Friday, February 5, 2016

Story for the Day: The Smith MacDunnaigh

There are many sentries in a village: there are the royal guardsmen, there are mothers and grandmothers to chase off hooligans, fathers to hasten after eager young men, but there is no guard so devoted to the safety of Rannig's village than Mr MacDunnaigh, the village smith:

Owe, thayt’s a good ‘un!” said Moppit, remarking the little girl’s powers at snow building. “Round thayt boulder off at the bottom, and she’ll be a good base fer the rest. Yew awl right, Feiza?”
He turned round to where Feiza was a moment before and found only a cloud of moving snow dust and a tangle of fur and limbs.
“All right, Feiza, all right,” was the muffled voice from under the knot.
“Right yew are then,” said Moppit, and then turning back to the little girl, “Owe, thayt’s a noice scarf yew done brought for him.”
“Her,” said the girl stoutly. “It’s a girl.”
“Owe, sorry, love. Aw shoulda known with such a lovely figyah as thayt.”
The girl spied the two shapeless boulders of snow laid atop one another and giggled to herself. “You have very pretty eyes, Mr Moppit,” said she, oscillating on her toes and looking coy.
“Owe, isn’t thayt a lovely thing tah say,” Moppit crooned, colouring. “Well, maw mum gave me this one,” pointing to his left eye, “and this one Aw bought in a shoppe on Tuppman,” pointing to his right eye.
The girl canted her head and frowned, examining Moppit thoroughly, marking the different coloured irises and the manner in which one eye was animated and the other eye decided it was dead. “Which eye do you like better?”
“Well, maw real one’s got the pretty colour, but maw other one can see better.”
 The girl appeared to think about this, but before she could ask Moppit how a glass eye improved his vision, a long shadow appeared beside her. “Oh, hiya, Mr MacDunnaigh,” she chimed, staring up at the shade looming over her.
“Hullo, Milleigh,” said a sonorous voice.
“We’re makin’ a snowman, but it’s a snowman that’s a woman.”
“Good fer you, darlin’.”    
“We’re gonna put the scarf on her. Wanna play with us?”
“Sure, in a minute, babe. Who you makin’ that snowman with?”
“Oh, this is Mr Moppit.”
“Moppit, aye?” said the voice, in a threatening tenor.
“Aye! He helped me find some rocks, and we’re gonna put them on for the eyes when we’re finished.”
“Aye, that’s good o’ you, darlin’. Mho ludhan, mind if I borrow Moppit for a minute?”
The girl hummed and looked displeased. “All right, Mr MacDunnaigh, but ye gotta bring him back, ‘cause we gotta finish this snowman woman before my ma calls me to bed.”
“Aye, I will so.”
The long shadow moved farther off and the voice belonging to it directed itself at Moppit and said, in a seething tone,“You.’Mere.”
Moppit’s eye wandered toward the edge of the shadow and found two large near the top of the neighbouring bank. He followed the shadow line and found two immense legs presiding over the brow of the hill. A sudden horror seized him, he reached instinctively for the knife hidden beneath his belt, but as he grabbed the handle, the resonant voice called out, “Wouldn’t do that, if I were you. Wouldn’t do that at all.”
Moppit released his hold on the blade and looked up, finding a wide chest with arms folded across obstructing the view above. An obscured brow and darkened expression lay somewhere beyond the summit of a wide chin, but the look of a man displeased blazed forth from his eyes in a quiet fury.
“’Mon,” the voice boomed, “wanna talk to you for a bit.”
Moppit felt the breath of a smith incited fume against his face, and when the man turned and walked toward the shelter of a nearby bough, the shoulders that countless years bent over a forge could produce came into view, the arms that bore the brunt of hammers and anvils clashing in iron warfare flexed, and Moppt shrank into himself as he followed Mr MacDunnaigh into the brush. He stopped when the shadow stopped and stared at the man’s heaving chest.
“Haw, you,” the voice seethed. “Yer gonna tell me yer wantin’ with our wee-uns.”
Moppit’s shoulders tense. “Just playin’ in the snow, sir,” he whimpered.
“Oh, aye? Yer friend there don’t look like he was playin’.”
Moppit felt an arm raise beside his head and move as though pointing to something. He turned and found Feiza swinging the children about, holding them by their elbows and twirling them round, their heels skimming the ground as they whirled.
“And you got a blade on you…”
Moppit felt a curl of hot breath pressed against his the back of his neck, and he dreaded turning back around, fearing the face that he knew must be behind him. “Maw knife’s for protection!” he whined.
“Aye, and yer gonna need it from me if you come here just to rile us.”
Moppit closed his eyes and turned toward the man with a quivering lip. “Aw swear it, sir- Aw swear! We ain’t here to do nuthin’ but enjoy the holiday!”
“Aye, yer not, ‘cause I ain’t gonna let you. I’m the smith here—“
“Aw gathered thayt, sir.”
“—and I know yer new here and bein’ friendly-like, probably ‘cause yer captain told you to behave yerselves…”
The voice trailed. There was a pause, Moppit opened his eyes and looked at the wall of leather and knitted wool before him, and as he looked up, a warming sensation fell on his neck: it was a hand, a hand that Moppit was paling about, the large palm settling on his back and the fingers spreading over his nape. All breathing here ceased, and Moppit, rapt in a thrill of horror, stared at the man’s boots, divided between tears and trembling consternation.
 “I’m a good man,” said Mr MacDunnaigh, “but if you put a false hand on our wee-uns ot play with ‘em too rough—“ The grip around Moppit’s neck tightened, and a shadow fell over his features as the smith leaned down, to say, in a low growl,“—I’ll break you.”
A yelp and a “Yes, sir!” closed the business, and just as Moppit sniveled to himself, crumbling under the agony of the smith’s hand, the hand was gone, and smith gone likewise. Distinguishing sounds recommended the smith was moving farther off, the crepitations of heavy steps ploughing through the snow diminished, and Moppit turned around to see the smith lurking over Feiza, who had launched himself onto a heap of giggling children.
“Sure’n the bear’s got yous now!” Feiza cried, raising his claws and nuzzling the child under his chest with his nowl. “Us ain’t lettin’ you go till you pay the bear toll A pot o’ honey for each o’ yous! Raaa--! What--? Amhaile, whose got me?” He was being pulled from the pile, was being lifted, was being taken off his feet. The children and the snow soon fell away, his limbs dangled helplessly being suspended by his tail, and he felt himself being conveyed toward the dock.  
“Aff with you, a chilladh,” a voice bellowed. “Don’t care if you are Frewyn. You came off that ship, yer goin’ back on it till you learn how we do things here. Ain’t gonna let you play rough with our babes how you want.”
“Sure’n us weren’t hurtin’ ‘em!” Feiza cried, watching himself hover over a moving gangplank.
“Aye, but you woulda hurt ‘em with that playin’ soon enough.”
Moppit watched from the bank as Mr MacDunnaigh walked toward the ship, the plank bending under the weight of a gargantuan man carrying a small bear, the wood creaking in anguish as he mounted the deck, and he swallowed, wondering how the captain should accept a man uninvited on his ship.  

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Story for the Day: Feiza

The crew of the Myrellenos has many assorted flavours: there are some saline scalawags, some silty scoundrels, but there are also sweet and sanguine nuts, including the agreeable but not always upstanding Feiza:

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The swirl of snowdust soon settled, and when Feiza had raised his nowl, he saw a parade of children just mounting the adjacent downs, hastening toward them with beaming faces and eager
“Look, it’s a bear and a pirate!” one of the children cried.
“Aw! I love bears!”
“I’m wanna ride it!”
“I’m gonna hunt it!”
“I’m wanna ride the bear and hunt the pirate!”
And before Moppit could disclaim and assure them that neither he nor Feiza were really bears, though Feiza was once a pirate and with prim determination still thought himself as one, the children assailed them, besieging them with triumphant cries, approaching Feiza with cocked hands and ferocious growls, and waving wooden swords at Moppit.
“’Mon, bear! Tha’s ye fightin’ meh! We’s gotta have a square go an’ o’!” one child roared, in a tiny voice.
“But only whilst I’m ridin’ ye!” cried another, attempting to climb Feiza’s back. “Here, let me get on ye!”
“Aye, young-un, mind yerself then,” said Feiza, righting himself and holding the child away from him, “mind yerself. Us only got the know-how to do the wan thing at the wan time.”
One of the children leapt back and gasped. “Yer a Glaoustre bear!” the child cried, stabbing a finger at the bear’s drooping nose. “He’s not an enemy bear! He’s from Glaoustre! Ah heard him say!”
“Aye, Glaoustre, son,” said the bear, with half a sigh. “Many’s the year us been gone from Frewyn and still can rid o’ the cant.”
“Are ye a pirate too, Glaoustre bear?”
                “Aye, did ye come from that big ship to do bear piratin’ an’ o’?” The child paused and scrunched his face in deliberation. “What do pirate bears pirate for? Bears don’t like collectin’ gold.”
                “Honey, probably,” said the bear. “Mostly we go trawlin’ for the salmon.”
                “Well, there’ll be no bear-piratin’ round here!” one of the children demanded, waving his wooden sword at him.
                “Aye, we’ll no’ let ye take our fishin’s!”
“An’ we’ll no’ let you take our gold, pirate!” shouted a young boy, who was dancing about Moppit.
“Wha’d ye make there, Mr Pirate?” said a young girl, pointing at the pattern in the snow Moppit had laid down.
“One of ‘em snow fairies,” Moppit declared, in full triumph. “Yew jus’ lay down like this,” leaning back in the snow, “and start wavin’.”
He flapped his arms, and snowdust filled the atmosphere, the swirls of gleaming incanescence tittilating the noses of every child around them. The girl threw herself down to join him, and fluttered and kicked her feet together in a fit of ridant chirps until the sparkling plumes rose all around them. The air was rife with blithesome voices, of children crying out for them to stop their violent motions, but the bear suddenly leapt out from the cloud of drifting snowdust and assailed one of the youg boys with a playful embrace.
“The bear’s eatin’ yah!” Feiza wrawled, tickling the child’s stomach and pretending to maul him.
“No, don’t eat me, bear!” the child laughed. “I didn’t get my Ailineighdaeth present yet!”
“Oh, sorry, son,” said Feiza, instantly resuming his usual character. He lifted the child to his feet and patted the snow from his shoulders. “Presents are important for Ailineighdaeth. When yer ma and da give you yer gift, you just come back to aul’ Feiza and us’ll make sure to eat you then.”
“Aye, promsin’,”
“Feiza?” one of the children cried, evidently disappointed. “That’s no’ a Frewyn name!”
“Naw, my Frewyn name were too hard to say for some folk up north, so us got a Livanese wan, to go along with all the piratin’.”
“What’s yer Frewyn name?” a girl chimed.
“Better not get inna that,” said Feiza, eyeing the parents hovering near. “The mas and das are listenin’, and bears can’t be givin’ away their secret names.”
 “Imposter bear!” cried a child. “Yer no’ a Frewyn! He’s onlae foolin’ so’s he can take our honey!”
“Ye’ll never take our honey, imposter bear!” a boy cried, lauching himself at Feiza with his wooden sword raised.
Feiza feinted the blow, the wooden blade glancing off his hide, and tripped the child, putting him face down in the snow. “That’s pirate imposter bear to you, son!” he bellowed.
The child rolled onto his back and cackled to himself as Feiza invited the other children to duel with him.
“Gonna need yer help, Moppit,” Feiza whispered.
Moppit stopped waving his arms and sat up in the snow. “Is it an ambush?”
“Aye, an ambush.”
“Mr Pirate,” said the girl at Moppit’s side, in a singing voice, “can you help me build a snowman?”
Moppit turned to her, and after a moment’s pause, turned to Feiza and said, “Ambush’ll have to wait.”
“Aw can’t disappoint a little girl.”
“You abandonnin’ me for a snowman?”
“Well,” said Moppit hesitantly, “no, not abandonnin’ as such. Awm just makin’ yew wait a bit.”
“Ain’t no waitin’ in it, Moppit! These young-uns are gonna trouce me!”
“Aye, bear!” a child cried. “That’s ye gutted!”
The children advanced at a crawl, and when they raised their hands and let out their paltry roars, Feiza, accepting that his friend had deserted him for the superior joys of packing snow and digging for ample rocks to serve as eyes for a snowman, and now thoroughly cornered by nearly a dozen children, relinquished his inhibitions on civility, widened his stance, and shouted, “’MON THEN!” inviting them to assail him with open arms and a dreadful aspect. Battle cries echoed across the downs, Feiza sneered and frothed, and as the children leapt toward him with wooden swords raised, the bear bellowed in terrible rage, leaning down and putting his claws in either side of the snow before advancing, burying them in a wave of light snow as he descended.

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Story for the Day: The Holiday in Habherleidh -- Part 2

One of the greatest antagonists of my life had always told me never to sing in his presence. I have a tolerable singing voice upon the whole, and I have sung at places like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Centre, but had I a voice like Rannig, I should sing everywhere, merely to torture the one who so maligned my efforts. Enjoy:

The crew of the Myrellenos watched from the main deck, remarking the tender scene with sobering aspects, each of them as willing to revere as to commend such veneration, for whatever their Gods or values, they lauded the fervour with which Frewyns greeted their holiday, and were, despite the frost
and snow, earnestly wishing to join them, Rannig and Brogan the most eager of them to join in the chorus. Being the only two Frewyns on the ship, they had the best right to celebrate the holiday, but Brogan did not wait for his captain’s permission to go ashore to begin his Ailineighdaeth commemoration. He sang the benediction along with the village, his voice warbling in a foray of wayward notes, and Rannig, who reminded himself not to whistle or sing along, hummed the same tune with a subdued spirit.
                “Come, do sing, if you will,” the captain encouraged him. “It is your holiday. You need not fear a faulty note here. Panza has played many of them, and you see we go not disparage him.”
                The captain senses a flat look from the end of the row and spied Panza looking disenchanted, clutching his ocarina and murmuring to himself, “…It’s because you like things in G sharp minor.”
                “Come, Panza, we only tease you,” said the captain, and then turning to Rannig, “There is no harm in a sour note, only in a shrill one, and your singing is never as violent as your whistling.”
                “But, boss,” said Rannig, “if I sing too loud, Bartleby’ll throw one of his bricks at me.”
                “And if he does, you should not feel it besides, but he never will, my dear giant. If he dares rais a pebble to you, all you need do is break out in a whistle. Ears will bleed, but no bricks shall be thrown. I only ask that if you do sing, Rannig, you sing loudly, and preferably somewhere much closer to Bartleby.”
                Rannig joined Brogan in singing the benediction, keeping below Brogan’s pitch in case of accidental injury. The legend of his powerful whispers had spread aboard the ship, and after Moppet’s caique plummeted from the crow’s nest after one of Rannig’s more virulent sessions, he was bid never again to whistle while others were around. Eagles dropped from flight, small creatures withered in wretched agony, and grown men writhed and covered their ears, but Rannig’s singing had a less violent effect. It only caused a mild discomfort, but while most cringed and were willing to turn away, there was one amongst them who could never overlook Rannig’s singing in any capacity.  
                “NO! STOP THAT CONFOUNDED SINGING THIS MOMENT!” was the resounding cry from below deck. “Rannig! I have told you that you are not allowed to sing whilst any of us are still alive!”
                “Sorry, Bartleby, but the boss said—“
                “No, no, my old friend,” said Danaco, speaking to the hatch under his foot. “You may shout all you like, but we cannot concede to hear you. We are too busy listening to farmers and fishermen cry out in tremulent glee. Brogan, I believe you are not singing loud enough.”
                Bhi mhi hein a gra, mho chillaidh!” Brogan shouted.
                The captain clicked his tongue and seemed disappointed. “You are not trying very hard to deafen me, if I can still hear myself over you. Louder, man. I want the gnome to sprout from his alcove, else he should never enjoy such an exquisite scene as the one we are looking at.”
                There was snarling sound from the hatch. The din of violent footfalls mounted a stair, and then, from beneath the captain’s feet, “I am not a gnome and I don’t want your scenes! I am perfectly well down here in the dark, with my books and tea and without your religious hobgobbery. Brogan, you mountainous primate, stop your drintling this moment! This is not a choir, where you are being asked to sing along with the glee. You do not sing at the orchestra—you listenlisten, you understand—to hear those who are trained in the art of musicality express their powers, not to profess your own scant abilities by drowning them out. You are to stop shouting your melodious verbigeration and you are not to sing any louder, do you hear me?”
                “What’s that?” said Brogan, raising his voice, though no one else was trying to speak over him. “Sorry, ouljin, couldn’t hear ye. Captain’s orders, and such— TIR AN CURIADH, TIR AN AS FHIADE--”
                “Louder, Brogan,” said Danaco, “I can still hear Bartleby trying to disclaim.”
                “SEA MHO MHAILE MISE DEAS-E!”
                “AND I’M SURE I DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOUR CAPTAIN’S  ORDERS!” Bartleby rasped, trying in vain to be heard. He inhaled, as though to preparing to launch himself into one of his invectives, but the sound of concussive knocks only succeeded. A light from below diminished. Someone somewhere had missed a step and lost his candle, and when the scroop of gathered robes and the indiscriminate gnarling of an old man enemated from the hatch, the cry from below was, “THAT IS IT! THAT IS THE END, DO YOU HEAR ME? THE VERY END! Not only am I being forced to listen to this cacophony, but I have lost my candle. And possibly burned my hem. And where is my hat--? I AM BUILDING A FORT IN MY LIBRARY AND NOT COMING OUT UNTIL WE’VE LEFT THIS CONFOUNDED PLACE!”
                The sound of a heavy tread was heard leading away from the hatch. A door slammed, someone muttered something about setting bricks and poxes on everybody, and Danaco was satisfied, pleased to have discomposed the old man at any rate. He turned back toward the village, watching the end of the benediction in a triumph of self-congratulation, and when the chorus was over, the ovation from the square broke from the square, rippling out in a concert of voices reaching as far as the ship. 

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Story for the Day: The Holiday in Habherleidh -- Part 1

We know what an atrocious week it has been. Here is a story to hopefully brighten the week coming. Anything that involves children and disparages Bartleby always puts a smile on my face. I hope it does the same for you.
There was a bustle as they entered the village, the anticipation of a sea captain and a giant walking through the gate that excited everyone’s interest: those who were in the secret of Rannig’s situation
wished to know if there was any news of his parents, those who had just emerged from their homes and farms to join the holiday revelry in the square exchanged whispers and stares over the appearance of the Lucentian captain and his giant, and a flurry of children swarmed their legs, each child hallooing questions and begging to be picked up and tossed about. Mrs Muilligain came to drive them off and make excuses over their not being troublesome to the captain with countless inquiries about his appearance, but these, as all commands from tired matrons do, went unheeded.
                “How comes ye got all ‘em markin’s on yer skin an’ o’?” one of the children cried, stabbing a finger at the carp on Danaco’s chest. “I like ‘em. I want a-inkin’ just like it. How can I get one?”
                “How comes ye got ‘em pointy ears?” cried another.
                “What’s all ‘em earrin’s for?”
                “How comes yer wearin’ so much gold?”
                “Why’re wearin’ a sword under yer coat?”
                “How comes yer hair is so pretty like a girl’s?”
                “Children,” said Mrs Muilligain, with gentle reproach, “it’s very rude to be askin’ the captain all those questions when ye don’t know him that well.”
                “But,” the smallest child sniffed, “how’s we gonna get tah know him if we’re not askin’ no questions?”
                “Aye, isn’t that how we make friends, by askin’ ‘bout each other?”
                 Here was a sagacious look. “He has you there, inpala dola,” said Danaco, smiling.
                “What’s that mean?” a young boy chimed, his nose twitching curiously about.
                “It is a polite appellation given to a handsome older woman.”
                This was an answer to satisfy Mrs Muilligain, but while such an answer would work on a wiser head, it would never do for child, for children, once their minds are set going, can never as a right and aprivilage be still again, and a barrage of inquiries issued forth, each of them as ardent and exhilarated as the last.
                “What’s an ap-el-a-shion?”
“What’s inpala-whatever? Is it Lucentian?”
“How comes Lucentian sounds funneh?”
“How comes ye speak Common?”
                “Nay, why do you speak Common?” asked the captain, breaking through the assault.
                The small child who asked the question paused to think about this. “Dunno. ‘Cause I just do,” he decided. “How comes ye speak with that funneh accent?”
                “You mean delightful accent, I believe. It is Marridonian, a present from my mother to me when I was your age. Do you like it?”
                There was a general nod, though no real affirmative, and then, after a general air of awe and confusion, one of the children asked, “How comes ye speak like yer from Marridon if yer Lucentian an’ o’?”
                “An’ o’ what?” asked Danaco, with a sly glance at Rannig.
                Rannig knew what was coming, and in an endeavour not to laugh, he pursed his lips and looked at his feet.
                 “What ‘an’ o’ what’?” the child demanded, his face floddering.
                “You keep saying ‘and all’, nabino, if I understand you rightly,” the captain explained, “so what exactly is the ‘and al’l?”
                “What’s nabino mean?” asked another child, and before Danaco could reply, “How comes yer Marridon accent is so silleh?”
“Oh, you know how to make assumptions for one so young. And what if it is you who speaks with the silly accent?”
                The child’s brows furrowed. “No, I don’t,” he asserted, beginning to frown.
                A fever of panic struck Rannig. He stared at the child, who was beginning to wrinkle, and raised a hand to his mouth. “Boss,” said he, in an audible whisper, “he’s gonna start cryin’ in a minute.”
The child was growing distressed, the pouts and glares of vehement dislike were evincing, but even the sight of one child on the precipice of dissension could not discompose the captain. He seemed perfectly easy and subrisive, sanguine almost at the prospect of having silenced his antagonist.
                “Oh? Have I spoiled his game?” said the captain, with a mirthful look. “Excellent. Once he is set crying, I think we might unleash him on Bartleby. Do tell me I may, Mrs Muilligain.It shall do the child no harm, I assure you, and will be a great comfort to me to see my old friend so easily discomposed by something so small and shrieking.” 
                Mrs Muilligain could not help laughing. “Go’long with ye now, captain. Sure, I couldn’t let you do it for all the wantin’.”
“You scorn me, inpala-dola, for the child’s sake, but I have no serious thought of trying it. I should never torment you flock with an old bore like Bartleby. He will snap his books in their faces, and all the dust from the pages shall send them into a fit of the sneezes. They are too good for such a punishment as Bartleby can provide.”
“Who’ssat?” the pouting child asked, brightening somewhat.
“An atrocious and leathery old goblin who lives in a hovel aboard my ship.”
“Whoa…” the children breathed, their eyes widening, and then the accustomary questions followed:
“Is he really a goblin?”
“Does he look like a dried out waterskin?”
“Is his skin funneh colours?”
“Does he have crooked teeth an’ a hooked nose an’ o’?”
“Does he know the Brouneidhs?”
“Does he sing funneh songs and dance around thorntrees and mushrooms?”
 Danaco grinned and said quietly to Rannig, “Should we tell them that Bartleby is a magical pumil sort of creature, held together by resin and revulsion, who hoards storybooks and sits on a mountain of sweets?”
“Don’t forget his magical hat, boss.”
“Quite right.”
                Rannig giggled to himself, luxuriating in the notion of Bartleby’s being besegied by so many children, but then, with sudden apprehension, “I’d sure love to see all the young-uns runnin’ around Bartleby, but,” and there was a chary look as he said it, “he might cage ‘em and use ‘em for experimentin’.”
                “As any goblin of his distinction should do, for what is a proper goblin is without a few cages, a sprout of hellfire, and a cackle round the cauldron? Only look at these beaming faces,” Danaco proclaimed, motioning toward the children. “They look as though they would be very willing prisoners, if there is a chance of a treat it in it for them. Come, it will be an education, and they might learn something by Bartleby that they can take back to their families—probably some newly concocted contagion, to be spread about those in want of a shorter life-- to be used on siblings and odious neighbours.”
                Mrs Muilligain, suspecting the captain’s non-conviction, laughed and shook her head. “Now, captain,” with an arch smile, “as much as I’d sure like to see ‘em rile a-one what deserves it, I wouldn’t set the wee-uns on yer friend for spite.”
                “What other reason is there? Malice or retribution is the very best reason in the world to set children on anybody. Sullied hands and eager faces are an old man’s greatest nemesis.”
                “Yer too terrible, captain,” Mrs Muilligain simpered.
                “Never, inpala-dola. I am always as I mean to be with those who merit my humours.  I will go to my ship directly, and I will tell my old friend that we meant to stay here for some time, and you shall see how he acts. Let his behaviour be the guide of your flock, and let them be ever so troublesome to an old man as the greatest amusement to your charming village.”
                Mrs Muilligan had a moment’s fear of Danaco inviting all the children aboard his vessel, to be the ruin of a poor old man’s peace at the whim of a playful captain, who would have his way on a solitary invalid, but while she gathered the children and ushered them over to the bonfire, where maple snow was being boasted by a passing vendor, a something like curiosity began plaguing her, the curiosity to see the grotesque old man who would be disheveled by so many children.