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The Lessons That Spelled 'I Love You'
By Myra

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bullet  I felt Herlikin against me and smiled to myself.  Her light body pressed
into mine and her read hair brushing against my arm.  It was always so soft.
Her feet didn't even touch the floor while sitting on my lap.  They swung
back and forth a little and then stopped.  I set my pipe down and stroked her
hair. I felt her breathing slow and her hand around my neck relax.  I lowered my face to see her eyes close.  I kissed her eyelids and then her forehead.
Her one hand fell from my neck and onto her lap.  I took it into mine,
grasping it gently.  She was so wonderful and beautiful in her own way I
couldn't help but love her.  I stroked my goatee a little thinking.  I couldn't imagine life without her.  She was so close to my heart we could never be permanently parted.  We always wanted to make each other happy.
Which took me to think of something she had brought up earlier.  It startled
me a bit, but then of course it was Herlikin.  She, all of a sudden, wondered
why Ariel and Pipes had so many books.  I didn't want to sound uninformed so I quickly assumed they could read and answered her with that.  She had
accepted the answer but I could tell she kept thinking about it.  Even moving
onto another subject in our conversation hadn't distracted her thoughts.  And
that led to me to other thoughts.  Why did the books mattered to her?  She
had never shown any interest in them before.  Suddenly I realized the
problem.  She was, in her own little way, giving me a hint.  She probably
wishes I could read and is a bit disappointed I can't, but has never had the
heart to tell me.  I, the King of Gypsies, can't even spell his own name!  I
bet Herli had gone and asked Ariel if I could read, expecting a yes and then
thinking she could come home exposing my long kept secret.  But she hadn't
received a yes, and she had gotten no secret of the sort.  That's why I had
planned to stop that night.  I was going to go over to Ariel's to have her
teach me how to read and write when Herlikin was already over there.  I had to make a quick excuse on why I was over there and headed straight from work.
 I hadn't even planned on Herlikin's presence.  I figured she'd be at home
while I went to learn how to read.  Then when I got home she'd just think I
was home from performing.  But my careful planning had been ruined when I stepped inside the tent and saw my little red haired beauty.  I had to grin
at the sight of her eyes when I stepped into the tent, for she was just as
surprised and startled as I was.  The curiosity of what her and Ariel had
been conversing about is still with me, but I'm not going to pry at her about
it when I knew she wouldn't tell me.
    I brushed Herli's cheek but she was sound asleep.  I smiled a little
again. My head strong Herlikin in a state of weakness and vulnerability right
now.  I picked her up and laid her in the bed.  She was still in her orange
dress but I didn't have the heart to wake her.  She moved a little after I
had set her down getting used to her new support but then went back to being as still as a statue.  I undressed myself and got into bed with her.  I felt
her hair and small body one more time and then fell asleep.

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bulletI made the extra effort to wake up early so I could make it over to Ariel
and Pipes' tent without Herlikin waking.  I hurried getting dressed and was
punished for it.  I saw my hose were on backward and my shoes were on the
wrong feet.  I frowned as I was wasting time and loosing minutes as I fixed
my mistakes for hastiness.  I didn't grab my mask because I'd come back after my short visit to make Herlikin think I had just gotten dressed.
    I darted past all the tents which were only a blur as I ran, and no one
saw me because of the time, no one had even in their right mind considered
waking up.  I reached the tent and didn't even warn them I was coming in.  I
knew Ariel was an early riser so I knew I wouldn't catch them off guard or
indecent.  I walked in and smiled to myself for my correct prediction.  Both
sat at their low table eating some sliced fruit.  They looked up and Pipes
stood up, bowing playfully.
    "Why it's nothing less then the King of Thunes himself!  To what do we
honor this visit?"  I chuckled at him and we shook hands.
    "Well, actually it's my Herlikin."  Ariel immediately raised her head and
became interested.
    "Oh? What about her?"  She looked at me with question in her eyes and
trembles in her words.  I decided not to dwell on the small factor and
answered.
    "She asked me why you had so many books and I assumed you could read.  I believe she's a bit disappointed in that I cannot read, nor write.  I am the King and I cannot do these simple tasks?  So I ask you humbly and gratefully for your knowledge on this subject to teach me.  Of course I wouldn't tell Herli until I learned everything completely so I could surprise her."  I questioned them with my black eyes, challenging them to accept.
    "Oh, well I'm sure Pipes and I can fit you into our busy schedule."  We
all laughed.  "And, as long as you study hard and don't patronize me, your
highness, then I will charge you no money."  She made a slight bow with her head and them looked back up at me.  I grinned back, happy I wouldn't have to pay, Herlikin would wonder why all of a sudden so much money was not being brought in by my performances after I had so loudly bragged about the large crowds.
    Pipes picked an extra glass from a home made shelf and poured some wine into it.
    "Have some Clopin?"  He put the glass out toward me.
    "So early Pipes?  Besides I have to go out and perform today."  Pipes
laughed and put it in my hand despite my refusal.
    "It'll give you extra energy for the day and you don't have to go out for
a while, I'm sure no one is awake in the streets of Paris yet.  It is still
quite early, no?"  I nodded at Pipes' statement, agreeing, and sat down with
them.  The panic that was in Ariel's eyes had subsided.  I looked into them
and saw how beautiful they were.  I had been good friends with Ariel in the
past, but I had never noticed her eyes.
    Ariel was an amazing person, that was for sure.  Before my darling wife
came along Ariel and I were very much involved.  I wasn't sure if it was love
I felt for her but it was awful close.  I thought that Ariel would be the one
that stuck.  I almost proposed too.  We agreed in running away.  We thought
it wouldn've been better.  If we ran away no one could tell us what to do and I wouldn't have to take my rightful position as King.  I would spend long
nights with her and my parents began to worry that I would break the
premarriage agreement.  My father sat me down one night and explained why he had made the arrangement in the first place.  I had been determined to stand my ground before he had started talking but when he continued about the girl coming all the way from India that conscience I didn't want to admit I had kicked in.  I felt bad I had considered leaving.  I took a special night out without any interruptions for Ariel and I.  We spent the whole day and night together and she cried, but only a little.  I explained about the premarriage agreement and she didn't scream.  And she didn't call me obscene names, in fact she barely said anything at all.  She nodded in understanding.  We kissed one more time and I felt some tears myself reach the brim of my eyes because I knew I would be loosing her.  Loosing her to an outgoing red head who I was being forced to spend the rest of my life with.  I couldn't believe I was throwing away something so beautiful.  No, I couldn't believe it, but I had to.  After our last kiss she promised to return someday and after that she left, I never did think she'd come back but here she was.  I wondered if she had forgotten all about our past together, or if she just refused to reach out to that part of her memory.  And after all those times with her I never realized the intensity of her eyes.
    I rubbed my eyes, refocusing on the tent I was in and trying to forget
the memories I had dug up.  My love was Herlikin now and always will be.
After so long I loved Herli with all my heart and soul.  But, it was nice to
see Ariel again.  I didn't want Herlikin to know I didn't even know Pipes
before this visit.  But Pipes and I became fast friends so nothing seemed
odd.  I looked at Ariel and she was smiling at me.
    "Welcome back to the Court, someone was on a trip were they not?"  I
snickered and hugged her.    "I missed you."  It took her a second but she returned the hug.
    "I missed you too.  Hey don't get like this Clopin, the past is gone."
It surprised me that she had known what I was thinking, but then of course it
couldn't be more obvious to her.  I released her and we sipped our wine.  I
finally finished and stood up, stretching my long legs.
    "Well, I have to be going back to my tent.  I have to get my mask.  The
children await!"  I kissed Ariel's hand lightly, nodded to Pipes and walked
to my tent, I wondered how long I had been over there, it must have been
quite some time because as I walked out the bustle of the Court had begun.
    I reached my tent ready to grab my mask and be on my way, but it was no
where to be seen.  I searched frantically through my clothes and under
tables, behind curtains and under rugs.
    "I knew you'd be back."  I spun around and saw Herlikin shaking my mask
at me, taunting me with it playfully in bed.  "A performer never goes out to
perform without their mask.  Which leaves the big intriguing question my dear  husband, are to answer it for me?"  She threw my mask from one hand to the other and waited silently for an answer.  We both knew where I had been but she wanted to hear it aloud, give her some small satisfaction and then to ask the question of 'why.'  She smiled flashing all her teeth and then dropped the grin to raise a brow, still waiting on a reply for my where abouts.  I noticed quickly she was out of her dress I had put her to sleep in last night.
    "I went out for a walk.  But no need to discuss that now, off to make
money for us my love."  I laughed nervously and ran over, kissing Herlikin
good bye and knowing I had just avoided a large argument.  I also didn't give her any chance to answer back which helped me a little.  I went out to the Court and into the Bells and Motley tavern.  As I stepped outside the sun
struck my face and I had to squint to readjust.  I shaded my eyes and started
to my cart.  The closer I got, the more children that follwed me as I started
to dance on my way.  Time to put on the act for the people who put food in my mouth.
    "Hello children!  How are you on this fine day?"  They all shouted their
answers and I started a song pulling out my puppet who interrupted me as I
sang and I had to scold him with the little wooden stick I always kept with
me during my show.  All the children listened as I sang, laughed at my
puppets and gave upset groans when it was time for my show to end.  I jumped onto the roof of my cart and twirled around, bowing.  Coins showered me and I gave a big toothed grin to my audience.  Then in a simple motion I made smoke appear and fell out of sight into my cart through the trap door in my roof.  I waited for everyone to leave and then collected my reward.  Stuffing it into the sack which hung from my belt and I put on a cape and hood around myself, making my way toward the direction of the Court.  On my way I heard some pipe music and Esmerelda's purple dress caught my eyes.  I stopped walking and went up next to her and danced.  I threw off my cape and hood and began to dance some more, throwing her into the air and catching her with grace, we twirled each other with great elegance.  Everyone clapped even before we had finished and Esme tapped on my cheek smirking at me in gratitude as the coins came pouring in.
    "Thank you, I need the money," she whispered to me as she rhythmically
danced to the beats of the tambourine she was holding.
    "No problem, Essie, you know I'd always help you in anyway possible,"  I
whispered back hinting a smile and kissing her cheek I ran off with my cape.  My comment was completely true.  Esmerelda was like my little sister.  I had
always looked out for her best interest and she was up there in friends with
Herli and Colombine.
    I got to the tavern and stopped there for a little while.  I sat at the
bar and asked for a beer when my hood was pulled over my eyes.
    "Guess who!"  I heard a distinct laugh and knew it was none other than
Colombine herself.  I lifted my hood and looked at her, and despite her
cheerful greeting she seemed less enthusiastic when I actually saw her.
    "How are you Colombs?  Been a couple of days since our last chat no?"  I
sipped my beer.
    "Yes, well, I'd rather speak to you right now than you stubborn as a mule
wife.  She jumps to conclusions quicker than any woman I've even seen, even quicker than me!"  I chuckled at her comment, what had Herli done now?
    "Please continue my dear."  Colombine leaned on the bar and explained how Herlikin had thought she had asked her about sexual attraction to Pipes when she just meant if he was nice.  She also told me she had exploded herself and was only retaliating to Herli's outburst.  The only reply I could give was laughter.  "Colombine, I would always be willing to get into a heated argument with my little Herlikin but this one, I'm afraid, I must stay out of.  It sounds as if you both are guilty of misunderstanding each other and although I am sure you will not get a 'sorry' out of Herli, I'm sure you will
meet her today or tomorrow and forget everything and continue with your
stealing and your trouble."  She rolled her eyes and blew some strands of
hair out of her face.
    "Me, steal?"  She giggled.  "But I suppose you're right.  Herlikin and I
hardly ever get into arguments and when we do, we get over them.  But this
one happened so fast.  And it shouldn't have happened to begin with."  She
stopped smiling and gave a loud sigh.  "I just hope you are right with this
one."  She squeezed my hand and I gave her an encouraging smile.
    "Colombine, I've never seen you so upset over something so trivial. Don't
blow out that wonderful flame you have in you!  You and Herlikin need each
other, you deserve each other.  Just wait it out.  I'm sure it's not as bad
as you're making it out to be."  She closed her eyes for a few seconds and
then opened this, with a grin.
    "Thanks Clopin."  She hugged me and then went out of the tavern into the
streets.  I sighed, hoping Herlikin had not made a serious mistake that's
leading to almost loosing her best friend.
    I went to the secret door that led to my world and walked through the
catacombs.  I entered the Court of Miracles and headed straight for Ariel and
Pipes' tent, hoping this time that Herli wouldn't be there or drop by while I
was there.  I entered with a silent hope that there were only two residents
in the tent.  I only say Pipes and Ariel as I entered and let out a relieved
breath.
    "Clopin, twice in one day?  Well, this is quite an honor indeed!"  Pipes
greeted me with a humorous remark.
    "Well, could you teach me to read now, at least start me off today.  Then
I'll try to come everyday in the morning before I go out and perform so
Herlikin won't suspect me leaving the tent after I get home."  I tried to
explain everything quickly so I could start right away.
    "That's fine.  Please wait while I get a few things."  I saw her go over
to her chest and pull out a black board, then scurry to get rid of what was
on it.  She wrote something else on it and brought it over to me, I had
already sat down.  "Now repeat after me.  A, B, C....."  She went on and I
made sure to listen, carefully.  Finally I would be able to read and show
Herli, how proud she'd be.

 

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