Jovinda and Noni Part 2

This is the second part of the story of Carthinal’s parents, Jovinda and Noni. I thought it would only be two instalments, but this is the second and it’s not finished. There will be at least one more.

Jovinda eventually stopped crying. There were no more tears left to cry. She lay on her bed looking out of the window at the clouds floating in a clear blue sky where the sun seemed to be mocking her. She did not want to live. How could she without Noni?
She rose and walked towards the casement. She opened it and looked out, drawing a deep sobbing breath. If she jumped from here she would only hurt herself. It was not high enough to kill her and so she withdrew into the room.
There was a knock on her door. She threw herself back down on the bed and ignored it. The knock came again, followed by her mother’s voice saying her name. Jovinda did not want to speak to her mother. She hated her and her father for forbidding her to see Noni.
Her mother called again, and then Jovinda heard a sigh and the footsteps retreating. The girl rose again and went to the window where she sat on the window seat and gazed out at the passers-by. She had to make a plan. She must see Noni. What if he thought she did not want to see him? Would her parents allow her to go out alone? Probably not, just in case she went to see him.
After a long while, she had her plan all sorted out. First she must go to see Salor. Her mother could accompany her if she wished. She was not going to go to try and see Noni. She must continue to act the broken-hearted girl though. If her parents thought she had recovered too quickly they would be suspicious. A few days would suffice.
For the next two days, Jovinda stayed impatiently in her room. She felt much happier now she had worked out her plan. Slowly she opened the door and walked down the stairs into the hallway, keeping her eyes lowered and her mouth downcast. She was hungry. She had eaten very little during the last two days. She had picked at the food her maid had left outside her room wanting to seem as though she were still unhappy.
When she entered the dining-room she sat down at the table where her parents were beginning their meal.
Ellire smiled at the girl. ‘Well, we’re very glad to see you, Jo. We were worried about you up there on your own, hardly eating, weren’t we Kendo?’
‘Yes, we were. You were hardly eating anything and not speaking to anyone. It’s good to have you back at the table again.’ He turned to the butler. ‘Olori, serve Miss Jolinda with some of this soup, will you please.’
The meal passed with little said, and nothing about Noni. Afterwards, Jovinda told her parents that she was going to visit Salor that afternoon. She half expected an argument, but she was ready. After all, they could not legally stop a young woman of sixteen from going out. She was of age now.
Instead of an argument, though, Ellire said, ‘Oh, what a coincidence. I have planned to go to see Bremla this afternoon.’ She named Salor’s mother. ‘I need to talk to her about the women’s meeting next week. I’ll walk with you.’
Jovinda was not surprised that her mother wanted to talk to Bremla. She knew it was just a made-up excuse, but she pretended to be surprised and agreed it would be pleasant to walk together.

OoOoOoOoOo

Noni stood at his window for some time. He was not going to give this girl up. He loved her with all his heart and although no words of love had passed between them, he believed she felt the same.
Later that day he left the Rindissillaron embassy where the elves were staying and walked towards Jovinda’s home. He had no idea what he was going to do. He stood in the street and looked up at the house. Where was she now? Was she in her room or had she gone out? Should he knock on the door? He had always been warmly welcomed before. He decided he must see Jovinda and he crossed the street and knocked on the door.
It was answered by Olori, the butler. ‘I’m sorry, sir,’ he told Noni, ‘but Miss Jovinda is not entertaining today.’ He then politely closed the door.
This happened for the next two days and Noni decided that either Jovinda was no longer interested in him, which he did not believe, or her parents had had a similar conversation with her as his father had had with him. He must see her, but how? He had waited outside her house for two days and had not seen her. She must come out sometime, though. Her parents could not keep her inside against her will. She was, after all, an adult by the standards of the human world.
On the third day of waiting, Noni saw the front door open. His heart leaped as he saw his beloved coming down the steps, but it sank again just as quickly when he saw she was accompanied by her mother. He slipped down the street opposite and looked back to see Jovinda smile at something her mother said. She did not look unhappy. He sat down on the step of a nearby house. Perhaps it was true that she did not want to see him. His head sank into his hands and it was all he could do to prevent the tears.
He walked back to the embassy and entered. His father was just about to leave to go to a meeting.
‘Where have you been?’ he asked. ‘Hurry up and get ready. We have a meeting with the goldsmith’s guild shortly. You need to come and learn about diplomacy and negotiating contracts. I hope you’ve not been seeing that girl.’
‘No, Father, I’ve not been seeing her. I’ll be along in five minutes.’
But I will see her again, and I will ask her if she wants to continue seeing me, have no fear of that.

OoOoOoOoOo

Salor took Jovinda to her room. As soon as the door closed, Jovinda began to talk rapidly. She told Salor how her parents were objecting to her relationship with Noni and how she was going to defy them and see him.
‘I’m an adult, Salor,’ she told her friend. ‘I can do as I wish and they can’t stop me. I want to see Noni. I will see Noni. I love him, Salor.’
‘This is so romantic. A forbidden love. Will the lovers overcome the obstacles and win through?’
‘Look, Salor, I want you to do me a favour. Have you got a pen and paper? I want to write a letter to Noni and I’m asking you if you can somehow get it to him.’
Salor stood and walked over to a desk in front of the window. She picked up a pen and paper and Jovinda wrote a brief note to Noni.
‘How are we going to get it to him?’ Salor asked.
‘I’ve thought of that,’ Jovinda replied. ‘Your maid can take it and give it to Noni’s manservant. He’s called Kifferissimos or something that sounds like that anyway.’
The two girls plotted how Salor’s maid, Muren, could find out which of the elves was Kifferissimos and how she could get the note to him. It would not be easy, and Muren would need to be sworn to secrecy too.
They called the girl in and told her what they wanted her to do. She was as excited as Salor to be involved as a go-between in an illicit affair. She suggested that if he were agreeable, she and Kifferissimos could pretend to be lovers. That would be a good excuse to be seen together.
They agreed the plan and Jovinda gave the note to Muren. Just then, Ellire called and Jovinda left Salor and ran down the stairs smiling at her mother.
‘It’s good to see you smiling again,’ said Ellire, smiling back. She turned to Bremla. ‘I think she’s seeing the sense of what we told her about human and elf relationships. I feel so relieved.’
The two girls exchanged guilty looks, but neither of the older women noticed.

OoOoOoOoOo

Three anxious days passed. Jovinda could hardly contain herself. She could not rush round to see Salor every day, as that had not been their usual habit. There was sewing to be done and helping her mother with the household accounts. She took left over food to some of the poor families. Those who did not live too far away, though, It would not do for a well-bred young lady to venture into the poor district.
She visited the temple of Sylissa to help the clerics with preparation of bandages and then each day went to pray at the temple of Bramara, the goddess of the Family and Marriage to pray that things would work out well for her and Noni.
Eventually her patience paid off. Salor came to visit her one afternoon and when they were alone, passed a note written in an elegant style. Jovinda could hardly contain herself.
‘Read it, Jo,’ Salor said. ‘You can write a reply and I can take it with me when I go.’
Jovinda broke the seal.
My darling, Jo,  it said.
I hope you don’t mind me calling you my darling, for you are indeed most dear to me. I received and read your note with excitement. Does this mean that you feel the same about me as I do about you? This I can hardly dare to hope for.
You tell me that your parents have forbidden you from seeing me. The same has happened here. My father has been quite adamant that we do not see each other. I am sure they think that it is in our best interests, but I do not accept that.
Jo, my darling, I now admit that I love you with all my heart. I cannot live without you. I WILL not live without you. It matters not one jot to me that you will grow old before me. I will love you just the same, young or old.
Please tell me how we can meet. I must see you again as soon as possible.
Yours forever
Noni
Tears filled Jovinda’s eyes as she read the letter. Salor was worried.
‘What does he say? You are crying. Is he finishing it?’
‘No, Salor. It’s such a beautiful letter. He says he loves me and how can we meet.’
The girls began to plot again. This time how Jovinda and Noni could meet. They eventually decided that the girls would plan a picnic. Noni would ‘accidentally’ be walking past, and Salor would have to go somewhere, so they could be left alone.

OoOoOoOoOo

The day of the picnic arrived. Salor arrived at Jovinda’s home with a picnic basket and Jovinda picked up her own basket.
‘Where are you going to have your picnic?’ Ellire asked. ‘It’s a beautiful day. I think the meadows down by the mouth of the Brundella would be nice.’
‘We thought up on the hill out of town,’ Jovinda replied. ‘There’s a bit of a breeze up there as well as the woods if we need some shade. It might be a bit hot down by the river.’
The two girls climbed the hill to the top and sat down, spreading their picnic out in front of them. Jovinda was on tenterhooks.
‘What if he doesn’t come? What if he’s changed his mind about me? What if his father’s found out and has somehow prevented him from coming?’
Salor smiled. ‘He’ll come, Jo. Don’t you worry.’
Then a figure strode out from the woods. The girls gave out a little scream, then Jovinda recognised her lover and leaped up. she ran towards him and he held out his arms to receive her.
Salor quietly slipped away.
What will happen when Noni and Jovinda’s parents find out they have been seeing one another?
Find out on the third Tuesday of March.
I would be very pleased to receive any comments about this story.

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Can Animals Talk?

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What is talking?
Talking is using words in order to express a meaning.
What is a word?
A word is a sound, or combination of sounds assigned to a particular thing.

Having set that out I will state that in my opinion, animals can and do talk. Just because they do not talk in such a complicated way as we do does not mean they

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are not talking.

Take birds, for example. Birds sing. Some birds have songs that are beautifully melodic and musical. Take the British robin for example. He isn’t just singing because at last winter is over and it’s a nice sunny day, so he feels happy. No, he’s saying to all other male blackbirds ‘I’m here and this is my patch, so stay away.’
At the same time, he’s advertising to all female robins that he is a good catch.

Songbirds emit up to 20 different sounds that tell of fear, hunger or alarm an

d warnings to fledgelings. (The Free Dictionary.com)

OK, so perhaps that is communicating and not talking. After all, we communicate an awful lot without saying a word085bird1, so let’s look a little deeper.

Anyone who had a cat or a dog can usually catch on pretty quickly what their various sounds mean. One meow for ‘I’m hungry’, and a different one for ‘Let me out, I need a pee.’ If your cat always makes the same sound for the same thing, is that not what a word is?

I have no idea what all the sounds made by Herring gulls mean, but they have such a wide variety that I would like to find out if they use them for particular things. I do know that young herring gulls make a little squeaking noise to beg for food from their parents. Is this a ‘word’ meaning ‘food’ or ‘I’m hungry’? It’s not used at any other time as far as I am aware.

What made me thiwolf1nk of this was something I was reading in a book called ‘Proust and the Squid’ about how we learn to read. It told of monkeys that when danger was spotted, used a particular call for a leopard and a different one for an eagle, the two main predators. They had also combined the two to mean ‘get out of here fast.’
If the sounds are made exclusively for those things, and as I read it, they are, then are they not ‘words’?

An article in ‘Dr Goodword’s Office’ on ‘Can Chimpanzees Speak’ (Alphadictionary.com) decides they cannot. It states that chimpanzees that learned to sign cannot form complex sentences. they would say ‘Give John Banana’ or, ‘Car hit man.’ The writer states that these are not truly speech because there are no morphemes (-ing, -ed, at, I, she etc). I hesitate to disagree with the writer, but I am going to anyway. The chimpanzee is communicating its desires or information using, in this case, signs and not sounds, but I would say it’s talking.
Just because an animal can’t make the same sounds that we do, does that mean it can’t talk? That would be like saying the French can’t talk because they don’t use the same sounds that we do for specific things. (‘chien’ for ‘dog’, ‘livre’ for ‘book’.)

OK, I’ll admit that animals can’t hold conversations in the way we understand them, nor express complex ideas, but they do talk to each other using ‘words’ and we are being rather superior in thinking they can’t talk. Dr Goodword’s Office seems to have the definition of speech as a rather complex achievement, involving sentence structure and all parts of speech.

Your cat ‘tells’ you what she wants by her meow. The pygmy sloth ‘tells’ all around he’s feeling randy by a particular call. (I heard that one on the Radio 4 the other day.) The young herring gull ‘tells’ its parent it wants food by squeaking. If these sounds are used specifically for that particular thing, then it fits the definition I made above of what a word is.

I think it all depends on your definition of talking, and there may be a difference in speech and talk. Perhaps animals can talk, but what they say is not speech.

My conclusion? Animals can talk (but your cat will never make a speech).

8 Over-used Words and Phrases

I am going to take a rest from my usual second Tuesday subject of Commonly Confused Words to talk about a few words and phrases that I think are very overused in today’s world. The unfortunate thing is that the overuse dilutes the meaning and/or impact of the words.

 I am talking from a UK point of view, here, of course. These words and phrases may not be in common use in other parts of the English speaking world. They may interest some of you. though.

1.  ICONIC or ICON.

Everything nowadays seems to be iconic. An icon was originally a religious picture. They were used in the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches and were usually pictures of Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints or angels and were used as aids to worship.

Another meaning of the word is a small picture or symbol that links to a program in computing.

Neither of these seem to fit the use of it as used commonly these days. It has come to mean something that represents something else.
‘The Eiffel tower is an iconic building.’ It represents Paris.
There are so many icons around these days! Nearly everythibng and everyone is an icon.

2. AWESOME.

I’m afraid our American friends are largely responsible for this one. While there are some truly awesome sights and events in the world, much of the time this word is used, the users mean something really good. It won’t fill them with awe and wonder, just make them feel excited and possibly surprised.

Having used the word ‘wonder’ above, it occurs to me that the word ‘awesome’ is going the same way as ‘wonderful’ and having its meaning diluted. What are we going to say to something truly awesome?

3. AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME.

As opposed to a moment out of time? where else is a moment except in time?

What’s wrong with ‘NOW’?

4. One beloved by football commentators. I’m still not sure how it came about.

EARLY DOORS.

This means that someone is going to do something , well, early! Why the ‘doors’ has been added, your guess is as good as mine. Are doors early? How are doors early? It irritates me.

5. VARIOUS DIFFERENT.

As opposed to various the same? Tortology, I think. Can you have a variety of things that are the same?

6. There are a couple of variations on this one.

THE REAL TRUTH, or THE TRUE FACTS.

You can’t have either an unreal truth or untrue facts. It’s either true or not, or it’s a fact or not.

7. UNIQUE.

‘Unique’ means there is only one. It does NOT mean that something is unusual or rare. You cannot have things that are ‘fairly unique’, ‘very unique’ or any other modifier. Something is either unique or it’s not. Period!

8. EPIC.

This word has come to mean some large event. We, in the UK have apparently been having floods of epic proportions. (Or else, if not epic, then of Biblical proportions!)

Epic is supposed to mean a monumental struggle of some kind, or something monstrously huge.

It originally meant a heroic story.

It is another use of a word being downgraded.

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Yeti. The Wolf Pack finds help from an unexpected source.

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YETI

She awoke with the feeling that something was not quite as it should be. Slowly, as she came awake, she realised that she was warm. Not only that, but she felt dry. Blankets and furs were heaped over her, and when she opened her eyes, she saw a flickering orange light. Someone had lit a fire. She remembered drifting off to sleep in the snow. She had remembered someone in a distant life telling her that it you could easyly drift off to sleep in the snow and die of exposure. She had felt that it was the easiest thing to do, out in the cold and wet. It had been pleasant, that drifting into sleep and death. Maybe she had in fact died and she was in the afterlife? Then Thadora saw rock around her. Ahh! She was in a cave.
‘I ’spect th’ others found th’ cave an’ carried me ’ere,’ she thought, ‘Though where they found th’ wood ter light a flippin’ fire I can’t imagine. Anyway, thanks, dudes.’
She turned to look to her left. She saw the fire and what looked like several other mounds of fur. Sounds of breathing and occasional snores came from them. The others, she surmised. One of the mounds stirred slightly. She saw a pair of light blue eyes and a wisp of silvery blonde hair. Randa. Randa made a shushing shape with her mouth. Thadora frowned. Why must she remain quiet? She could smell cooking now as her senses returned. Who was cooking if the others still slept?
She heard the sound of footsteps approaching the fire. Then an arm reached over her and added some logs to the blaze. Her heart began to beat rapidly. The hand seemed far too large for human, elf or dwarf; and then she noticed the arm attached to the hand. Long, snow-white hair covered it. At first, she thought it a garment, but soon realised it was part of the creature.
Thadora tried her best not to scream, but a small squeak escaped her. She shut her eyes tightly. The little girl in her told her to do this. If she could not see these creatures, they could not see her. It was not rational, but she was too frightened to be rational. She heard Fero’s voice in her head. “Savage beasts. Eat human, elf and dwarf flesh…” They had been caught by Yeti.
The snow-white yeti made a harsh grunting noise of several sounds. It moved away, and another one took its place, this time, Thadora saw when she ventured a peek through tightly squeezed eyelids, a more greyish colour. The creature seemed about nine feet tall and covered head to foot in grey hair. Hair almost obscured its face, but a pair of black eyes in which no whites could be seen gleamed from above a small black nose and a lipless mouth. Then she squeaked again, this time in surprise for the yeti spoke. It spoke Grosmerian, very badly and very slowly and obviously found it difficult to form the words, but the creature could just be understood.
‘You wake,’ it said. ‘You slep’ long. Much days. Eat food. You be better.’
With that, it put some meat down in front of Thadora. Her mouth watered, and her stomach growled, but she did not take the food.
‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘No way. I got no idea what this is, man.’
‘You eat. You need strong. This, bird from mountains. Good eat. Good for cold and warm folk.’
Thadora puzzled over the speech. ‘You mean I should eat this—bird from th’ mountains. That it’s good ter eat fer both cold and warm folk? I don’t get “cold and warm” folk!’
‘You from warm. Die in cold. We from cold. Die in warm.’
She could not resist the meat put in front of her any longer. She picked it up and took a large bite. It burned her mouth and she almost spat it out. She breathed cool air in through her mouth over the meat to cool it. The yeti made a grunting noise, almost like a laugh. The meat was delicious. Like a cross between chicken and pork.
The yeti wandered away saying, ‘I go. Too hot here. Br’ng food for rest warm folk.’
When it had disappeared, Randa rose onto one elbow. ‘Thadora,’ she hissed, ‘The food may be poisoned or drugged. You shouldn’t eat it.’
‘Randa, I don’t give a toss. I’m bleedin’ starvin’. If I’m gonna be killed by these bastards, then I’ll die wi’ a full belly.’
The greyish yeti returned with more food, which it put on the ground.
‘Not poison or drug. You must strong. Not kill. Why you think kill?’ This last it said to Randa.
There were movements from several of the other mounds of furs as the others came awake. The yeti turned its head and looked at the emerging people.
‘Who you chief?’ it said.
Carthinal started to stand and then quickly lay down again as he realised that he was naked under the furs, as indeed were all the others. The yeti curled back its lips in what Thadora supposed was a smile, but it was rather fearsome, since it showed its long canine teeth.
‘You warm more quick with no close,’ it said. ‘Have close when leave.’
Carthinal looked embarrassed, but spoke to the creature. ‘I am the leader of the group. My name is Carthinal.’ He spoke slowly and clearly to the yeti. ‘What do you want with us?’
‘I Grnff.’ The yeti pointed to itself. Grnff was obviously its name. ‘Mate she called Zplon. She beautiful, no?’
He was proud of his mate, who lurked in the cave entrance. His black eyes gleamed in the firelight as he looked lovingly towards her. She lowered her gaze and then looked at Grnff through her lashes in a very human and coquettish way, giving him a savage “smile”.
Grnff had trouble with Carthinal’s name. ‘Crthnal,’ he repeated, slowly. ‘Crthnal.’
Carthinal looked at the yeti. Fero had called these creatures “beasts,” but they were obviously more than beasts. Beasts did not light fires and talk. They would have to move with care.
‘We would feel better with our clothes. We can then get up and move around.’
‘Why not up with no close?’ asked Grnff, frowning. ‘Warm here. No need close.’
Carthinal sighed. He could not begin to try to explain the customs and taboos of the “warm folk” to a yeti. Asphodel helped him out. She had woken during this exchange.
‘In the culture of the warm folk,’ she said, ‘it is taboo for members of the opposite sex to see each other unclothed unless they are mated.’
‘Strange custom,’ said Grnff, musingly, then added, ‘Grnff giv close.’
He went to the side of the cave and rummaged among some furs. Then he brought their clothes, armour and weapons, and also some furs. ‘Fur better than cold le’ther and m’tal. Why you wear cold le’ther and m’tal?’
‘It helps to protect us from attack.’
‘Hmmm. But not good in cold. You eat. Talk after when you str’ng.’
Basalt whispered something to Carthinal.
‘I think it’s all right, Basalt. We’ll have to eat something anyway. I don’t see we have a choice. Anyway, if they wanted us dead, we wouldn’t be discussing whether to eat or not to eat. We’ve been at their mercy for quite a while, I think, and they’ve not harmed us at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. I rather think we’d have died out there in the blizzard if it were not for these…’ he hesitated, trying to find the right word, ‘These people.’ He had decided the Yeti were in fact people rather than beasts.

The members of Wolf ate their meal in silence. They were all now awake. The cave smelt slightly of yeti, but it was not too unpleasant, and not enough to put them off the delicious food. While they were eating, they speculated on their position.
‘It seems that reports of these creatures was inaccurate,’ observed Fero. ‘The little I’ve heard, they were said to be animals, but these obviously have speech and fire, so they cannot count as beasts. I’d say they need to be re-classified as being amongst the sentient races of Vimar.’
‘They don’t seem hostile either,’ put in Kimi. ‘Grnff seems friendly, and I think his mate is just rather wary of us.’
‘Now we’ve got our clothes back, I suggest we dress,’ Carthinal said. ‘As long as we’re here in the cave with the fire I think we can dispense with armour and wear these furs. Grnff was right about armour not being good to keep out the cold.’
‘Why’s he doing this? What’s in it for him?’ asked Thadora.
‘Let’s ask him when we’re dressed,’ replied Carthinal.
They agreed that the four men would dress first, and then they would go outside to see Grnff while the girls dressed. They soon accomplished this, and the eight travellers sat just inside the cave mouth with Grnff and his mate, Zplon.
‘Now, Grnff. Tell us why you rescued us and fed us. Never has it been known before for yeti, that is cold folk, to help warm folk as far as we know,’ Carthinal began the conversation.
‘Man come. Man speak Grnff language. Strange. Never warm folk speak Grnff language. Man magic. Cold folk no magic. Man say you come. Man say you need help. Man say Grnff and Zplon help. Man say you called Wolf. Man say you eight warm folk. Man say chief is magic man too. Magic man have red hair. Man say four female, four male, one male small with hair on face like cold folk. Man say one female have hair colour of cold folk. One female have red hair, one black hair. Man say one male very dark and big for warm folk. We look. We find near dead. You cold. Make fire. Wrap in fur. You thaw like icicle.’
They all felt as though someone had dropped cold water down their backs as shivers ran up and down their spines at this. Who was this strange man who knew all about them, and how did he know they were going to need help in the snow? Carthinal asked a question that made it even stranger.
‘When did this man come?’
‘Many darkness ago. We not count time. Man here in very cold time. Man here just before light is shortest.’
‘He came before the winter solstice? But that’s impossible! We hadn’t even met then. In fact, that was even before the flood on the Brundella!’ exclaimed Randa. ‘You and Carthinal had not even left Bluehaven, Asphodel!’
‘How you learn speak Grosmerian?’ Davrael asked.
‘Man teach. Man say Grnff need to speak with you or you ‘fraid.’
‘That’s the best crash course in a language I’ve ever seen,’ commented Basalt. ‘It took me months to get to the stage that Grnff is at. How did he do it?’
‘Grnff say. Man magic. Man teach by magic. And Grnff very clever. Quick to learn, man say.’ He puffed himself up with pleasure at relating the man’s words.
Asphodel touched Carthinal’s arm. He turned, heart beating wildly at her soft touch.
‘There is more here than meets the eye, Carthinal,’ she said. ‘No one could possibly have known we were coming here as far away as the winter solstice. For Sylissa’s sake, we didn’t even know ourselves. Someone described us to Grnff before we’d even met!’
‘The description could be after the event. After all, Grnff here has seen us and could have put in our descriptions himself to make a mystery and win our confidence,’ pointed out Basalt, ‘and as to speaking Grosmerian, he could have learned it at any time in the past from any passing traveller.’
‘True enough, all you said, Basalt, my friend. Just one thing I’d like to see you explain,’ Fero said. ‘How did he know we’ve called ourselves “Wolf.”?’
‘We-el,’ Basalt considered, ‘That is a bit of a problem.’
‘One o’ us could ’ave talked in our sleep,’ suggested Thadora.
‘Yes, I suppose we could have, but I prefer to think that we are being watched and guided by the gods,’ Asphodel said. ‘What did the man look like, Grnff?’ she asked, turning to the yeti.
‘He look like other warm folk. He not tall, not small. Him close have many p’kets and ink m’rks on. Him h’ve long feather in p’ket. He use to m’ke marks on white stuff him c’ll paper.’
‘Sounds a bit like the man in my dream.’
Kimi then butted in. ‘Also the man who married us in the glade on our way to Hambara.’
They left theproblem unsolved, as the group continued to talk to Grnff. The fact of the matter remained that, for whatever his reasons, man or not, Grnff had saved their lives, and for that they were in his debt. They were not all completely without suspicions. They could, as Fero pointed out later, be being fattened up for later killing and eating, a thought that Thadora did not want to think about at all. On the other hand, they had been given their weapons and armour back. Not something anyone would do if they wanted to kill you. They decided to play the whole thing by ear.
Grnff told them that he would show them the way to their destination. “The man” had told him where to take them, apparently. He insisted that they were not yet ready for the journey and the dangers they would encounter once there, and they must continue to rest and eat. He and Zplon found food and cooked it for them. How they managed to find it in the wintry conditions existing outside the cave, the others could not guess. Certainly it seemed bleak up in the mountains, but they managed to find meat and enough fresh edible vegetation to make the travellers begin to feel strong and healthy.
During this time, Thadora seemed to strike up a strange rapport with Grnff.  He showed her how his long hair covered an undercoat of soft fur. He also confided in her that Zplon was pregnant.
‘She have cubs in warm time. Soon go to birthing place. Cold folk have two cubs one time,’ he told her. ‘Many cubs not live. Life hard in mountains. Cold folk have hunger. Cold folk have enemies who eat them. Animals. Some warm folk kill cold folk. Call us beasts. Say we savage and a danger. We stay away from warm folk. But Grnff like you, Red Cub. You friends not bad too.’
‘You’re a real cool dude, too, Grnff,’ Thadora told him.
The yeti frowned, not understanding. Basalt translated for him.
‘She means you’re a good man,’ he said.
During the next sixday they stayed in the cave with Grnff and Zplon. Then one day, Grnff stated they were ready to move.
‘You now strong. We go,’ he said. ‘Must leave or too late for Zplon to get to birthing place. Then cubs die. We very sad. First cubs.’
‘Oh, Grnff, we can’t risk your cubs dyin’’ said Thadora, appalled at the idea. ‘Tell us th’ way an’ take Zplon to th’ birthing place. We’ll be OK. We’re strong now, right?’
‘You not find way. We go through mountain. We take path of fire god. You good, Red Cub, but fire god angry if warm folk go alone on paths.’
‘What happens if the fire god’s angry?’ asked Basalt looking anxious.
‘He wake. He shake with anger and ground shake. He breathe fire from mountain.’
‘A volcano!’ exclaimed Bas. ‘By Kassilla’s tits, I think we’re going to go through a volcano!’
‘They must worship the volcano as a god,’ Asphodel said.
Grnff had overheard this exchange, and had obviously understood most of what had been said. He replied, ‘We have two gods. Fire and Ice. God of fire destroys if angry. Must keep him happy. He sleeps now. He sleeps for hundreds of seasons. He not like to be wak’nd. God of ice good. Makes water hard so it not run away. Makes snow to keep cold folk cool, but not too cold. Must give gift to fire god to keep him happy.’
‘What must we give?’ asked Carthinal.
‘Something you hold dear.’ Grnff replied. ‘Must be sacrifice or not good enough for god.’
They all thought hard about this, and then Kimi stepped forward. The thing I hold most dear is this ring, given to me by Davrael. It symbolises our love. No beginning and no end.’ She looked sadly at Davrael. ‘I’m sorry, my love,’ she said, ‘but if it is required for our safe passage through these mountains, I must give it up. It will not change the way I feel.’
They all then searched for something they held dear. Thadora handed over a locket that had belonged to her mother; Davrael gave an eagle’s feather, symbol, he told them, of his standing in his tribe; Asphodel reluctantly gave a ring that had been given to her by her sister. Then Fero added a stone carved in the shape of a lion’s head, which had been carved by his mentor, a ranger in his home land, and Randa, a silver pin that had been her mother’s. Basalt gave a black opal, one of the first to be found in his parents’ mine and Carthinal pulled out of his pocket an exquisitely painted miniature of a handsome couple, he an elf and she a human.
‘My parents,’ he said as he laid it on the little pile.
The Wolves looked at the pile of belongings sadly, each remembering other times, people and places.
Grnff swept them up in his huge hand. ‘Give to god in deep place,’ he said.
He then went to the back of the cave, accompanied by Zplon. The pair took a bundle of torches from a natural shelf there, and lit one each. Grnff then beckoned the others and they followed him into the deeper part of the cave.
After travelling for a while, the Wolves realised that Grnff was right. They would have soon been hopelessly lost in this maze of tunnels. However, Grnff and Zplon seemed to know exactly where they were heading and took turn after turn. They seemed to be continually going down. Basalt had grumbled at first about having given their most treasured possessions to a volcano. He would not have minded, he told them, if it had been a genuine god, but a mountain was ridiculous. Asphodel reminded him that they had to get Grnff to lead them, and he would not have done so without the sacrifice. Basalt said no more, but continued to stomp along making his displeasure clear in his body language.
‘You friend not happy, Red Cub,’ Grnff said to Thadora.
‘No! He don’t believe th’ mountain’s for real. Least not godwise.’
‘He gave. He safe. It not matter if he believe in god of mountain, god of mountain believe in him,’ came the reply.
They continued deeper into the caves. Basalt felt the most at home here, since he was a mountain dwarf, but even he jumped when they heard a rumbling deep in the bowels of the mountain.
‘Must go quick,’ said Grnff. ‘Giv’ sacrifice. God wake. Angry with strangers in him.’ And with that, Grnff began to move more quickly. Basalt, with his short legs, had to almost run to keep up with the long stride of the two yeti. Even Thadora and Kimi found they had to break into a trot every now and then to prevent themselves from being left behind.
Shortly the tunnel opened out into a large cave. Adeep crack ran across the cave and from this crack came the rumbling sounds. Grnff and Zplon went to the edge of the crack and fell to their knees. Bowing deeply, they began to chant in their strange, guttural language.

It sounded more like the growling of angry beasts that a known language, and they understood how people had thought of it as such. However, they had come to recognise several distinct sounds and phrases in the growling, and Thadora had even learned some words, although Grnff and Zplon had laughed their feral laughs at her attempted pronunciation. After a few minutes of this chanting, Grnff prostrated himself, then drew out their treasures and dropped them one by one into the fissure, saying the name of the owner, even though his pronunciation souded rather strange.
‘Tadra, the Red Cub. Dvrel, the Savage One. Littl Kimi. Black Fero. Strong, hairy Bslt, Pale Rnda. Priest of strange god, Asdel. Chief and Magic man, Crthnal.’Then they stood, turned round three times and backed away from the fissure.

Immediately after this little ceremony, there came a much louder rumble that made them move instinctively closer together. Further from the fissure. Davrael and Kimi clung together, and Carthinal suddenly found himself holding Asphodel in an instinctive desire to protect her. He quickly dropped his arms and took a step back. Then just as quickly, the rumbling stopped, and there were no more sounds.
‘You gifts accepted,’ said Grnff. ‘God say gifts good. We pass now.’
Then they saw, for the first time, the bridge that spanned the fissure. It was a natural stone bridge, but they would only be able to cross in single file and there was no parapet. Davrael visibly paled on seeing the narrow path they would have to walk. He was a man of the plains, and while a fierce warrior who knew no terror in battle, he had no experience of crossing such a path. He swallowed, and glanced to the fissure. Then Zplon murmured something to Grnff.
‘You give rope,’ he said to Fero. ‘Zplon take. Cross bridge. Grnff hold end here. You cross holding rope.’
Zplon duly crossed the narrow span, and between them the two yeti held the rope taught.
Thadora quickly skipped across the bridge without using the rope. She stopped once in the middle to look down, calling cheerfully back, ‘I can’t see th’ bottom. ’S real deep!’
‘Shut up, Thadora. You’re not helping,’ growled Carthinal to her.
She grinned and ran nimbly across to the other side. After all, in her career as a thief she had run across rooftops and climbed walls and heights did not frighten her.
‘Of course, you’d expect a thief to be able to cross high stretches. I expect it’s in the job description,’ mumbled Randa disapprovingly, as much to herself as to anyone else, which was as well as no one else seemed to be listening.
The only other person who had no qualms was Basalt. Being a dwarf and used to wandering about in mountain tunnels, the bridge held no fears for him, so he crossed next.
Carthinal insisted that Davrael go next. He had noticed the paling of Davrael’s face when he realised they would have to cross the bridge. If he left the young warrior with too much time to think, they may never get him over.
‘Go on, Davrael,’ he urged. ‘You’ve seen Thadora and Basalt go. It’s not too bad.’
‘I not afraid,’ said the plainsman, but his face belied his words.
However, he stepped forward and slowly and carefully placed his foot on the stone. He gripped the rope so tightly that even in the dim light of the cavern they could see the whiteness of his knuckles. He inched his way across, slowly.
‘Don’t look down,’ called Basalt, which was the wrong thing to say as Davrael’s eyes were immediately drawn downward.
Then he froze. He saw a deep, dark drop beneath him. His fear was almost palpable. Almost half way across his feet refused to move. His heart began to beat frantically. He thought that he was going to have a heart attack it beat so fiercely. He had fought enemies and been in danger of his life. He had tamed the wildest of horses. He could ride better than anyone in his tribe, and perform death-defying feats on horseback. He had even come face to face with a mountain lion that had wanted him to feed to her cubs, and lived to tell the tale, which was more than the mountain lion did. He had never known fear like this, though. Never again would he call anyone a coward for being afraid. All he could only see the dark beneath him. Then he heard a voice at his elbow, urging him on. Thadora had run onto the bridge and talked him across. Slowly, inch by inch, she got him to move. The span seemed to go on forever, until at last the black abyss hd disappeared from beneath his feet. His legs gave way under him and as he sank to the ground, Zplon pulled him away from the edge.
When the others were all across, they found Davrael still slumped on the ground shaking.
‘I coward. I not think me coward, but I be.’ He seemed unable to say nothing else.
‘No,’ said Asphodel, kneeling beside him, ‘That was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.’
Davrael looked up at her sharply to see if she were mocking him. ‘I afraid. I not able to move. You should send away in disgrace. I be outcast to show such cowardice in my tribe.’
Kimi held him, but carefully did not say anything. She knew that whatever she said to reassure him he would take as an expression of her love, and not take any notice. She let the others do the talking.
‘Have you ever been afraid before, Davrael?’ asked Fero.
‘No. I thought to be bravest in tribe. I not fear anything.’ The warrior drew himself up a little in pride, but quickly slumped again. ‘Until now,’ he finished.
‘That’s not bravery,’ continued the ranger. ‘Anyone can seem to be brave if they don’t feel fear. True bravery is to feel fear, face it and overcome it. That is what you did.’
They continued to talk to him in this manner until they had convinced him that he was not a coward, and bolstered him enough for him to be able to continue. He suggested several times that they should leave him in the mountain for his perceived cowardice. Grnff and Zplon waited patiently while this was going on, and when Davrael at last rose to his feet, they continued to lead the way through the mountain.
They continued walking until Grnff decided that they must rest.
‘It night,’ he said suddenly, and lay down, put out the torches, curled up into a ball with Zplon and promptly fell asleep.
The Wolves unpacked their bedrolls and spread them onto the rocky ground. They lay in the pitch-blackness hearing the soft breathing of the yeti pair as they slept. The darkness was complete. Only the dwarf and those with elf blood could make out anything at all.

With their infravision, they saw warm reddish mounds. Kimi and Davrael snuggled together under the furs and blankets to conserve warmth. As he looked around, Carthinal wished he could snuggle with someone too. Although not cold in the mountain, it did feel cool. He pulled the furs closer round him and turned over.
Sleep was a long time in coming even so, and it seemed that he had no longer dropped off than he felt Grnff shaking him and saying, ‘Eat. We go.’
He ate the piece of meat thrust at him, and saw the others being woken and a meagre breakfast thrust at them. He wondered how long this passage through the volcano would take and ventured to ask Grnff.
‘We out wen sun highest,’ Grnff replied. ‘Now sun get up.’
True to his word, about six hours later they emerged from a cave to see a beautiful wooded valley spread out before them.
‘We leave you now,’ said Grnff. ‘We go birthing place. Just time before cubs come.’
Carthinal turned. ‘We can’t thank you enough, Grnff,’ he said. ‘You saved our lives and guided us through the mountains. If there’s anything we can ever do for you, we will.’
‘Finish task is what you can do,’ he replied. ‘Make world safe for cubs to grow up.’
The others said their goodbyes and began to descend the slope, but Carthinal and Thadora remained where they were. Thadora flung her arms round first Zplon and then Grnff, giving them a hug. She came only about up to their waists. They hugged her back, gently. Zplon said something to Grnff and he translated.
‘We talked. We decide on naming cubs. Cold folk have two cubs, always. One male and one female. We call male Crthnal for you, red magic man and chief, and female we call Tadra, for you, Red Cub. Go. You friends wait.’
With that, the two yeti re-entered the cave and were gone.
‘Cool,’ said Thadora. ‘I never thought I’d ’ave a yeti cub called Thadora after me, an’ there’s to be one called Carthinal too, after you.’
‘At least Crthnal and Tadra, anyway. Come on, Red Cub,’ he replied, grinning at her. ‘We’d better join the others.’

English National Anthem

 

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I’ve posted on this before, but I want to be more specific this time.

The British Government has recently debated whether there should be a National Anthem for England, specifically to be sung at sporting events. Scotland has Flower of Scotland, Wales has Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and Northern Ireland uses Londonderry Air. England has used the UK National Anthem, God Save the Queen but does not have one of its own.

Many people have asked for England to have its own Anthem for events when England competes alone. There have been three main ones and one other that does not seem to have many in favour, although personally, I think it would be the best. These contenders are: Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. The unfavoured one is I Vow to Thee My Country.

1. Rule Britannia is not good because it is not England. It’s Britain. The name itself implies Britain. Also, most people don’t know the words except for the two-line chorus. (Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britons {Not English, note} never, never, never shall be slaves.) Not a good anthem for England as it refers to Britons, which includes Irish, Scots and Welsh.

2. Land of Hope and Glory is a little better. It is very patriotic and a brilliant tune, but also very much of the 19th century. Can we, in all honesty, in the 21st century sing ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’? Imperalism gone mad!

3. The seemingly favoured one and one that has already been used at some sporting events. It was sung at the Commonwealth games, I believe, and I have heard it myself being sung at the current series of cricket matches against South Africa.

This is Jerusalem, of course. Brilliant tune, but what about the words?
Well, as I see it the title of the song is suspect. It’s Jerusalem, for goodness sake. Not London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, etc All good English cities, but Jerusalem, a city in the Middle East. Yes, it is important worldwide as the birthplace and holy city of 3 great religions, but it’s NOT ENGLISH. It’s a national Anthem for England we’re talking about here.

Then there are its religious connotations. It is quite unashamedly Christian.
‘And did those feet in ancient times…’ Whose feet? Jesus’ feet.
‘And was t he Holy Lamb of God…’ Who is the lamb of God? Jesus.
‘And did the countenace divine…’ Whose countenance was divine? Jesus’ countenance.

There are many people in the UK who do not subscribe to Chrisitianity. There are, of course, Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, Sikhs, Jews and many others who won’t be represented by this song, but also the atheists and agnostics and other non-church-going people. We are constantly being told about how the ethnic groups (specifically Muslims) should be encouraged to integrate, and yet a national anthem that will not include them is being seriously discussed.

Finally, on Jerusalem, it is associated with the Womens’ Institute. They sing it at all their meetings.

No, Jerusalem ought to be scrapped as an idea for an English National Anthem, as should any other with overt Christian overtones.

I Vow to Thee My Country is a hymn, yes, but the first verse certainly has no religious implications, just talking about loyalty to one’s country, which is what a National Anthem ought to be about. not vague wishes that Jesus may or may not have come to England, and a wish to build Jerusalem, a city torn apart by religious strife, in our country.

Noni and Jovinda (Carthinal’s Parents from The Wolves of Vimar)

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A special messenger delivered the letter. Jovinda’s father took it into his study to open it, but Jovinda had already seen the Royal seal pressed into the wax sealing the message. She burned with curiosity. It was not often that a messenger came with a letter from the Royal Palace. She had to wait, though, until after the evening meal before her father told her what was in it.
The family sat down at the long table in the dining room. Jovinda fidgeted on her chair while Promin, the butler, served the soup.
‘Sit quietly, Jovinda,’ her mother said. ‘You’ll jog Promin and he’ll spill the soup.’
‘Besides, it’s not polite to squirm around at mealtimes,’ added her father. ‘I know why you are wriggling though. You are just curious as to the letter that came earlier. I’ll tell you about it after dinner, so have patience until then.’
Jovinda had to be satisfied with that and she managed to sit still while she ate her meal. Afterwards, her father called both Jovinda and her mother into his study. After they had sat down, he picked up the letter, lifted his glasses onto his nose and read it to them.
Jovinda was excited at what the letter said.
‘So I’m invited to the banquet as well?’ she queried, hardly able to believe it.
‘You are sixteen now, Jo,’ her mother said. ‘It’s time you went to be presented at court.’
Her father smiled at her excitement.
‘This banquet is in honour of the trade delegation from Rindissillaron,’ he told her. ‘All the leaders of the guilds and their families will be there, and as part of my family, and a young lady now of age, you are quite rightly included.’
Kendo, Jovinda’s father, was the supreme leader of all the trade guilds in Bluehaven and as such, would be involved in any trade treaties that might be signed between Grosmer and Rindissillaron, the elven homeland. This banquet, given by King Frome, was of great importance.
Ellire, Jovinda’s mother, smiled at the girl’s excitement.
‘We must get you a new dress,’ she said. ‘Tomorrow we’ll go to the dressmaker and choose some fabric and a style.’
The day of the banquet arrived. Jovinda’s parents had booked rooms in the Swan in Flight in Aspirilla, the capital of Grosmer. It was on an island known as Holy Isle because all the churches of the various gods had their headquarters there.
They took the short passage from Bluehaven to the island in the Inner Sea. From there it was a short journey to the Swan in Flight, where Kendo had booked rooms for them. It was the most expensive inn on the island, and probably in the whole of Grosmer. The landlord was more like the host of a large country house and treated his customers as important guests, leading them into the dining room from a comfortable lounge. Jovinda was most impressed.
Also staying at the inn was Jovinda’s best friend, Salor. Salor had been to Aspirilla before as she was almost a year older than Jovinda and so she was not quite so overwhelmed. Never-the-less, the two girls sat in a corner of the inn’s drawing-room chattering.
‘Do you think Prince Gerim will be there?’ Jovinda asked.
‘He might be, I suppose. Why are you asking? There’ll be elves there, Jovinda. Elves! I’ve never seen an elf. Do you think I might be seated near one?’
‘Why are you interested in elves?’
‘And why are you so interested in the prince? He’s younger than you, after all.’
‘Not by much, and anyway, he’ll be king when his father dies and whoever marries him will be queen.’
Salor laughed. ‘He’ll be able to have his pick of all the girls in Grosmer. He’ll pick a noble girl I expect. I don’t think he’ll look at the likes of us.’
The girls continued to chatter until their parents told them that, of age or not, they should retire for the night.
Jovinda and her parents stood at the top of the stairs leading down to the reception room in the Palace. Jovinda scanned the room looking for Prince Gerim. The prince was not quite sixteen, but would probably be at such an important banquet as the heir to the throne. She did not notice the young elf watching her as she descended the stairs.
Ellire had wanted Jovinda to have her hair done in one of the elaborate styles that was so popular, but the girl refused. She was proud of her auburn locks and the way they curled gently round her face. She wore it in a simple style that made her seem rather vulnerable. She had refused to wear an elaborate dress as well, and the simple folds of the green velvet she wore enhanced the look of innocence.
She partook of a glass of Perimo, a sparkling wine from the islands and spoke to many of her parents’ friends and acquaintances, feeling very grown up. Then she was presented to the king and royal family as it was her first adult social occasion.
Prince Gerim was indeed there, and she agreed that he was indeed a handsome young man, and thought that if she could catch his attention, the fact that he was younger than she was, would not make any difference. It was only a few months anyway.
Then the call came for them to go into the banqueting hall and be seated. Jovinda was surprised to be seated well away from her parents. She found herself seated between a young man she knew slightly, as his father was the head of the leatherworkers’ guild, and a handsome young elf.
This elf had been watching her as she walked around talking to people in the reception. He turned to her and asked her name.
‘Jovinda,’ she replied. ‘What’s yours?’
He laughed. ‘I doubt you’d be able to pronounce it,’ he said with a smile that lit up his deep blue eyes.
‘Try me.’
‘Well, it’s Nonimissalloran, but you can call me Noni. All my friends do.’
Jovinda thought the young elf very handsome, but then all the elves were. His extraordinary eyes fascinated her. They were slanting, like those of all elves, but it was their colour that took her attention. They were a deep blue. Much deeper than any eyes she had ever seen before. And his conversation amused her too. She found that she was no longer interested in capturing the attention of Prince Gerim.
All too soon the evening ended and Jovinda and her parents took a carriage back to The Swan in Flight. They were leaving the next morning for the ferry back to Bluehaven. Jovinda found herself hoping that she would see Noni again. After all, if he stayed with the delegation, then he would be based in Bluehaven. She smiled at this thought.
The day after they got back home in the richer quarter of Bluehave a bouquet of flowers came addressed to Jovinda, the most beautiful girl at the King’s banquet. It was signed Nonimissalloran of House Diplomat.
Jovinda was delighted with the thought that Noni had remembered her, and especially as the most beautiful girl at the banquet. She told Salor, who laughed and told her that she had soon forgotten her ambitions of being queen.
Jovinda looked at her and smiled. ‘Oh, I’ve not forgotten that,’ she said. ‘Can’t I enjoy the flattery of a handsome elf as well?’
But it was not just that. Noni came to call on her a few days later. The two went for a walk in a park not far away from Jovinda’s home. Jovinda found that she liked the elf more and more, and as the day wore on, it became obvious that the feeling was returned.
She could hardly believe that such a handsome man as Noni was could be interested in her. She talked to Salor about him until the other girl said. ‘It seems you have now forgotten about marrying Prince Gerim, them.’
‘Oh, that was just a silly girl’s pipe dream. Noni is so much better than any prince could be.’
‘Are you sure it’s not just his difference that attracts you?’
‘Oh, Salor, how can you say such a thing. He’s handsome, witty, kind, interesting and oh, everything a girl could wish for.’
But that was not what her parents thought. One day Ellire called Jovinda into the drawing room.
‘Jo, dear,’ said her mother, ‘Please sit down. I must talk to you.’
Ellire looked so serious that Jovinda thought that someone must be sick or even have died.
‘What is it, Mother?’ she queried as she sat in a comfortable chair opposite Ellire.
‘We must talk about that youn man, Noni, dear.’
Jovinda was on her guard immediately. What was her mother going to say? They liked Noni, she knew, and while they had not exactly encouraged their friendship, they had not prevented the pair from seeing each other. She waited to see what was coming next.
‘While it seemed the pair of you were just friends we had no worries about you seeing each other, but recently it looks to both your father and me that you are becoming more than just friends.’
‘And what if we are? He loves me, Mother, and I him.’
Ellire sighed as tears came into her eyes.
‘Darling,’ she said, ‘this cannot be. You are human and he’s an elf.’
Jovinda pressed her lips together and clenched her fists. ‘Don’t tell me you’re objecting because he’s different? He may be an elf and have had a different background and upbringing, but we agree on so many things. We’re friends as well as lovers. We laugh at the same things, get angry at the same things, enjoy the same things…’
‘Jo, Jo, I’m not against him personally. I think he’s a very nice man, and if he were anything other than an elf I would not hesitate to agree to your relationship, but he is an elf.’
‘What difference does that make?’ retorted her daughter.
‘Quite a lot, actually. Elves live very long lives. I’m not quite sure how long, but some say nine hundred years. Humans live for seventy or eighty at the most. Darling, you will be an old, old woman while Noni is still young. Do you think he, a young man, will want to stay with an old woman?’
‘He will. We’ve talked about this Mother. He’s promised he won’t abandon me when I get old. He says he’ll love me forever. Do you and Father not love one another even though you are both getting old?’
Ellire laughed. ‘Hardly old, dear. I’m only forty and your father forty-four. Anyway, we are both growing old together. That makes a big difference.’
‘Does it? What about Indro Manibrow? He left his wife for a younger woman only last year.’
Ellire sighed again. ‘Your father and I are both in agreement that this must end before you get hurt, and get hurt you will if it goes on. It cannot be allowed to get to the point where marriage is being considered. You must not see Noni again, Jovinda.’
At that, Jovinda burst into tears and fled to her room, threw herself onto her bed and sobbed herself to sleep.

Little did Jovinda know, but Noni was having a similar conversation. He had come to Bluehaven in the company of his father. As a novice in diplomacy, he had much to learn and his father thought his son would learn a lot from seeing diplomats working at first hand.
‘Son,’ said Noni’s father, ‘I must ask you to desist from seeing this human girl.’
Noni wrinkled his brow. ‘Why? Don’t you like her?’
‘Yes, I like her a lot, and if she were an elf, I wouldn’t hesitate to encourage the relationship. But she’s not an elf. She’s a human and that makes all the difference.’
‘Father, surely you aren’t one of those elves who think all humans inferior to us?’
‘Of course not, boy. But humans are different. They have very short lives. How will you feel watching your love grow old and infirm while you are still young and healthy? How will you feel when she is sick and in pain and you watch her dying?’
‘Father, I love her and I will to the end of my days. I will love her young or old, healthy or sick. I will not abandon her as she grows old.’
‘I’m sorry, my son, but I must forbid you from seeing her. I speak as both your father and the leader of this mission.’
Noni turned and stalked away, back to his rooms and stood at his window brooding and trying to think of away out of this.

Find out what happens to Jovinda and Noni next month on the third Tuesday. Will they overcome their parents’ disapproval or will the affair have to end?

5 more commonly confused words.

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Since I started writing about these words, more and more are coming to my notice. I suppose it’s because I’m now looking out for them. Some can be quite amusing, like in a previous blog when I talked about vicious and viscous.
A pupil wanted to say that a liquid became more VISCOUS, i.e. thicker and less runny. In fact, he said it became more VICIOUS.

Here are this week’s words.

 Advise/Advice.

Advise is a verb. It is what you do. You advise someone.
e.g. I would advise you not to put all your money in the same shares.

Advice is a noun. It is what you give.
e.g. My advice to you is not to put all your money in the same shares.

 Comprise/Compose

Comprise means to include.
e.g. The house comprised five bedrooms.

Compose means to make up.
e.g The hamper was composed of a bottle of wine, a ham, a box of dates and a goose.

 Lie/lay

Lie is to recline.
e.g. My back hurts when I lie down.

Lay is to put an object down.
e.g. The man came to lay the carpet in the hall, or Lay the book on that table, please.

 Defective/Deficient

Defective means that something does not work.
e.g. When I tried the new camera I had bought, I found it to be defective.

Deficient means that something is missing.
e.g. When the doctor analysed the results of the girl’s blood test he found she was deficient in iron.

Oh, here is one that is always got wrong.

 Hung/Hanged

Hung refers to an object.
e.g. He hung his coat in the cloakroom.

Hanged refers to a person or other living thing.
e.g. One argument against capital punishment is that if a person is found to be innocent after they have been hanged it’s too late to do anything about it.