Join Date: May 2004
The Captain's Tale
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(Names have been changed to protect the paranoid and implicate the innocent. I paid good coin for my artistic licence, and I intend to get value for my money!!)
When story-tellers gather amongst my people, they say that a story must have a root, to grow big and strong with the telling, and it must have a time and a place. The root of my story is two squabbling old men, the time is some 60 years ago, and the place is all the lands of Middle-Earth.
The first old man was called Willhelm. He was a trader from Rohan, reknown as both a trader in horse flesh but in later life also as a designer and builder of roads. He appreciated how a good, well made road could only increase the demand for the horse's he sold, as well as aid the defense of Middle-Earth from the perennial threat of robber bands of all species. And he grew rich and took a beautiful young wife, a distant cousin of the King, and brought great honour to his family. As was the custom of the Rohan, the wife rode at her husbands side during his many trips and adventures. And as was the custom of married woman, she did not cut her hair but allowed it to grow long and which made her look even more beautiful. When in the due course of time she bore her husband a daughter, the child too travelled with them, wrapped papoose style. Willhelm disguised his feeling well, for he knew there was still many child-bearing years in his wife and soon there would be a son.
They called the child Daisy, to remind them of the beautiful little flowers that grew so freely in the grasslands of Rohan. One day, when Daisy was about three, they stopped to make camp for the night. It was early autumn, and the ground, baked after a long summer's sun, had proved exceptionally dusty. Her mother went to wash her hair in a nearby stream. As it does at that time of year, it suddenly became dark, and a slight chill was in the air. For some reason, the mother leant over the fire to dry her hair and.... (The Englishmen looks distant for a moment, a tear in his eye).. well despite the ministrations of the best horse doctor in a thousand miles, the mother died. During his feverish attempts to save her, he also realised that she was once more with child, and in his heart he knew it would have been the son his bloodlines demanded. And so his heart died too, in a nameless plain, beneath a thousand stars.
And what of Daisy, silent witness to death and horror. For the rest of her life she would wear her hair short, defying the traditions of her people. And she could never love, for things you love are cruelly hurt and taken away. And the fear grew in her that her father had eased the passage of her mother from this world into the next, and that someday he would come and do the same to her. For from now on, there was no love in her father's heart. He blamed himself at first for the death of his wife, for he knew only horse-doctoring, but somehow this grew so that Daisy was to blame as well. So he sold all his horses and concentrated on the road-building and other civic works. They would move from town to town, and always there was a house-keeper or a land-lady on whom the child could be dumped. Most were indifferent to the child, some were cruel. There was never time to start a school, so education was on a makeshift basis. The other children teased her restlessly about the devotions she made to the horse god, the religion of her people. But she also sought out any from Rohan that crossed her path and pumped them for every last story of a homeland and a lifestyle she could barely remember. Until at the age of thirteen, she came to North Town.
But I told you there were two squabbling old men. The second was simply known as Old man trouble - if he had a first or last name, well few men were brave enough to look him in the eye and ask it. He was a bar-room brawler, a thief and in later years a drunkard. Where did he come from - well anywhere that was too far away for the local constable to make enquiries too. He would take a wife, sire half a dozen children or more by her, see her into an early grave worn out by childbirth, and then take another one. He was a stout follower of the the Church of the Body, would thrash his children, womanise and drink, then confess it all once a week in church before starting all over again. In his early days they said he showed great promise in the ranks of the Army of Gondor, rising rapidly and showing an intelligence that marked him out for higher things. But he could never escape his lowly roots, and a weakness for the drink saw him dismissed. After that he went wherever he could get work. He was a sail-maker, a boot-maker, a rag-and-bone man, a wharf-side porter, anything to keep a roof over the head of his ever expanding family. When he met his third wife, Katerine, she persuaded him to come and settle down in North Town, her birth place. As well as his other children, by Katerine he had four living children;Steffan, Romuald, Terrell and Livy. To supplement their income they would take in lodgers, and so it is to this house that Willhelm & Daisy came to stay.
(To be continued\....)