Harpo, pictured below, was the first chronicler. He dictated his autobiography to Lace, the second chronicler. The first chapter of that memoir is today’s excerpt.
First, I’ll start firstly. Lace, write down everything I say. Yes, even that. What? No. Now, where was I? First? Ah, yes. First, I’ll start firstly. My parents, they were ramblers who tended their herd of fleece and rambled the eastern foothills beyond the Outer Orchards in what was then called the Kingdom of Fiddleeebod with only two e’s. What? F-i-d-d-l-e-e-b-o-d. Got it? I’ll continue. Spring was roam and shear time. Summer was market trade, and every fifth year, RENDEZVOUS. Fall was ramble and search for winter CAVE site. Winter was sit tight and weave. My Moothoo was famous throughout the Kingdom for the fineness of her oatstraw and fleecethread weaves. Her name was Saltwiggle Redbonnet. Fith called her Wiggy. She found her name in the Chasm of Kraan and what a story that was! She told it often – I hear her yet – to my brother and me. We asked for it every night. She pretended to protest, but could not refuse our pleas. Those were times. Yes. What is it, Lace? Yes, I am. Listen.
She followed a wiggle of a stream at night by starglimmer. A shadow dark monster rose dripping from the streambed and roared at her, “HELP ME FIND MY HAT!!” Moothoo was frightened out of her wit. She said she was so young she had just one wit to be frightened out of. I tell you by my well when she made that shadow monster loom up out of the stream, Pep and I were struck rigid every time. When I see myself listening to Moothoo tell the story, I have three bar years and Pep seven. What? Pepperhead Beanpackage. He will be Chapter Two. Now, the hat. The looming shadow turned out to be an extremely upset ogre who had lost her hat.
“If you help me find my hat,” she growled, “I surely will not eat you.”
My Moothoo thought quickly and swung down her pack and assembled her shuttleloom in the nince of a nonce. “I am a famous weaver,” she said.
“If you are famous, who are you?” asked the ogre slyly.
“I don’t know yet. I’m looking for my name,” answered my Moothoo.
“Don’t know your name? Don’t know your name? What possible help can you be to find my hat? I might just as well eat you now,” said the ogre while stamping the ground in frustration.
“I will build you a better hat,” said Moothoo, grinning nervously. She removed her crimson coat, nicked it with her needle, unravelled, ravelled, reloomed, wove and crimped, thread and pose, loom awobble, her fingers flying, shaping crest and crown, sleeve to brim, and the night moved on.
“If by dawn I haven’t my hat, I’ll gobble you up SLURPYSLURP for a snack,” said the ogre, and she sat down glumly with folded arms.
Measuring tape, calculations, Moothoo made a hat. And when orange crept into the sky at dawn, the ogre loomed shadow again, ready to have her snack.
“Well?” demanded the ogre.
“Try it on,” said Moothoo with a shrug, calm on the outside, dancing on flames of fear on the inside.
The ogre felt the fineness of the weave even with the curved and scaly claws of her bony fingers. She placed the hat on her head. It was a bonnet. Red.
“How do I look?” asked the ogre, tying the ribbons into a bow under her hairy chin.
“Wonderful,” said Moothoo. “A picture of glory.”
The ogre preened and smiled, pirouetted, hopped from clawfoot to clawfoot, and sang very badly. Moothoo made us laugh ourselves to dizzy when she took the part of the ogre. Fith would call, “What are you doing? Stop the nonsense! Get to sleep!” Moothoo would giggle with us, and we would go down to sleep. What? Oh. The ogre jumped into the stream and disappeared. Moothoo had found her name. Saltwiggle Redbonnet. Salt? The wiggly stream was salty. The ogre’s new hat was a red bonnet. Saltwiggle Redbonnet. Simple enough.
Now, Fith. Fith’s name was Trumpetbeak Palemittens. He didn’t tell stories. Moothoo called him Trump. When we asked him where he found his name, he said he was too busy to talk. He WAS busy. His shuttleloom never rested when we did. He wore thimbles on all of his fingers and both of his thumbs. He clicketty clacked with needle and thread and even fleeced with his thimbles. Whenever Moothoo went by, he smiled and followed her with his eyes. That was always a good time to ask him a question. A bit at a time, if you could practice patience, sabeek orrun, you might pry some information out of him. For instance, over time, we got him to tell us he found one part of his name at Shangra Pass when he stumbled on a shriekowl’s nest and disturbed its foultempered occupant. The other part he discovered lying abandoned in plain view on an outcropping of splintered shale later that same day. “Did you pass Shangra Pass?” we asked. “Almost,” was his only reply.
Moothoo and Fith. Oats and berries. Morning gruel! Ah, this chapter is long enough. Put down the quill.