You Know Best
The Do’s Series: Segment 33
© Grandpa Jim
Queen Mother Mary Plantagenet Pickford brushes next to Minnesinger HitBolt where he stands watching TidBit McIntyre and DawnRunner StarBreak, now Mr. and Mrs. McIntyre, Lord and Lady of the East Ridge, dance across the green grass in the middle of the roundabout.
“They do make a good couple.” The monarch’s tone is shy, almost girlish.
HitBolt turns his head. “Your dress is pretty, Mary. I do like the cobalt blue color, especially with the sparkle stones.”
The Queen blushes. “It was a favorite pattern of LoveJoy’s.” Her tone turns serious. “I wish she were here to see this.” Queen Mary waves her hand toward the colorful ribboned decorations festooning the old stone ruins, the gleaming glowglobes hanging from the foodbooths and dangling from lines extended over the dance area, and the flowers everywhere and on every girl’s and lady’s head, including her own.
The booming laughter and thunderous clapping of WhiteHands BakeMuch interrupts the Queen’s reverie. In his sweettreats booth, behind tables mounded with bitesize weddacakebakes, puddaswirl tartincups, sweetandsour yellowgummi greatworms and other mouthwatering delectables, the Great Baker stands on his toes at full height and makes an overloud and excessively cheerful noise for all to hear and appreciate. To the sides of WhiteHands, his new bakers-in-apprenticeship, LongLeap StarBreak, BoffWham BiffBuff and HammerHands the Pugilist, rattle trays and raise their voices in affirmation and encouragement, while in the back at the sink GangleLegs PruneFace clacks silverware in tune. The immediate cause of their combined outburst, if any justification for merriment were needed this night, is BakeMuch’s sighting of the newlyweds exchanging a kiss in the middle of the practiced routine of their firstdance.
HitBolt chuckles. “It is good to see friends happy again, and I agree with you. Our StealthMouse and SandRunner do make a good couple.” He pauses to rub his chin. “It is an odd thing, Mary. When I see the two of them out there, dancing together like that, I see only a happy couple. I do not see their differences.”
Mary nods her agreement. “LoveJoy once told me that ‘For some, size matters little.’ She said that to RhineHold HuffSpot, when they first met.”
“I believe that was on the occasion of her introducing pasta macaroni and The Fonz to RhineHold. From all that has happened, I am sure the DwarfMaster would agree that you cannot evaluate pasta or a person from size alone.”
“Yes, and even then, when they first met, RhineHold was gracious to our girl. He titled her ‘M’Lady.’ And, RhineHold remembered that as LoveJoy was leaving, she called back to him to ‘Never underestimate The Fonz.’”
“She was quite right.”
“That’s not all. As LoveJoy disappeared into the night, RhineHold heard some person say, very distinctly, to ‘Never underestimate LoveJoy KickStart, either.’ He said the voice stayed in his head until he heard it again in Sir Richard’s throneroom.”
“Indeed. And who’s voice was that?”
“The Mysterious Stranger. The one who took the Dark Count away?”
“That is curious. Quite interesting. I wonder if. . . .”
On the dancefloor, TidBit and DawnRunner do a quick spinadip and finish their firstdance, to the raucous applause, shouts and whistles of the admiring audience.
Standing on the platform stage in front of Happy Days Band and the piano player, the master of ceremonies gesticulates wildly and shouts into the easyspeak longvoice microphone system. “Ladies and GentlePersons.” The announcer raises his voice. “LADIES AND GENTLEPERSONS. . . . Thank you. THANK YOU. . . . IF I MAY HAVE YOUR ATTENTION. . . . Thank you.”
Around the grassdancefloor and in the booths and standing areas, the guests quiet and focus on the speaker.
“Ladies and Gentlepersons, we have a special dance. The newlyweds would like to honor LoveJoy KickStart. . . .”
Spontaneous applause interrupts the announcer who steps back and waits for the clapping to subside.
“DawnRunner and TidBit. . . .” The announcer coughs for attention. “The bride and groom have reserved this dance for the family of their dear friend. LoveJoy’s father is here with us tonight. StrongHeart KickStart, please step out and join the bride and groom on the dancefloor.”
Applause follows StrongHeart as he separates from the crowd, crosses the grassfloor of the roundabout, shakes TidBit’s hand and hugs DawnRunner. Tears well in the FarWay ChieftanKing’s eyes. “Thank you,” he whispers to the newlyweds. “Thank you.”
The announcer waves to the conductor. “Please, Maestro. Music.” A sweet haunting melody drifts from the stage and onto the soft green of the roundabout.
StrongHeart lifts DawnRunner’s hand, smiles a kindly fatherly smile to TidBit and steps slowly away, guiding DawnRunner around the circle to the appreciation of the quieted crowd.
The TruthSeeker StealthMouse stands and sighs, his eyes following DawnRunner and StrongHeart as they float over the grass. A soft rustling sound draws his attention down to his side. The soft folds of a blue robe brush his hand.
“It would be a shame for them to have to dance alone.” The pretty nurse lifts his hand in hers. “I think it is time that we joined them. Don’t you?”
TidBit nods numbly and moves onto the grass, turning smoothly in the direction of the other dancing pair.
“Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?” Queen Mary leans forward, her lifted hand resting on HitBolt’s shoulder for support.
“You are indeed, Ms. Mary.”
“Nurse Hoadie is out there, and she is dancing with Tidbit. This dance is for the family of our dear girl. Does this mean? Can this mean that Nurse Hoadie could be LoveJoy’s. . . .”
“But. . . . She is a Vila?”
“Yes, Mary. Nurse Hoadie Ilsalund Carmichael is a Vila. And, Nurse Hoadie is LoveJoy KickStart’s mother.”
Queen Mary raises her highbrows and widens her eyes. “This could change everything.” She turns to Minnesinger HitBolt. “You knew?”
“I suspected.” HitBolt rubs his forehead. “It started when LoveJoy stayed with us at Schwangau Castle, after the fall of Glue Days and New Bread. MirrorPuddle, the Waptilian Raik, was there, and he said of LoveJoy that ‘The FarWay girl knows some of this from her dealings with the Vila nurse and their gifts.’ Later, LoveJoy blessed her Truss and us when she prayed ‘May the graces grant one day we may all be together.’ It was then that I saw it. I saw it in her eyes. I do not think she even knew or suspected.”
“That she is a Vila.”
“She is in part, but that may not be enough.”
“Is it not true that the bonds of death do not hold the Vila.”
“At times, they may not. If, when one of Vila blood dies, she is good enough and the Vila Queen acquiesces, death may serve only as a passage to new life. Nurse Hoadie is such a Vila. The pretty Nurse passed through the portal and could live again. This is a great gift, and it is one that must be earned.”
“Has LoveJoy earned this?”
“She sacrificed herself for her family, her friends, the ones she loved most — for all the peoples of this age.”
“Will that be enough?”
“Sacrifice alone may not be enough.”
“Why would it not be?”
“With sacrifice, something is received in return. For her life given, the lives of others were saved.”
“Is there no hope then?”
“There is always hope.”
“Is there another way?”
“Perhaps there is. LoveJoy showed mercy to the one who took her life and the lives of so many others of these times.”
“She showed mercy?”
“Only mercy can pierce evil. Mercy forgives with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Mercy is desired over sacrifice, and this may be enough. I hope that it is.
“If it is so, this could mean that LoveJoy is. . . .” Queen Mary spins her head to the left and right and back again. “Where is he? Where is her dear boy?”
HitBolt scans the crowd and points. “Prince Lohengrin is over there. Do you see him standing there — apart from the others?”
SchirmerShutzen HirschTruss stares at Nurse Hoadie in her blue robe spinning over the grass on the arm of the TruthSeeker StealthMouse, his swordsworn and true friend. Truss remembers the last time he watched that soft blue robe spin, when it lifted away with the one he misses most, the FarWay girl, his best friend. He rubs the moisture from his cheek and holds LoveJoy KickStart in his heart. The eyes of his mind watch the two of them dance together across the green.
A soft touch turns his head to a tanned hand and arm, down to the shimmering fabric of a sky blue dress sparkling with starstones.
“Would you like to dance?” her voice asks. “I’m sure they’d understand.”
He gazes up at chestnut hair and grey eyes. “It’s you?”
“Are you real?”
He nods, not taking his eyes off her face.
She lifts his hand in hers, places his other hand on her waist and leads them out and onto the grass.
In the sky, the full moon slips from behind a cloud and illuminates the two lovers in a soft and welcoming embrace.
Gasps escape from the crowd as the new couple passes by and spins toward the other two dancing pairs.
On the stage, The Fonz steps forward, removes the baton from the frozen hand of the astonished conductor and waves at the Happy Days Band and the smiling piano player to keep playing. SamTrip BlazeHands tilts his head up to the sky and croons the song he knows and remembers so well:
“And when two lovers woo,
They still say, I love you.
On that you can rely,
No matter what the future brings,
As time goes by.”
StrongHeart sees the new pair approaching, stifles a cry of joy, and carefully leads DawnRunner closer to where TidBit and Nurse Hoadie dance.
“It’s time to switch.” StrongHeart nods to the StealthMouse. “Your beautiful wife for mine.” He twirls DawnRunner to the wide-eyed TruthSeeker, who steps back and catches his SandRunner bride. At the same time, Ilsalund gracefully slips to the side and falls into the waiting arms of her FarWay husband. “And,” StrongHeart calls to the new bride and groom. “You may want to turn around. I think you’ll be surprised.”
A puzzled expression crosses the faces of DawnRunner and TidBit. They look at each other, shrug and pivot about.
With a loud shout and cry, the SandRunner and StealthMouse run as one to surround and smother LoveJoy in hugs and kisses, turning to Truss with slaps on the back and hugs from all and kisses from DawnRunner and LoveJoy, to the ShirmerShutzen’s delight, and TidBit’s, who receives his fair share of the kisses, while RhineHold and DeepDelve race with their strong arms waving in the air to crash and tackle the foursome in a mighty dwarf bearhug that topples the lot to the grass, where the Great Baker reaches and pulls them back up, offering LoveJoy a slightly smashed and tearsoaked sweettreat, in return for a kiss on his bowed and reddening head, as BoffWham BiffBuff bursts into happy nautical song of the underways and overways, HammerHands the Pugilist punches the air with unrestrained enthusiasm, and GangleLegs PruneFace faints away in a happy smiling pile.
With a laugh and shake of his head, StrongHeart KickStart pushes through the melee, protectively drawing the pretty Nurse Hoadie with him. Father and mother stop before LoveJoy. Each lifts a hand and touches the face of their daughter, pulling the young lady to them in a heartfelt and longawaited family embrace, reaching to drag Truss into their midst, while LongLeap StarBreak slides behind DawnRunner and TidBit and stretches his strong arms to squeeze them closer to him.
The crowd allows the families some brief tender moments before deciding in joint accord that everyone needs another hug, slap on the back, and kisses from the pretty ladies — again and again and again.
On the stage, The Fonz grabs his bongos and leads the Happy Days Band and SamTrip BlazeHands in an excited and spontaneous version of the “Bongo Rock” to the laughing enjoyment of the wedding party and guests milling on the green in the middle of the roundabout near Penny Lane where the tradeways meet and circle at the Fair of Glue Days and New Bread in the Lands of the New and Free Peoples.
“Oh, my.” Queen Mary fans herself with a hand.
“It is quite a sight.” HitBolt reaches and lifts her other hand. “I think it is time that we joined them. Don’t you agree?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” She moves closer to the Minnesinger. “Please, lead on.”
“It’s what I do best.” His eyes reflect her smiling face. “As you know best.”
“It is and I do, my ancient sage and meddlesome boy. As I do.”