and when I sat by the fire a boy older than I put his arms around my neck, kissed me, and cried, “Christ is risen!” Thus we met for the first time, Aphtanides and I.

My mother could make fishing nets, which gave her a good income here in the bay, so for a long time we lived beside the sea-the beautiful sea that tasted like tears, and whose colors reminded me of the song of the weeping stag, for its waters were sometimes red, sometimes green, and then again light-blue.

Aphtanides knew how to guide a boat, and I often sat in it with Anastasia while it glided through the water, like a cloud over the sky. Then, as the sun set and the mountains turned a deeper and deeper blue, one range seemed to rise behind the other, and behind all of them was Parnassus, covered with snow. Its summit gleamed in the evening rays like glowing iron, and it seemed as though the light shone from within it; for long after the sun had set the mountaintop still glittered in the clear, blue shimmering air. The white sea birds touched the water’s surface with their wings, and indeed everything here was as calm as among the black rocks at Delphi.

I was lying on my back in the boat while Anastasia leaned against my chest, and the stars above shone more brightly than our church lamps. They were the same stars, and they were in exactly the same position above me, as when I had sat outside our hut at Delphi, and at last I imagined I was still there. Then there was a splash in the water, and the boat rocked violently! I cried out loud, for Anastasia had fallen overboard, but just as quickly Aphtanides had leaped in after her, and soon he lifted her up to me. We undressed her, wrung the water out of her clothes; and then dressed her again. Aphtanides did the same for himself. We remained on the water until their clothes were dry; and no one knew about our fright over the little adopted sister in whose life Aphtanides also now had a part.

Then it was summer! The sun blazed so fiercely that the leaves on the trees withered. I thought of our cool mountains and their fresh-water streams, and my mother longed for them too; so one evening we journeyed home. How quiet it was and how peaceful! We walked on through the high thyme, still fragrant though the sun had dried its leaves. Not a shepherd did we meet; not a single hut did we pass. Everything was quiet and deserted; only a shooting star told us that in heaven there still was life. I do not know if the clear blue air glowed with its own light, or if the rays came from the stars, but we could plainly make out the outlines of the mountains. My mother lit a fire and roasted the onions she had brought with her; then my sister and I slept among the thyme, with no fear of the wolf or the jackal, not to mention fear of the ugly, fire-breathing smidraki, for my mother sat beside us, and this I believed was enough.

When we reached our old home we found the hut a heap of ruins, and had to build a new one. A couple of women helped my mother, and in a few days the walls were raised and covered with a new roof of oleander. My mother braided many bottle holsters of bark and skins; I tended the priests’ little flock, and Anastasia and the little tortoises were my playmates.

One day we had a visit from our dear Aphtanides, who said how much he had longed to see us; he stayed with us for two whole days.

A month later he came again, to tell us he was taking a ship for Corfu and Patras but had to bid us good-by first; he had brought our mother a large fish. He talked a great deal, not only about the fishermen out in the Gulf of Lepanto, but also of the kings and heroes who had once ruled Greece, just as the Turks rule it now.

I have seen a bud on a rosebush develop through the days and weeks into a full, blooming flower before I was even aware how large, beautiful, and blushing it had become; and now I saw the same thing in Anastasia. She was now a beautiful, fullgrown girl, and I was a strong youth. I myself had taken from the wolves that fell before my musket the skins that covered my mother’s and Anastasia’s beds. Years had passed.

Then one evening Aphtanides returned, strong, brown, and slender as a reed. He kissed us all, and had many stories to tell of the great ocean, the fortifications of Malta, and the strange tombs of Egypt. It all sounded wonderful, like a priestly legend, and I looked at him with a kind of awe.

“How much you know!” I said. “How well you can tell about it!”

“But after all, you once told me about the most wonderful thing,” he said. “You told me something that has never been out of my thoughts-the grand old custom of the bond of friendship, a custom I want very much to follow. Brother, let us go to church, as your and Anastasia’s fathers did before us. Your sister is the most beautiful and innocent of girls; she shall consecrate us! No nation has such beautiful old customs as we Greeks.”

Anastasia blushed like a fresh rose, and my mother kissed Aphtanides.

An hour’s walk from our house, where loose earth lies on the rocks, and a few scattered trees give shade, stood the little church, a silver lamp hanging before its altar.

I wore my best clothes. The white fustanella fell in rich folds over my hips, the red jacket fitted tight and snug, the tassel on my fez was silver, and in my girdle gleamed my knife and pistols. Aphtanides wore the blue costume of the Greek sailors; on his chest hung a silver medallion with a figure of the Virgin Mary, and his scarf was as costly as those worn by rich men. Everyone could see that we two were going to some ceremony.

We entered the little empty church, where the evening sunlight, streaming through the door, gleamed on the burning lamp and the colored pictures on the golden background. We knelt on the altar steps, and Anastasia stood before us. A long white garment hung loosely and lightly over her graceful figure; on her white neck and bosom a chain of old and new coins formed a large collar. Her black hair was fastened in a single knot and held together by a small cap fashioned of gold and silver coins that had been found in the old temples. No Greek girl had more beautiful ornaments than she. Her face beamed, and her eyes were bright as two stars.

The three of us prayed silently, and then she asked us, “Will you be friends in life and in death?”

“Yes”, we replied.

“Will each of you, whatever may happen, remember: my brother is a part of me! My secrets are his secrets; my happiness is his happiness! Self-sacrifice, patience, every virtue in me, belongs to him as well as to me!”

Then she placed our hands together and kissed each of us on the forehead, and again we prayed silently. Then the priest came through the door behind the altar and blessed the three of us; the singing voices of other holy men sounded from behind the altar screen. The bond of eternal friendship was completed. When we arose I saw that my mother standing by the church door was weeping tenderly.

How cheerful it was now in our little hut by the springs of Delphi! The evening before his departure Aphtanides sat with me on the mountainside, his arm around my waist, mine around his neck. We spoke of the suffering of Greece, and of the men the country could trust. Every thought of our souls was clear to each of us, and I took his hand. “One thing more you must know, one thing that till this moment only God and I have known! My whole soul is filled with a love-a love stronger than the love I feel for my mother and for you!”

“And whom do you love?” asked Aphtanides, his face and neck turning red.

“I love Anastasia,” I said-and then his hand trembled in mine, and he turned pale as a corpse. I saw it and understood, and I also believe my hand trembled. I bent toward him, kissed his brow, and whispered, “I have never told her this. Maybe she doesn’t love me. Consider this, brother. I’ve seen her daily; she has grown up by my side, grown into my soul!”

“And she shall be yours!” he said. “Yours! I cannot lie to you, nor will I. I love her too, but tomorrow I go. In a year we shall meet again, and then you will be married, won’t you? I have some money of my own; it is yours. You must, and shall, take it!”

Silently we wandered across the mountain. It was late in the evening when we stood at my mother’s door. She was not there, but as we entered Anastasia held the lamp up, gazing at Aphtanides with a sad and beautiful look. “Tomorrow you’re leaving us,” she said. “How it saddens me!”

“Saddens you?” he said, and I thought that in his voice there was a grief as great as my own. I couldn’t speak, but he took her hand and said, “Our brother there loves you; is he dear to you? His silence is the best proof of his love.”

Anastasia trembled and burst into tears. Then I could see no one but her, think of no one but her; I threw my arms around her and said, “Yes, I love you!” She pressed her lips to mine, and her arms slipped around my neck; the lamp had fallen to the ground, and all about us was dark-dark as in the heart of poor dear Aphtenides.

Before daybreak he got up, kissed us all good-by, and departed. He had given my mother all his money for us. Anastasia was my betrothed, and a few days later she became my wife.

 

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