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The Lessons That Spelled 'I Love You'
By Myra

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bullet   I was bewildered beyond explanation.  Why all of a sudden did I have
the ability to have such beautiful penmanship?  "Are you going to explain
this magik you have performed on me to be able to do this?"  She continued to smile with great pleasure.
    "You, my dear, are left handed."  I was, at first, confused at her words
but then thought about them more in depth.  Before, at my previous try at
writing I had been trying with my right hand, now the feeling with the left
hand felt much more comfortable.
    A laugh was all I could get out as I tried the rest of the letters.
Afterward I embraced Ariel tightly which surprised her.  She then returned
the hug.
    "Tomorrow we will continue as your husband will be performing.  We don't want him becoming too curious and coming here now do you?"  We both smiled at each other and I waved good-bye as I stepped out of her tent.  Once I was outside the tent I jumped into the air beaming with joy.  I started to head toward home when I saw Tante Marie bouncing toward me.
    I rolled my eyes and awaited for her to approach me, preparing for the
horrible scolding everyone was warning me I'd have to face.  "Herlikin
Trouillefou!  What on this earth were you thinking?  Just leaving your
children with telling noone!  How can you deal with yourself knowing you did such a thing?  What if you and Clopin were hurt and noone had known you went out, what would we do then?  Why, if you were my own child I would give you a good wallop I would!"  Her face was as red as the tomatoes I steal from the market up in the streets of Paris.  Leave it to Tante Marie to spoil my uplifting mood.
    "I am terribly sorry for scaring you, and anyone else who felt the same.
I was quite swept off my feet by Clopin.  And Tante Marie you are aware that
the combination of Clopin and I spell trouble for any soldier who tries to
come near us.  We can take care of ourselves.  Now, if you'll excuse me I
must be getting back to my husband."  I had started walking backwards away from Tante Marie.
    "And you're children!"  She shouted to me as a reminder that they lived
there as well and I had picked up to a jog backward.
    "Of course Tante!"  I shouted back and then turned frontward to see where I was going.  I made it back to my tent without any interruptions and sat
down with my husband at the table, alone with food and waiting for my return.
    "Another woman to woman discussion, I'm assuming?"  I nodded and stuffed apple slices into my mouth so I was unable to respond in a more elaborate fashion.  He nodded slowly in return and went over to our nightstand where he usually keeps his pipe.  He opened the small drawer in the stand and pulled out his pipe, lighting it without saying a word and sat back down.  By now my cheeks were as large as the monkey's in India who piled fruit into their mouths so they'd have some for later.  I'm sure Clopin was laughing inside at me but at his dismay of not being included in our conversation he sat in silence.  I swallowed everything in my mouth.
    "So how was your performing?"  I said to him cheerfully, trying to break
the awkward silence that had inhabited the tent.
    "I didn't go out today, remember?"  Feeling stupid and unsuccessful I
apologized quietly.
    "Oh, right.  You are going out tomorrow though?"  He nodded.  I decided
to be blunt.  "Are you angry that Ariel and I didn't tell you what we were
speaking about?"  He looked away and I made a high pitched sigh.  "Good
gracious Clopin why is this bothering you?  Because I'm surprising you by
almost making a friend who was yours first?  For once I am not completely
predictable and it's tearing you apart isn't it?"  I was in a horrible frenzy
and waited for his reply for a long time, but received none.  After puffing
on his pipe several times and taking many loud breaths he answered.
    "I just don't like being excluded so much, especially openly as you and
Ariel did.  The least you could do was exclude me behind my back."  He
smirked at the last remark and I knew everything was all right for him, I
just scolded myself for becoming so angry and out of control so fast.
    He was thinking about something, I could tell, but not anything I could
help him with.  Maybe the Ariel and I friendship was bothering him a little
but it wasn't the bulk of his small secret problem.
    I stood up then went in front of him.  I took my hand and pushed the hand
with his pipe away and kissed him.  I moved my head back to talk but he just
followed my move and kissed me again.  After this he smiled and his long arms pulled me to him.  He smelt of herbs and the aroma was so comforting I could easily stay in his lap forever.  But I didn't, only a few minutes had passed when Clopin made the excuse of him having to get up early tomorrow morning.
I lazily undressed and met him in bed.  Blowing the candle out next to our
bed I closed my eyes and sunk into the sheets against Clopin.

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bullet I got up early again, wanting to get over to Ariel's and get some
learning in.  I got dressed quickly, and whistled on my way over.  I thought
about last night.  I guess I was more quiet than usual which was what must
have been the cause to have set Herli off.  The Ariel and her episode really
didn't bother me too much, though I was offly interested and curious about
what they were so giddy about.  It was a bit odd, I caught Herli with Ariel
the first time and then Ariel came for Herlikin herself, what was going on
between the two of them?  Well, no matter, the big problem on my mind was the whole reading and writing situation.  Would I be able to pull it off
completely in secret?  I've only had one lesson but it was hard enough
already.  I had only been taught the very basics of reading as well, no
writing yet at all.  Perhaps I could learn something's on writing today.
    I walked into the tent to find Ariel and Pipes playing some type of card
game I didn't recognize, I sat in between them and Ariel pulled my hat down
to cover my eyes while Pipes pushed me over.  We all laughed lightly and I
got down to business.
    "Well, I can teach you to write a little today.  Let me get my paper and
pen."  She went to her chest and drew out the objects.  She almost gave me
the pen in my right hand but stopped herself.  She pursed her lips, placing a
finger against them, thinking.  After a few short moments she gave me the pen in my left hand and drew letters, having me repeat the steps.  For the first time my letters flowed and curled at the end with great class.  I looked up with question in my expression.
    "How did you know my letters could look so nice in my left hand?"  She
shrugged and laughed.
    "I had a hunch," she giggled and we continued writing for some time.
Then she brought a book over to us and beckoned for Pipes. "Pipes, help him read," she commanded with a surprising force, "I have to finish sewing and
you read better than I do anyhow.  Clopin, soon you and I will go out and
read the different signs and words around Paris.  We'd go at night of course
to avoid any trouble.  It will prove that all this work will be for something
and can be used in the real world."  My face brightened with excitement.  I
would be able to go out and put my hard work to use and prove to myself that I had accomplished something very difficult.  Inside, I also knew that I
didn't have to go out into the streets of Paris to prove that this would be
worth something, I knew once I showed Herli she'd squeal in delight and beg for me to write her name and letters to Colombine and I could write letters
to her and eventually, when she worked up enough pride that she could loose some, she'd ask me to teach her and we could both be able to read!
    "That sounds delightful Ariel!"  She smiled in satisfaction and began to
sew.  Pipes then handed me a book and we began reading.  It wasn't actually that long and monotonous as I had expected, all I had to do was use the sounds of the letters Ariel had already taught me and with understanding
small words and memorizing them quickly my words flowed and pieced together to sound like more of a story.  We finished the first chapter of the book without many mistakes.  I was glad I was catching on.  I saw Ariel glance up now and then from her needles and cloth at me as I read through the second chapter.  A smiled crossed her face as she'd look back to her work and I acted as if I had noticed nothing.  I wished silently to myself that an old flame had not been kindled in her heart for feelings she had thrown away long ago.
    I finished the chapter and wanted to read more, but I knew it was time to
go out and make the gadje children happy. "Ariel and Pipes, I shall visit you
tomorrow morning to continue this and we will make a date at a later time for our night walk Ariel.  A demain!"  I bowed, swiping the hat off my slightly
balding head and walked backward out of the tent, heading to the streets.

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bullet I was awoken by movements next to me and I pretended I wasn't affected in the slightest by them.  Clopin put his face up to mine, studying it to see if
I was awake.  I played along, snoring softly and he made a quick nod of his
head, content with my unconscious state. (I had opened my eyes ever so
slightly to catch what he was doing)  To my great surprise he was getting
dressed. I almost got up thinking I had slept late but listened intently to
hear noises outside, there were none.  I concluded it was quite early.  I
wondered why Clopin was getting ready now and waited for him to leave.  I
laid in bed a few seconds afterward to make sure he wouldn't come back to
find me up and about.  After a few moments I stood up and looked outside the tent to catch a quick glimpse of a bright multicolored smock go down the walk way to the left, he usually went right to go to the catacombs.  The
temptation to follow was immense, but I knew some further investigation would have to take place before I accused Clopin of anything, though I almost bet everything I owned I knew where he was going, why, I wasn't sure.
    I went back in the tent and made myself some early breakfast and then
laid in the bed a little more.  The children hurried in and laid around me.
    "We're hungry," Ahval said as we all lay staring upwards at nothing in
particular.
    "You know, sometimes, I believe that is the only thing you can utter from
your little mouth," I teased.  I finally stood up and made them breakfast.
After they had finished they left and I went to go bathe.
    A bit troubled, I sat there hoping my small observation hadn't been a
simple new short cut for Clopin and I was making up false accusations in my
mind. I washed up and rung the water out of my hair.  Putting on a simple
plain red and black dress I put on my red diklo and headed over to the already visited Ariel.
    Arriving soon after I had left, I hurried to get there, I saw Ariel
putting a book away.  She looked back over her shoulder and greeted me warmly.
    "Good morning Herlikin, ready for today's lesson?"  I shook my head yes
in agreement, still wondering if my husband had visited before me.  "Well,
you may read a little today with Pipes.  I have some business to take care
of."  With that, she handed Pipes a book, who I had not noticed sitting in
the corner smoking a pipe, and walked out of the tent.  I was curious of
where she was going.  To meet Clopin?  Was I too afraid of this woman's
charm?  I couldn't think about it too long because Pipes had walked over and pulled out a chair for me.  Surprised at his kind manners I hesitated to sit.
    "I won't bite you!"  He jested as he made a hearty full belly chuckle.  I
forced a nervous smile and sat down.
    "Thank you," I muttered.  He made no reply and sat next to me.
    "So how are your lessons coming along?"  His voice was so gentle and
smooth.  This was going to be an enjoyable lesson, not nearly as dull as
Ariel while she lectured in my other lessons.
    "Very well I believe.  I learned how to read letters individually and I
can write now.  I just need lots of practice.  You're going to give me that I
assume."  He gave me a quick nod.
    "Yes, now let's begin."  He turned to the first page and I started
putting the few previous lessons I had to work.
    "Chap....chapter one."  A pleased grin creeped onto his face and I
continued.  The more I read, the better I got.  I reached the end of chapter
three when Ariel entered the tent.
    "Having fun?" She said with a touch of sarcasim in her voice.  Despite
the tone we all laughed.  "Well, keep going.  I have a few more things to do,
plus I want to wash up, I'll be back!"  She gave us both a quick smile and
skipped out.
    I didn't go back to reading from the book though, I wanted to be better
friends with Pipes.  He seemed so nice, and what better opportunity than now?
    "So, why do they call you Pipes?"  He seemed quite shocked I had asked a personal question, but he didn't refuse to answer.
    "I sing a lot.  It's our show when Ariel and I are traveling.  She'll
harmonize with me but she never really takes lead.  So, I was labeled Pipes
for my vocal talents."  He smiled remembering times with Ariel's voice and I
became a little interested in the act they put on.
    "Have you performed much here during your stay so far?"  He shook his
head.
    "No, we're here for a rest really, then we'll be off again.  Though if
Ariel doesn't protest I'll suggest we go out and make a few extra coins, it
wouldn't hurt."
    "So what's your birth name?"  I inquired and stared at him.  He seemed a
bit reluctant.
    "Oh, it's Corin.  I think I like Pipes better though."  He laughed making
his little misfortune a joke.  I laughed along with him and we continued to
talk about his life, he was born in France but his parents, along with
Ariel's, were burned at the stake in front of the Parisians in the streets.
They had been accused of being gypsy thieves, though Pipes knew they had
stolen nothing and it was just another excuse to get rid of some more gutter
vermin.  I felt pity for him and also empathized with the fact of loosing
parents.  I also felt a bit guilty for asking all about his life when his
past had been so tragic.  His expression had grown sullen and he wouldn't
look at me.
    "I'm so sorry Pipes, I didn't mean to make you pull out all those
horrible memories."  I turned away and sighed, some attempt for friendship,
this wasn't what I wanted between Pipes and I at all.  I wanted a great
trusting friendship, not a sympathizing comrade comforting session
    "Oh no, it's not your fault in the least.  I shouldn't have burdened you
with my past.  But let's talk about you now.  Where on this earth are you
from?  I don't want to sound rude but you don't look like our normal face
around here." I snickered.
    "Oh well I'm ---"  Ariel strolled in stalling our conversation that I
thought was starting to get interesting.
    "Greetings my friends.  How is the lesson?"  Pipes quickly shut the book,
not wanting Ariel to catch a glance at the page we were on, the exact one
when she had left previously.
    "Fine, great, much progress."  Pipes and I both replied simultaneously
and Ariel gave us both an odd face.
    "Oh, well I'm glad to hear that.  I can take over now, thank you Pipes."
He stood up and kissed Ariel on the cheek playfully.
    Ariel sat down where Pipes had been and Pipes went out of the tent, not
announcing where he was headed or his reasons.  "Let's practice your
writing."  We only got through a few words when I set down the pen.  My hand had a cramp and I wanted to speak with Ariel anyway.  Ariel just looked at my face and waited for some type of explanation for my abrupt stop.
    "Your white tiger."  She leaned her head waiting for a continuation of
what I had just said, it wasn't exactly what I wanted to say, but it was a
start.
    "What?"  She rested her head on her hand.
    "Why do you have a painted white tiger? They're in India, how do you even know what a tiger is?"  She looked away.
    "I've always wanted to go there.  Before she was killed, my mother had
lived there for a short time until she came to France, making it her
permanent residence.  She told me wonderful stories of the place.  It sounded like somewhere out of my books."  She looked past me at nothing in particular and a fantasy far off look glazed her eyes as I spoke.
    "Clopin carved me a tiger like that, and some other animals as well.
Your tiger looks like my old pet Chester."  I was hoping for an astounded
look learning that I had had a white tiger as a pet and her envying India so
much but I got nothing of the sort.
    "Yes, Clopin carved mine as well.  I told him how much I wanted to go
there so he carved me that tiger."  I remembered how almost all the paint was chipped off.
    "He didn't do that recently did he?"  I controlled my voice not wanting
to sound too desperate for an answer.  She shook her head.
    "No," she responded blissfully, "it was when....well a long time ago.  I
guess you should be going now.  Your lesson has been very long and
resourceful today.  I will see you tomorrow?"  She had gotten out of her
dream state and went back to her normal articulate self.
    "Yes, good-bye."  I walked out upset.  As I started to my tent slowly
Colombine walked up, she didn't notice my grim mood.
    "What were you doing in there?"  I had not counted on anyone catching me in the act of my daily visits.
    "Oh, just talking to Ariel about India, she's from there too."  Colombine
looked a bit surprised.
    "Well, I'm off to see Frederick, Good-bye!"  She danced off to her
smitten boyfriend.
    I kept walking, not look ahead.  I bumped right into Pipes who was going
home to where ever he had gone in the first place.  "I'm sorry!"  He
apologized quickly even though the accident was my fault.
    "No, my fault.  Pipes, tell me,"  I grasped his hands making sure he
stayed and didn't try to avoid my question, "what went one between Ariel and Clopin before I came?"

 

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