Clark and the Anticipation

Elephant
Clark was just settling down to a challenging math problem when Skunk burst into the room.

“Clark! You’ve got to help me,“ he gasped. “Mole is in trouble!”

“What? Slow down. What kind of trouble?”

“Oh, terrible, terrible trouble! Mole is in a boat two miles from the nearest point on the coast. She is trying to get to a shelter three miles down the coast and one mile inland, but her strength is nearly gone. She needs to know where to point the boat so that she makes to the shelter in the least amount of time.”

“Okay, okay,” said Clark. “Do you know how fast she can row and how fast she can walk?”

“Yes,” answered Skunk. “She can row at three miles per hour and walk at four miles per hour—that is, if she has any strength left. Oh, this is just terrible! I should never have let her go.”

Clark made no reply; his paws were already flying across a sheet of paper, making calculations. Skunk danced from one foot to the other in anxious anticipation. After a few minutes, Clark threw done his pen.

“Done,” he said. “Now, how will you communicate this to Mole?”

“This way,” said Skunk, grabbing Clark by the arm. He hurried him down to the beach. He climbed a small rock and pointed out to sea. Clark jumped up next to Skunk and saw a small boat bobbing on the horizon. Skunk lit a lantern and waved it over his head. An answering light came from the boat.

“Now,” said Skunk. “Where should she row?”

“Mole needs to row towards a point one mile south from here, got that?”

“But how will I know where a mile is?”
Clark thought for a minute.

“Run for six minutes as fast as you can. Do you know the song ‘Boomdiada’?”

“Is that the one that starts, ‘I love the mountains and the rolling hills’?”

“Yes, that’s it. Sing that song…uhm, eighteen times, repeating the ‘boomdiada’ at the end. That should take you one mile.”

“Got it,” said Skunk, as he leaped from the rock and began running down the beach. Clark followed him, singing to himself.

Approximately six minutes later, Skunk stopped and began waving his lantern. A faint light shone from the tiny boat. A minute or two later, Clark was at Skunk’s side.

“While we are waiting for Mole, would you please tell me what she was doing in a boat two miles from the coast?” asked Clark.

“Oh, you know Mole. She read the story of the owl and the pussycat going to sea in a pea-green boat and just had to try it for herself. Whatever it was she anticipated she would find, it was not what she found.”

“Er…what did she find?”

“That it’s a silly thing to launch yourself out on a boat when you haven’t the faintest idea what you are doing! I mean, really!”

Skunk continued to wave his lantern as he fixed his gaze on the boat.

“Oh, do you think she is getting any closer, Clark? I don’t know; she looks as far away as ever.”

Clark did not answer. Instead he started singing.

“I love the mountains and the rolling hills. I love the flowers and the daffodils. I love the fireside when the lights are low. Boomdiada, boomdiada, boomdiada, boomdiada.”

At first Skunk looked startled; then he, too, started singing. Together Clark and Skunk sang the Boomdiada Song one hundred and thirty times. After each chorus, the tiny boat was a little bit closer to shore, closer and closer until they could see Mole, tired but triumphant, pulling on the oars. Skunk dropped his lantern as he and Clark plowed into the water and dragged the boat onto the beach. Sturdy arms lifted Mole from the boat and set her gently on the sand.

“Mole! Mole! I am so glad you are alive!” Skunk was near to tears. Mole smiled weakly.

“Hullo, Clark,” she said. “Glad to see you. How’ve you been? You look well.”

“What do you mean, how has he been?” Skunk yelled. “He’s been great! I’ve been great! The whole world is great, except you, Mole, who just had to go out on a boat. What were you thinking?”

“Well,” Mole sighed. “Whatever I was thinking, the anticipation was a lot more fun than the action. Clark, thanks for helping Skunk. You probably saved my life.”

Clark licked his paw and smoothed an ear; then he patted Mole on the head.

“Remember the words of Spock.”

“Huh?”

Daily Prompt:Anticipate

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Inamorata

Chapter Five: In Which Skandar Becomes Enamored of Amalia

Corot-Orpheus

Then the great old, young, beautiful princess turned to Curdie.

“Now, Curdie, are you ready?” she said.

“Yes, ma’am,” answered Curdie.

“You do not know what for.”

“You do ma’am. That is enough.”

George MacDonald ~ The Princess and Curdie

The morning after his mishap, a servant helped Skandar to dress and guided him to the common room for breakfast. Sitting at one of the tables was a girl about his age. Also at the table was the innkeeper Virgil.

“Good morning, my lord,” Virgil greeted him. “This is my daughter Amalia. If it pleases you, she will be your companion.”

Amalia smiled and Skandar found he was very well pleased. He noticed that she had placed a large serving of sausages, bread, and jam on her plate and he followed suit. Virgil left the young people to their occupation. It was several minutes before either spoke. At length Amalia set down her knife.

“I heard about what happened. I am very sorry for you. I fell into a bush of nettles once when I was five years old. I will never forget how much it itched. I thought I would die.”

“How did you happen to fall into the nettles?” asked Skandar.

“I was climbing a tree trying to catch caterpillars. There was one beautiful caterpillar just out of my reach. I stretched out as far as I could to seize it and lost my balance and fell. It wasn’t very far to the ground and fortunately, there was a bush to break my fall; unfortunately, the bush was a nettle bush.”

Skandar was duly impressed. She was a person after his own heart.

“What would you like to do today?” asked Amalia.

“Whatever you would like,” answered Skandar.

“Well, then, shall we go?”

Amalia took Skandar’s hand and led him through the common room, into the kitchen, and out the back door of the inn.

As they walked, Amalia pointed out the various sights such as the large oak by the riverbank, the blacksmith’s pet rooster, and the village green. The shops were open for business and the shopkeepers were glad to share samples of their wares with the innkeeper’s daughter and her guest. Amalia told Skandar about her brother, Cyril, her sister, Anna, and her cousins Finn and Bethna. Skandar longed to tell Amalia about his brother, Alanar, but he had strict instructions to no longer speak of him. Instead, he told Amalia that he would reach his twelfth year on the twenty-first of October. She promptly shared that she would be twelve years of age in August, which was in two months time.

Presently, Amalia turned to Skandar and said, “Most people here call me ‘Mole’, it’s short for ‘Amalia.’ You may do the same, if you like.”

Skandar nodded his acquiescence. His companion could have been called anything for all he cared. In his eyes, no name could diminish the sparkle in her grey eyes or the sheen of her glossy brown hair. He considered telling her his nickname; he wondered if she would laugh.

After some hesitation, Skandar cleared his throat.

“I have a nickname, too. It was given me by my bro – by someone at my father’s house.”

Amalia looked at him expectantly.

“It’s ‘Skunk.’” Skandar’s heart pounded. His rash covered the deep blush that crept from his neck to the crown of his head.

“‘Skunk?’ Why are you called ‘Skunk?’”

Skandar pulled his hair back from his face, exposing the two golden stripes of color in his hair.

Amalia’s face lit up.

“How wonderful! Of course, now that you’ve shown me, ‘Skunk’ is a very fitting name.”

Amalia continued. “I have always thought that skunks were some of the world’s most beautiful creatures and were most unfairly misunderstood. Aunt Beryl says that a skunk’s odor is the best cure for a head cold, so whenever I smell one, I breathe deep. ‘Skunk!’ That is a wonderful name! Does everyone call you that? May I call you ‘Skunk?’”

Again Skandar nodded. You can call me anything you like, he thought. Having spent most of his life in the company of his brother, Skandar had never considered that he would encounter another person whose tastes were so similar to his own. And to think that she was a girl!

Daily Prompt:Enamored

Improvisation

Parrish-Pierrots Lanterns

“Once in a while, without rhyme or reason, I am cast in a supporting role in someone else’s drama. I wouldn’t mind so much if they would at least tell me about it and supply me with a script. If I have to improvise, I much prefer a comedy.”

Amalia ~ The Book of Rhino (Between the Lines)

Daily Prompt:Rhyme

Solitary Characters

Korin-Underground Man

It is not only true that humility is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. It is also true that vanity is a much wiser and more vigorous thing than pride. Vanity is social—it is almost a kind of comradeship; pride is solitary and uncivilized. Vanity is active; it desires the applause of infinite multitudes; pride is passive, desiring the applause of only one person, which it has. Vanity is humorous, and can enjoy the joke even of itself; pride is dull and cannot even smile.

G. K. Chesterton ~ Heretics

I equate the novels of Ayn Rand with the word “solitary.” The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged both have as their central character a solitary man, a rugged individualist, who stands alone against the tide of popular opinion.

(Note to self: Are all individualists necessarily rugged? Could other adjectives also apply? John Galt, fluffy individualist. Howard Roark, simpering individualist. Not quite the same magic. No, I think that if a character insists on being an individualist, he (rarely she), must be rugged.)

Solitary characters populate the landscape of Rand’s novels—they are her heroes and heroine’s. One knows they are because (1) only the bad guys travel in packs and (2) the heroes couldn’t tell a joke if their lives depended on it.

(Note to self: Remember that scene where John Galt is tortured by electrical currents? His tormentors want to know where his secret hideout is located. Wouldn’t it be funny if they were trying to force a joke out of him? They would have a better chance of getting him to disclose the hole-in-the-wall gang.)

“What is the joke about a skunk, a mole, and a rabbit who all walk into a bar? Say it, or you’ll get another jolt. Say it! Say it!”

Stubborn—make that rugged—silence.

“Alright, boys, give him another!”

“Wait! The coordinates are 39.1911 degrees north by 106.8175 west. Now may I be excused please?”

Actually, I am not quite correct in stating that Randy characters cannot tell a joke. Sometimes they are the joke. In one scene, Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon are sitting in a restaurant having a decidedly unsolitary dinner. Their conversation includes comments on how self-conscious all the other diners are. If these two rugged (and apparently hungry) individuals are so hell-bent on being solitary, then why do they even notice the other people in the room? I’m sure their fellow diners did not give Dagny and Henry a second thought.

(Note to self: Don’t tell Dagny and Henry. I mean, what is the good of being a solitary character if your efforts go unnoticed? To stand out in a crowd, one not only needs the crowd, but the crowd must acknowledge one’s solitariness)

Daily Prompt:Solitary

Character Quotes

Alvarez-Mandlebrot

Sometimes I scatter words haphazardly across a sheet of paper without any conscious awareness of pattern—just spontaneous outpourings of thoughts and feelings. But when I step back and regard what I have written, I see the universe meant something after all. And I am willing and not willing to have it so.

Trevor ~ The Book of Rhino

Daily Prompt:Willy-nilly

Children of the Con

Children of the Con

“I’m telling you, Ms. Lamont, it’ll be colossal!” the young man said.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “You want to make a movie about an alien race of vampires who lure their victims by means of children wearing dollar bills?”

“That’s right,” he said. He placed dollar bills on the ends of his fingers, and walked his hand across my desk.

“It’s like this. People will see these little kids toddling along wearing shoes made of money. They’re greedy, see, and follow the kids, thinking to grab the dough. The kids lead them down a dark alley and BAM! An alien vampire nabs ‘em.”

“Sorry,” I said, “but it’s just doesn’t send me. It’s not spicy enough.”

“What!” he shouted. “It’s got everything! Aliens! Vampires! Babies!

“No,” I said, as I shook my head. “I’m not interested.”

He rose from his chair. “You’ll regret this. I’ll get financing…I’ll do GoFundMe. It will be a HUGE success!”

In his haste to leave, he lost his footing and did a magnificent pirouette to keep from falling.

“That’s it!” I said. “Make it a musical! Call it ‘Children of the Con.’”

Daily Prompt:Spicy

Revealing Character

anthony-trollope

Of all the tradesmen in London the tailors are, no doubt, the most combative—as might be expected from the necessity which lies upon them of living down the general bad character in this respect which the world has wrongly given them.

Anthony Trollope ~ Can You Forgive Her?

Anthony Trollope frequently used the character of a tailor was to advance the plot of a novel. Often a scene with a tailor was to show the financial state of one of the other characters. William Makepeace Thackeray did this in Vanity Fair with the character of Becky Sharp.

More often than not, tailors did not get paid for their work, which is one of the reasons they were despised. It was an embarrassment for a gentleman to be in debt to his tailor; his fine clothes might fool all of London society into thinking he is rich, but his tailor knew better. And he knew that.

I feel sorry for tailors, both literary and real. I feel combative on behalf of all middle class men and women who are defrauded by the wealthy with whom they do business. It is grossly unfair for anyone to cheat a person out of his or her rightful earnings, but it is especially despicable when the cheater is rich and his victim is not.

One of the themes of Anthony Trollope’s novels is social inequity; he exposes the disparity that exists between the classes. The tailor is his poster child. Good for you, Mr. Trollope.

Daily Prompt:Tailor

 

Perseverance

Wyeth-Amalia

Every person’s life is a journey toward himself, the attempt at a journey, the intimation of a path. No person has ever been completely himself, but each one strives to become so, some gropingly, others more lucidly, according to his abilities. 

Hermann Hesse ~ Demian

Daily Prompt:Grit

Plumb Feisty

Bones and Rocket

“Thar’s our doney gal,” a voice called out. “Cuttin’ up capers, plumb feisty. How ‘bout some sweetheartin’?”

Catherine Marshall ~ Christy

Whenever I read or hear the word caper, I remember a scene from the 1978 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, starring Donald Sutherland as a health inspector. In the scene, Sutherland tours a restaurant suspected of health code violations and finds rat turds in the flour bin. The manager of the restaurant tells him that they are capers. That scene has irrevocably linked capers with rat turds in my imagination.

White House press conferences also remind me of that scene whenever a spokesperson starts spinning the truth; like the restaurant manager, they try to pass off rat turds as capers. At times, it’s really funny to see the contortions into which they twist themselves. They are “cuttin’ up capers” and can get “plumb feisty” in the process.

Currently the White House and the Kremlin are presenting their own version of what happened during the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 conference. Frankly, I suspect both sides of cutting up capers.

Daily Prompt:Caper</a

Blossom Trail

Blossom Trail

The first year in our home, we planted four fruit trees–two peach (white and yellow) and two nectarine (white and yellow.) We loved those little guys! Year after year they produced delicious fruit. There was always such an abundance of peaches and nectarines, we could give plenty away to friends and neighbors. Then the fruit diminished in size and quantity. It was time for the trees to go.

Here in the valley, it is a common site to see fruit trees uprooted and orchards replanted. Even thought I know it’s the nature of things, I always feel a tinge of sadness whenever I see it; I try to drive by reverently with my shoes symbolically off my feet because this is holy ground.

Thus when the day came to say goodbye to our old trees, I stood barefoot in the backyard. In the novel Atlas Shrugged, Eddie describes his impression of a large tree on the Taggart estate. He imagines that if a giant pulled it up, it would swing the Earth around. For some reason, I thought our trees’ roots were be similarly imbedded. I anticipated shrieks and groans as they were pulled protesting from the ground.

Instead, they sort of plopped over with one tug. I guess they were tired.

Daily Prompt: Blossom