October 31, 2012

EARTH AND AIR by Peter Dickinson

 

I was told 30 October is the OFFICIAL pub day at Small Beer Press.

http://smallbeerpress.com/books/2012/10/22/earth-and-air/

In today’s modern ebook and internet world publication days aren’t what they used to be, but I wanted to make more noise about Peter’s new book anyway so today will do fine.  I’ve already posted a few excerpts, stand by for a few more.  This is from RIDIKI:

 

. . . “Horned viper,” said Papa Alexi, when he showed him. “Got her on the tongue, see? Vicious bite he’s got. Much worse than the common one. Kill a strong man. Bad luck, Steff, very bad luck. Nice dog.”

He carried her on and laid her down beside the fig-tree, covering her body with the old sack she used to sleep on in the corner by the mule-shed. He tied the fig branches out of his way, fetched a crowbar and spade and sweated the rest of the afternoon away prodding and scooping and chopping through roots, picking out the larger rocks from the spoil and setting them aside. When the farm woke and people started to come and go, some of them asked what he was up to. He just grunted and worked on.

By sunset the hole was as deep as the reach of his arm. He changed her everyday collar for her smart red Sunday one with the brass studs, wrapped her in the sack and lowered her into the grave. Gently he covered her with the larger rocks he’d kept, fitting them together according to their shapes and then ramming earth between them in a double layer, proof against any possible scavenger.

Finally he filled in the hole and spread what was left of the spoil back under the fig. The stars were bright by the time he fetched a small flask of oil from the barrel in the larder and poured it slowly over her grave.

“Good-bye, Ridiki.” he said. “Good-bye.”

He scattered the remaining handful of earth over the grave, let the fig-branches back to hide and shelter it, and turned away.

The evening meal was long over, but he couldn’t have eaten. He sat until almost midnight on the boulder beside the vegetable patch with her old collar spread between his hands and his thumbs endlessly caressing the wrinkled leather. The constellations wheeled westward and the lights of the fishing-boats moved quietly around Thasos. When he was sure that there’d be no one about to speak to him he coiled the collar tightly in on itself, put it in his shirt pocket, went up to his cot in the loft over the store room and lay down, knowing he wouldn’t sleep.

But he did, and dreamed. He was following Ridiki along a track at the bottom of an unfamiliar valley, narrow and rocky. She was trotting ahead with the curious prancing gait her bent leg gave her, her whole attitude full of amused interest, ears pricked up and cupped forward, tail waving above her back, as if she expected something new and fascinating to appear round the next corner, some odour she could nose into, some little rustler she could pounce on in a tussock beside the path—pure Ridiki, Ridiki electric with life.

The track turned, climbed steeply. Ridiki danced up it. He scrambled panting after her. The cave seemed to appear out of nowhere. She trotted weightless towards it, while he toiled up, heavier and heavier. At the entrance she paused and looked back at him over her shoulder. He tried to call to her to wait, but no breath would come. She turned away and danced into the dark. When he reached the cave the darkness seemed to begin like a wall at the entrance. He called again and again. Not a whisper of an echo returned. He had to go, he couldn’t remember why.

“I’m coming back,” he told himself. “I’ll make sure I remember the way.”

But as he trudged sick-hearted along the valley everything kept shifting and changing. A twisted tree beside the track was no longer there when he looked back to fix its shape in his mind, and the whole landscape beyond where it should have been was utterly unlike any he had seen before.

At first light the two cocks crowed, as always, in raucous competition. He had grown used to sleeping through the racket almost since he’d first come to live on the farm, but this morning he shot fully awake and lay in the dim light of early dawn knowing he’d never see Ridiki again. . . .

All day that one moment of the dream—Ridiki vanishing into the dark, as sudden as a lamp going out—stayed like a shadow at the side of his mind. It didn’t change. He had a feeling both of knowing the place and of never having been there before. But if he tried to fix anything outside the single instant it was like grasping loose sand. The details trickled away before he could look at them.

He fetched his midday meal from the kitchen and ate it in the shade of the fig-tree, and then, while the farm settled down to its regular afternoon stillness, went to look for Papa Alexi.

Papa Alexi was Steff’s great-uncle, his grandfather’s brother. Being a younger son he’d had to leave the farm, and look for a life elsewhere. He wasn’t anyone’s father, but people called him Papa because he’d trained as a priest, but he’d stopped doing that to fight in the resistance, and then in the terrible civil wars that had followed. That was when he’d stopped believing what the priests had been teaching him, so he’d spent all his working life as a schoolmaster in Thessaloniki. He’d never married, but his sister, Aunt Nix, had housekept for him after her own husband had died. When he’d retired they’d both come back to live on the farm, in the old cottage where generations of other returning wanderers had come to end their days in the place where they’d been born.

The farm could afford to house them. There were other farms in the valley, as well as twenty or thirty peasant holdings, but Deniakis was much the largest, with Nikos and three other farm hands, and several women, on the pay-roll, working a large section of the fertile land along the river, orchards and vineyards, and a great stretch of the rough pasture above them running all the way up to the ridge.

Steff found papa Alexi as usual under the vine, reading and drowsing and waking to read again. To-day Aunt Nix was sitting opposite him with her cat on her lap and her lace-making kit beside her.

“You poor boy,” she said. “I know how it feels. It’s no use anyone saying anything, is it?”

Steff shook his head. He didn’t know how to begin. Papa Alexi marked his page with a vine-leaf and closed the book.

“But you wanted something from us all the same?” he said.

“Well . . . are there any caves up in the mountains near here? Big ones, I mean. Not like that one on the way to Crow’s Castle—you can see right to the back of that without going in.”

“Not that I know of,” said Papa Alexi.

“What about Tartaros?” said Aunt Nix. “That’s a really big, deep cave, Steff. It’s on the far side of Sunion. . . . Nanna Tasoula told me it used to be one of the entrances to the underworld. There was this nymph Zeus had his eye on, only his brother Dis got to her first and made off with her, but before he could get back into the underworld through one of his regular entrances Zeus threw a thunderbolt at him. Only he missed and split the mountain apart and made an opening and Dis escaped down there. That’s why it’s called Tartaros. . . .”

 

More and more Pavlova

 

. . . Well, puppyhood doesn’t last long. . . .

VOICE LESSONS START AGAIN NEXT MONDAY.  YAAAAAAAAAY.  Like I have time to drop voice lessons back into the maelstrom.  While Pavlova is still little and somewhat, ahem, unpredictable* I’m going to take her along, and walk her either before or after;**  there are some nice footpaths out there, and she’s still small enough to pick up if we meet any dogs of uncertain intentions.***  Which will also be when I find out that voice lessons make her howl.  She doesn’t howl when I’m just dubbing around with the piano, but the emphasis there is on the ‘dubbing’.  Nadia will have me begging for mercy pretty quickly I fear, possiby in shrill and squeaky tones.  I had all these plans about the music I was going to learn while she was off having babies, to impress her with when she got back.  Sigh.  But I do have a PUPPY.

I had a fabulous new idea about socialising said puppy.  Today I took her to a rose nursery.†  Hey, there are PEOPLE at a rose nursery.††  There might even be other dogs.  And in fact there were other dogs:  a friendly Corgi and a shepherd/collie cross who shares Darkness’ attitude toward puppies, including the strong direct ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ glare at the human responsible.  And tonight going bell ringing when I put her back in her crate as we were about to begin she had a strop, clearly saying, SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TEACH ME TO RING?  I CAN STAND ON A BOX, CAN’T I?  STOP TRIFLING WITH ME.  I’M NOT JUST LITTLE AND CUTE.

* * *

* I can’t tell if any of this isn’t just that she’s a puppy and sphincter control is variable.  She’s mostly getting through the nights clean and dry^ but she has yet to get through a day without peeing on her crate bedding at least once.  Arrrgh.  It may be partly that she still likes indoors so much better than outdoors—indoors has FOOOOOOOOD and TOYS and HELLHOUNDS!!!!—that she doesn’t finish the frelling job.  There are downsides to everything.  I’m delighted to have a FOOOOOOOOD-oriented dog because it means you can always catch her attention—and as we roll into winter I hope it means she’s not going to be hanging around outdoors to cavort in the arctic blast^^—but she is a trifle too distractible.  When you’re outside waiting for her to relieve herself you can’t afford to pull out the little rustly bag of puppy kibble till after she’s finished what she’s doing OR SHE’LL STOP IN THE MIDDLE to dash up, plaster herself against your leg and look hopeful.  THAT’S THE WRONG KIND OF SPHINCTER CONTROL, HONEYBUN.^^^

She also doesn’t like the dark much.  This means that at night I can stand, with somewhat dubious complacency, at the top of the little curly walkway in Peter’s back garden, near the door, with both the sitting-room and Peter’s study lights blazing through the big windows, and if she disappears into the shadows, if I don’t follow her with my torch, she reappears promptly, looking somewhat reproachful, although she’s not good at reproachful (yet).#  This is excellent over most of the lengthening winter evenings at the mews but last thing at night at the cottage, where the set-up is less congenial, not so much.

After trying to get a crap out of Pavlova, who will then probably last the night, but who thinks the cul de sac is full of bogeydogs and chiefly wants to go back indoors and EAT SOMETHING, and then striving to find tonight’s unique and exactingly proper ritual that will allow hellhounds to eat their supper (while Pavlova is yowling at the inadequacy of her final snack) I am a gibbering wreck.  Sleep?  What?##

YAAAAAAAAAY.+

+ I’m trying to decide which is the bigger YAAY, for singing lessons restarting or a clean puppy.  Tough call.

^^ I should have had her down my coat-front on Saturday.   A pocket heater than kicks.  Hey, I missed a socialisation opportunity.  She hasn’t been to a wedding yet.

^^^  Too much information warning:  I clearly don’t have a clue about how often she needs to pee or we wouldn’t keep having damp bedding.  But I do have a clue about how often she needs a crap and proceed accordingly.  Today she had assumed the position and the desired result was emerging, and I said Good girl . . . AND SHE SUCKED IT BACK IN AND RUSHED UP TO ME FOR HER TREAT.  AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH.  It took another couple of minutes—while I turned purple with all the things I was not saying—for her to settle down again and frelling do it.

# Chaos is the master of reproachful.  May he remain the undisputed master of sad-but-accusing in this household.

## I’ve got most of the puppy-knitting yarn wound up again.  It’s funny, this has been a less blood-pressure-raising job than the other night when the very end of a till-that-moment amenable hank ran amok.^  I went into this one knowing that it is a SNARL OF EPIC PROPORTIONS so it was like ho, hum, knots in seven dimensions?  With teeth?  And demonic giggling?  Whatever.

^ One might almost say it hucklebutted.

** Although the ‘small enough to pick up’ is really not going to last much longer.  I can still carry her one-armed only because (a) she thinks I can and (b) part of Olivia’s socialisation process includes practise dangling and Pavlova dangles extremely well.  But when Niall and I stopped at the pub again^ coming back from ringing Pavlova’s fan club said, Ooooooh, she’s GROWN SO BIG.  Yes.  And I’m shovelling food into her.  No, make that SHOVELLING.

^ It’s such good puppy socialisation.  The cider is incidental.

*** Nadia seems to think it’s pretty quiet around Sorghumlea.  It might be worth bringing hellhounds as well.  It’s really very bad for dogs around New Arcadia and having my head down over this puppy-raising business is resulting in a lot of in-town, pavement walks for hellhounds, which get dispiriting after a while.

† Don’t ask.  Several.  But Peter did not have to sit on the roof coming home with Pavlova in his lap.

†† She eats thorns and thorny stems.  Just by the way.  Or she would.  I’m labouring under what is no doubt the delusion that I’m getting them away from her in time.  I, however, manage to stab myself and bleed.  Ow.

Announcement. And puppy photos.

 

I am ringing my first wedding at the abbeyOn my sixtieth birthday.

Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee.

Hey, doesn’t this have to be a good omen?*

* * *

Meanwhile I’m falling down badly on puppy photos.  I think I must have THOUSANDS of the things.  I may have to buy a new hard drive to hold them all.  I’ve ground my way through sorting and cropping over a hundred tonight, so you’ll forgive me if tonight’s text is a little sparse.  But I didn’t want to keep you in suspense over puppy-learning-to-knit.**  But first . . .

Puppy, all unknowing, on her way to her FIRST WALK. She is about to be SET DOWN ON THE GROUND. The GROUND! The very GROUND!!!!!

 

Determinedly on the way to . . . somewhere the hellgoddess will doubtless take exception to.

 

Oh . . . wow. Wow. Oh. . . .

I’m still amazed I managed to remember my camera to record First Walk.  I didn’t record it very well, since you frequently need two hands for the puppy, but I feel honour was satisfied.

Meanwhile, yesterday the little freller snatched a ball of yarn out of my knapsack*** and . . .  It’s amazing how fast a puppy making off with the swag can move, even a little short-legged tank like Pavlova.  It must be all the hucklebutting.

Fortunately it’s only leg warmer yarn. If it were fancy hand-dyed super-fibre doodah whatsit . . . I might have a new puppy-shaped hearthrug.

 

Knowing your yardage is very important. I’m going to explain to her about gauge next.

 

But you can see she’s really . . . into it.

 

* * *

* What could go wrong?  No, don’t answer that.  I was a little drily amused today that for the afternoon service we rang nearly half an hour of call changes.  Some of this is that while we had a good turn-out for a Sunday afternoon, two of the turn-out were Spaulding and me.  While Spaulding is still grappling with trebling to his first methods I can’t ring anything but plain hunt on more than eight, and the rule of thumb for any service ringing is that you have as many of your bells going as possible for as much of the time as possible—although if you have forty ringers and thirty-eight of them can ring Spliced Parallelogram Kedgeree Bunkum it is perfectly acceptable to expect the two duds to sit out for a touch.  But apparently the call changes for the wedding yesterday—which you may recall I got out of because I was stupid enough to agree to ring handbells for a late October wedding^—Did Not Go Well and it was decreed that we should practise call changes.  Call changes in this area are mostly considered beneath the dignity of real ringers and are only resorted to when your band is encumbered by dweebs and losers.  Like Spaulding and me.

I was, reprehensibly, a tiny bit pleased that the abbey band had come a trifle unglued without my assistance.  Call changes on ninety-four is not beneath my dignity—merely ringing rounds on ninety-four is not beneath my dignity because of the whole awful business of hanging your wretched bell up and WAAAAAAAAAAAAITING till all the other ninety-three bells have rung and it’s your turn again.  This varies with the bell, but it can be VERY DIFFICULT to get your thundering great bonger to stand still—and then to yank it back into action quickly and accurately enough.  The bell I happened to be on for the call changes was almost impossible for a jerky over-ringer like myself to hold on the balance and then pull in behind the bell in front of me fast enough.  I could either hold it up there or I could try to get closer to the bell in front—and trying to get closer tended to involve having the beastly thing come down too soon and go CRASH on the previous bell.  ARRRRRRRRRRRGH.  I’VE BEEN RINGING EIGHT YEARS AND I CAN’T RING ROUNDS.  And then . . . imagine ninety-four people standing around the edges of a ballroom.  The conductor shouts, FOUR TO SEVENTY-TWO!  Which means bell four is to stop following whoever it’s been following and follow the seventy-two.  You have one third of a second to make your bell BONG in the right place, okay?  How fast can you count to seventy-two to see who you’re supposed to be following?^^

^ Handbellers have to ring outside.  In a contest between handbells and even the tiniest, plinkiest organ, the organ wins.

^^ I’m misleading you for what I fondly imagine is simplicity’s sake but maybe it isn’t.  Bells can only move one space at a time.  If you’re in rounds and you’re ringing the four, you can only be called to ring after the five or the two (because you’re following the three).  But a good conductor JUMBLES YOU ALL THE FRELL UP so after a few minutes and some brisk calling you could be anywhere in the row.

** ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

*** You CAN’T put everything out of puppy reach.  You run out of SURFACES.  I don’t have any counter space left at the cottage.

 

Antarctic wedding. With snow. And penguins. And handbells.

 

I had no idea Antarctica was so close, let alone that people got married there.  Why don’t they want to get married in Montevideo or Jakarta?  It’s warmer.  And since my sense of geography is so unreliable, maybe they’re close too.  I probably can’t go, I have this frelling puppy,* but I’m sure Niall and Colin could find a local handbell third.**

But that’s not what happened today.  Today we had dog sleds and pack ice.  Well, nearly.  It’s been mostly unseasonably warm*** the last few weeks and then last night WHAM.  It didn’t quite get down to freezing in my little town garden—which is to say I still have dahlias—but I bet there was a lot of windscreen-scraping in driveways outside of town this morning.  And then there was the wind.  The mad banshee ululation down the chimneys is fine while you’re still in bed, but it’s not popular when you have a lot of livestock to take hurtling.

I’d been planning to wear a skirt—a wool skirt, but still a skirt.  The big disadvantage of ringing handbells for events is that you have to be visible.  And, you know, a wedding.†  But I contemplated the bellowing gale†† and changed my mind.  GOLLY FRELL FREAKING DOODAH was it cold.  And there we are, sinking slowly into the unforgiving mud under the storm-lashed yew trees†††, ringing our handbells in temperatures where if naked flesh made contact with bell metal it would adhere instantly‡ but fortunately I was wearing GLOVES.  I was still freezing to death.  In spite of jeans and long johns.  We rang the beastly bride in and then ran for the car and the car’s HEATER, since we were ringing her both in and out.  Feh.  And, speaking of storm-lashed, they had these little trees in pots by the church door, festive with fairy lights and ribbons, and these kept blowing over, BLAM, first into Niall and then into Colin.  At which point we removed farther under the yew trees.

Our only respite and reprieve was that while it had been a glorious sunny day to begin with it started to cloud over and spit rain—and rain thrown at you by tantruming winds hurts almost as much as hail—while the assembled were heaving themselves out of the mud into the church, and when they (finally) came out again it was seriously trying to rain so they didn’t hang around in the churchyard.  We did get some nice comments, although I could have done without the curious repetition of ‘sweet’.  Sweet?  Sweet?  Arrrrgh.‡‡

Never mind.  Honour was satisfied. No penguins died.  And the puppy crate was clean when I got home.  Yaay.

* * *

* I have a great photo for you of puppy learning to knit and I CAN’T FIND MY CAMERA.  ARRRRGH.  Tomorrow.

** I wonder what ‘bob minor’ is in Spanish or Malay?

*** Which as the human belonging to a new puppy^ I have been very grateful for.  I’m glad she likes inside better than outside during this ghastly pre-sphincter-control phase^^ since I seem to be taking her out kind of a lot^^^ and she thinks indoors is where the FOOOOOOOD is, and also all the best toys, especially the ones that make the hellgoddess drop whatever she is doing and give chase#, accompanying screams of I’M LEAVING YOU IN A BOX BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD optional.

^ Life?  Are you kidding?  I have a puppy

^^ And every time I get it wrong and she pees/craps in her crate I hear Ian Dunbar’s voice telling me that my puppy is ruined, ruined, RUINED FOREVER!!!!  That I have RUINED a perfectly good puppy!!!  That I am GUILTY and a WICKED PERSON!!!!  —I don’t think he’s ever lived with real dogs.  I think it’s a Truman Show set up, although the economics of it seem to me a little obscure.  Personally I’m extremely susceptible to guilt but I’m not going to keep buying dog books that tell me what a hopeless failure I am.  And it’s true that Pavlova is not fed and interacted with on a strict and rigorous basis with a five-star precision rating and a tolerance allowance of five seconds plus or minus+, but she provides her own significant contribution to the general lack of schedule-following and even if I don’t have a life I still have stuff I have to do.  Today that included freezing to death with handbells in my hands.

+ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

^^^ One does forget.  Hellhounds get two medium-length and one short walk by the present system, plus two additional chances to have a quick pee.  But they can get by on two walks a day full stop without any manifestations of anxiety, and if they’re not anxious, I’m not anxious.  And then you get a puppy and all the comfortable verities are trashed, as is your house, your yarn stash, your shoes, the bottoms of your jeans, your hair, your belt, your peace of mind. . . .

# See:  puppy learning to knit.

† A seriously posh wedding, just by the way, which had not been specified to us flunkies in advance.  I haven’t seen so many dead fur-bearing animals together in a small space in a long time.  Although if you’re going to wear dead fur-bearing animal skins, today was a good day to do it.  And I did enjoy watching the stiletto heels trying to walk up the muddy path to the little old church without breaking their ankles.^  I don’t usually have a lot of sympathy for the stiletto-heel brigade^^ but this mud was mean.  It yanked the heel off one of my (flat) leather boots.

^ This is the other problem with ringing handbells at events:  you are visible but so are they.  And I distract easily.

^^ Hayley clearly must be reclaimed

††  And, I don’t know, maybe it contemplated me:  Hey, she’s got dogs.  Let’s wind her up.

††† The huge old yew trees were fabulous, but I wasn’t really in the mood.

‡ It makes a good story, but I don’t think brass gets cold the way aluminium and steel do, does it?  At what temperature will brass stick to skin the way the ice-cube trays of the youth of people as old as I am did?

‡‡ And you sure don’t do it for the money.  Two hours of freezing our butts off for £25 per.

Um.  So, why do we do it?  Well, I think you should have bells for important events.  So if I get asked, I have to say yes.  And handbells are way too underappreciated.

KES, 50

FIFTY

 

I should have had eaten some of Sid’s hash or a piece of the cheese and had a cup of stale floor-sweepings teabag tea with extra sugar before we came out.  I was dangerously short of both calories and caffeine, and hallucinating.

I looked back toward Mr Melmoth.  Who had disappeared.

What?  I looked wildly in both directions.  People don’t just disappear.  He had sprinted down Schmitz or something, or round the corner to the used-books shop.  He looked like he’d escaped off one of the paperback covers in the window anyway.

Hastily I looked back toward Watermelon Shoulders.  At least he hadn’t disappeared.  He’d pulled his cloak back down around him so I couldn’t see his biceps any more although the breadth of shoulders was still evident.  I kept my eyes up and did not check the bottom of his cape for something that wasn’t the point of a sword sticking out.

He smiled, and nodded his head.  I was not going to register that it looked more like a small bow than a nod, any more than I was going to look for the tip of a sword.  At least it was a nice smile.  His teeth were very white.  His face was as black as his clothing.  “Lady,” he said, and turned, and walked away.

Lady?

I wanted to run after him.  I wanted to ask him who he was, who Mr Melmoth was.  I wanted to ask him what had just happened.

I didn’t want to ask him any of these things.  I wanted to forget what had just happened.  I wanted to decide that it had all been a low-blood-sugar incident.  I looked down at my dog.  Sid was standing there idly, like any dog waiting for the human at the other end of the lead to make up her feeble mind about where they were going.  She looked up at me.  Her tail sketched a brief acknowledging wave.  She did not look like a dog that had just faced down a monster out of a fairy tale, or even the local bully . . . oh.  That was it.  That was all it was.  Mr Melmoth was just some creep who’d been mean to her while she was a stray.  (She was no longer a stray, of course.)

That left Watermelon Shoulders to be a low-blood-sugar incident.  Okay.  I could handle it.  We were on our way to the Eatsmobile.  I looked up again.  Watermelon Shoulders had had plenty of time to turn out of my line of sight.  I made it easier by not looking in the direction he had gone.  Besides, he didn’t exist.  Like the poet said.

Last night I saw upon the stair

A little man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

Oh, how I wish he’d go away*

I hadn’t noticed the gate beside Eats before but I saw it today:  a black iron gate whose uprights, just now, reminded me a little too much of swords, especially since the bottom ends which stuck down below the crossbars were pointy.  I hesitated briefly, and then firmly put my hand on the latch, which opened at once.  We walked down a short passage between Eats and its neighbor, and then out into a startlingly large (but then I was in an easily startle-able mood) paved courtyard.  It was big enough to have small trees in two unpaved corners, a trellis framing big wooden double doors on the far side of the courtyard, and three large pots swaddled in what looked like a cross between bubble wrap and woolly mufflers standing by the ordinary single-human-sized door into Eats.  One pot contained some unknown shrub covered in new pale-green spring leaves.  The other two pots held rose-bushes.  I liked Eats better and better all the time.

There was one table and one chair.  The table was close to Eats’ door, and an extension cord ran under the door and was draped over the back of the chair.  The chair had a cushion on it.  Since both chair and table were metal, I was grateful.  My nose was already cold, and the rest of me would quickly follow as soon as I stopped moving and the adrenaline spike from what hadn’t happened drained away.  I sat down.  So did Sid.  Reluctantly.  “I know,” I said.  “But you didn’t phone ahead and I wasn’t ready.  I promise we’ll have dinner together indoors.  Hot dinner.”  I hoped.  I wondered if I could bribe Hayley into coming out to Rose Manor again and showing me how to ask Caedmon to burn stuff and get warm.  I wasn’t enthusiastic about the college-dorm-reject stove.

The Eats’ door banged open and Bridget came out carrying a tray.  “Having conversations with your dog already are you—oh!” she said.  She stopped, still holding the tray, staring at Sid.  I looked down at my dog.  Sid was just sitting there.  She was a scrawny, dirty mess, now brutally revealed by daylight, but I didn’t think she looked, you know, surprising.  Maybe I should have told Bridget my inadvertent dog was a stray.  Maybe I hadn’t wanted to admit officially how rash I was being.

“You’ve caught the Phantom,” said Bridget.  “Well, well, well.”

 

*Just in case this poem is no longer recognised as a necessary part of our cultural heritage, which, if so, would be very sad:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigonish_(poem)

 

 

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