Monthly Archives: October 2017

CATALOGUE 115: FLUFF UPDATE

It’s time I confessed – poor Fluff is suffering at the hands of a Mummy who has no idea how to cope with a long-hair. 😦

Since my holiday I’ve been forced to admit that there are more matts on the poor boy than I can deal with, and I’ve booked him in to see a nice lady who will de-matt him, clean his ears, trim his nails and generally beautify his lovely coat as he deserves.

Don’t tell him though!

A further confession is that despite the years of living with cats (about 60-65 years in fact – I have still made an elementary mistake in my attempts to groom him myself. I kept the implements of torture near my habitual seat and tried to brush/comb him during cuddle times. Of course this upset him and he got down. (D’uh!)

I’ve now put this right and moved grooming to the utility room – no-one is emotionally attached to the utility room. He still needs the lady who is going to be his new friend but I’m getting some useful grooming done and he’s having nicer cuddles (so am I!)

Engage brain before deciding when and where to groom cat – my new motto.

Next time an update on Felix.

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SELECTED SHADOWS 85

The tall traveller stepped back, stumbling on the tufted grass that pierced the sandy soil. The woman followed him, stretching out her hands. He backed away.  ‘No – you cannot be Saranna – she is dead!’

MEETING WAVES

SELECTED SHADOWS 84

Saranna sighed and stood up slowly, turning away from the sea to look out across the empty lands to the east, then south, where two roads went rolling away over low, barren hills, one to Sharn the Godless city, one to distant IssKor. Then she looked northward along the main road that stretched silently away into a dim haziness. A flicker of movement was visible in the haze. As she looked, it grew clearer and Saranna thought she could hear a faint sound of hoof beats. Gradually the sound grew louder, and the vague shapes solidified until she saw clearly that a small company of people on horse-back was coming towards her. Dust billowed around them, and they swept down rapidly, nearer and nearer, until they drew level with her. One of the riders saw her, raised one hand, and cried, ‘Halt!’

The whole company drew up, not very tidily, and the horses blew and snorted and tossed their heads up and down, while the riders peered at Saranna standing on the lower road and looking at them. Finally a tall man on a particularly splendid grey horse dismounted and handed his reins to someone to hold. Slowly he crossed the rough ground between the two roads; Saranna could not see his face, for he wore a broad-brimmed hat, and was looking down, picking his path among the clumps of marram-grass.

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SELECTED SHADOWS 83

‘I heard music up in the town as I came along; is there some celebration?’

An old man snorted into his beer.  ‘Bless you, mistress, that’s how they rich folks up there always carry on of a night. Though I daresay it’s worse than usual, what with this great lord from foreign parts staying at the inn – the best inn, they calls themselves, though they can’t brew beer like mistress Cara here – and all his escort and horses and so forth.’

The word ‘lord’ echoed in Saranna’s tired head, and she was quiet for a moment, trying to remember where she had heard it recently. By the time she came back to awareness, the talk in the room had moved on and several of the younger men were boasting about the relative merits of their fishing boats. Saranna excused herself and slipped away to her room, where she burrowed thankfully into the soft, clean bed, and soon slept.

THE FLOUNDER

 

(IMAGE (C) DITLEV CONRAD BLUNCK)

SELECTED SHADOWS 82

Saranna woke next morning into warmth and comfort, the sun climbing up the eastern sky and the waves on the shore swooshing softly against the sand. For a while she lay luxuriating in the softness of her blanket; then opened her eyes wide and stared up at the blue sky.

She sat up. There was no sign of the tent, nor of the little people. Spread on the grass beside her she saw her cloak and other garments. Her pack stood close at hand, looking as if it was more full of food than when she had begun her journey from Erag.

She scrambled out of the blanket, dressed, ate a good breakfast, and gathered up her belongings. All the time she looked about her, north to the plains, east and west along the road, south over the quiet waters of the Mouth, but she could see no trace of her rescuers and in the end, with a shrug, she set out again eastward.

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SELECTED SHADOWS 81

For two or three muddy miles Saranna pressed on, growing more and more anxious as the sky darkened and the rain settled into a steady downpour that soaked through her clothes. Just as she felt she must collapse from cold and exhaustion, she saw a light ahead, that flickered for a moment and then vanished. Saranna hurried towards it, slipping and sliding in the mud and blinded by the rain that lashed into her face. Across the sea the West Wind swooped, blowing her cloak uselessly about her. The light flashed out again, much nearer now, and in a few moments Saranna was drawing aside a flap of soft leather from the entrance to a tent and calling out, ‘Hello! Who’s there? May I come in and shelter from the rain?’

A total silence followed; Saranna stooped and went in, blinking in the light of the fire. Gradually she made out two small figures dressed all in green, their hair tied back with leather thongs and their hands resting on bows that lay beside them, with arrows to hand.

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SELECTED SHADOWS 80

Saranna made her way out of the market-place to quieter streets of cottages and huts where the fishing families lived. Between the houses she could see the sea, tumbling onto the quiet shore of the Inner Mouth. At the very edge of the town she came to a small inn, quiet and clean, too far from the market to be crowded at this hour. Here she rested and took a light second breakfast, before setting out in earnest along the coast road. Although she walked slowly, by mid-morning she could feel the beginnings of an ache in her back. She sat down by the roadside to eat and drink a little from the well-stocked pack Darla had given her. Leaning against a tree and watching the gulls sweeping across the sparkling sea, she fell asleep in the mid-day sun.

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SELECTED SHADOWS 79

The old stone house was built of slabs of the grey mountain granite. There were stone walls around the yard, and a paddock where a donkey and a couple of draught horses grazed. In the meadow a small group of children was absorbed in a singing game.

 

‘Ak to Iror leads and then, she the heat and warmth begins,

She the heat and warmth begins,

She the heat and warmth begins.

After Iror, Skeer does bring long and sunny days to Skorn – -’

 

As they sang their hands moved in the intricate actions that go with this ancient song, and Saranna watched their serious faces as she drew slowly closer to the little circle. Suddenly the smallest child, a tiny girl with a cloud of soft golden hair, looked up and saw the stranger approaching. She let out one yell; the singing stopped, and the children froze into stillness.

Farmhouse

SELECTED SHADOWS 78

Here the path curved sharply round to the left, and Saranna edged cautiously round it; the sight that met her eyes made her cry aloud in wonder.

She was on a broad ledge, grassy and watered by a little stream that trickled down the mountainside, through a channel in the midst of the grass, and then over the edge to the lower slopes. The Twinstrack crossed this grass, passing through the stream, and at the far side descended to the south-east in a series of steep but naturally-stepped drops that took it rapidly down to gentler and greener lands. Saranna saw tree-tops below the ledge, and meadows lower still. But so amazing was the more distant view that she spent barely a minute taking in these details before turning back to it. Below Saranna the coast road wound through fertile farmlands, and golden sands were visible in coves along the rocky shore. Beyond, the sea sparkled blue in the morning sun, and white caps of waves rippled in the West Wind. Tiny white gulls and terns flashed across the water, and away beyond the stretch of empty sea where, so they said in Telan, the sea-folk lived below the waves, Saranna saw the islands.

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