October 26, 2010

This excerpt is from one of Harpo’s earliest chronicles, Babbling Jam Hatrack. In it, we meet Prince Hal, later to be Harold the Tooth, King of Fiddleeebod. Now he is merely a Prince of Fiddleebod. Fiddleebod will have to wait until Prince becomes King to acquire its third ‘e’. Bek and Kar know this story well. That’s my sketch of Prince Hal below.

Prince Hal sat, legs dangling, on the edge of the castle’s drawbridge. “Orrff! Orff! Raaahh!” he said, and a gleaming gray wet whiskered head broke through the glassy surface of the murky moat. Velvet ripples in circles expanded. “Orff! Orff! Raaaah!” answered the moatseal. It was the moatseal. Prince Hal’s father, King Harold the Wunth, had brought it from the Wide Great Sea. In the Royal opinion of his father, Prince Hal talked to the moatseal a worrisome amount of time each day. This day proved no different. Prince Hal was there at the moat to tell the moatseal about the strange dream he’d had.

“Urrr! Urr! Urr! Orf! Urr! Urr!” explained Prince Hal.

“Urrf!” nodded the seal.

“Urr! Orf! Raah! Raaah! Ur! Ur! Urp!” continued Prince Hal.

This went on for too long and it won’t do you or me any good whatsoever to hear the entire conversation. I don’t speak moatseal well, and I feel pretty strongly you don’t either. So allow them to talk, and I’ll describe for you Prince Hal’s dream. How do I know what happened in Prince Hal’s dream? I am the storyteller, aren’t I? I have the quill. I dip it in purple ink.

Here is the dream. It starts with Prince Hal standing by a dangerous looking rushing river. He is combing his hair with celery – it’s his dream, not mine – and three bales of hay are criticizing him. Suddenly the river writhes menacingly and Hal throws himself to hide behind one of the bales. He hears a thunderous voice asking, “WHERE IS HE?!” The bale of hay lies to protect him, saying, “He isn’t behind me. Those aren’t his feet sticking out there.” The river isn’t a river. The river is a green-eyed dragon. “WILL YOU DARE TO STEAL FROM ME?” Hal is plucked up in the dragon’s taloned grasp. Hal is calm. Hal is sly. He is a Prince. “I don’t steal. I’m not a stealer. Dragons are the best,” says Hal. The dragon chuckles and Hal is sliding in snow. He takes his sled to the top of the hill and jumps to ride it down. His hands grip tightly. His teeth are clenched. Whoosh he speeds straight down the black ice. No way to stop. He is heading for the gaping mouth. In he goes. There are windows under the water and the smiling maidens are serving out slices of seedcake. Prince Hal has his elbows on the table. The rest of the citizens move slowly, heavily. The library is full of crying babies. Prince Hal opens his mouth to sing. He sings. The babies sing with him. One of them walks up to him and shakes his hand. “I am Lorelei Lo,” says the baby. Prince Hal picks her up and puts her on his donkey. He feels proud, happy, successful and noble. The donkey says, “There is nothing more for us. We might as well.” Prince Hal understands perfectly. He tilts his head in agreement and places himself between the jigsaw puzzle and the donkey. The oat fields are all around. It is windy. He doesn’t want the donkey to step on the puzzle and knock it all apart. The puzzle is missing one piece, where the witch’s face should be. The Prince wakes up. The dream is over.

What do you make of it? The moatseal was no great interpreter of dreams. He – the moatseal was a he – was no help at all. His “Urrff” and “Orrr” were nothing more than “Urrff” and “Orrr”. They satisfied Prince Hal, though. He made them mean whatever he wanted them to. What did he want them to mean? He wanted “Urrff” to mean “wow” and “Orrr” to mean “great dream”. When he’d had enough moatseal talk, Prince Hal scrambled to his feet and announced, “I am Edward of the Lance. Beware, doers of evil!” He trotted easily across the bridge and back behind the castle walls.

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