Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Glutton for punishment
There's no other reason why I should be doing NaNoWriMo again this year, but here I am, trying again...

Harry Brock was a man on whom Fortune always smiled. He had started off life in a happy family on a prosperous farm and he had grown up hale and hearty despite coming into the world wrong-end-first. True, he was not at all clever of speech and this was a great failing among a people who esteemed wit and spent their evenings inventing riddles and songs on the spot. But the fact remained that whatever Harry set his hand to sooner or later prospered under it. In his youth he had mastered both his father's way with animals and crops, and his mother's secret of producing the finest blue cloths anyone in the shire had ever seen.

Her woad was the same that every other woman in the village used, so the other women never understood why her blues had such a richness and liveliness that they never could achieve, but his mother told Harry that the secret was the wonderfully soft water that flowed into their lake and the fine earth that she took from a certain spot beside a certain spring in their woods. Bessie Brock's blues were so famous, in fact, that three years ago Lord Rockwell had sent miles of finest silk, which he had somehow procured for his daughter's wedding gown, to Brockton Farm to be dyed a pale, celestial blue, and he was so pleased with the result that he gave the Brockton Farm family the perpetual right to hunt boar in all his lands.

It was boar-hunting that brought Harry and his little black dog out this early morning. The scent of the coming frost had been on the air last evening as Harry had made his way, singing gaily, to the cottage from the new barn after finishing the chores. Sniffing the air and eyeing the lake, Harry had decided to put off till another day the task of finding out why it had grown so low this summer in spite of plentiful rains. He simply could not miss hunting on the most propitious day of the year. The moon was just beyond full and hung brightly above the chimney top as he set off, three hours before sunrise, crunching over the hoarfrost with Keeran at his heels, his quiver slung over his left shoulder and his boar spear in his right hand.

Briskly he walked down the east-facing slope upon which his house stood, and past the lake shore, around the north side of the new barn, heading for the upper branch of the stream that fed the lake, found his path and struck out into the woods. Harry knew just the spot where he would watch for the boar he wanted. There was a sounder living along the lower branch of the stream and Harry intended to come at them from the woods to the north of the clearing nearest the stream, walking silently and waiting for the boar that would certainly come before dawn, seeking a mate. It was a dangerous business, hunting boar alone, and with only his small Keeran rather than a pack of ferocious hunting dogs like the earl’s. But Keeran’s heart was as stout as a lion’s and Fortune always smiled upon Harry’s endeavors.

( Here's the rest. )

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