Friday, May 20, 2016

Story for the Day: The Quarto Cipher

Marridon is well-known for its teahouses, the most famous of them all being the Quarto Cipher, the most popular teahouse in the old quarter. A favourite of both Danaco and Bartleby, the Cipher boasts a library, card rooms, game tables, a comprehensive liquor counter, and quite unfortunately a good portion of the gentry in Marridon:

 The small stone fountain at the centre of Old Marridon grimaced on the smiling scene of Quarto Cipher, a teahouse well fitted up in the furnishings of a thousand years back, offering the promise of polite society, due civilities to esteemed patrons, and the discourge belonging to the more pedantic of Marridon.
the disctrict in the full bloom of morning. The old masonry, weathered and riddled with dark stains, its wreathing grotesques decorated with the parting gifts of the local birds, seemed depressed amidst the vibrant brocades of the surrounding stalls. The grocers called out their seasonal greens, the fruiterer summoned patrons with melon slices and dried apricots, the vinter wheeled his cart along the eastern side of the fountain, where wives were collecting round the butcher’s window in want of fresh cuts, and the fishmongers lined up along the pier adjacent, festooning the rows with boxes of salted ice, presenting the salmon and crabs caught only hours before. Patches of crooked shoppes and gabled houses dotted the region, old fashioned styles were displaying in nearby windows, the milliners and haberdashers draping their models in high-wasted dresses and printed fabrics with beribboned bonnets and pocketed spencers. Old women crambled down the front steps of slanted houses, to feed the various cats prowling the lanes and to tend their gardens, duffers and dobbins raised their flat caps to the drivers of passing drays, the couriers trotted by on horseback and posted across the cobbles, the ceaseless clink of wheels on stone accompanying the clicking of hooves beating along the ground. A few trade frigates relinquished their berths in the nearby port, sloops skimming the water drifted south toward the marina at full sail, merchants flocked toward the trade stand with the ambition of haggling away the rest of the morning, while gulls and gargoyles populating the surrounding roofs, sitting with open mouths, astonished by the clamour of the quarter, expecting to be relieved of the teeming sibilations the next moment. Maids and servants tripped off to market for their employers, the taverns began filling with workmen and businessmen ready for their midday collations, and everyone who was either too old to work or too disagreeable to work with others congregated round the library or in the old teahouses, ancient and mysterious venues where anyone who was ill-disposed for inane conversation, and anyone who was tolerably literate, went to relieve their hearts and minds of various frustrations, went to hear important news, and to quarrel with acquaintances over dry biscuits, small cakes, and a well-brewed leaves-- and sensible of this, and well inclined to hear and see all the openness and artlessness that a meal spent in a teahouse might offer, Danaco walked through the square to the
Being situated nearer to the academic quarter, where the Grand Marridon Library and the Academy sat in quiet mortification of the arts district beside, the Quartro Cipher was exactly the teahouse to suit the captain’s discrimination. It housed a small lending library, boasted of its supernumerary postal services, and invited anyone who was desirous of a small respite by way of a game of Sirs or Crown and Anchor to sit and dine at its tables. Tiered silver treys and porcelain teapots decorated every surface, glass tables and high-backed chairs lingered in every corner, printed wallpaper in the old Adiethian style clung to every room, and placements of well worked lace lay dormant under napkins and finger glasses.  Men hung round the counter deliberating over the morning’s newspaper whilst women sat in the front room with their workbaskets, speaking in quiet consultation with their daughters and friends, the click of their knitting needles combating the crepitations of the small fire. A few silent observers asperged the far corners, watching the goings on of the dining hall with books spread over their laps and teacups in hand, servers went round with their trolleys of biscuits and buns, salvers of cakes and creams were traded between tables, idle gossip was shared behind the dividing panels, and the matron of the place marched between the rows, her ruffled skirts speaking in tremulous sussuration as she tittuped from hall to hall.
Various topics were banded between the patrons; the front room being a well-read compilation, those who made up the various stools and chairs spoke primarily of Marridon’s scholarly and scientific advances, and the great debate for the morning was the new railway, the tracks being just laid and riveted along the outskirts of the capital. The railway had been in development for several years, and now, with the approval of the king and his Chambers, the system was to be put in place at the centre of  every municipality, providing work and a living wage to those in desperate want of it, and promising transportation for those who lived beyond the borders of the major towns. As the final judiciary authority on any communal subject, the whole of the front room was in agreement as to the significance of the Marridon railway for the kingdom: trade would be facilitated, stock would be shipped without delay, and anyone who was in want of the views around Bannantyne or the hunting grounds near the western woods could easily be in those parts of the country in good time.  The various prices of tickets were talked of, some complaining of there being something to purchase at all considering the railway was being built with public taxes, and others perfectly resigned to pay whatever price was named for the chance of riding such a marvel of modern science. There was some disparity in the crowd with regard to the positions of the railway stations: Owyain and Llangollyn, being the situated close to Balletrim, were talked of as not being allowed to have any stops on the mainline—one at the races in the western part of the capital would be the closest stop to the northeastern border—as not to give any Balletrim insurgence an advantage, should there a rebellion in that part of the country, and the poorer municipalities like Alys, where all the miners in the kingdom naturally resided, would not be receiving a station in their part of the country either. It seemed as though those who mined the coal required for the running of the engine and those who were in need of the railway most were being denied its use, and while all must agree that this prejudice of districts and boarders was hardly fair, this part of the discussion was soon lost under the clamour of an old man, sitting at the far corner of the room, whose voice carried over all the rest, that the first station to be completed was to be in Old Marridon. Some argued for and some against this being a possibility, others simply sat in silence and watched the debate with sagacious smiles, but the general consensus amongst those involved in the now heated disputation was that regardless of the great industrial production which was to bring about a better means of transportation for everyone, it must be unwelcome in this part of the kingdom. Let the northeast have their station—let Upper and Lower Alys have a station each—only let them take the station scheduled for Old Marridon and let them never bring it back. It was not that a scientific wonder was unwelcome in the district—it would certainly be well-received by those who lived elsewhere and wished to visit the district oftener—but for those in the teahouse, a large station, with a shelter and a towering roof, should obstruct the view from the sitting window to the sea, the locomotive should bring about a noise nobody wanted, and the smell of it, the thick smoke billowing out from its stack, the black brume spreading over the port was sure to be the ruin of all Old Marridon’s equanimity. It might bring in more visitors from the country, but what were visitors when the quarter’s own citizens should be grossly incommoded? The station would be a hovel for odd comers and goers, a breeding ground for questionable activity—the district should not be sacrificed for the sake of a few divagating holidaymakers-- and where would be the good of playing host to a new mode of transportation when ships and legs had done very well for everyone else in the quarter? A railway was a novelty, a conveyance that was rather an abomination than a triumph. It was a wonder in every way, a wonder and a convenience, many in the front room of the teahouse believed, Old Marridon could do without, but while everyone was asserting and offering their opinions on the subject, one voice in the mingle of professions spoke was louder and more vehement than the rest:
“A locomotive is precisely what Marridon needs,” the voice rapsed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Story for the Day: Adiethian Gold - Part 2

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Danaco held the earring up and followed the bend of the light around its curves. “Both my parents should have raved over such a piece-- my father especially. He was a great admirer of the Empire Era like myself, and I feel it abominable that he should not be here to revel in its beauties. Do you
think it blasphemous to wear her and parade her about? She is an unrivaled dearling, to be sure, but I should feel myself a beast for locking her away in my gallery. I am all envy as a lover, and I should like to have her always under my regard.”
                “By all means, Captain, I think it would only be right that you wear it. That piece has not been worn by someone in nearly two thousand years. I am sure it would like to be worn again. An item as specialized and as lovely as that wants exhibition.”
                “With her master’s blessing, sir,” said Danaco, canting his head and moving his hair to the side, “I cannot do wrong.”
He pulled his lobe and felt for one of the unoccupied holes, and with precision, he slipped the pin of the earring through his ear and fastened the clasp. He turned about in quest of a mirror, but remembering where he was and the unlikliness of anything like a mirror being about, he went to the window and admired his reflection in the glass. He reveled in himself, enjoying how lovely the golden loop looked against his dark mane, and he lavished his new prize with all the commendations that her age and uncommonness earned. “Only look how beautifully she dangles,” he exclaimed, oscillating and watching the earring return the motion. “How she brightens by hair and eyes. Does no she look well, sir? I must thank you for permitting me the charge of her. Her merits are endless, and while I still do feel a sense of grief in coming away with her, my guilt in the rescue is already waning.”
“I am very glad of it, Captain.” said the wizard, smiling.
“But will not your sons grieve over the loss in their inheritance? Will not they notice that she has fled the collection?”
“In truth, Captain,” said the wizard, turning aside, “my sons have not been introduced to every piece in my great number. They each have their favourite items, and those are the ones they shall inherit, but I as a rabid collector, eager to gain ahold of anything that might belong to our once-great empire, I keep many pieces that no one but those who have a real love for the period would appreciate. You will wear that piece and exhibit it as should be done, and the next time I require your services, Captain, I might have another trinket for you by way of payment.”
“My good friend,” said the captain impressively, “I cannot in good conscience take another piece from you, though I may wish to do with all my might. I would give my life to preserve such an incomparable collection, but I am no wizard. Your people know best how to use and care for these exquisite items. An earring from the Empire is a donation, I grant you, and I have enough admiration in my heart for every treasure, but you know the secret to every precious piece, and whilst I might know the history to a great number of them, I have no insight in their magical secrets. Does this earring have any magical properties?”
“None that I can detect, Captain.”
Danaco’s brows arched, and he looked suspicious. “She is not broken, I trust?”
“No, Captain,” the wizard laughed. “As far as I can tell, that earring never had any magical properties from the first. It is as plain as day.”
“Do you hear him, my little moppit?” Danaco whispered to the earring. “Do you hear how he talks of you? Yes, how despicable it is, saying that you are plain. You could never be thought of as plain—a man is a dizzard who could dare think so. What does he deserve, my pet? Tell me, and I shall do it. Should he be hung by his beard, or shall I tie him to the gables by his robes?”
“If you begin to take orders from an earring, Captain, I should begin to wonder.”
“Then perhaps she is magical after all. Did not the Grand Magus in Marridon encapsulate the spirits of wayward students into gems?”
“Oh, that is little more than a story, Captain,” the wizard replied, laughing heartily. “There is no spell or ritual in all the Adiethian volumes that could bind a soul to anything.”
“There is shame,” said Danaco, in a careless tone. “I should have delighted in knowing that any one of your artifacts might house the spirits of my enemies, that I might put them in a dismal prison and take them out and look at them whenever I should like to punish them.”
“If you can discover a method for binding a living thing to an inanimate object, Captain, I charge you with all my soul to return here immediately and show me your findings.”
“That you might use them on me by way of retaliation for turning this demure little trinket,” said Danaco, fondling his earring,“into gazingstock?”
The wizard shrugged. “An ancient earring, like a lady, must be brought forward sometime. It is up to her whether she decides to accept all the attention she receives.” He rubbed his brow and looked pained. “I am so very pleased I never had daughters. My darling wife always wanted a girl to complement our sons, but I could not endure the idea of someone’s being to court her. I am a selfish old man, as you know, Captain, and I should have liked to keep a doting daughter at home, where I could always be assured of her comfort and safety. Boys will do anything once or twice to spite their own intelligence, but girls are sweet and docile creatures. My wife was a gentle woman, and had we a daughter anything like what she was, I should have walked the kingdom over to get her the flower she wanted. Our sons are like how I was when I was young, willful and determined, and it is difficult enough for me to think of them being so far off, but I could not bear to have a sweet and amiable girl be flung into the hardships of life. Do not mistake me, Captain. I do not mean to say that girls cannot take care of themselves, which of course they can. It is simply---“ He stopped and relapsed into reverie, a pining sigh ebbing out of the dry cracks in his lips. “It is only the wish to keep any woman I love from harm that makes me anxious for their wellbeing. My wife was not a well woman after our youngest son was born, and nothing I could do could cure her, a compunction that besieges me even now.”
“I understand you, my friend,” said the captain, in a softened voice. “My mother also had a poor constitution and was called on to quit our family when I was just entering into my prime of life.”
“A cruel trick of life, Captain,” the wizard mused, “to make us love so much.”
“I agree with you there, my friend. By Myrellenos, my mother was a wondrous creature. I shall never forget her—indeed, I cannot when I have so many of her qualities. She taught me how to be a gentleman and gave me a fondness for tea, which is really the same thing. She made me Marridonian, in short, when my father would have had me for his side. I am unforgivably Lucentian in many respects. My admiration for gold and objects of enormous implied value is a fault of heritage I cannot refute.”
“If by heritage, Captain, you mean by our cultural custom of being desciples of Our Great Lady, then I think it is in the providence of any devoted son of Myrellenos to harbour a love for objects that remind us of a time when She walked among us.”
“Quite so, my friend.”
They shared a most amiable smile, and when Danaco had marveled a little more at the trinkets and furnishings of the house, he took his leave, promising to take up no more of the old man’s time, for “I should stay here indefinitely, had I no crew to command. I should gawp at your great managerie until you were tired.”
“I am old, Captain,” said the wizard, in a wearied manner, “ and being old have been perpetually tired since the age of sixty. But if you must leave, do not make yourself a stranger. Come and see my collection whenever you like it.”
“I think you might have more tea in your house, if you mean to have me stay for more than five minutes. It is scandalous for a Marridonian not to have any tea in his house, sir. How comes this about? has someone stolen your tea box from you, or was there an embargo on the leaves from Livanon? Tell me truly.”
“I have no answer for you, Captain, other than I simply cannot be harassed to stock something I do not drink myself. Wizards are sad fellows. We never have company, even among our own set, and, like having tea always at hand, we never do what is good for us.”
“But you are a decent breed, and propriety commands that you keep at least one box of tea for eventualities. Do not your sons have tea when they are to visit you, sir?”
“I am afraid, Captain,” said the wizard, in a mortified voice, “in that respect, they are very much like their father. Tea takes time to make properly, and wizards simply do not have a moment to spare for what is trivial.”
“By Myrellenos—trivial?” Danaco exclaimed, holding his hand to his breast. “You injure me, sir, with such aspersions. All my Marridonian feelings are offended. My Lucentian feelings too, if you mean to include coffee in your ideas on what is trivial.”
“I am sorry, Captain,” the wizard laughed. “I did not mean to disappoint you, but so must every wizard disappoint those who seek his company. We are only good for charms and potions when we grow too old to longer understand the new ways of the world.”
“I believe that is the way of old men in general, my friend. And when I am old and nobody shall want me, I charge you to find me out, that we might deliciate in being horridly fusty and complain of many things in life we no longer have any patience for.”
The wizard declared he should like that of all things, and with a pat on the back and a hardy shake of the hand, they left the house together, the wizard to begin his day of hawking his wares—or sitting behind his stall, unnoticed by the odd comers and goers—and Danaco to visit a local teahouse, to have his Marridonian spirits nourished by their signature service and by the starts and sussurations of curmudgeonly old men, who usually monopolized every traditional teahouse around this time.   

Friday, May 6, 2016

Story for the Day: Adiethian Gold

Adieth was the predeceasing Empire that gave rise to Marridon. It was a glorious kingdom on the Easter Continent that died out after the Great War. Many Adiethians who abandoned their god quit the continent and traveled west across the sea, and when they landed, they established Marridon, or Marradryn as it is known in Old Common, the land of the godless. They began their journey into the wonders of science and left behind all notion of magic, but the treasures they brought with them from the East endure in the houses of those who still keep to the old ways. Adiethian gold is said to have magical properties, though the scientifically inclined cannot find any proof of this. The amber tinged gold is purported to bring luck to those who keep it with them at all times. Perhaps that is why Danaco's luck never seems to run out.

“I have never been surrounded by such peers. I am really quite oppressed,” Danaco breathed,
in a thrill of ecstasy, giving each item around him its due consideration. “Absolutely exquisite. I would give worlds to take these stunning ornaments off your hands. Were I a wizard, I should find a spell to translocation your sitting room entire on my ship. Do make me your heir-at-law, that I might be so fortunate as to be a caretaker of these beautiful treasures.”
“Point of fact, Captain,” said the wizard, his beard curling in a grin.
He reached toward one of the adjacent shelves, and from one of the higher ledges, he pulled down a small box, unfurnished and unremarkable, held together with a velvet band. The velvet was pulled aside, the box was placed on the table and was opened, and with a demure inflection, the wizard turned it toward the captain, watching and waiting for his reaction with private delight.
“Something by way of a reward for your services, Captain,” said the wizard, rocking on his toes. “I know your love for the Empire Era and how much respect you have for Adiethian culture of our forebears. I believe that whomever the lady was who possessed this treasure should like very much for you to have it.”
Danaco peered into the box, and nestled in the folds of gossamer packing was a golden earring, its wide band well burnished, its loop smooth and perfectly worked. It sat in a triumph of golden complacence, its arch begging to be touched. A hand unconsciously extended toward it, but Danaco’s mind soon roused from the charm of being allowed to see such an enthralling piece, and he took his hand from the box.
“Surely, Master Wizard,” he exclaimed, his hand on his chest, “you cannot mean to give this to me.”
“I believe I do, Captain.”
“Indeed, you cannot mean it. It is a prize from your most venerated collection!”
“One that you should have, Captain,” the wizard professed. “It is one of a set, and the second one was never found. It does have tremendous value, of course, but I should rather have both together, if I can.” He carefully took the earring from the box and held it up to the light. “Real Adiethian gold, Captain,” he whispered, in a tone of wonder. “No wooden inlay, no false clasps, you see— only solid gold, and quite heavy really for such a thin hoop.”
He weighed the earring in his hand and gave it over to Danaco, who welcomed it with the affection of a true disciple, his eyes wide, his aspect rapt in tremulous fascination.
“Oh, is not she lovely!” Danaco avowed, holding the earring by its clasp. “Only look how she pageants herself! That aurulent tinge is absolutely -- have you ever seen such an colour, sir? Oh, she is radient! I am absolutely dissipated, my friend. Even cradling her in my hand gives me such pleasure unconscionable. But, surely, sir, you ought to keep her. She is your rightful property. She has been with you this long while. I should be taking a daughter from you—and she has so many friends here--”
“I insist, Captain,” said the wizard, putting a hand on Danaco’s shoulder. “You know how to care for precious things better than anybody, and I have no doubt that you will give this piece an exemplary home.”
Danaco pressed the earring to his cheek and fondled it. “You will tease me,” he purred, nuzzling it. “But she is worth a monstrous large fortune, sir.”
“One I know you don’t care for, Captain. All your interest is honouring and preserving our national history, and as you make your life one of travel, Captain, perhaps her pair will eventually find you. You have the Luck of Myrellenos with you, and an earring like that is of little use to me sitting here alone.”
Danaco playfully hushed him. “How you injure her feelings, master wizard! He did not really mean it, my beautiful bauble,” he murmured, caressing the earring. “There are many antique friends aboard my ship you might sit down to tea with. How eager they shall be to have a dalliance with you, my cosset, but you must be a lady and never mind them. They can never equal your splendour. Suppose, sir, I never do find her pair, sir. She shall be a widow forever.”
“She will have you for company, Captain, and I have no qualms about your keeping her safe. Please do take it and say no more about it. I cannot thank you enough for returning my staff. Indeed, an earring, even one from the Empire Era, seems a mere trifle compared to the importance of this piece,” said the wizard, holding it up to the light.“It is the prize of my collection, and one I should never be without, if I could somehow forgo the nonsense of aging, as you do, Captain, but I do little these days other than sell my potions and get on with dying.”

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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Last Morning -- In Honour of Smokey

As many of our readers are aware, Smokey, our beloved cat, passed away on Sunday. We are inconsolable, but there is some relief in knowing that wherever he may be, his Haanta counterpart Khaasta will always be at Leraa's side.

In the hours of early morning, before the sun’s peak began skimming the horizon, Khaasta awakened from her gentle doze and went to prowl the perimeter of their family home. She stalked the neighbouring grassland and planted steppes, searching for anything that might interest and serve as an early morning meal. It was her usual time for being alone; the early hours provided her with the voer she required for hunting, and the want of any other predators in the immediate region left her as an unchallenged predator. There was no one else about: the whole of Mhavaledhran was still lying under the governance of its nightly sloom. The famers, though possibly awake, still kept to their beds and homes before sunrise, the other hunters who could have ruined her sport were still dormant in their tents, all the Mivaari and Themari who were usually the first to obey the summons of morning hymns were still in their temples. A few gentle cries emanated from the nurseries, where cradles trembled at the sounds of their masters calling their caretakers toward them, Ankhimari began managing about their infirmaries, the traders sat in their homes waiting for the first of the morning frigates to come in, and while the skies were still dark and the stars still glimmerous under the early hour’s obfuscation, Khaasta crept down the principle walk and surveyed her surroundings.
                Though large cats of the islands often hunted together at night, Khaasta had learned at a young age to hunt alone the morning; her attachment to Leraa and the desire to always be with him kept her away from the forests in the evenings. Abandoned by her family when only a cub and left to the mercy of the Endari, she had long since learned to relinquish those instincts which her species cherished, and ever since Rautu first removed her from the hunter’s trap, and ever since she had been given over to Leraa’s care, she delighted more in spending the chief of the day at Leraa’s side than she did skulking about the forests alone. She followed him as he made his rounds, walked with him everywhere, ate with him at communal meals, played with him and the Mivaari on his visits to the temples, and when they ended their day and spent time at home, she sat at his feet or lay at his side, her head resting on his lap, her tail coiled around his arm. She slept when Leraa slept and remained at his side throughout the night, until intuition roused her and called her to inspect the front step or sit in the path, to glory in the soft glow of the moon and relish the coruscating stars hovering overhead. She knew what they were—any light hanging pendulously was enough to interest her—but she still observed them with marked curiosity, wondering if they should ever come down and allow themselves to be caught. All her happiness was in and around their home, and with Leraa safe within and the purlieu without quiet and unreserved, Khaasta padded toward the forest, pleased at any rate to have the wilderness all to herself.
 The seclusion and uncertainty of the dense vegetation under the power of crowded canopies and limited light was everything to tempt Khaasta out of her learned timidity and into her predatory aspect. She melded into the underbrush and stalked her quarries, crouching under broad succulent leaves, watching her murine prey, and loping after those that were sensible enough to avoid her path. She caught a few mallomys, and when she was satisfied, she left the forest for the neighbouring steppes, settling the high grass and perching over a ledge, preparing to attack her prey below. Field mice and ground squirrels swarmed the steppes, and after a few minutes spent stalking through the blades, she sprang down, smashing a few heads as she descended. She batted her kills between her paws, giving in to that playful sense of cruelty that often accompanies the animal realm, and once she was satisfied with herself, she ate what she caught and turned back toward the house. She returned to the front path when a sound suddenly caught her ear: someone was moving about the house. Her limbs straightened, her head turned, and her ears flicked back and forth, following familiar footfalls. Leraa was awake, he was walking about the front room, gathering the basin and some water for a short bath, preparing for his daily walk round the islands. They always patrolled the animal sanctuaries together before moving on with the more pressing duties of the day; governing his people was all very well, but animals were very much part of Leraa’s his life and part of the islands, and the peaceable agreement between the two species inhabiting a restricted space must be kept: the Haanta must remain confined to certain areas, and the animals must be given their due consideration and rights as first inhabitants, and Leraa as Hasaan Omaa must set them the example. The protected animals of the islands were forever in his heart, and when everyone saw him walking through the capital with Khaasta at his side, no one could question where his allegiances lay.
                The skies soon relinquished their evening habits, giving way to the studied luminescence of morning, the empyreal expanse improving with the first intimations of sunlight, and all the noctivagant inhabitants of the islands began returning to their homes: young grass serpents divigated toward their warrens, colonies of bats glided to their caves, sedges of night bitterns hastened back to their nests, husks of grassland hares hopped toward their burrows, eels wambled into the algae beds, and as the morning rays penetrated the eastern skies, Khaasta went down to the water, to wait for her companion and watch the continual recession of the tide. She sat at the shoreline, resting her haunches on the wet sand, looking out at a varying scene: the schools of small loaches swimming against the pull of the waves, the clouds of nearby gnats dissipating as the warmth of morning arrived, the vibrant blur of caribs fluttering down from high boughs, the brilliant blooms unfurling their petals and bowing to the dawn. The clouds retreated from view as the sun invaded, the brume of a humid clime grazed the horizon, and the ebb of the seas drew the barm ashore, pooling between Khaasta’s toes. Aurora arrived at last, bringing with it clear skies and aurulent hues, the celestial gradient that the islands were used to see every morning this time of the year. Khaasta bellowed and yawned and shook her head, her ears clapping against her in a series of quick flaps, and her tongue hung languidly out the side of her mouth as she watched a flock of swallow-tailed mews kite after one another overhead. She purred happily to herself, spying the red crabs scuttling across the sand with sanguine interest, patting at the clam holes beneath her, and lapping up the algae that washed ashore. It was a lovely prospect everywhere she looked, and Leraa coming to join her, the presence of her doting companion, was all that was wanting to make the morning perfect. Presently she heard a sound from the house, but while her ears detected the thump of familiar steps approaching, she did not look round; she was staring at the sea, her eyes wide with fervent curiosity, her attention claimed by the gentle rote of the waves, the broad hem of the sea, the vacancy and infinity of the horizon.   

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