Comin’ Through The Rye
The Do’s Series: Segment 19
© Grandpa Jim
The deepboat surfaces and nudges next to the wooden dock. The side hatch opens. From the dock, BlackFeathers push rough planks to form a bridge. A short guppie wearing an elaborate black angled hat with a towering red feather steps out and ambles across the makeshift gangway.
“Nice cap, Cap’n Jean LaFitte SquatBean.” The cheesemaker smiles showing broken teeth. “Like the feather.”
“Admiral now, BentNose ChurnTurner. Pirate AdmiralCaptain of the BumbleBee BuzzSwarm Squadron.” SquatBean waves the back of a hand at the yellow dots painted to the side of the hatch.
“You don’t look much like an admiral,” BentNose scoffs, “and them spots don’t look much like bees.”
“Quiet, dog! Or I’ll clap you in irons and cut off your insolent tongue.”
“You still talk like a pirate, even if you don’t look like an admiral.”
“You still look and smell like a cheesemaker.”
“Humph. Them cheeses over there are ready for load’n.”
“Then stow the cargo, and I’ll pinch my nose for the return trip.”
“Them be good cheeses, Admiral SquatBees,” BentNose pouts. “Good cheeses.”
“Yes. Yes.” The Guppie Captain reaches up to place a hand on the ChurnTurner’s shoulder and leans forward in a conspiratorial fashion. “They do fetch a good price. Which is why we stop by here on our busy rounds. Our very busy rounds. To have these visits with you. Se we can make our plans.”
“Oh. . . . Our plans.” BentNose slowly nods his head up and down. “Do you be prepar’n for war, new AdmiralCaptain, Sir?”
SquatBean drops his hand and stands erect, adjusts his blue short coat, pulls at a ragged sleeve with one hand, and rubs a tarnished brass button with the other. “We could use some Marines, BentNose ChurnTurner. BlackFeather Marines. If they be good fighters.”
“We be that.”
“The pay is good. Very good.”
“Then we be better fighters. Who’s pay’n? Be it be you?”
“No. It be the Dark Count. And you best not be telling that to anyone. Recruit your men. I’ll tell you more on our next stop. And, I’ll bring an advance for your men, with a generous portion for you personally.”
BentNose slaps a hand to his forehead in a rough salute. “Aye, aye, AdmiralCaptain Jean LaFitte SquatBean. We’ll be here, Sir. Ready to serve and wait’n for our orders. And our money. BlackFeathers be good fighters.”
“They’d better be, ChurnTurner. The Count may pay well, but he is a demanding employer. Do you know what I mean?”
The BlackFeather’s shoulders slump forward. “I remember the LowHills,” he says in a hushed tone. “I remember ‘em. We will do our jobs.”
* * *
LoveJoy stands at the window, her back to HitBolt at the table, where he sits shuffling papers.
The MinneSinger lifts his head and straightens his green cap. “He favored that view. It was the Prince’s. . . . I mean Truss’s favorite.”
The FarWay girl turns. “Thank you.” She walks to touch the edge of the table. “Have you news?”
HitBolt rubs his chin. “It won’t be long, M’Lady. Raiks travel quickly.”
“They’ll be here soon.”
* * *
GangleLegs PruneFace fidgets and dips before the high-backed chair and its slouching occupant.
“Stop moving,” Sir Richard speaks softly.
“Courses, yeses, Lordses, Countses.” The Guppie spy crumbles to the floor and a second later jumps erect to a standing position.
“Report. Before you melt. Please report.”
“Bigger than best news. I quick glide and secret slide to special deliver this report to you.” PruneFace spins completely around, stops, stretches out a leg, flops wide an arm and finishes with a loud, “TA DA!”
Sir Richard slowly claps his hands and yawns. “My funny bone is aching with mirth.”
“Ho. Ho. Ho. EngineJellyBeans makes a joke. Ho. Ho. Ho.”
“Ho. Ho. Ho. To you.” Sir Richard stands to his full height, snaps his fingers and points to the spy. “Report. NOW!”
GangleLegs drops to his knees, raises his face to his new master, lifts his hands in prayer and intones in a solemn monk-like monotone, “The Fonz is a comin’.”
“Are you nuts?” Sir Richard stares at the spy.
The Guppie continues in trance-like Gregorian chant. “The Fonz has been found, summoned and sent. He who was, is now and will be. He that be, then be, now be. The squeakscreen so speak it, and so it be spoke. The Fonz is a comin’ through the rye and is on his way. Queen Mary hears this and knows this. For so, forsooth and so forth. The Fonz is a comin’ and is on the way.”
Sir Richard’s eyes open wide. “Has the whole world gone mad?”
“Yes’m Count Sirs. It’s a Mad, Mad World. Just look and sees and hears mees.”
“I am and it is.” Sir Richard sits down on his chair. “It is. Now, you turn and flop out of here while I still have some patience left. I need to think.”
GangleLegs crumbles about and moves to the door, singing as he jerks and sways:
“If a body meet a body,
Comin’ through the rye
If a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?
Each lassie has a laddie
None, they say, have I
Yet all the lads they smile at me
When comin’ through the rye
Among the train there is a swain
I dearly love myself
But where his home or what his name,
I do not care to tell.
Each lassie has a laddie,
None, they say, have I.”
The Count shakes his head. “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
* * *
DawnRunner and TidBit walk around the tower, stop beside each other opposite the open door to the stairs and rest their hands on the stone parapet.
“HitBolt says this is the highest view in Schwangau Castle.” The StealthMouse glances over his shoulder. “The peaks behind us.” He brings his gaze back and sweeps a hand across the panorama before them. “And the whole region of the Schwangau spread to the horizon.”
“It is beautiful.” StarBreak pauses. “And peaceful.”
“For now.” The Mouse frowns.
“Are the Low Hills beautiful, TruthSeeker of the TrueFind Tribe?”
“Yes, in their own ways. Rolling hills covered with soft grasses, cut by crystal clear streams. At least they were beautiful, before. . . .”
“Before . . . the BentOnes?” DawnRunner reaches and touches his hand.
TidBit sighs. “We had known and traded with the BrownOnes for many years. Many years. Long before their new master sent them to destroy our homes and imprison our people.”
“Why did they do this?”
“The Dark Count holds them in his sway. I do not know how?”
“What do you know of the BentOnes? Where are they from?”
“They’re not so bad.” TidBit gives a snort. “They do dress in unseemly brown robes, but they are smarter and more able than their appearance would suggest. Good traders, they hide their true selves well. Where are they from? Out of the Great Waste and Open Wild beyond the East Desert. And in numbers we never imagined. We could not stop them. I escaped. Hopefully others did. I have found no other TrueFind TruthSeekers. Though those of my kind are not easily found or seen.”
“Why is that?”
“We find for others. What is sought and by stealth may be found. The truths of things and treasures unseen.”
“The seedstone!” DawnRunner exclaims.
“I traveled the dangersands of the deepdesert for that and for the Lady.”
“You traveled the darksands of the BlindDesert?”
“I too have crossraced the rolling sandwaves under the starbright of darklight. A stealthseeker must do many things to find what is lost or is yet to be found.
DawnRunner StarBreak fixes her eyes on the TruthSeeker StealthMouse. “Would you return to those sands, TidBit McIntyre, surefriend quickblade?”
“I would, sandlady quickflash. At the right time.” He reaches to touch her hand. “And with the right person.” He shifts his eyes to distant lands of the Schwangau. “But now is not that time. There is much yet that must be done.”
DawnRunner sighs. “It seems the world has gone mad.”
“For a time, M’Lady. For a time.” He takes her hand in his as they lean toward each other and away from the troubles of the world.
“Much must yet be done,” she whispers as they kiss.
* * *
She pours coffee into his cup. “What must be done?” she asks.
He takes a sip of the steaming liquid and carefully sets the cup down. “I try to go ahead and see what happens next.”
“I don’t understand. How does that help?”
“There, in the future, they have the whole story.” He touches the rim of his cup. “Here, I only have it to this point. If I can go there, I can try to see what happens next.”
“Why? I mean you’re doing it. Just write it.”
“I don’t want to change it.” He lowers his head into his cupped hands, takes a breath, then lifts his head and spreads his hands. “Don’t you understand? If I write before I know what happens, I might change it.”
“But you’re writing it.”
“Don’t be so mysterious.”
“Thank you. Yes, that’s what I’m called there. See, I know what I’m doing — I know it’s right.”
“Okay. Then answer me this: How do you see there what hasn’t been written here yet?”
“I go, I wait and I watch what’s happening. Its already been written. I just have to see it.”
“How can you do that? How can you go there?”
“I write to that point and then I wait.”
“Wait for what?”
“To see what happens next.”
She squints her eyes and props her elbows on the table. “And after that?”
“I record it. It’s okay because I’m not changing it. I can’t write it before, because I might change it; and I don’t change it when I write it here, because it’s already been written there. Don’t you see?”
She lifts the carafe and refills his cup. “You are a mysterious person.” She sets the pot down. “If not a little mad.”
“Thank you,” he answers and takes a sip.
“Would you like to watch an old movie tonight?”
“Sure. Which one?”
“’It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’.”
“Yes! A good fit. I just saw the phrase there.” He pauses in thought.
“Is there something more?”
“Before the show, I’d like to find a song. Check the verses.”
“’Comin’ Through the Rye.’”
“Really? That’s much older than the movie.”
“Yes. I thought it a odd mix, but you have to do what you have to do.”
“So it would seem,” she says. “And so you see it.” She salutes him with her cup.
“Thank you. Thank you for being so understanding.” Laughing, he reaches and takes her hand in his. “Each laddie has a lassie, and glad I am you’re mine.”
“I don’t think you have the verses quite right.” She smiles.
“Exactly. You do understand.”
“It’s a Mad Mad World.” She leans closer.