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The Lessons That Spelled 'I Love You'
By Myra

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bullet   Herlikin, I don't really......."  he trailed off and looked at me, begging me to go back on my request.  I refused to withdraw my face, fixed on
the fact of getting what I wanted.
    "NO, Pipes, you must answer me. Were they together for some time?"  I
waited for a reply.  I didn't want to hear the word yes, but I was afraid I
would have to, and much more upon it.
    After what seemed like hours he responded with a look of regret.  "Yes,"
he said softly.  I sighed and crossed my arms, ready to thank him for his
honesty when he continued.  He talked for some time revealing their intimate time of relationship, not sparing a detail.  He told me of their plans to
elope and how Clopin did not want to see her leave the Court and almost
didn't go on with the marriage to me.  He told me of their late night walks
and their candlelight dinners.  He told me about their sworn love to each
other as they would walk along the streets at night, silently whispering
secrets to each other.  The more he spoke the more my heart sank.  I hadn't
even fathomed that their relationship had gone so far.  She might as well have had his babies.  It was hard to swallow and I almost choked on it.  As I
continued to listen a frown pulled at the corners of Pipes' mouth.  I hid my
surprise and the little bit of sadness I had, but not my anger.
    "But why didn't you stop them if you knew about all this and still knew
that Clopin was agreed to marry me when I came from India?"  I shouted with a horrible rage.  I was infuriated to know so much went on between them.
    "I wasn't here, Ariel told me all this a year after it happened.  She
came to stay here for a few months while I traveled by myself, she needed
some time alone, the shock of her parents murder was still with her.  Then
she came to rejoin me and she had an odd sadness about her, she wasn't the same for a very long time.  I thought it had been her parents but that was
not the case. I begged for weeks asking her to tell me what was bothering her so deeply, it upset me to see my cousin in such a state.  She explained her feeling for a man named Clopin, the King of Thunes.  She was quite bitter that he had been taken by someone he had only met once as a child. Over time she moved on and had other love affairs, but I don't think she forgot her 'dark skinned desire,' as she described hi once.  She doesn't have a husband at the time but Clopin is not a covet of her anymore.  She sees how happy you two are and wouldn't think of trying to break you apart."  He explained so much and the last part quickly, as if he was making it obvious of reassuring me that there was nothing between Ariel and Clopin now.  I heard what he said, and believed him, but the first part stuck into me.
    "What do you mean you weren't here?  Clopin said you were old friends."  He shook his head in confusion.
    "I just met him when we arrived a few days ago."  My hands clenched into
fists and I stomped my way back to my tent, not even saying good bye to Pipes.
    I ended up in my tent more upset than angry.  I threw myself down on the
bed and the tears started.  Clopin had almost left me before I even came
here.  The teardrops kept flowing into my pillow.  After some time of sobbing
the water stopped and I cut off my out loud cries.  Just in time for my
husband to stroll in gleefully.  I sniffed and wiped away my tears.  I didn't
want to explode at Clopin now, I needed a reason and some time, Clopin would be quite angry with me if he found out I had gone to Pipes and demanded to be told part of Clopin's past that he wanted to be forgotten.  Clopin hurried to my side once he saw my melancholy mood.
    "Herlikin!  What's wrong?  Are you hurt?"  He stroked my hair but I moved
away.
    "I just don't feel well.  My head is aching and my stomach is not
agreeing with me either."  I said nothing more and laid down, turning away
from his black eyes, flickering in the dim candlelight.
    "You do not have a babe in your stomach do you?"  His voice became a cry of concern.
    "No, no, just leave me alone for now.  I need to be by myself,"  I said
harshly and he got up and changed.  I just stayed there for a while, not
speaking.  I didn't even bother to look at Clopin to see what he was doing.
I heard him get up out of the corner of my eye.  He was carrying some food, I assumed to the children.  I just laid there, a few tears escaped down my
cheek now and then but I had my emotions under control by now.  I must have stayed there for hours, for Clopin slipped in next to me.  He rubbed my
shoulder.  I didn't move or talk.  He stopped, seeing he would get no answer
or reaction out of me.  I blew out the candle and fell asleep as soon as I
could forget my troubles.

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bullet I awoke worried.  Worried again I'd be caught for being up so early and
worried about my little wife.  Her sudden mood swing caught me by surprise.  Why would she be so upset over a headache and stomach pains?  No, there had to be something more to it.  Something she didn't feel like sharing with me.  It bothered me that I didn't know what was causing my wife so much hurt.  Not knowing the cause meant I couldn't help in a solution.  I guess she wanted to solve this problem herself and no husband of hers was going to deter her from doing so.
    I went over to Ariel and Pipes to find them both arguing furiously with
each other.  They both had seemed so close I never though I'd see them so
angry.  Both turned their heads to me as I walked in and silenced their
disagreement.
    "Good morning Clopin.  Ready to start today?"  She asked in her soft,
raspy voice.
    "I'm afraid it isn't a very good morning Ariel."  Before she replied
Ariel shot a quick glance at Pipes.
    "Oh? And why is that?"  She put emphasis on the last word, looking at
Pipes sharply again.
    "It's my Herlikin.  She seemed so upset last night but excused her
sobbing for simple stomach pains and an aching head.  Perhaps the moon is
with her and that is the reason for her quick attitude changes."
    "Or perhaps a babe is on the way?" Ariel suggested but I sighed and shook my head in disagreement.
    "No, I have already presented the question.  Herlikin might never tell
me, but that's my little devil."  I made a heavy sigh of defeat and moved on.
 "So shall we begin?"  Ariel glided over to me and opened a book for me to
continue.  "What is this?"  The book she opened had a red cover, the one I
had been reading had a black one.
    "This is not your book?"  Her confused expression amused me for some
reason.  Her nose had crinkled up and her eyebrows slanted.
    "No, mine was,"  I scanned the room with my narrowed eyes and then
pointed to the book on her bed, "that one over there."  Her face went back to
it's normal position as her memory recalled the correct book.
    "Oh! I am sorry Clopin, my memory escaped me for a few moments.  Here, here it is.  And you left off at chapter three?"
    "Two," I corrected her again and I saw her cheeks turn scarlet from
embarrassment of two mistakes in a row.
    "Right, well let's start where you left off."  I begun reading and
continued for a large sum of pages.  I waited for Ariel to catch me on
misread words or correct me on pronunciation but I wasn't corrected once.  I
looked at Ariel to ask her of my progress.  To my surprise she was already
staring into me.
    "How was that?"  She continued to look at me with a smug smile and then
answered.
    "That was perfect," she proclaimed softly as she gazed at me, I looked
away.
    "Good," I forced a smile, "let's practice my writing now."  She blinked a
few times.
    "Writing?  Oh yes!  All right."  She pulled out the proper equipment and
we began.  "How about I teach you how to spell your name?"  I hadn't even
though about it, my name could be written.
    "Well.....yes, that sounds very good."  She smiled, pleased, and wrote it
out, then directing me to copy hers. I did as she said and then looked at it,
a grin appeared on my face, I liked the way it was written.  I picked up the
paper.  "May I keep this?"  She kept a small smile on her face, not showing
any teeth.
    "Why of course, it's your name."  I folded it up and placed it at the
bottom of my pouch, patting it lightly.
    "Teach me how to write 'Herlikin'."  Her smile dropped but she continued
to write the letters out.  I copied it down and a bigger smile emerged on my
face, I liked the way her name looked as well, even better than mine.  "How
do you spell 'love'?"  It was a short word, but it meant so much.  "Thank you
very much Ariel, you have treated me well and helped me a great deal.  In two days we will go out and read the signs of Paris."  Her bright gorgeous smile came back and she clasped her hands together.
    "That sounds delightful to me!"  She giggled.  I got up and held up and
held her hand a second.
    "So long for now!"  I danced out and went to my performing duty.

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bulletI got up without any sight of my husband.  Disappointed again at his
early rise I frowned.  I missed out short morning conversations and his sweet
kisses good-bye.  I didn't even feel like moving from my spot in the bed.  I
went to my chest and got out another book I placed in there and brought it
back to the bed.  Halfway under the covers I laid against my soft pillow and
opened up the book, reading the first chapter very quickly.  I either had a
natural knack for this or Ariel and Pipes were very successful instructors.
After finishing a quarter of the book I put it down and sighed.  The story
was beautiful, full of romance and people dressed in armor in far off lands.
I wanted to believe my far off land in the story was India, but knew the
people in the stories would never live there.  I saw it was time to stop
reading or I'd be so lost in words that Clopin would come home and find me
undressed reading, quite a sight.
    I put on a dark green dress and thought of something to occupy my time.
I decided to go for a walk up on the dirty streets of Paris.  I started out
when I bumped right into Tante Marie.  She looked around me to see me alone and crossed her arms.
    "Where are you going child?"  She moved her hands to her hips and had a stone face as she stared at me.
    "For a walk, and nothing more."  I regretting telling her the instant I
had finished.
    "What about your children?  Are they all alone?"  I looked away and dug
my feet into a crack in the cobblestone.
    "Yes, but they are asleep.  I will be back before the awaken,"  I said
reassuringly, she looked unconvinced.
    "And what if you are not?  No protesting, I will watch them and don't you
try and stop me."  I simply shrugged as she briskly moved past me toward the direction of my tent.
    "If you insist," I said to myself and I continued on my way.  As I
stepped outside the sun felt warm on my face and was refreshing from the
isolation of the Court.
    I walked casually in and out of the side streets, weaving my way through
Paris.  I heard a voice, familiar yet foreign.  I couldn't place it.  I
turned the corner to see a large crowd gathered.  I pushed my way through to the front and smiled at the sight.  Obviously Pipes had persuaded Ariel to go out and perform.  Ariel, in a beautiful aqua dress, looked stunning and fully enchanting.  Making any man who'd try to talk to her between songs a
blubbering fool.  I didn't really listen to them singing right away but when
I did focus in on their actual performance I was caught up in its verses.
Pipes' voice was certainly amazing and was properly nicknamed for his talent.
 He could easily give Clopin some large competition had he been near him.
    I then focused on the angelic voice that had been backing him up the
entire time.  Surprised at Ariel's singing voice, contrary to her speaking
voice, was very high and sweet.  Togeher they had charming harmony.
    I continued to listen for a while and became glad Tante Marie had
volunteered to watch my children, they would surely be up by now.  After four more songs they signified the end of their performance and the crowd
separated, everyone going their own way once again, but not before leaving a handsome reward for the pair.  I walked up to them, helping them pick up the coins that were tossed their way.
    "You both have made enough to feed the entire Court," I said, looking at
the ground at all the money.  They laughed.
    "This is much more than we expected. You don't have to worry about paying for your lessons, these people have done it for you," Ariel replied with a pleased look on her face as she collected all the profit they had made.
    After finishing up that task the three of us walked through the streets.
Ariel piped up, "Why don't we go see Clopin's show?"  I turned my face away and rolled my eyes.
    "Very well, but let's only walk past naturally.  His large head does not
need to be pumped up any bigger."  She laughed at my sarcastic comment.
    "As you wish Herlikin."  We started toward there when Ariel spoke up
again.  "Clopin has a beautiful voice doesn't he?"  I sighed.  This one had
fallen into his trap, and for a second time.  Only this time he was not on
the market and I would have to send her on the correct path.
    "Well yes, but yours and Pipes' was equally wonderful.  I didn't imagine
how extremely talented you both are."  I gently patted Pipes on the back.
Ariel didn't say anything.
    We passed Clopin dancing around with Puppet telling a story.  Ariel's
eyes twinkled as she watched but I just moved her along and turned my head around once we had walked past him to stick my tongue out at him.  He winked in my direction to prove he saw me.
    We walked back to the Court and headed to their tent and Tante Marie
peeked her head out of my tent and walked out to me once she caught sight of my figure.  "Your walk wasn't very short Herlikin."  I started to explain
when she raised her hand demanding silence.  "Not a word.  Now I see you were headed to another destination and I will, out of love for your children, stay here with them until you return."  She didn't even wait for my to approval, just turned around and disappeared behind the flaps of the tent.
    I made an irritated 'humph' as she left at her stubborn behavior.  I
looked around to find myself alone.  I growled and stomped my feet seeing
Ariel and Pipes had left me by myself for my reprimanding.  I scurried to
their tent and they just laughed at my rage.
    "We though it best for you to take that one on your own."  Ariel chuckled
to herself and stitched a dress.  It was a surprise to see Ariel go from a
childhood bliss to her dignified self so quickly.  I rolled my eyes at what
they found humorous and sat down.  Pipes took his cue and we continued with the book I had started.  I noticed it had a red cover and smiled, even the book fit me.
    We continued to read and I had slowly taken the book into my own hands
and said the words with excitement and yearning.  My enthusiasm was evident and Pipes sat facing me, listening to everything I said.  Ariel had even stopped her needlework to look up at me as my expression and mood changed along with the story.  I didn't stop, they didn't try to make me either.  I hungrily ate up the action and words the characters exchanged to each other.  I realized that there was one page left and I finished.  My excitement was stopped.
    "The End.  The end?  You mean the story's over?"
    "Yes Herlikin.  All books have an end."  I set the book down.
    "But the strong, courageous soldier died."  She set the dress she had
been working on aside and walked over to me.
    "He died for honour, and as a sacrifice for his people," she spoke so
calmly.
    "But he's dead!  The woman loved him and he's dead!  What a horrid,
horrid book!"  I was so angry.  How could someone write such a beautiful
relationship, a connection between two people and then slit its throat?  Take
it as if nothing in their hearts mattered and could easily kill it off like a
beetle under the wheels of a carriage. I wished I had never learned how to
read, it did nothing but depress one and bring out the sadness in life.
    I picked up the book and threw it way across the tent.  It hit the
resting blankets on the ground and laid there.
    "Are all books as horrific as this one?"  I stuck out my lower lip and
pouted with my arms crossed.
    "No, not at all.  There are many different subjects people choose to
write about."  I looked down at my feet and tapped them on the ground.  I
sighed and settled for that answer.
    I guess things are meant to be because not two minutes after I had gotten
angry my husband burst through the tent.  My secret was almost revealed.

 

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