The Art Site

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Snip Part 9

(Back at the cave. Arabella continues to inspect the Thing, more commonly known as a Dragon.)

Holding up the sword to the dense clouds of curling smoke, Arabella made out the rough, bumpy outline of the Thing. It looked most remarkably like a Dragon. The head was elongated, something like a long, narrow cardboard box, the nostrils rising up at the end in two bumps. Spines congregated down The Thing's back, and the outline of snarling teeth was very visible by the light of the 'torch'. Smouldering red eyes looked out at Bella from the shadows. The Thing's hot, damp breath blew over her, leaving miniscule droplets of water clinging to each strand of hair. Her muscles twitched involantarily. Arabella remembered with alarm that a Dragon's (if it was a Dragon) breath was poisonous. However, as there were no signs yet of convulsions and jets of pain shooting through her body, Bella most sensibly discarded this information. She held out the emerald, glowing sword and said, in her most incandecent tones:

"What are you?"
The Thing growled, shuffled out of the gloom. Lowering its head to the level of Arabella's ear he spoke from the Dragon-tongue. The heat of the Dragon's breath shrivelled, then burnt the skin on Bella's shoulder. Bella gasped.
"Lotea, sha dragonitia li sha kather. Lateros lei coeme ir sha kather reil kirisma."
Arabella swivelled the blade quickly, slicing the thick air with the edge and placed it lightly, but ominously, on the Dragon's scaly neck.
"I don't know what that was all about, but if you're going to speak, talk to me in English, and don't flippin' burn me while you do it."
The Dragon coughed. Spluttered really, gobs of green Dragon spit flew everywhere. In a curiously husky, deep voice he explained:
"I said, I, the dragon of the cave. Those who come to the cave shall die. And it's true."
Bella stepped a little closer, unafraid, and used those particularly long, black lashes to full effect.
"You're really going to kill me then? You know, it's not such a good idea. Since I'm the prettiest woman in this country you'll have to put up with a whole host of dashing knights who will be only too eager to avenge my death by slaying you. Ever since St. George all knights have followed suit. They can't seem to get out of their minds the possibility of saving a beautiful damsel in distress from the claws of a hideous dragon. Of course, if the damsel were ugly, they wouldn't bother."

The Dragon sat back on his tail, raised one ferocious looking fore-leg to his nostril and scratched it thoughtfully.
"How ridiculous. Don't the fools know that they'll probably get killed themselves by the Dragons they seek to kill? I mean, even if you want to save the most beautiful girl in the world, it's hardly worth the risk."
Bella bridled at this remark.
"Well I reckon that one you've got out the front there isn't worth the risk. What are you going to do with her? There's not much meat on her, but who knows, she might make a decent lunch if you roasted her nicely."
The Dragon growled fiercely.
"I don't eat girls. n'Fact, I don't eat anyone. I'm a Vegan."
Arabella's eyes widened.
"You're a Pagan? Well, I never heard of a Dragon that wasn't."
The Dragon sat up straight and clawed away at the jewelled amulet on his fore-arm nervously.
"No, I said I'm a Vegan. Don't you know what that means?"
"Nope. Should I?"
"It means," pursued the Dragon patiently, "that we don't eat meat, fish, or anything that has been picked from a living tree or bush. It's awfully cruel to kill things, and how could I live with myself if I ate, for instance, a tomato?"
"You're dead right there," exclaimed Bella, "I don't think I'd live if I ate a tomato either."
"Exactly!" the Dragon said triumphantly. "Now I just have to think what I'll do with the girl. Eating her is out of the question, obviously. Mabye I could hold her ransom and demand money from her father. Is that what they do in the books?" He ended respectfully - Bella's sword clung to his neck pertinaciously.
Bella Hmmmed and scratched her head thoughtfully.
Suddenly, she swung the sword round and placed it carefully higher up the Dragon's neck, so that if she wanted to, she could have sliced its jugular cord in one easy motion. Without hesitation, she nicked the Dragon's neck, until a little trickle of dark red blood ran down the green scales.
Bella stared at the slash. "Christmas time." She remarked, and looked intently into the Dragon's eyes.
"That was stupid of you, you know. You just let out your biggest secret in that nice chat we just had."
"What was that?" Whispered the Dragon huskily. His eyes were riveted to the trickle of blood that wound it's way down to his shiny, gold covered breast.
"You told me you didn't kill anyone. Thanks for that. You can come and join the circus with me. In fact, I'll sell you to the circus. But don't worry, you'll have a fabulous time. By the way, what did you say your name was? Or are you nameless, a non-entity, only a Thing? We might as well introduce ourselves if we're going to travel together."
"The name's Drongo." The Dragon muttered sulkily.
"And mine's Donna Quixote, but you can call me Don for short." Arabella stuck out her other hand (without taking the sword from it's position) to shake the Dragon's.
The Dragon placed his claw rather reluctantly in hers, scratching Arabella.
Bella winced, but said nothing.
"Come on then, let's go and meet this DID of yours."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mysterious Beasties

I decided to do something bizarre last night.

The night was clear and dark, and the stars were out. I grabbed my pillow and blanket, and headed outside to my hammock which is slung between the pink magnolia tree and the fence. Then, I climbed on board and re-arranged the bedding.

For a while I enjoyed the relative quiet and peaceful view of the stars peeping through the magnolia leaves. I couldn't see the moon, but there was a faint, milky light in the sky and misty glimmerings from the stars. Then I heard it.

It sounded like someone was blowing their nose.
It's just hedgehogs, I tried to reassure myself.
But then the shuffling began. The noise was coming from the pathway which goes between our house and the fence, and is bordered by hydrangeas. Between the hydrangea plants were dead hydrangea leaves, and these were being moved around by the Thing.
Apart from an irritating humming noise by my ear (most likely, an interested mosquito) and the rustling of these dead leaves, the night was calm and tranquil.
Then, the sound almost imperceptibly moved. It was no longer by the hydrangeas. In fact, it sounded like it was getting close to the canoes (lined up by the side of the house).

The crunching of dried leaves came closer to the hammock. It sounded like someone was tiptoeing through the leaves. Alarmed, I craned my head round to look but it was too dark to see anything except the blurred outlines of the two blueberry bushes.
I felt pretty silly to be getting scared about hedgehogs, but the sound was coming even closer to the hammock. It edged it's way around the blueberry bushes, and seemed to be coming across the grass towards the fence, where I was.

Suddenly, there was a rustling right under my hammock. In those split seconds I envisaged a brown monster with massive fangs (reminiscent of Fang in Spider Man 3) leaping out at me from the darkness. Then, another hideous thought struck me. What about a snake? At this point, I decided I was getting a bit ridiculous about the Thing. There were no snakes in New Zealand, or not hanging around people's gardens anyway. But then something moved distinctly on the ground. This was too much for me. I grabbed my jandals from the ground breathlessly, and put them on. Then, grabbing my blanket and pillow, I jumped down and quickly walked back inside.
'Course, I should have overcome my feminine delicacies, grabbed a torch and hunted out my mysterious beasties. I could then have examined them closely, drawn them, dissected them and written copious notes about them. I would then be filled with pride at my great scientific discoveries and decide, after all, to become a scientist.

To my shame, I ran inside and felt extremely glad that I was safe.

I like a dark night. There is something so comforting about a jet - black night, a sky studded with glinting stars and an almost reflective silence - as though the night were thinking back on the day. The moon comes out from behind a cloud and glows palely, the stars twinkle elusively. A purry cat comes out of nowhere and rubs his sides on the road, stretches, licks, mutters in the language of cats.
Ahh yes, give me a dark night any day. Just forget the strange things that rustle dangerously in the shadows.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

When does life matter?

Abortionist: life only
matters if it's wanted


Ann Furedi is the Chief Executive of leading abortion provider BPAS.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The head of a leading abortion provider has admitted that the embryo is a human life but says its value is “relative” to the wishes of its mother.

Ann Furedi, the Chief Executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), made her comments during a debate in Oxford last month.

The question, Mrs Furedi argued, was “not, when does human life begin? but, when does it really begin to matter?”.

This, she said, could only be weighed up “as being relative to the woman who is carrying it”.

She admitted that “the embryo is a living thing”, and that it “is clearly human in the sense that it’s not a gerbil”, but stopped short of according it the same status as “a born person”.

She said: “Obviously we couldn’t allow abortion if we accepted that fetal life had the same degree of value as born human life, and I don’t believe that it does.”

She said that modern society required women to be able to plan when they have children, and said: “Abortion stands as a back-up to birth control, and this is very important for us.”

She added: “Unwanted pregnancy can happen and it does happen, and when it does somebody has to be in a position where they make a decision about what the future of that pregnancy is going to be.”

However, pro-life campaigners say that pregnancies do not just “happen”, and that women and men exercise a choice when they consent to sex...

Mrs Furedi is married to Frank Furedi, the founder of the British Revolutionary Communist Party and currently Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent.

Her view that abortion should be treated as a “back-up to birth control” contrasts with the Government’s stated intention to lower abortion rates; despite this almost 90 per cent of all the abortions BPAS carries out each year are publicly-funded.

This year is set to show another increase in the number of abortions performed in England and Wales, with 105,000 recorded in the first six months.

Read the whole article from The Christian Institute (UK)
(emphasis my own.)

That's what abortion is about, according to Mrs. Furedi. The killing of millions of babies a year is fine so long as they are not wanted. Because, says Mrs. Furedi, the question is “not, when does human life begin? but, when does it really begin to matter?”.

What Furedi has summed up in these few sentences is the basis behind all abortions. Human life according to her, is only valuable if it is wanted. If it is wanted then it is something valuable that needs to be protected, if it is not wanted then the 'pregnancy tissue' should be 'removed.' Mrs. Furedi has no interest in finding out exactly when a baby becomes a baby. That is not important to her at all. She is quite comfortable with the thousands of abortions that happen at her set of clinics alone each year without trying to find out when the 'foetus' becomes a baby.

This question, if it were investigated by Furedi, would be too dangerous for her business. Information would come out that would cause a lot of havoc to her money - making scheme. No, to have a good business in the abortion industry it is best to be ignorant of the blatant facts.

It is not only Furedi who wishes to be ignorant of the facts of abortion however. Too many Christians do not want to be well - informed on this topic, because that would mean that they would have to do something about it. To our shame, Christian New Zealanders, who do know the facts, are too apathetic to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, the death of the innocents goes on behind sterile clinic doors.

It's time for the Christians in our country to stand up and fight this injuctice.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Snip Part 8

In order for our story to make sense and include all those details that are so integral a part of it, the authors would like to beg our long suffering reader's pardon and return to the palace where some quite unfortunate things are taking place.

(In the Royal Throne Room. His Majesty the King of Somethingeratha is seated on the golden throne, the Queen is enthroned at his right hand, the Royal Councillor is blowing his nose loudly to one side of the throne, the courtiers wait around anxiously. One unimportant and worthless boy, a page (whose name happens to be Paige) is standing in the corner, looking annoyed.)

"But this is outrageous!" Declared the King, and hastily took from an ornate box at his side a large piece of Turkish Delight. He bit into the sticky sweetness with evident pleasure.
Still chewing and spraying icing sugar-and-cornflour in showers over his Royal knees, King Henry turned to the Royal Councillor interrogatively.
"So, what have you been doing in these few hours to try and recover her Royal Highness, the Princess Arabella?"
He finished chewing, swallowed (his enormous double chin compressing and making his face look like a large pancake) and brushed off his knees, seemingly unconcerned to hear what the Royal Councillor had to say.
The Royal Councillor coughed apologetically.
"Well, Your Royal Highness, after much long and highly debated converse with the fifteen other Councillors, we have reached the conclusion that the Princess has in fact, run away. We know this because an old horse by the name of Clare has been taken from the stables and also, the Cook has informed me that copious quantities of bread and cheese have also been taken from the kitchens. Your Majesty, we were shocked by this grievous news and we offer you our sincere sympathy at this time."
Throughout this speech the King's face was darkening with a menacing fury. Grabbing his sceptre, he slammed it hard against the marble steps.
"But WHAT have you done? You stupid fool! What have you done to get the Princess back? Don't you know that this story will soon be all over the land of Somethingeratha? We will be shamed, disgraced, and I personally will sack you and all the other deceiving, lying Councillors. You're blood suckers, the lot of you. Tell me one thing you've done to get Her Highness back and you and the other Councillors will keep your jobs."

At this all-important juncture, the worthless page boy walked over to the Royal Councillor. The Councillor being a short, fat little man with spectacles, Paige had to bend over to whisper something in his ear. Charisma (the Councillor) looked suddenly relieved by something. His Royal Majesty became a little impatient.

"What is this!" He demanded. "What is this unimportant page boy doing, whispering away? Don't you know it's rude to whisper, boy?" The page shrugged.
Charisma the Councillor looked up, adjusted his spectacles and coughed into a be-speckled handkerchief rather importantly.
"Your Majesty, I have found the answer to the problem. Have you ever heard of a man who goes by the name of Nicholas?"
"You pompous fool!"Cried the King. Of course I know of a man named Nicholas! I know dozens of 'em! What are you getting at?"
"My apologies, Your Majesty. This man's last name is Moron. Nick Moron. His profession is to hunt down criminals, arrest them and hand them over to the police. This particular man knows every one's secrets and his speciality is to track down and bring back to confinement, runaways." Charisma waved his spotted handkerchief around excitedly.
"This man is perfect for the job! He can bring back the Princess Arabella!"
King Henry smoothed his long mustachios thoughtfully.
"Hmmmm. Bring him in then, and we'll question him." (Charisma turns to Paige and gives a signal. Paige hurries out of the throne room.)


In the hushed silence, everyone in the throne room heard this shuffling noise long before they saw this rat-catcher, this plague on mankind, this disgusting odour that was Nick Moron.
Then, at the entrance of the throne room, there stood the man. Should we even call him a man? If he was a man it was not by much. We will attempt to show our readers what this man looked like with a verbal picture.

He would have been quite tall but one shoulder was crooked, so he leaned to his right side permenantly. Because of this disability, he always craned his small, egg-shaped head round to look up and peered sucpiciously at whoever was speaking to him. His face was smooth but his eyes potruded alarmingly and his nose was shrunken into his skull. The hands on this creature were perhaps the most revolting aspect of it all: long fingers with knuckles and veins that stood out freakishly. Instead of nails, the creature possessed little stumpy bits of matter where they should have been. He was a most voracious nail - biter. He had a highly disturbing way of rubbing one hand over the other, or tapping his fingers together, in a way that inspired terror into the heart of the innocent beholder.

For some reason that even the authers of this story do not know, the man walked with a limp. The dragging of his sandaled feet along the tiled floor caused the shuffling noise.
He stood in the doorway for a little while, as though to gain as much attention as he could. His pale, thin lips curved into a smile that was perhaps the more terrible for not being believable.
Dragging his lame leg along the floor, he made his way to the Throne where His Majesty and Her Majesty sat expectantly. Stopping at the bottom of the steps to the throne, one of those beastly hands grasped the round felt hat on his head and pulled it off with a flourish.
The Queen gasped.
The creature's head was completely bald and had some strange markings on it. It looked very similar to a thrush's egg, however it was not so pretty.
The strange smile-that-was-not-a-smile appeared once more on this monstrosity's face.
Nick Moron advanced slitheringly up a couple of the golden steps and took the Queen's rose-scented, powdered hand. Bending over it, he kissed it with those foul lips.
This being done, he stepped back and eyed the King and Queen ingratiatingly.
"Your Majesties, Nick Moron at your service."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas according to Me

"Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your family and friends.
Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!!
Change all the answers so that they apply to you.
Then tag a whole bunch of people you know. Tis the Season to be NICE!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Definitely wrapping paper. There's something about ripping off the paper and seeing the present inside..
2. Real or fake tree? Real trees smell so good! But they drop pine needles on the floor and it's really hard to put the decos on the tree - they fall off.

3. When do you put up a tree? Try to do it on Dec. 1, but otherwise any other day in December when Nathan and I get time to do it.
4. When do you take it down? January some time. I don't like taking it down. :(
5. Do you like eggnog? Raw egg? No thanks! It was bad enough watching that guy on Napoleon Dynamite break eggs into the drink. GROSS.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? hmmm, I dunno. I reckon the stockings were my fave part of Christmas though.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Dad - all I know that he likes for presents is liqourice, liqourice, liqourice. You can't just get him liqourice every year.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Mum and Nath. There are so many girly things you can get Mum, scarves, beautifying products & jewelery.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yup, but it's a bit boring. One of those Warehouse ones I think, ceramic, plain white. Still, it's a nativity scene.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Christmas cards definitely. Then you can hang them up on the wall and gloat over them.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? hmmmm... probably a brown handbag with horrible fake roses on it. Yuck. I wouldn't ever use it, not that I use handbags anyway.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Polar Express :)

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I usually see some interesting things earlier in the year that would make good presents, and buy them. But everything else comes a couple of weeks (or to be honest, the day before) Christmas.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, a box of Scorched Almonds. And that doesn't mean I ate them first either.
15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Roast chicken, lots and lots of roast vege salad, stuffing, christmas cake, gingerbread biscuits, candy canes, custard
, trifle, cherries. I like food.
16. Lights on the tree?
Of course!
17. Favourite Christmas song? O Holy Night, Silent Night, O Come all ye Faithful, O Come O Come Emanuel, Joy to the World

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Nope, and I'm proud that I can't.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star. Why would an Angel sit on top of a tree? How bizarre.

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. We once opened our presents on Christmas Eve and we felt so guilty doing it. Then, on Christmas morning we didn't have any presents to open and it just felt wrong.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? mmm... people rushing around getting presents and food and not caring about what Christmas is about... And treating it all oh-so-very-seriously.

23. Favourite Ornament theme or color? little nutcracker men. Colour? Ummm... If I got the choice, maybe Red and White.
24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Roast, smoked chicken, roast vege salad (made by me, I have the secret recipe) stuffing, gravy, peas and roast spuds with rosemary. Oh, so good.
25. Favourite Decorations? sparkly gold stars and little silver disco balls. They are so very cool. And hand made wreaths, streamers and interesting crafty Christmassy things.
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? I know not.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snip Part 7 (the climax!)

Fluffy white clouds with darker under bellies and blue tipped edges came and went in the sky above Arabella. Lazily they sailed, gently touched each other, merged into a combined mass, became shapes that could legitimately represent ducks or evil witches riding broomsticks. The burning sun, only slightly diminished by the shade of a baby pine tree, hit one side of Bella with reasonable force. Groaning, Bella turned over on to her stomach and looked over the grassy ridge down into the pine tree covered plains. Something like a jerk shook her frame as she looked. It is possible that it was some kind of convulsion; perhaps it was the scene that lay in front of her. Fuming jets of black smoke were billowing from that little hill that rose strangely from out of the flat plains. Quickly, the smoke filled the air with its blackness, chased away the sun with long tentacles of ink that curled venomously in the sky, threw the land into a dark shadow.

Arabella started to be alarmed at this disturbing prospect. However, she finally realised that this mysterious smoke could well be the sign of a potential adventure, that there was possibly money involved, and that she would at least have a story to tell when she came home, a heroine and an avenger of evil. Forgetting the fatigue that she and Clara had felt only minutes before, she scrambled up, jumped into the saddle and "Ye-haaad" all the way down the dusty hill. As she plunged into the murky shadows of the plain, Bella thought that she faintly heard something. At first the sound was like that of a mouse when it is caught in a trap, but as she galloped on, the sounds became clearer, and metamorphosed into shrill cries for help.
"Blast!" Muttered Arabella to herself. "It's probably just another damsel in distress. And here I was thinking that it might be a real adventure."
Bella and her faithful steed galloped on to the hill until the smoke was so thick that it hung in tendril-like shapes in the air. Arabella patted Clara to thank her for galloping so hard (she was a weary beast by this time) and climbed down from the saddle. Reaching into her saddle pack she pulled out the green object that Danny had given her before she ran away. Quickly, she pulled off the cloth and held up the sword in the swirling night of smoke. Bella breathed in sharply. The sword was glowing in the darkness with an ethereal green light that illuminated the gloom.
"Save me good Knight!" A girl's scream accompanied this command. The voice was pathetic, entreating, everything that a damsel in distress should sound like.
"Where on earth are you?" Shouted Arabella.
"Over here!" Screamed the Damsel In Distress. Bella muttered fierce words into the smoke.
"Over flippin' where? I can't see you. Tell me where you are!"
"I don't know where I am! Please Knight, save me from the Dragon!" Sobbed the DID.
"Dragon? What Dragon?" Said Arabella, alarmed (and frightened, though this is not something that the authors like to admit).
"There is a Dragon in that cave! He is even now about to devour me for afternoon tea! Oh, save me, please! He tied me up to this tree and I can't get the knots undone." The DID screamed shrilly.
Bella, at this point, was guilty of the crime of uttering chauvinistic words about girls in general.
A low, guttural growl (not unlike that of an angry bulldog) sounded from the cave, only meters from where Bella stood. Bella leaped back. At this uncertain moment, Bella did the right thing. She asked God for strength and courage. Then, taking the glowing sword in one hand and several pieces of string in the other, she strode manfully (yes, manfully) into the cave's gaping mouth.
It was hot in the cave. Holding up the sword like a firebrand, Arabella looked around. The crumbling walls were covered in ancient paintings of men and strange looking beasts. Large bits of rock stuck out from the walls and a few stalagmites and stalactites hung and sat and dripped. Our brave and resourceful heroine walked on through the cave.
Something glittered.
Arabella stopped in her tracks and held out her sword to the glittering light in the corner.
"What is it? Who is it? Are you the Dragon?" These words came from Bella's mouth in little more than a squeak, and petered away to nothingness.
The Dragon (if it was a Dragon) uttered a low, angry growl.
Suddenly, the Thing made scraping noises that sounded like he was getting up from a sitting position. Something dragged along the ground. Something went "Snuffle snuffle." Something was very large. Two eyes glowed with a blazing red light.
The Thing emerged from its shadows.
Arabella was confronted with the Dragon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snip Part 6

The sun shone fiercely that afternoon, baking the sweat on Arabella's face, making Clara's sides grimy with sweat and dust. Clara was making slight groaning noises, and Bella, with her limited knowledge of the care of horses, felt that it was time for both the horse and herself to have a break.
The dirt track that led across the hills and into the plains lay ahead of them still. On either side grew baby pine trees (planted a few years ago by some ambitious environmentalists) and some prickly underbrush (quite possibly a close relative to our native gorse bushes) that the AE's had been remiss in not removing.

Clara and Arabella were tired of this pleasant scenery. As Arabella wiped her grubby hand over her dust and sweat lined face, she decided that running away was not all that it was cracked up to be. In all the proper stories that Bella had ever read, the heroine (or hero, for our masculine readers) always managed to sneak away in the dead of night, find a suitable and seaworthy ship, climb on board (all, of course, without raising suspicion) be discovered, impress the sailors with his/her good looks and incredibly adept social life, work his/her way on board, be taken captive by pirates, manage to alert the British Navy to the pirate's stash of gold on the desert island, become a hero, go back to admiring relatives with pockets bursting with gold, many good stories of derring-do to tell, and fame and glory in their wake. But, reflected Arabella sadly, there was no large body of water anywhere around the kingdom, which meant no pirates, no glorified British Navy, no stashes of stolen treasure on mythical desert islands.
"There's only this dusty old track, dusty old pine trees, a dusty old horse." Soliloquised Arabella.
As is often the case in these matters, when our heroine/hero dramatically despairs of ever finding adventure/romance and soliloquises on the subject, Something happens. (But do not be alarmed, O my male readers. A dashing prince is NOT about to fly up that dusty road on a gleamingly black stallion and save the heroine from her piteously boring fate)
And although the authors of this story like to think that this particular story is set apart from the somewhat cliche fairy stories of yester-year, Something definitely happened to Arabella at this juncture.

At the top of the pine tree covered hill, Arabella turned off into a little clearing to her right. With a sigh, Bella jumped down off her horse, and lay down on the long grass. There was a little slope in the land, so Arabella had a deliciously lovely view of plains and plains of pine trees and hills. (King Henry had a one-track mind. He knew a lot about plants and trees, enough to know that a pine tree is something very useful to fill up spare land. Also, you can burn the wood if you cut down the trees first. His Lordship was fond of a good blaze. That is how far his extensive wisdom, in this respect, went.) As Arabella scanned the perfect countryside, Something caught her eye. Billowing smoke, issuing from a little hill to her left, about 500 meters away.
This was suprising to Arabella. But even this was not all. Something white, like a flag in the wind, also caught her eye. Miss Fink was too exhausted to think "Adventure!" when she saw these tell-tale signs, but as she stared at the smoke and the mysterious white object, she grew increasingly curious.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snip Part 5

The Queen Mother leaned against the bannister of the grand staircase and looked up. Up several stories, she could just see the white apron, tilted white cap and crisp dark hair of Pamela, the maid.
She was most studiously dusting the golden bannister, the golden angels and the overlaid-with-gold statues in the hall.
"Pamela!" She bellowed.
Pamela the maid started and dropped her ostrich feather duster down all the flights of stairs.
Her rosebud mouth pursed up as she answered, trying not to laugh. There was no reason to laugh, but then, Pam never needed a reason.
"Yes, you royal highness?"
The Queen Mother resented the "you".
"Get down here this instant you impertinent thing!"
"Yes your royal higness."
Pam jumped down four steps at a time until she reached the last flight of stairs, where she walked down sedately, picked up the silver duster and curtsied to her Royal Highness.
The Queen Mother's face was puckered into a displeased and worried frown.
"Have you seen the Princess Arabella this morning?"
Pam thought hard.
"No Ma'am, I haven't seen her since yesterday afternoon, before she was sent to her room. But perhaps she's out shooting with the Gardener's son?"
"If she has I will be most upset. I've told her many times, that going out shooting is for the men. Women, as you know Pamela, should be trained in all the womanly arts. What are the womanly arts, Pamela?"
Pam looked again as though she was desperate to laugh. Her eyes sparkled. With pursed-up lips and an exaggerated frown of concentration, she ticked them off on her fingers:
"Sewing, embroidery, the knitting of booties for the younger members of the church congregation, the learning of the French language, the ability to produce an eddible pie, drawing landscapes, and of course, the ability to play at least one piece of music, tolerably well."
Her Royal Highness looked askance.
"Humph. What a lot of rubbish they teach girls these days eh? Back in my day we learned Physics, Mathematics, Trig. Trigger something, German, Latin and Greek, the Classics and good plain essay writing. None of that now of course. Only these 'modern' lessons for the 'modern' young woman. Bah. I don't blame Bella if she has gone out shooting. It might have done the other youngsters good as well."

Pamela coughed into her hand, to stop Her Royal Highness's train of thought. The Queen Mother was known to ramble away if not stopped early on.
"Do I have your permission, your Higness, to look for the princess?"
The Queen Mother's eyes were glazed, as she stared rather blankly into space, recalling the good old days. Absent-mindedly, she muttered:
"Yes, yes of course. Take the afternoon off."
"Thank you Ma'am!"
Pamela of the sparkling eyes left the duster in the Royal Laundry and went off to spend the afternoon with the baker's boy.

Meanwhile, Arabella was getting a good headstart to her trip. She avoided the main roads: her instinct told her that she was going to be tracked down any minute now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snip Part 4

It was midnight. The long reeds by the river made mysterious sounds as the wind blew gently through them, and high up in the beech tree by Arabella's room, a Nightingale sang eerily.

The moonlight shone softly through the diamond - paned windows and into Arabella's bedroom.
Inside the candlelit room, Arabella was placing a few useful things into a red-and-white spotted hankerchief. These included a couple of candles, a handy teddybear, some bread and cheese that had been 'borrowed' from the kitchen, various bits of string, a pocket knife and a tinder box. Arabella bent over the bundle and tied it into a knot, then slung it onto a good strong walking stick (borrowed from her grandfather). Suddenly, a low whistle sounded from outside her room.
At this signal, Arabella grabbed the bundle and stick, and threw them out of the window, then climbed out herself, onto the stone ledge. This particular beech tree would have had to be at least as old as the Queen Mother herself and was excellent for climbing, having many thick branches close together.
Of course, Arabella got down without any difficulty at all. The old beech tree was as good as a staircase and was a very useful escape route for whenever Arabella was 'locked' in her room.

Waiting at the bottom of the tree stood a young man. His blond hair was cropped closely to his skull and his greenish - blue eyes were almond shaped and scowling.
"Took your time, didn't you." Danny (the Gardener's son) spoke morosely, but he took the bundle from Arabella chivilrously.
Arabella frowned. What right has that upstart of the Gardener's son to be speaking to me like that?
"I jolly well came as quick as I could! Bet you couldn't get down the tree that fast."
"No, I meant you took ages to decide to run away." Glancing up at Arabella, he saw that she was getting angry. He quickly tried to explain.
"I don't exactly love my job as a stable boy you know. Whadya think, I'd much rather go join the circus with you then stick around here cleaning smelly old horses."
Arabella drew back with a start.
I hadn't thought about this. With her chin in the air, she exclaimed:
"You're not coming with me! Noone's coming with me. I'm going by myself!"
Danny's eyes widened with horror.
"What? You can't go off by yourself! You need someone (like me) to help you. You wouldn't know the first thing about the world outside this castle."
Arabella folded her arms defiantly and glared up at him.
"Of course I would! I've been planning this all my life, nincompoop! If you wish, you can come and save me if I'm in any trouble." Arabella added that last part with a curled lip, which showed how much she thought of damsels in distress, and the heroic deeds of derring-do done by chivilrous Knights in shining armor.

"So you won't let me go with you Bella."
Danny appeared very melancholy, as he stuck his (rather large) hands in his pockets, and stared hard at a patch of daisies on the grass.
Bella looked slightly regretful.
"Sorry Danny. Mabye you can come next time. Wait... there isn't going to be a next time. I'm not coming back. Well, I might come back, maybe. Maybe in twenty years I'll come back and I'll have such amazing things to tell you of everything I've done! I'll bring you back skins from the dragons I've killed and I'll show you my hoards of dragon-gold. Anyway, I better go, it's getting early. Where's the horse you promised me?"
The gravel crunched under their feet as they walked silently to the stables. At the smallest end stable Danny stopped.
"Do you mind taking Clara? She's a bit slow, but she's the only one we can spare at the moment. Hillary's been taken for Princess Pearl to ride... and Clara's already twenty years old. But if you treat her right, she'll do anything for you."
It's not exactly a black stallion.
"Any horse is fine." Bella said, choking back disapointment. After all, it wasn't Danny's fault.
What's happened to Danny lately? He's got some muscle in those arms of his. Maybe he took my advice to do fifty press ups each morning. And he cut his hair! He looks much better. I would feel much safer if he came... but this is something I've gotta do on my own.

Bella swung herself up onto the horse. Turning to Danny, she sighed.
"Bye Danny."
"Wait, I've got something for you." He dashed into the little cottage to the right of the stables and in a moment he was back with something that was long and apparently heavy.
Somewhat soberly, he held the thing up to her. She clasped it with one hand, untied the string around it and drew back the thick green cloth that covered it. Inside was a sword that gleamed with a silver light in the darkness.
Arabella gasped.
Around the hilt were intricate celtic patterns and two coiling dragon heads that met and twined around each other. The blade was straight and the edge was sharp. It was a truly beautiful weapon.
"Thank you." Bella choked.
"It was my father's, he gave it to me. I reckon you need it more than I do."
Arabella looked her thanks.
"Bye." She said again.
Then, without another backward glance, Arabella rode into the gathering gloom.

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