The Veiled Lady’s Cabin

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Double Surprise

Posted by gwenguin1 on February 13, 2009

          Eldest Sister was waiting outside the telegraph office, as though she were expecting to meet someone.  Her head swivelled round and she shifted her weight from one foot to the other, the Duenna noticed she wore her fanciest slippers and prettiest clothes under her cloudy grey cloak.

 

Although Eldest Brother and the Duenna were going to be married today, they waited to see what Eldest Sister was doing.  She was by far the most self-contained and self-reliant of the entire family, and could keep a secret almost too well.

 

Eldest Brother remembered when her told Eldest Sister of his desire to wed the Duenna.  The Duenna was Second Daughter to a prominent family in Court, of good breeding, well behaved and educated, she was an excellent choice for someone of their station.  Even better, she got on well with his siblings and parents, which augured well for harmony in the Court.

 

It was nearly a year ago that they had started planning how to do what they wished, free of the Matriarch and her stifling control.  Eldest Sister was the one who said that he must appear to have passed his interest on to another lady, and the she and the Duenna would have to ‘argue’, to guarantee that Matriarch would choose this Duenna, out of the many she could choose to accompany her on this, her Bridal Voyage.

 

A man, dressed fashionably, and masked, as they were, approached Eldest Sister, and they embraced with a familiarity that shocked Eldest Brother.  He looked closer, and realised that this was the mate Matriarch had chosen for Eldest Daughter.  How was this?  How did he know what they had planned?

 

Holding their hands Eldest Daughter and her Groom-to-be joined Eldest Brother and his Lady-to-be.

 

“How has this come about, O Sister Dear?”  Eldest Brother motioned to the long-distance fiancé.

 

“While our Matriarch wrangled with their family’s Matriarch over residence, inheritances, and Bride Prices.  Arafwyll,” She patted his arm tenderly.  “Wrote to me privately, expressing his regret that we could not meet away from court and prying eyes.”

 

“When your Eldest Sister wrote back, thanking me in the kindest of words, and asked me to be patient, that she had an idea on how to make this happen.  I was not sure.  When she sent me the letter, outlining how we could make this happen, I knew she was the only one for me.”

 

She even planned the timing of the journey, so that her Time would come while we were on board the Vulcania.”

 

“WHY????”  Mrreshell, The Duenna, half-shouted, drawing stares from passers-by.

 

 

“The Laws state that only a wed couple, either with children, or expecting children can claim custody of minor siblings.”  Eldest Sister began to grin wickedly behind her veil.  “Do you think I could leave Youngest Brother and Sister with Matriarch after this?”  She waved her hand at the four of them.

 

Eldest Brother began to laugh, quietly at first, the laughter expanded to helpless guffaws, accompanied by tears running down his face, and whooping gasps for breath.

 

At that moment, the head of Vulcania’s Day Care Centre came around the corner, with one sibling pulling each hand as he laughed around the packages and bags he carried.

 

“I’m sorry we’re late!”  He spoke around another chuckle as Youngest Brother began to rifle through the packages.

 

“AHA!!  There it is!!  This is for you Mrreshell, you cannot be married without a Fertility Stone!!”  He held out a clear quartz crystal, studded with smaller crystals.

 

“Oh, Djarkhell, it is perfect!”  She leaned down and kissed the lad in question as she held the Fertility Stone close to her breast.

 

“I am sorry that they dragged you about as they…”

 

“No apologies needed, you should have seen them, choosing gifts.  Youngest Daughter here.”  He stroked her shoulders tenderly.  “Has quite the eye for flowers.  The bouquets she ordered are lovely.  Isn’t that right Arra?”

 

Eldest Sister caught the diminutive of Arraschanl, and smiled,
“I see she has you charmed already.”

 

“How could she not?  Even hiding behind that veil she is a delight.”  He had one around each sibling.

 

“If you have no pressing duties back aboard ship, I would like to invite you to the wedding of Eldest Brother, Hrrkrrl, to my favourite Duenna, Mrreshell.”

 

“I would be honoured to witness such a joyous occasion.”  He smiled hugely, and then stared downwards, his face transfixed in surprise.  “Whatthe..?”

 

Youngest Brother had been swinging his feet restlessly, and one slipper has fallen off.  There was one silky-furred paw, the toes clearly defined.  He looked at Eldest Sister in tearful dismay.

 

She knelt down and comforted him with delicate touches.  “It’s all right sweeting, he would have found out as soon as he assisted Eldest Brother dress for the wedding.”

 

The Caregiver was still staring, as Eldest Sister allowed him a glimpse under her veil.

 

“Wh-what are you?”  To his credit he did not seem horrified or disgusted by meeting an obviously non-human species of Lemuria.

 

“Let Hrrkrrl tell you inside, you must keep this a secret still.  If word were to get out now, it would be a disaster for all of us.”

 

“I… I… give my word.  Do the Admiral and Captain know?”

 

“Yes they do, they had to be part of the arrangements in order for it to work.”

 

“This is going to sound dumb.  Aren’t you afraid of the Werewolves?”  He was quickly regaining his composure, and curiosity.

 

“No they are of a different magic than we are.  We bear one another no enmity.”  Now Hrrkrrl spoke, his voice startlingly deep. 

 

“The Wedding?”  Mrreshell reminded them gently.

Posted in Eldest Brother, Eldest Daughter's Diary, The Duenna's Journal, The Matriarch | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Matriarch’s Letter

Posted by gwenguin1 on February 13, 2009

“Dear Matriarch,

 

As you are reading this, Eldest Brother and my Duenna are being wed, according to the customs of our people.  Prince Arafwll will be joining us at that time, and after a period of courtship we too, will be wed.  We planned this to be in time with our Fertile Seasons, so that we will be able to claim young Djarkhell and Arraschanl as part of our family.

 

I am terribly sorry that this had to be accomplished in this fashion, but, we knew that you would never allow us to do what we felt was best for our siblings.  I will make proper restitution as soon as I am settled in Arafwll’s home country.

 

The second reason we did it thus was to save our country from destitution, the weddings you would have planned would have beggared Feffae for generations; and we could not countenance seeing this happen to our homeland.

 

I ask you to check our Personal Account Balance at the Royal Bank, you will see that my bride-price has been paid, and from that, the Bride-Price for Mrreshell has been paid to her family.  I have made as much of the arrangements for this openly and above board as I could.

 

Enclosed you will find the Matrimonial Contract for our Hrrkrrl and Mrreshell, duly witnessed and signed by a Priest and Priestress of our Country and Church.  In our next letter to you I will enclose the Matrimonial Contract for Arafwll and myself.  When it is time, I will send you witnessed copies of Proof of Pregnancy papers for both couples, also signed by a Priest and Priestress.

 

Again, please accept my most abject apologies for doing this, but you made it impossible for us to use any initiative or decency in the matter of our marriages.

 

With Love and Respect,

Murrakrrrl Redstripe,

Eldest Daughter”

 

The servants quailed when Matriarch screeched, loud enough to rattle leaves from the flowering vines climbing the Royal House’s outer walls.  Her personal servants stared at one another in horror when she began to laugh.

 

A full ten minutes had passed and still Matriarch was laughing, an honest expression of delight.  Finally, in nearly twenty minutes, she had recovered enough to summon the Patriarch, her Son-in-Law, to her personal Sun-Room.

 

“Well, Prramll, I owe you an apology.”  Her words were suffused with laughter still.  “Murrakrrrl has staged a non-violent coup for the thrones of our Country, and Prince Arafwll’s.  Here, read this!”

 

Prramll read the letter, then again, and a third time before he looked up.  “She is so much like her mother Pwllfll, it makes my heart ache.”  He looked at Matriarch and tears glistened in his golden eyes.

 

“You still miss our Pwll don’t you?”  Although she never let slip, she had adored her only child, a lovely, and fearless daughter.  She had let Pwll run a bit wild, only curtailing her adventures when she might endanger her life, country, or the Royal House.

 

To her amazement, Pwll had grown up with a deep, endless love for her people and country; so much so, that she chose her husband according to what she felt the country needed in a Patriarch, and then instilled that love of country and people in her children.

 

This love of country ran so deeply, that when a flood endangered a southern province’s people, she went to the beleaguered people herself to join in the rescue efforts.

 

She had been there scant hours, and the aging dam that held the waters of the spring melt crumbled and swept everyone downstream to the sea, including Pwllfll and the rescue personnel.  No bodies could be recovered, and funeral services were dreadfully brief and unsatisfactory.

 

Both Prramll and the Matriarch were devastated by the loss, and showed their grief in different ways.  Prramll had focused all of his attention on his children, ignoring even his adopted country.  He showered his children with love, and spent hours playing with the younger ones as well as long discussions with his eldest son and daughter on how to be a good ruler for their countries.

 

He also showered them with praise, proudly telling them how much like their mother they were in courage, intelligence, passion, and love of country.

 

Matriarch could not bear the thought of loving anyone and feeling the pain of loss, so she froze everyone out, and tried to protect her grandchildren from everything.  Her controlling ways, and sharp disposition created a hard shell between herself the people around her.

 

Her grandchildren seemed to barely remember Matriarch happily rocking them to sleep, humming lullabyes and reading them nursery rhymes. She never visited without gifts for them, always chosen with much thought and care.

 

It was she who gifted Murrakrrrl with her fist set of paints and paid for lessons with the greatest living artist of the time.  She had read poetry tirelessly to all of them, and found short stories that would have all four of her grandchildren curled in bed together with her and giggling, as she would use different voices for the characters.

 

“Matriarch dear.”  Prramll spoke gently.  “You do not owe me an apology.  But you do owe me a thank you, I was the one that taught Murra that violence would solve nothing, and that there is an intelligent, peaceful solution to almost every problem one may encounter.”

 

“I owe you far more than that.  Had done as you had the right to do and returned to your homeland, you would have taken my grandchildren with you, and I would have been left with empty castle, plans, and heart.”

 

“I could not have done that to the mother of my beloved Pwll!  You adore your grandchildren, and have always behaved as if you were truly fond of me.”

 

“I love you Prramll, you brought so much happiness to Pwll, and were a good husband, son, and father.  You have made Patriarch’s condition more bearable by your presence.”

 

At this moment a servant entered the room, carrying a gaily wrapped parcel.  “Matriarch, Lady Murrakrrrl asked me to give this to you when you had read her letter and had had a chance to calm down.”

 

He sat the parcel on the table and bowed his way from the room quickly.

 

Matriarch stared at the parcel for a long moment before even touching it, seeing Murrakrrrl carefully wrapping and labelling it for her.

 

She opened it carefully, and looked at the jewellery box, she recognised it as the first one she had gifted Murra with.  Inside was a piece of artist’s paper, carefully rolled, one of Hrrkrrl’s earliest sculptures, the Commander from Djarkhell first set of toy soldiers, and Arraschanl’s beloved locket. She realised that all of them were gifts she had given the children, or made with gifts she had given them.

 

She unrolled the paper, and she knew that Murra had painted this portrait of Pwllfll with the first set of paints Matriarch had given her.

 

The sculpture was of her mate, when he was younger.  Now he was barely living, unable to feed or care for himself and requiring a servant at his side every second.

 

She lifted the Commander out of the jewellery box, she smiled at the dents and nicks, remembering Djarkhell stretched out on the floor with her and building elaborate battle scenes that would fill the entire floor.

 

Her hands were shaking as she opened the locket, inside were two tiny paintings, one of Pwllfll and Prramll, the other herself and her mate.  She remembered Arra telling her that she had pictures of her very favouritest people in her locket. On the back the engraving was clear, “Love, Grandmother”.

 

Her eyes met Prramll’s and they were full to overflowing with tears.

Posted in The Matriarch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Eldest Brother, pt. II

Posted by gwenguin1 on February 1, 2009

After conferring with the Captain, we agreed that Eldest Sister and I would search for the poor hatchling.  We knew that by now it would be starving, cold, and terrified; as well as being utterly alone, something Queen Dragons should never know.

Sister had two huge bowls of raw meat scraps sent to our cabin, and then we began our search, always keeping in mind that time was not on our side.  If much more time passed the hatchling would just curl up and shut down, which would prove fatal at her young age.

Eldest Sister has always been aware of others’ suffering, more than most of our people are naturally.  I chose to stick with her, so we would have enough to fill the belly of an Imperial 5-toed dragonette.

As I knew she would, Eldest Sister found the hatchling easily, and she was able to coax it out of hiding with tempting morsels of chewed meat and her entire repertoire of sounds.  No sooner had the babe poked her head out of hiding than the ship’s horn blew, scaring her half out of her wits.

Sister was right there, cooing and snuggling the wobbly head that was larger than Sister’s body.  The baby butted her and squalled plaintively, then sniffed Sister’s mouth in search of more of the delectable meat that she craved so.

Sister laughed and popped a hunk in her mouth and chewed quickly, before spitting it into the dragonette’s mouth.  The mouth gawped open, full of small, sharp teeth, and accepted the morsels as fast as we could chew and spit.

All the while, we led the hatchling closer and closer to our rooms.  As she trundled behind us she flapped her wings and they seemed to grow as she stretched them out from being held tightly in place when she was in the egg.

By the time we had reached our rooms, ‘our’ dragonette was standing taller, and wobbled less.  We could nearly see the bites of meat, her belly was that full.  When the horns blew again, she stood as tall as she could and bellowed defiance to the world  in general. 

The noise awakened Youngest Brother and Sister, who were delighted by the addition to our family.  Sister immediatelty began grooming the dragonette who writhed in delight and regaled us with the sweetest cooing she could muster, which still sounded huge in a cabin sized for someone of our diminutive stature.

It didn’t take long at all for Sister to settle the dragonette and Youngest Brother and Sister into bed, there seemed to be little space for us, until we dragged the wooden frame from the duenna’s room and slid two of the feather mattresses over for us to sleep on.

We climbed into the bed, as did my sweet Mrreshell, the Duenna, and we were asleep before Eldest Sister blew out the last lamp.

The New Hatchling

The New Hatchling

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For the Lost and Found, Part 1

Posted by gwenguin1 on January 27, 2009

Eldest Brother’s Find

Last night, whilst most of the guests and crew were sleeping, we took the opportunity to explore the ship.  Everything was so modern, and complex. gleaming with regular polishings.

 The most exciting part of the night, though, was my find, down near the Engine Rooms,  I smelled something unfamiliar to the ship, and we followed the scent until we found the source.

In a wee cabin, the floor covered with sand, there were the pieces of a very large egg.  It must have been opened with great force for the fragments were scattered over the whole floor, and stuck to the walls and ceiling.

“Look at this Hrrkwyll!  It is a claw!  I want to know what it came from.  I am almost sure it came from a dragon…”  She paused as her words put everyone on high alert.

“No need to get all fluffed!  Look at the egg, it is stil damp, and the claw is as well.  If it is a dragon it only a few hours old, and still mostly harmless.”

“But where is the mother?”  Asked Yougest Sister, her eyes wide and staring.

“I doubt that she is here.  This room is far too small to hold a full-grown dragon.  I think someone aboard this ship has stolen a dragon’s egg.  The poor kit, the world is hard enough, without being motherless from birth.”

“Trust Eldest Sister to worry about a baby dragon!!  Youngest Brother spoke in proud, but laughing, voice.

All of us hurried back to our rooms, unsure if we wanted to be about whilst a baby dragon was looking for its first meal.

 Eldest Sister and I dared a quick trip to the Ship’s Library, and found several good books on dragons to borrow.

As soon as we were in the room where the other three were sleeping Eldest Sister began devouring a book on the identification of dragon species.  She read quietly, quickly as I began to look at another book, which offered little in the way of identifiable characteristics.

“I was right!!  See, here it is…”  Eldest Sister turned the book so I could see it as well.  The images of both egg and claw were an obvious match to what we had seen, except for the colour of the eggs.  The one we had found looked like burnished gold, and the one in the book was a heady shade of  indigo.

“See what it says under the picture of the egg…”  Eldest Sister pointed to the small print beneath the image.

‘The egg will match the colour of the gatchling inside, with the most rare being the Golden Queen egg.’

“Later in the paragraph it says that the Golden Egg is only laid in clutches of thirty or more.  Now I am sure that someone stole that egg!  And what an egg!  I wonder if they survived the theft?”

“Does it say whay kind of dragon was in the egg?”

“Yes it does, and that frightens me.  “It is the Queen egg of an Imperial 5-Toed Dragon.  We must report this to the Captain immediately!!”

I went to rouse the Captain, who followed me to our rooms, and listened to Eldest Sister.  I was shocked to see that the Captain knew what we are, and was calm at the sight of us without our Glamourie.

This is the Dragon Claw I found

This is the Dragon Claw I found

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Posted by gwenguin1 on January 17, 2009

The Duenna’s Journal

 

 

 

This cruise has been amazing.  Eldest Sister was right when she told us how to get what we wanted from Matriarch. Right now all four of them are piled into the feather bed and Eldest Sister is telling them a story.  It is one that she wrote for her brothers and sister.  I must admit she does tell a good tale, and this is one she was inspired to create.

 

I remember so clearly when she wrote it.  Matriarch was busily touring the Estates, and would brook no ‘interference’ from the ‘Children’ as she called them, although three of them were of marriageable age.

 

All of us were lounging around her rooms, and she was writing, swiftly that she had ink dots all over her hands.  She would write, the pen scratching like a hurried mouse, and then read what she had written out loud to us.

 

This is her tale:

“Once upon a time a lovely and wise fairy was travelling through the worlds and she stopped at a particularly beautiful world.  There were flowers blooming in riotous colours; creeping along the ground, weighing down the bushes they were a part of, creeping with their ivy up the trees, which were full of blossoms as well.

 

Clear, sweet water rippled over smooth pebbles in rainbow shades, and pale tinted water flowers floated in the still places.  The breezes were soft and fragrant from all of the blooms, and the grasses that waved a lively greeting to the sun, sky, and clouds.

 

All day this fairy wandered this quiet world and found no animals, not so much a butterfly, or wee lizard.  She felt this to be very sad, and she knew she could not leave the world as lonely as it was now.  She began to make living things to inhabit and enjoy this world.

 

She stood in the water, and cupped handfuls up, breathing across the surface with loving magic.  Each handful became a fish that leapt from her hands into the water, and swam away with bubbling flourishes of their tails.  Some of them became coloured by the westering suns, and other were touched by the rainbows, and others were of the night sky, glistening black as they joined their brethren in the waters of life.

 

All night she rested, until the suns broke free of the tree line and spread their golden light through the branches of the trees.  From these little rays of dawn light she made wee birds, who then chose safe branches to sit on and sing.  And sing they did, filling the once-silent air with gaiety and music.

 

Other birds she made from flowers, gently kissing each bloom into brilliant life.  These birds flew higher and deeper into the forest, and the raucous calls they made to one another echoed back to the fairy, and she knew it was good.

 

 By evening she had finished all manner of flying creatures, not just birds, but insects, bats, and small furry things that spread their sides out and sailed on air currents from one tree to another.  She slept on the soft grass while night birds called softly from the shadows of the forest.

 

The world was alive the next morn, birds were seeking fruit or insects for their breakfast, and the fish slipped through the waters, one would occasionally leap from the water surrounded by crystalline drops of water, then splash back into their home leaving froth and bubbles behind them.

 

This day, the fairy began to make creatures that crawled on the land, she plaited ropes of grass, long and sinuous, and called them snakes, and scatterings of small twigs were made into worms to care for the soil.  Leaves she fashioned into lizard of all sorts, while water lily pads became frogs to live at the water’s edge.  Evening found her watching the frogs and lizards settle themselves in for the night.

 

Tonight she had the night birds, the frogs, and toads singing her to sleep, and a light mist softened the outlines of everything.  She dreamt of small furry things, skittering through the grasses and hiding beneath fallen leaves and grey-green mosses.

 

The new morning couldn’t come soon enough for the fairy, she was that full of ideas and plans for the daylight hours. She watched the coming dawn, awed by the slow advance of the light, in pastels clinging to the horizon in soft layers.

 

From wee clumps of moss, and flower heads she made the small, scurrying things that live in the safety of shadows and darkness.  She gathered the fluff of grasses and made tree dwellers from them, long strips of bark she breathed life into and they became weasels, and rabbits.

 

She fell asleep that night, planning larger lives for the morrow, ones that would live longer than a season or two, and could be seen from a distance.  Some of them she knew would be challenging, and that she would love them more for it.

 

At first light she began, taking the pinks of dawn and fashioning a flock of birds to feed in the shallows on long black legs.  The early morning sky grew wings and stood still at the water’s edge, one leg aloft and waiting for an unwary fish.

 

From the barks of trees she fashioned things like foxes, fleet of foot and fearless of heart, eyes shining like black pebbles under water.  At the edge of am endless grassland, she found a half-burned log and from this she made the first badgers, their long, low bodies camouflaged in the shadows, and long, sharp claws so right for digging.

 

The arch of a tree limb delighted her, and with those images she awakened the first antelope and deer, from lumbering hillocks of dark soil came the first buffalo.  She held her breath in wonder as they thundered across the grasses.

 

Another tree gave birth to the horse, that glorious beast, imbued with power, grace, and beauty.  From the bleached bones of an ancient oak she brought to life elk, stately and impressive, their racks spread over 10 feet from tip-to-tip.

 

A long golden rock was stroked into a big cat, lounging in the sun with a full belly.  The depthless golden eyes and disturbingly large, sharp teeth proved that this species does not eat grasses or leaves.

 

The scud of dark clouds racing along the horizon, followed by a loud, mournful wind were her wolves.  All the colours of clouds, with all-knowing eyes, the wolves howled to the moons sailing across the evening sky.

 

That night the fairy’s dreams were amorphous; yet clear as a dewdrop in the early morning sun.  She knew that this was to be wondrous, with a magic, allure and beauty unmatched by any other animal.  Something warm, soft, and gentle, to snuggle close and delight in their presence.

 

Through the day the fairy searched for the basis for this wonderful life that begged for life.  Was it from the froth of the waterfalls?  No, not there.

 

Could it be from the long curls of shredded bark, so artfully hanging from the tree?  Her dream-creature was not there either.

 

All day she searched, finding not the beginnings of the new life waiting to be born.  She sat in a wee glade, feeling dejected and helpless.

 

She picked up a fluff if thistledown, rubbing it into a lithe form full of grace and energy.  She thought of the creature from her dream, the sweet buttings of silken fur and moist noses.  In her mind she could her the song? Of this life, a soft rhythmic rumble that was soothing and hypnotic.

 

She felt the fur she held in her dreams, and warmth under that.  There was a small, graceful form with dainty feet, weighting her hand down.  Now she could see the most amazing eyes; clear, and in glowing colours, the shades of precious jewels.

 

A sweet trill of sound made her open her eyes, there, sitting in her palm was the first cat.  As soft and white as thistledown, with whiskers made of spider webs.  The eyes were the exact colour of sapphires, and looking up at her in adoration.

 

And this, my dears, is the tale of the Thistle Down Cat. “

 

Eldest Sister put down the journal and looked around her.  Everyone, even the Duenna were curled together on the bed, sleeping blissfully.  Eldest Sister’s face was full of love as she put the journal to one side before turning off the lamp and snuggled closer to her family.

The Thistle Down Cats 

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Ready for The Veiled Lady

Posted by gwenguin1 on December 29, 2008

The maid looked around the cabin reserved for The Veiled Lady and her duenna, there were gossamer curtains layered within the doorway and over the portholes in both stateroom cabins.  The French doors looking out on the deck were also covered with lovely silk curtains that obscured the view, but did not block the light.

 

Everything was as had been requested in the letter the maid kept tucked in her crisp white linen apron’s pocket.  The portholes were open to fresh air, there were lamps of perfumed oils hanging from the ceiling,  and extra feather mattresses on the large bed, draped with iridescent white silk.

 

There were plants everywhere the maid could fit them as well as cut flowers on every table.  The desk had several lamps hanging from the ceiling, and a crystal  ink bottle with new pen on the mahogany writing surface.  The whole rooom had been scented by simmering lavender flowers overnight.

 

The duenna’s room was the far opposite, no satin or silk curtains, no scented linens, not even a mattress on the bed.  A wooden plank set on blocks with a dense woolen blanket and there was not even a pillow to soften the austere features.

 

AS she closed the door, she slipped the special gloves enclosed wuth the letter in the same pocket as the letter itself.

Posted in Preparations for the Cruise | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Eldest Daughter’s Diary

Posted by gwenguin1 on January 9, 2009

6 January, 2009

Aboard the SS Vulcania

 

We have boarded safely, and Matriarch never suspected our subterfuges.  Eldest and Youngest Brothers are delighted with their quarters, as is Youngest Daughter.  Now we can but pray that the rest of our plans come to fruition.  By the time that Matriarch returns from inspecting the family holdings, she will find a greatly reduced family.

 

Our Machiavellian web has grown frightfully large, what with freeing servants (we are the first of our people and family to do so) and taking their places, even wearing their rough garments and no footwear!!  I am beyond delighted to do away with those unnatural, cloddish shoes!!

 

The necessity of veils or masks is miserable, the Brothers complain mightily about how the masks crush their whiskers.  I should like them to do so with the set of whiskers a Patriarch has grown.

 

My duenna and I are looking forward to our tour of the Vulcania, as are the rest of my family.  I wish I could sit on the rail comfortably and watch the water.  It is hypnotic and soothing to watch the wake leap from the prow of the ship, the dolphins that frolic to starboard and larboard (I think that is the term) sound so happy to see us atop their homeland.

 

It was so exciting to actually be untied from the dock and pulled to the deeps by the tugs.  Ships’ horns and alarums wailed, everyone was shouting to and from the Vulcania.  Long streamers in bright colours stretched from dock to ship, and a veritable storm of balloons were freed at the precise second the tugs freed us to move under our own steam.

 

Youngest Brothers was so excited that he nearly fell overboard while throwing streamers and confetti.  Eldest Brother laughed and caught him by the hem of his shirt, and let him enjoy this novel freedom.

 

Youngest Sister, who had been slated for a cold, repressive religious order Matriarch thought would ‘whip her into shape’, was almost hysterical with excitement.  Eldest Brother and I knew that she would be up half the night, panting and overheated, but fully alive.

 

Eldest Brother has brought his lady on the cruise, right under the nose of Matriarch!!  He spent a terribly stiff evening entertaining the ‘suitable’ cookie-cutter femmes, none of whom hadn’t even thought to entertain the notion of being independent.

 

After the ladies had been escorted to their carriage and left the family compound, Eldest Brother told Matriarch that he agreed to accompany the least threatening of the femmes to a museum opening in Jhumazdh and would be gone for three days.

 

I told Matriarch that I wished to spend some time with Youngest Brother and Sister prior to my departure, and she lapped it up greedily.  She was so pleased at the thought that she sent money with our bodyguards to purchase sweets for us!

 

I am sitting here, in the soft warmth of an oil lamp, adding this to my diary.  At our first port of call I plan to send a wire to Matriarch, to apologise for leaving her in such a manner, and also to inform her that none of us wish to be her heir, not at the price she asks.

Posted in Eldest Daughter's Diary | 8 Comments »

Eldest Daughter

Posted by gwenguin1 on January 9, 2009

Eldest Daughter's 'Silly' Paints

Eldest Daughter's 'Silly' Paints

 

Eldest Daughter allowed herself the rare pleasure of doing some watercolour sketches of the dolphins that delight  her by cavorting by the ship, and talking so joyously.

Posted in Eldest Daughter's Sketches | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

“We Must Start Now”

Posted by gwenguin1 on January 3, 2009

“We must start now.”  She said, in her tiresome, oh-so-prim voice, the voice that irritated three generations of the family.  She was the Matriach so it was verboten to argue or show irritation. 

 

“You…”  She pointed at the eldest.  “You will do as I say, without any of your romantic notions.  We do not indulge in such fancies in this family.”

 

“You, stop hiding behind the pillar, and stand where I can see you.”  The First Son had been sidling away, hoping to avoid another  dressing-down.

 

Second Son was sitting patiently, staring at nothing, his eyes faraway.  Youngest Daughter was still young enough to have tasted little of the sharp side to Matriach’s temperament.

 

“You.”  Matriarch returned her attention to Eldest, her heir and grand-daughter.  “You will go, with the duenna I choose, and you will do it with the grace and character our family is known for.”

 

“But, Grandmother…”  Eldest began.

 

“But nothing, you have known since weaning this is what you are expected to do.”  Matriarch’s voice grew  sharper.  Eldest’s brothers cringed, knowing how quickly Matriarch lectures could turn into a harangue on every failing,  flaw, and sin (real or imagined) of the one who dared question her, even if Matriarch was patently in error.

 

“You will not deviate one whit from what I have said.  None of your complaints, whining or wheedling, you know what to do, and how to do it.”  Matriarch’s voice was hard as rocks underfoot.

 

“Yes, Matriarch.”  Eldest put as much acquiescence as she could pretend into her voice, hoping to allay Matriarch and thus save the entire family from being harangued interminably.

 

“Now… go and pack your things, and none of those silly paints or diaries.  Pack your prettiest clothes, and all of your jewellery.  Get some prettier slippers than those frights on your feet now!  And while you’re at it, get yourself a makeover, you look frumpy and spinsterish.”

 

“Yes Grandmother.”  Eldest stood and walked from the room, her grace and energy in every line. 

 

“And walk like a lady, not an alley cat in heat!!!”  Matriarch’s words followed her like vengeful bees, still intent on stinging.

 

“You!”  Matriarch turned her attention to Eldest Son.  “Have you done as I told you and ectricated yourself from that… that… moggy?”  None of the ladies Eldest Son had been seen in the company of met Matriach’s exacting standards.

 

“Yes Matriach.”  Eldest Son was a skilled dissembler, he had no intention of shedding himself of a charming, intelligent, and well-bred lady’s attention because of some imagined flaw Matriarch found.

 

“Good.  I have arranged for you to meet some suitable young ladies tomorrow evening.  Do be charming, and well-dressed.  We can’t have them thinking that we cannot afford proper clothes.”

 

Eldest Son knew what that meant, another evening of listening to Matriarch pontificate to some weak, insipid femmes, with no spirit or passion.

 

“You!!”  Matriarch turned to Youngest Son, who ferigned complete attention.  “Hmmmnnnppphhh…  I doubt you were paying attention.”

 

Younget Son rattled off everything that had been said, inflection-perfect.

 

“Don’t be impertinent, it is not likeable or attractive.”  Matriarch never relented, or admitted that she might be wrong.  “Go, and tell Eldest Sister that she needs to hurry, she will be leaving in just three days.”

 

Youngest Son left Matriarch room gratefully and went to Eldest Daughter’s rooms.  She was giggling with the duenna Matriarch had chosen.

 

“We did it!  We did it!!  Matriarch is so sure we are fighting  she wouldn’t consider sending anyone else!!”  Eldest Daughter and the duenna embraced and threw themselves across the bed.

Posted in Preparations for the Cruise | Tagged: , , , | 13 Comments »