Busy Me


I’ve neglected my blog page for the past week. I have a good reason. I am in the middle of writing a love story. Yep, anti-romance novels me. Crazy as it seems, this is the first time I have had a story take over and write itself. I have a theory.

I was taught how to write. Outlines, character analysis, lists, blocking out scenes… blah blah blah. I got bored with the project before I finished the first ten chapters every time. I thought I was just inept. Then I discovered something, I don’t write that way. I can’t, it is unnatural to me, because I was raised by story tellers, not novelists.

So, this story has been lying around gathering dust in my brain for years. I loathe most love stories, so yawningly boring. Same formula every time: Handsome man, beautiful girl, rich and poor, meet, fall madly in love, have a fight or issue that tears them apart, they get back together, have lots of sex and life is happy ever after. Yawn. Totally NOT what really happens in love stories. Well, maybe lots of sex, but that is about it. Most love stories are between average people, doing average things, living average lives. It is the people who make the story interesting. Each story is unique, and told from two perspectives, his and hers. All the other characters are background noise, necessary, but background noise.

Anyway, that’s my focus. I have written over 26,000 words in three days, after revision. I have no idea where this is going except I am excited to keep writing the story of my lovers. I hope it is a happy most of the time ever after ending. I am crazy about both of them. So far I can’t get them in the same room for more than ten minutes…. never mind, I will share later.

I haven’t been this happy writing since I first started writing eons ago. So, if I neglect the blog page for a bit, forgive me, those few who actually follow me. I have got to get back to it, something big is going to happen in the next chapter or two, I feel it.

You know, I think most women should write like this, from the heart, and to hell with outlines, mistakes can be fixed once the story is down. Ahhh, mental freedom.

Advertisements

The Meaning of Words


A great man once said, “Abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.” John Adam

Millions of words pour across our various screens on a daily basis. Those spouting those words want to use them to make a point, twist a narrative, further an agenda, plan a plot, confuse, obfuscate, and force their ideas on the gullible, bored, uneducated, fearful, and unsuspecting people who are easily led, fed, and incapable of forming an opinion with out the say so of the media and/or organizations they depend on to do their thinking for them. After all, they are a product of their sum schooling for the past thirty years, and unless they had parents and leaders who taught them to think and make decisions for themselves, they are indoctrinated in group think.

The only meaning words have for them are what their cadre of group think controllers tell them, regardless of the traditional and long accepted definition stated in hundreds of dictionaries and documents world wide. And, because they have never been allowed to, in anyway, to take a different stand and learn to think outside group think, they simply don’t bother to learn the real meaning of the words that flood their screens.

Within my generation, many words have been forced into a new meaning, sometimes representing exactly the opposite of the original root definition. Most are found in the youthful desperation to use slang that only represents their generation. However, the word “bad” no matter how much they might have wanted it, does not mean ‘good.’ Likewise, the word ‘sick’ does not denote in any historical or linguistic manner, something that is outstanding or amazing. But beyond the childish inversion of words to create new slang, group think is demanding we all change the meaning of words and thoughts to only meet the group think criteria. It is demanded that we all fall in lock step with their agenda, and spout their linguistic liturgy propaganda. Then we are to go out and force it on the rest of the world.

In the Declaration of Independence, one of the most highly canonized ideals of the development of a free state, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Let us deconstruct the original meaning behind that statement and compare it to the group think of today’s propagandists.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…” “We hold”, meaning the people of the young country that wants to be independent of the tyrants of the British Empire. We, Us, The People. However, group think propagandists would have you believe the word, “we” means only the rich white men who were representing their particular group of planters and industrialists. The pronoun “we,” used plurally, refers to multiple people in the traditional meaning. Today, it is used to delineate between groups, turning the use of the word “we” into a them and us definition. The group think agenda has tried to twist the definition into a negative connotation. “Hold” is the verb that tells what ‘we’ is doing. We hold, meaning in this instance, we believe. “We,” know, that the following statement is correct. We, the people, believe this to be true. That was the original meaning, today, the entire verb phrase is dismissed as unimportant. Because one is not allowed to believe on their own, they must obfuscate every meaning in the name of group think.

“…truths to be self-evident,:… Truth, a simple, straightforward word that historically means being honest, saying what is verifiable, without exception, in accordance with fact and reality. A simple concept, that is now, completely without meaning. Truth is what each group think agenda wants it to be. It is no longer based of verifiable facts and reality, it is, instead based on an emotional behavior that is acceptable within the propaganda of the group think manifesto. It is one of the first dynamic words to actually become meaningless within my generation. No longer is stating something as truthful based on facts and realism something people can depend on to remain static. It is fluid to the point of meaningless evaporation. There is no truth, according to most group think propaganda, accept what we tell you is truth. Anything other than what we tell you is a lie, a misspoken, or a misunderstood definition of our version of the truth. Truth is now fluid, ever changing, non static words based on emotion and utterly controlled by the agenda masters.

“…to be self-evident:…” Self-evident. Meaning, in the time honored definition of the word, it is an adverb that means evidence without exterior proof because it is something that is traditionally known, or the facts presented before one is clear in its meaning. It is evident to one and all, the adverb that answers to the noun “truth,” the plural pronoun, “we,” and the verb, “hold.” We, each of us, believe, understand, accept, promote, the truth of this statement, to be obvious in its meaning. It is clearly stated and the definition as transparent as window glass. However, today’s opaque use of words muddies the meaning as much as possible. Because, after all, no one should ever use the word “self” to describe understanding. There is no “self” when it comes to propagandizing language. There is no clarity of definition because if there were, people would begin to question the status quo and standards of the group. That would be a disaster for those who employ the machine to mold minds into fearful followers of the ending of independent thought. There is no self in modern thinking patterns.

“…that all men are created equal…” Now there is a conundrum. “All Men…” How dare they not mention women as equals to men. According to the propagandists, this statement proves that the authors, of the Declaration of Independence, were obvious misogynists who dismissed women as unimportant and useless. Of course, the traditional use of the phrase refers to mankind. Men, women, children, all mankind. That is not good enough for the groups who want to be offended and angry that women are not given a particular specialness within the confines of the statement. Now the use of the word, “men,” a common plural noun for the singular noun, “man,” is an insult to womankind. Because, according to the modern group mind, all men, every last one of them, must be a groveling apologist for their sex – at fault every thing that has gone wrong in the development of mankind, and are required to scramble away with heads bowed in submission when any female is present. If they don’t they are criminal or evil. Unless, of course, they are fulfilling part of the group think violent agenda. There is no longer “all men” because the divisiveness of group think and mind control propaganda machine whole heartedly believes in divide and conquer methods to maintain power over those under their hidden agenda.

“…that they are endowed by their Creator…” Another slippery slope of word use. The use of this phrase, in its original format, infers that mankind is a creation of not only biological means, but is also a creation of a higher being, a Christian based religious belief in an almighty God. Conventional beliefs of many who founded the country of America were based in Christianity. Unlike now, it was an intrinsic part of their lifestyle and belief system. So, regardless of how one is biologically created, we were all spiritually created by God. It was, literally, the reason many of the earliest Europeans came to the Americas. Here they could worship as they desire, without interference from governmental powers.

Today, however, anyone who still believes in customary Christian traditions, is ridiculed and demeaned by the rudderless, angry people who feel judged by those with a deeply held belief system outside of group think. While they will deny it, they are as deeply entrenched in a belief system as any religious group, only their belief is based on unending perceived persecution by those who hold different things sacred. Group think is designed to promote discontent and inequality. By promoting inequality as a sinful, predetermined behavior by religious people, the group think propaganda continually maintains a fearful under current of misunderstanding and hatred. Since, at one point in time, some people did not undertake their mind control agenda, then all who believe in God are naturally trying to enslave or deny equality to everyone else. An absolute misdirection of epic proportions is achieved by reversing the meaning of the phrase, “created equal,” and labels all who understand and believe in the originators meaning of the phrase as racist, homophobic, anti everything the group think propaganda promotes. One again, filtering truth through emotionally charged propaganda creates a false narrative of rage, fear, and destruction of the original meaning of the phrase.

“…with certain unalienable rights…” Unalienable rights, what an interesting choice of words. These rights are nontransferable from one person to another. It is a right each individual has, something that is certainly incompatible with group think. Individualism is discouraged in mind controlled group think. The authors of the Declaration of Independence, however, saw the rights of the individual over the rights of the government as the very cornerstone of freedom of thought and action. Certain rights belong to everyone. Rights that are part of thinking for one’s self, for making decisions for one’s self,

and for believing for one’s self. No one can take that right from anyone else, but in today’s society one freely gives up that independence to slavishly follow group think so they might be part of a whole, instead of wholly their own person. Many modern arm chair judges of history point to slavery as the denial of those rights. Perhaps, however, the traditional use of slavery was ended by the American people over a hundred years ago, and it was limited to begin with in America. Today, however, people are enslaved by a systematic denial of individualism through social, governmental, and propaganda of the group think status quo. We must do as we are told or face rejection by peers, incarceration by the government control and programs, or bombardment from the fearful group think organizations for being independent thinkers. Our rights are in more danger today than they ever were under original slavers. After generations fighting for freedom for all people in our country, those radicals who have nothing better to do than spew hatred would bring back segregation and racial divisiveness to our country. Once again, the meaning of words, originally written to decry oppression, are being defined as oppressive in modern propaganda.

“…among these are life…” We have a right to life. Once, it meant everyone had a right to life. We had a right to grow, learn, work, become strong, and live a long life. Everyone, man, woman, and child, had a right to live. It is a phrase that could not be more transparent in meaning. Yes, lives were taken that should not have been taken though violence, through anger. But those lives were still allowed until they lost that right by committing horrors against other human beings. Today, however, this phrase is denied by group think. If a child is created, and one of the creators of that life doesn’t want it, it is allowed to be thrown away, destroyed, torn asunder for the pure selfish desire of the creators of that life. We no longer have a right to live if we do not bow to the group think of what is acceptable thought and behavior according to their purpose. There is no rights except their rights. We are not allowed to be different, and if we are, we are automatically the enemy. There is no right to life. Not now.

.”..liberty…” Liberty, a noun that means, according to Dictionary.com, “freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice. It is manifest in the Declaration of Independence that the authors were indeed and in spirit writing to these meanings of the word liberty. It was a fine, strong stance that the independent minded young American nation took against tyranny. It is something that the United States has fought for since the Revolutionary War. It is something that made this country a beacon of hope for those downtrodden and defenseless peoples of other countries. It was something that made them leave all behind and make the often perilous journey from their traditional homeland to America. Liberty, freedom from control, independence from tyranny were the burning desires of thousands who came to America. They wanted this freedom for their posterity, they wanted to become Americans in every sense of the word. It was with pride that they presented their children with the hope of liberty. Today, however, the meaning of liberty has become as undermined as the meaning of truth. While liberty means freedom, it also means responsibility within the laws of the land. We are free to bear arms, but we are not free to arbitrarily murder people. We are free to say what we think, but we are not free to slander with lies or misinformation. We are free to live as we want, but we are not free to force others to do so as slaves, cults, or through intimidation. We have freedom to move where we might, but we do not have freedom to take over a property that does not belong to us. We are free to drive, but we are not free to steal a car. With liberty, comes great responsibility. Responsibility that many fear because that means they will have to make decisions for themselves. It is much easier to simply let others think for them and tell them how to live, and exactly what freedoms they can indulge in without consequences. As a group think organization, they can go en-mass and destroy property, hurt others, deny freedom to those who believe differently without consequence. Freedom means destroying anything and anyone one disagrees with, at any time, with what the group think organization says they can. Liberty has become the inverse of what the originators of the Declaration of Independence meant when they wrote it. Yet, every last group think perpetrator of violence screams that it is his or her right to do so because they pursue liberty for pseudo tyranny.

“…pursuit of happiness,,,,” Pursuit, a noun, meaning to quest for something in an effort to attain a particular thing. It isn’t a guarantee of happiness, it is the opportunity to search for happiness. And happiness is a state of contentment, joy, pleasure, or satisfaction in life. Again, the authors of the document in question used clear language to describe the end results of a quest for life and liberty. Happiness. There is no guarantee that everyone will find what ever means happiness to them. But, they are free to search for it, free to find it, and free to enjoy it, as long as it doesn’t preempt another from happiness in their lives. It seems very clear to most people. But, in modern group think, one does not pursue happiness, they believe they should be guaranteed it without the cost and effort of pursuing their version of happiness. It must be delivered to them, free of charge, without end, upon demand. If they are not happy, then it is up to everyone else to see that they are. Like a petulant child with a new toy, if it isn’t exactly what he or she wants, it is tossed away with disdain and the unending caterwauling for happiness continues until they obtain the next toy. The word pursuit in the phrase is thrown to the wayside with impunity. Happiness is a right, not the pursuit of said happiness, according to the modern interpretation of this phrase in the Declaration of Independence.

Denis Waitley once stated, “It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.” If we gain something without earning it, it is meaningless. Something that we strive for, something we sacrifice for, something we gain by perseverance means more than anything simply handed to us by the powers that be. Pursuing that which we most desire, be it education, knowledge, freedom, independence, and yes, happiness can only be done if we are free from control by those who would own our thoughts, actions, and ability. Either we learn to use words clearly and with courage, meaning exactly what we say, or we become no more than a pawn in the act, as John Adams said, “of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction, and division of society.”

2730 Words


2730 words. That is all he wrote. 2730 words define his poetry and deepest thoughts. So few, yet they say so much. How can it be?

There are fewer words in an obituary, even fewer on a tombstone, summing up most of our lives. We don’t know how the person buried under the soil felt, or what they thought, or what engaged them. And when those that knew them are gone too, all is lost.

It is beyond sad so few of us leave behind any written legacy for our loved ones. A quote, a thought, a story, a remembrance, to hand down from generation to generation sharing and telling the future what the past was all about.

Each of us has a story, lived a life seen only from our perspective. We know things no one else knows, and we share only what is acceptable, easy, and gentle. The hard truth, the pain, the rage, all of those are buried as deep as a coffin, shame.

2730 words are the legacy of my son. Something to share, no matter how painful, with all those who loved him, and all those who will never meet him in this life. It was an honor to put his words together for those who will come after.

Dinner Conversation


So the husband and I were having dinner the other evening. We had a rather routine conversation for the two of us. I was wondering if any of your conversations go something like this.

We were discussing change of meaning for a particular word over the generations. When it was first used in conversation, it wasn’t considered a rude word at all. Everyone used it, but over the years it became an obscenity, especially for women to utter, or for men to use in mixed company. Then it became pretty much forbidden language for years. Slowly it came back into use, and is now used for just about every part of a sentence, except as an article. Any way, that segued into the discussion of language and its many variations, from early man up to present day. This conversation took about thirty minutes.

Then, along with dessert, we got into a discussion about how writing started. Math is an easy idea, anyone who has more than ten of something needed to know how much they had. So, a line represented so many of such a thing. But then, how did they know what lines related to which item. So, we got into a rather heated discussion about pictograph languages and symbols, or rather, which probably came first. Then we got into how that skill was passed to other generations and other groups. Was it an idea that someone showed a different culture and they adapted to fit their language, or did other cultures come about writing all on their own? That got a bit heated too, mainly because I see it as language based and the husband sees it as an offshoot of mathematics. I can see his point, but I also see a need to communicate information as tribes became cultures and cultures spread out over a geographic area.

As we finished out dessert, and were waiting for our check, we continued discussion language versus math, and how intertwined they were with the development of our modern idea of country, origin, and cultural development. Leading to the difficulty people have today of never being able to be alone. They constantly have to be in contact with someone via their phone and other devices. Which led to the idea that it would be interesting to put a modern gadget junkie in a distant accommodation without any of their go to gizmos to see how they would cope. Take them back to, oh, the early 1940’s and leave them on their own for an agreed amount of time.

About the time the check turned up, I left to use the facilities, and the husband paid the bill and said he would meet me at the car. When I came out the couple sitting behind us stopped me and asked it we were professors. I said no, not now. They said they learned more about prehistory overhearing our conversation than they ever had in class. “How do you guys know all this stuff?” They asked. I just smiled and said, “We read. A lot. About a lot.” “The lady said, “That is so weird. We just talk about the kids.” I smiled again, and made my way to the car.

To us, this was a normal dinner conversation. How is that weird, or is it?

I Love Words


Being in the middle of my first century, I have a different understanding of words and their usage than kids young enough to be my grandchildren. Sometimes it bugs me to no end when I hear kids talk in what is generally text speak slang, and I loathe reading text messages that use “UR” for “you are, or your” and the like. But, what bugs me most, is how the meaning of words are twisted around from the way I learned them.

The word ‘nice’ used to be a compliment. Now it isn’t at all. I have come to loathe the word as it is used as a dismissive, if subtle, insult. When I hear anyone under 60 use the word, it is always drawled in a tone of voice that absolutely grates on my nerves. Superlatives have to be super words now. We can’t say, “oh, that’s a lovely dress.” Now it needs to have more “oomph” when we compliment someone. We have to use words like amazing, cute, darling, smashing, hot, sexy, and always a word or phrase that invokes a meaning of thin.

I think a lot of the super superlatives are due, in part, to two generations, or more, of kids sitting in front of televisions as companies hype the products they sell to stay in business. Loud, excited, or oozing suggestions of seduction and sex, commercials overwhelm our senses with the urgent need to buy a product that will make us all beautiful, rich, popular, smell good, eat well, or any number of things. All of it is, of course, hyperbole. However, all those super Superlatives have become ingrained in our cultural brain and skip around in our verbiage. Insincere, in the deepest way, gaggles of teenage girls and middle aged women squeal and giggle at one another from the moment they meet until they finally shut up and go home. Generally, less than five minutes of meaningful conversation will take place in an hour.

I was shopping with my granddaughter last week. She is five, and very into shopping. We were standing next to a mother and daughter as they looked at clothes. Every other word was something inane. “Oh that’s cute. You will look hot in that (the kid was all of nine). That’s cool, you will rock that color.” Bella looked at me after the mother held up one particularly horrific outfit and said, loudly, “Nana, that girl is too fat for that outfit. She will look like a fat grape.” It took every bit of self control I had not to laugh. She was right. She was also not buying the babble. I was very proud of her for being both honest and straight forward in her comments. We will, however, need to work on her vocal volume a bit. The mother stomped off in a huff. The kid didn’t even pay attention to Bella. She was too busy cooing over the outfit that will make her look like a grape.

I, like, you know, hate it, when people, like, kinda, you know, never really say a full sentence without one of those, you know, like stupid phrases. I also get impatient with folks who hesitate and pause every other word, and fill in the silence with uhh, mmm, err, ahh, or any other nonsense noise. How about simply stating, “I need to think for a second before I answer that question?”

Now the Christmas season is here. Yes, I said, gasp, the C word. CHRISTMAS. I know all the history behind the X in Christmas as the symbol for Christ. Got it. Greeks, spell things weird. I also know that it is a holiday season for the Jewish and the made up one for all the ‘former slaves’ in America. And I also know that it is held during what was a Roman celebration of some god or another. However, traditionally, since the death of Christ, and the rise of protestants, Christmas has been a holy day celebration for CHRISTIANS. So, I don’t like words and phrases like holiday tree, and Xmas. I dislike people trying to secularize what is a sacred holiday for me. So the modern terms that take all the true meaning from the holy day annoy me.

With all the new technology around us, people don’t actually speak to each other very much. I know my teen texts her friends more than she every rings them on the phone and chats with them. Chat has come to mean typing furiously on the keyboard while on line with a bunch of other people. Chat rooms, a new use of an old term, are now electronic pretend places on line where a bunch of strangers type at each other and generally end up in “flame wars” over their comments. In my mind I see a vague, hazy room with a fire in the middle of the floor and people screaming at each other.

Sometimes I long for an intelligent conversation with someone who actually knows how to have a conversation. One where I speak, they listen, then they speak and I listen. A conversation using words that have more than two syllables would be good. A conversation that invokes laughter, concentration, and lightening quick thinking would be incredible.. A conversation with an adult, teen, or child that doesn’t have slang and hesitations throughout, but the proper use of complete sentences and a tendency to maintain at least a hint of a link to the original subject would make me happy. Too many of us are simply too distracted by shiny things, ringing cell phones, and movement to concentrate on a long conversation. Soon, like handwriting letters, conversation will be a lost art. Eventually, we will all communicate through the typed word, and only gesture and grunt like original cave dwellers when we actually meet in person.

Oh well, I still love words. Shakespeare, Spencer, Pope, Bronte, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Dickens, and even a few Science Fiction/ Fantasy writers use words that say what they mean and mean what they say. The words can make me laugh out loud, cry, ponder, and fill me with an overwhelming urge to write. I can only hope that future books aren’t filled with one word pages written in text speak.

New story idea


I haven’t been writing much here because I am taking wild leap and writing a story that *might* turn into something more. So here is the first few pages. Opinions welcome, but don’t be too mean!

Arelia watched as her Fool morphed into a frog, then a snake, and finally a small rodent before he regained his normal form of a twelve year old boy. She was so used to his sudden morphing that she didn’t bother to pause in her rant about the lack of freedom she suffered. Jason, her Fool, was her constant companion, his purpose was to keep her entertained and out of trouble. She knew she vexed him beyond self control when she complained, bitterly, about her fate. Hence, the constant and rapid changes taking place before her eyes. But it simply was not fair that her fate was set in such a way that she could not take a short cut, evade, or refuse the road set before her. Up until her naming day last week, she could dismiss the fate as something in the far distance. However, she was now 16 summers old, and her naming day was the final day of freedom.

Arelia knew she was spoiled, and as far as spoiled princesses go, she wasn’t all that bad. Although, she did have a temper, and she had a wicked way of saying things that were cutting when she was angry. The entire country knew she could easily provoke a Holy One to lose its temper with her antics. It was not, as she often pointed out to the long suffering Fool, her fault people kept annoying her with nonsense and boring court functions. After all, a princess should have some control over her own choices.

She was still fuming and stomping back and forth across the stone floor of her bower when Fool got himself back under control. The creature he morphed into often reflected his thoughts. The frog was his inner fear that he would be stuck with Arelia forever, while the snake represented his disgust with the powers that made his fate twine with hers, and the rodent was the not so subtle refection of his feelings about the entire creepiness of the fawning members of the court. Nonetheless, Fool had heard the entire diatribe because when he morphed he didn’t the lose senses of his humanity.

As he watched Arelia work herself into a fine tizzy, he pulled his smock and trews back on, and began to search for his shoes. The most embarrassing thing about uncontrolled morphing was the sudden loss of clothing. Fortunately, his small clothes seemed to morph along with his body, but standing around in his under wear whilst searching for his clothes did leave him feeling rather at a loss for decorum. Being trapped in the body of a twelve year old boy, when he was really a man long grown also rankled. No one, not one single person in the Keep paid any attention to anything he said. As long as he was doing his job of Fool, they ignored him, or, in the case of a few of the young men, shoved him aside in contempt.

Arelia wound down from her snit eventually. Thankfully, for Fool, it was in time for him to prepare for the evening. There were more visitors and suiters than normal since the princess had just passed her naming day. The suitors were more underfoot than a starving hound. Every time he turned a corner, yet another swain was leaning against the wall in feigned lethargy with mooning eyes. When they saw it was only Fool, the pose would disappear until they thought they heard the light footsteps of the newly minted woman of the Keep. It was all Fool could do not to morph at their ridiculous behavior as it irked him beyond measure.

The Lord sat at the head table with his Queen and retinue laughing with the fathers of the young Lords. Although the atmosphere was jovial, the undercurrent clearly stated the seriousness of the courting at hand. Arelia was their only daughter, and the Lord and his Lady planned to make sure they got every bit of gold that she was worth. And she was worth a great deal since she would inherit the title of Queen and all the holdings as was the custom in Balewicks. The object of discussion spent the evening trying to escape the clutches of the suitors and their unwanted attention. She eventually settled between Fool and her childhood Nurse to maintain a measure of safety. Still seething about the news that she was supposed to choose one of the pimply faced, obnoxious twits as a husband, Arelia made no attempt to pay attention to any of them. She knew her father and mother would expect an announcement by week’s end, and her fertile mind went round and round, doing its best to find a way to stop the inevitable nightmare of being married to someone she barely knew and certainly did not love. Her mother told her that love would come after the marriage, or at least mutual respect, but a future Queen had no right to expect to actually marry for love. In her heart Arelia knew her mother had to be wrong. She had to be. Before she gave into her despair or temper, she prodded Fool and told him to do something to distract her.

Fool had just downed the last of the meat on his trencher, he took a deep drink of his ale, climbed on the table. Thinking furiously, he tuned his small harp and began to sing a drinking song that soon had the people in the hall bellowing the chorus at the top of their lungs. As ladies were present, it wasn’t all that bawdy, but the men appreciated the meaning. Fool wasn’t all that great a singer, but he knew a great number of tunes and twiddles with which to entertain the folks around him. And if that failed to do the job, he could always morph and mock, or mock and morph as the case may be. All the while the music and song was going on, Fool was watching those around him with a sharp eye. He felt, in his deepest bones, that something was not quite right. Shifting from the drinking song into a ballad, he exaggerated the love song with longing sighs and batting eyelids, mocking the very thing that the song spoke of. The longer evening went on, the more dissonance Fool felt, as if there was a string out of tune just enough to irritated the ears of the player. Still, he could not lay his eyes or his fingers on the dissonance.

The more the men drank, the louder they sang. Eventually, the ladies withdrew, and the men began to sing truly bawdy songs from days of marching armies when men had only a bottle of spirits to keep him warm late at night. Fool played until his fingers hurt, and then he played even longer until the men began to fall asleep in the great hall. Wrapping themselves in their cloaks, they simply rolled up against the wall and began to snore. A few of the lucky ones found a dog or a willing maid to curl up next to them, and even fewer found a place near the great fireplace to help them stay warm.

Fool quietly jumped down from the table and headed up to his usual spot outside Arelia’s chamber door. Placing his foot on the stair, he heard a muffled squeal and a loud thump followed by more muffled speech. There was the trouble he’d been waiting for all night. Off he went at a dead run, forgetting that he was supposed to be the clumsy Fool. On the landing he heard a slam against the door to Arelia’s chamber. As his hand touched the latch, the door flew open and a young princeling flew out and dashed up against the opposite wall. Giving Fool the most peculiar look, he slowly slid down in a heap on the floor. Dreading what he would see, Fool inwardly braced himself as he turned back to the door.

Arelia stood in the doorway, hair standing on end like a mad cat, hands clinched into fists, and a rage filled countenance that would frighten the most stalwart of men. “He . . . that little . . . he tried to kiss me!” She scrubbed her hand over her mouth then spit at the limp body. “Is he dead? I hope to the Holy Ones that he is dead!” Arelia suddenly realized she was standing in the corridor in her night dress as she grabbed Fool and hissed at him to get inside before anyone else came along. “Do you not think,” he ventured carefully, “that we should make sure he is not dead?” She gave him a withering look, shoved him inside and slammed the door.