automatism, Dreams and Nightmares, Fortean, Ghosts, Hauntings, Holographic Universe, Humor, Mystic, New Age, Short Stories, short-short, Spiritism, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

Stead’s Folly

WT Stead

Socialist reformer W.T. Stead was fascinated by spiritualism and psychic phenomena, so much so that when a medium told him he must not, under any circumstances, travel by sea, he went and booked passage aboard an ocean liner for her maiden voyage.

He died aboard the Titanic, April 15, 1912.

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Art, Fiction, short-short, Uncategorized, Young Adult

The Chartreuse

NOTE: It has been pointed out to me, by a well-known true crime writer, that the word I actually was trying for was “chanteuse.” Chartreuse is a bloody color. I don’t care. I like the othe word better. This is a dictatorship, where a mad king is allowed to go unclothed before the world.

I have a Weimar-era chartreuse hanging from my wall.

She has short, curly, presumably blonde hair, a horseshoe-shaped bottom lip, with no top lip to interfere, and a pert nose. She has large, striking eyes, but the eyebrows could not be said to arch overmuch. They are thin, possibly penciled-on.

The bottom lip sags, exposing perhaps a bit much of the lower row of teeth, which are perfect and white and top pristine pink gums. The ears are not exposed; the face itself has the quality of the pan or shovel-faced feature, going down to a pert chin with a sort of sharp edge to it, nonetheless. It could not be described as a thin face, nor are the cheekbones overly high.

The eyes are large electric diamonds, radiant with energy and sudden flashes of enthusiasm. This is accentuated by the set of the mouth, the heart-shaped thin upper bow that would all but disappear if not for the ruby red lipstick so carefully applied. Inevitably, she will pop a long, thin, cigarette in a wooden filter into the corner of that mouth, with one lace-gloved hand, and intone that “Ze cabaret iz dreadfull zis evening, ja, mien liebchen? Dahlink, let us to ze biergarten prozeed!”

Her costume is obviously spangles and silk, fishnet stockings and miles of velvet; spiked leather heels and a short crop as accessory. Her loose blonde curls could be topped by a bowler or stevedore; but, most likely, it is a top hat. Her costume has a little bow tie. (She must certainly, at one edge of her mouth, have a painted beauty mark,)

Her thighs are thick and thunderous, legs long and muscled, arms too heavy; her body milk white and powerful, exuberant; a Valkyrie hailing atop a winged horse, fording a fjord, flying over the frozen, icy earth, wreathed in the glory of the rising sun.

I want her badly to live; can even hear the first few words of her heavily-accented broken English. But she exists only as a few printed brush strokes on a little canvas square, resting atop a thumbtack pegged into a dismal wall.

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Books, Hardboiled, Rants, short-short, Urban Legends

The Inscrutable Wheel

Kimberly mining camp in South Africa, in 1873, was a rough and tumble collection of shanty shacks, gambling “hells”, dens of iniquity and vice, prostitution, drunkenness; what one would expect, for the most part, from a boom town that had grown up overnight, its development driven by the lust for glittering riches, hidden in the form of diamonds buried beneath the earthen crust.

It was into one of these establishments that a young man entered, possessed of a small sum of money he was eager to multiply. Seeking out the roulette table like a lemming looking for a cliff, he sauntered up, laid down his bets, and began to play. And lose. And go again. And lose again. and, yet, for him, at least, losing only a part of his wealth was not enough.

The gambler’s mania had gripped him, and, soon, he found himself dispossessed of all but a single British pound. (Or, we at least assume it was a British pound. I suppose it could have been a single Rand. We’re unsure of this. Let’s compromise for now and just call the measly currency he proffered a “dollar,” shall we?)

Raymond Chandler has a story called “You Play the Black, and the Red Comes Up.” Raymond Chandler novels were full of desperate men and beautiful, deadly dames, all of whom lived in a world that was, essentially, amoral, predatory, rife with scoundrelism and, just beneath the aching, tired, weather-beaten and undeniably phony fa├žade , was corrupt deep down to the core. Life is ugly, men are predators, and dames is “no damn good.”

Of course, the young man was soon divested of this money, and beating his breast in despair (or, so we assume), dragged his sorry carcass out the door of the so-good den of gambling and vice, much to the cheers and jeers of the other assembled gamblers. It was not long after that a shot rang out in the street.

“Well, I’ll be damned. The sorry bastard has went and done himself in!” someone must have shouted.

(You’ll forgive us the literary license of putting words in the mouth of a fictional bystander. We do it only toward the establishment of a dramatic effect.)

In the dusty, rutted, dirty road lay a bleeding body, the hand still gripping the butt of the pistol, a pool of crimson wetting the earth around the rawboned, grief-addled, but undeniably handsome visage of the dead young miner. A small crowd gathered to circle, like human vultures, and spit forth exclamations, mutterings, and various imprecations to the preservative power of putative saints.

They must have dragged the body off to the morgue. I suppose it was unceremoniously deposited into a cold, lonely, paupers’ grave, to be eternally forgotten, except by the windblown trees.

Soon after, as if in a cosmic chuckle at the ill-starred fate of the so-unfortunate suicided loser, a quite similar young fellow entered a gambling establishment called Dodd’s Canteen. He had only one dollar in his pocket. His name, incidentally, was David Harris.

He sauntered over to the roulette table. Should he lay down his single, hard-earned dollar, risk the only money he had, all and everything, on a simple intuitive feeling?

He finally decided to do so. Mr. Harris left Dodd’s Canteen 1,400 dollars wealthier than when he entered it. In time, he would develop this small sum of money into a vast fortune.

So turns the inscrutable Wheel of Fortune. For one man wealth and happiness; for another rack and ruin. The completely illogical nature of this seems, to us at least, to almost smack of a kind of cosmic sadism; or perhaps, it’s all one big joke, with the final joke always being on you.

Even the Prince catches up with the Pauper, eventually; in the shallow depths of a cold, hard grave.

But, still, one must surely beat his breast, raise his fists to heaven, and damn God for the inscrutable way in which he metes out destiny in the world. C’est la vie!

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Books, Experimental, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, surreal, Weird, Young Adult

Verbal Flatulence; Or, What You’ve Told Me Really, Really Stinks! (A Puerile Piece.)

The Space Beetle had sent one of his hired goons:

“It’s a new weapon,” he waxed mysteriously. “Developed by our researchers on Triton. Scrambles the molecular field holding together the human sphincter. Discombobulation of the oral and anal cavities. Breath replaced with divine flatulent wind. Reeking odor of falsities and perfidious nonsense, made manifest in a turgid, thick, burbling rotten egg stench.”

We can set the stage–a medium-sized auditorium; hustle bustle of milling throngs. people holding signs and placards. “Tatty, short-haired women, and long-haired men.,” to quote someone who was quoted in Russell Miller’s book on L. Ron Hubbard. The lights ared immed, the music swells; an underwhelming onrush of applause.

S/he took the podium. An immense yawn was covered, like the arched back of a serpentine sin, cowering below the surface of a sewer stream, by the clip-clap of assorted hands. A few rumble-bumbles of roiling stomach competed with the announcer’s announcement that Madame Secretary was taking the stage. Willowy Le Pugh, the future President of the United Islamo-Soviet States of Americo. Or, presumably the future president.

S/he, began, opening salmon colored lips, pale, iridescent gums shining in the click-clack-clackety-click of whirring old-fashioned flashbulb cameras what constitute an anachronism already.

(The Space Beetle, we might remind our comic book readers, is a super-secret master villain of cosmic and intergalactic proportions, hiding behind an ever-shifting succession of aliases and disguises, forms both extraordinary and mundane. You might encounter him as a waiter, a busboy, a dry cleaner on Mars, scrubbing furiously at custard stains on the collar of an overpriced satin jacket; alternately, he could be the state executioner on a backwaters moon circling a forgotten world in the lower crotch of the Crab Nebula. His ministrations and scoundrelisms are matters of legendry; his name and even the mere mention of it have been known to freeze the human colon. C’est la vie!)

“Friends, neighbors, comrades, brothers of unity, workers of the world united! Hands and handmaidens of the One True Prophet! I come to deliver you from the fetters and bonds of your great and magnificent oppression! Behold, I stand at the door and knock!”

A swell of applause erupted throughout the audience, and not a few murmurs and shouts of “Power to THE PEOPLE!” and “Right on, Sistah!” and “Everyone is my gender-neutral brother!,” etc. etc. etc.

The Agent crawled through the seats, holding his piece in his hands. One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand…he counted to himself. The particular item in his possession was thick, long, cylindrical; it shined with heavy metal profundity. He checked the dials and diodes.

Professor Croyd, a beetling browed man with strange stertorous breathing and crossed eyes, had instructed him as to the use of this particular hand cannon; he had snuck it into the concert hall disguised as on over-sized iron dildo, a coy statuette presented to the visiting dignitary by the Junior Anti-fascist Sex League, on the anniversary of their great victory desegregating Eurasian-only golf courses.

He dialed. He waited. He adjusted. He sighted. He smiled. He aimed. This was a moment that would go down in the historical records, right next to the first man who saw an orgasm in t he flashbulb of Uranus.

“My Godless opponent, that leering, gesticulating Minister of Snark, would have you believe the pernicious LIES proffered about me by the malicious hacks of the dirty, dirty subversive press, those Joo bankers and power-broker pawnshawp dealers who trade in lies, innuendo, half-truths, gossip, legend, myth, fantasy and sweet Nectar of Ambrosia, for all I know. Well, I’ll have you know, that these people have thrust in their sickle, and what they sow, THEY SHALL SURELY REAP!”

More applause. A few guffaws. A stifled laugh, and not a few bawling moans of worshipful adulation. General murmur of good tidings. But then, something strange happened–
Someone thought she must have belched. No belch ever let forth that sort of effluvial, reek though; a general murmur of nauseous disgust began to filter up from the throngs at the foot of the stage. Vile retching volcanod forth, as little by little, people fighting to hold their gorges lost it in a multicultural rainbow shower of vomit streams that soaked the backs of folks in the front row, ruined the theater seats, made the floor and isles into a sopping, miasmic stew of swirling, biologically hazardous stinkery.

It was her vocal farting, the rearrangement of her mouth and anus, so that flatulence issued forth with every proclamation and lie, while exclamations of piety, shock and outrage squeezed themselves out from between the pendulous cheeks of her pale, porcine derriere. The spell had worked, the molecular biology realigned; the prank a thing of resounding success. Mission accomplished.

Willowy Le Pugh suddenly threw her notes into the air. She farted, “Oh, oh my, why it’s just like a scene from a Stephen King thriller! Really, everyone, I’m sure we can get this cleaned up and resume the festivities in no time! Everyone, everyone–back to your seats!”

But everyone was not listening, and, in a panicked huff, she turned like a top, apologies still blurping and blarting out from between her ass cheeks, and retreated into the shadows backstage.

The Agent, covered in puke, but, nonetheless, dry for the invisible skinsuit he was wearing, like a veritable shield, all over his sweating, satisfied form, signaled the Madrigal to turn on the teleporto beam and GET HIM THE HELL OUT OF THERE.

Two gentleman, one a withered man with a great, broad flank of a noise, and the cool, pitiless gaze of some deep-sea creature cast, by the caprices of Poseidon, upon the rocky surface of the damned earth, turned to his neighbor, and said with cold, metallic inflection:

“I ever tell you about the asshole that taught his man to talk?”

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

The Bird Who Stole Happiness

Once, long ago, a little girl was saying her prayers one night when she heard a curious sound outside of her window. Going to the window and throwing open the sash, she was astounded to see a sad, lonely whippoorwill sitting on a tree branch, crying out in low, mournful tones the saddest song she had ever heard.

The little girl, suddenly not feeling quite as cheery as she had when she had come upstairs to bed, asked the bird, “Mr. Whippoorwill, why are you so sad?”

And, to her surprise, the bird suddenly poked its beak in her direction and exclaimed through muffled tears, “Oh, it is the same as it has always been! I am a whipporwill, you see, and so must sing a low, mournful, weeping tune! I was born to sing this sad song, and never know happiness, and flit and fly about under the moon, alone!”

And with that, the whippoorwill let out such a torrent of weeping and wailing that the little girl soon found she was crying too. Just then, an idea popped into her head.

“Oh, Mr. Whipporwill, since you are so sad, and have never known happiness, I tell you what I will do. I will give you all of my happiness to take with you! Oh yes, I’ll wrap it up in a little silk rag, tied with a bow, and you can carry it with you in your beak. Build it into your nest, and, someday, when you are done with it, and wish to return to being what you were before, you can come flying back, and return it to me! Does that make you happy to think of, Mr. Bird?”

And the sad bird answered, “Oh, delightful! I shall be so glad to have your happiness with me wherever I go, hither and yon! And, I promise you, I shall take good care of it until I return!”

And so, wiping her eyes, the little girl (who, of all the little girls int he world, was always quite cheery and pleasant, even when she dropped her ice cream ont he ground), went to her dresser, and took out a silk hanky and a piece of blue ribbon. Then, screwing her eyes shut, she managed to take all the happiness swirling around inside her head, and wad it up in the little square of silk, tieing it securely with the length of blue ribbon before racing back to the window and offering her present to the bird.

“Here you go, Mr. Whippoorwill! Please, take good care of it, and be careful not to lose it! I don’t know what I should do if I lost my happiness forever!”

And with that, the bird bowed, thanking her for her graciousness and generosity, and, with the little silk bundle hanging from his beak, flew off, into the night. The little girl strained ot see him go, but eventually lost sight of him as he was framed against the bright, fat moon.

In a few moments, as the girl crept back to bed, she began to notice a change steal over her. She felt heavier, slower; more glum. More tired. And everything seemed to take on the same shade of dismal, dingy grey.

“Oh!” she said to herself, “I do so hope the whippoorwill returns with my happiness soon! I suppose in the state I am in, even a rainbow would look dull, and dirty, and grey!”

And she then burst into tears, burying her face in the pillows and crying herself to sleep.

It was not a day or two later that her mother began to become very concerned for her little girl. She did not brighten when she ate her desert, nor even when presented with an angelfood cake (which was her favorite). Nor did playtime seem to amuse her; nor did new toys; sunshine; bright days; fluffy white clouds; or her pet kitten.

She no longer skipped rope, or drew hopscotch, or dilly-dallied amongst the dandelions, instead preferring to sit in her room in a gloopy, gloomy mess, weeping silently while staring at the four walls and complaining that the light of the sun, or even a lamp, hurt her eyes!

Her father, taking her to the carnival, found that this did not cheer her, either. Her mother, planning a special party for her with little friends from the neighborhood, found that her daughter sat in the center of the big table, amongst a little legion of happy, shouting, laughing, jostling little girlfriends and boyfriends, and wept silent tears.

Furthermore, the mother noticed the little girl continually staring out the window, as if expecting someone or something to come flying up to the great tree outside.

Finally, after weeks of her daughter’s solitary mourning, the exasperated mother put her fists on her hips and said, “Oh daughter of mine, whatsoever troublest thou? For, have we not done everything in our power to make thee merry and glad? And yet, thou weepest when thou shouldst laugh, and frown when thou shouldst, by rights, smile and be of good cheer! What, on Earth, couldst thou possibly be tormented by, that thou shouldst carry on in suchlike manner?”

And, at hearing this, the little girl burst into tears again, saying, “Oh, Mother! It is dreadful, but, one night, I heard the Whippoorwill outside of my window, singing his mournful tune. And, feeling sorry for him, I wrapped all of my happiness into a silk kerchief, and, tying it with a bow, gave it to him, allowing him use of it until he returns. And so, I have no happiness left, and all my pleasant feelings have vanished. Now, it seems as if the cursed bird shall never return, and thus never again shall I laugh, or smile, or feel merriment and joy!”

And she began to boo hoo very loudly. Her mother, horrified at what she heard, put her hands to her head in panic, and exclaimed, “Foolish child, what hast thou done! Thou hast given away all they smiles and gladness in the world to a conniving old bird, who has surely made haste with it to some far-off land, wherein he may enjoy the fruits of thy happiness, while you are drowing in tears!”

And, not knowing what else to do, the mother went straightaway to the conjure woman, an old crone who lived in the woods and had a bad, sinister reputation.

The ugly old crone croaked, “There is only one thing to do: Thou must bake thee a pie, in the center of which wilt thou bake four and twenty blackbirds…and a single snake. And then thou must set the pie upon the ledge below thy window, and wait! Soon, the whippoorwill will come, and the thing will right itself.”

And so the mother made the pie crust, carefully rolling the dough, and filling the center with four and twenty blackbirds. Then, she went out into the yard, and pulled from the weeds choking the edge of the garden a single snake. Into the pie went THAT as well. Then, she set it to bake.

After it was done, she set the thing on the window seal and sat down with her gloomy daughter to wait.

The smell of the pie was quite strong, and, in time, they heard the whippoorwill come flying up, resting on the old branch of the old tree. Curiously, he was still singing the same gloomy tune, although he had stolen all of the little girl’s happiness.

The whippoorwill pecked and poked his beak into the pie, smelling the delicious smell of cooked blackbird. As soon as he got his beak in the crust, however, the snake reared up, bared its fangs, siezed upon the luckless whippoorwill, and swallowed him up!

The little girl’s mother then sprang up from her chair and, like a bolt of lightning, had the snake collared with one huge hand, squeezing it’s long skinny body so that it could not bite her.

She then began to pound the head of the snake against the floor, until its blood and brains oozed out from between her fingers. And, also, quite a lot of blackbirds.

The little girl rooted around in the blood and carcasses on the floor. Finally, her little hand fell upon what she was looking for: it was the little bundle of silk with all her happiness tied up, with the same blue ribbon, inside.

She quickly snapped the ribbon, releasing her happiness so that, forever after, she wore a smile on her face, and had a spring in her step, even when she was at last old and grey.

And the moral of this story is: Look before you leap. Or, before giving everything to a stranger, make sure you have considered your own needs first. Or, make sure your charity and pity for others will not hurt you, in the end.

Or, never put much trust in a flighty character. It’s for the birds.

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, Young Adult

Tale of the Spanish Dancer, or One True Love!

Once upon a time there lived a poor girl in Barcelona, who envied the rich and well-dressed girls who sauntered by in the promenade.

“Oh,” she said to herself, “if only Papa could afford to buy me such fine and beautiful dresses as all of those rich, spoiled girls have, why, I would count myself the luckiest girl in the world!”

But of course, her Papa did NOT have such money, and so she went about in rags.

One day, as she was walking through the market, carrying her basket of goods. she saw a gypsy dancing for pennies in the square. She went over to watch the men, who were pitching the coins at her, and were obviously quite taken with her looks.

The gypsy had the most beautiful dress she had ever before seen. It looked as if it had been woven of beautiful wild flowers, and it made the poor girl weep with envy to see it.

Instantly, the gypsy stood beside her, and asked, “Girl, why are you weeping so?”, to which the girl replied, “Oh, I am weeping because you look so beautiful dancing, and I am but a poor girl who could never afford such a beautiful dress!”

And the woman laughed and smiled, and said, “Well, girl, I’ll tell you what: I’ll let you wear my dress, and dance for me here, and give me a well-deserved rest. But, you must be careful to clean the dress every night with this special brush, and place it carefully in your closet, and take the best care of it. For, this dress is an enchanted dress, and the wearer of this dress shall find her true love, by and by!”

And with that, the young girl was exceedingly glad, and clapped her hands, and said, “Oh thank you M’lady, thank you! I shall do all that you say, and take the most wonderful care of your dress, and wear it with pride as I dance all day, and dance all night!”

And the lady laughed, and said, “Very well! Here–”

And, to the amazement of the young girl, the lady snapped her fingers, and suddenly, the two had traded clothing. Now, the lady was wearing the young girl’s tattered rags, and the young girl was wearing the beautiful gypsy dress. And each fit the other perfectly.

“Now,” said the strange woman, “I must be off. Remember what I told you, take special care of my dress while I am gone!”

And with that, the strange girl ran off into the crowded market, and was lost from sight. The young girl, delighted to be wearing the beautiful dress, immediately went into the town square, and began to dance.

Young men, some of whom asked to be her suitors, came and pitched coins at her as she went. Her dancing was divine, and she felt as if her toes were drifting on the wind as she went. And she danced and danced the whole day and night, and the next day, and hardly slept a wink in all that time, until she was exhausted.

Finally, she realized she deserved a rest, and she went home, carefully taking off the dress, and taking out the brush…but, she was so tired from all that dancing that she suddenly yawned and said to herself, “Oh, I am so tired, I shall just die if I don’t lie down for a moment! I shall look after the dress after I get up from my nap! The lady wont mind; after all, she is so kind and generous to allow me to borrow her beautiful dress!”

And so the foolish young girl laid down upon her bunk, and was soon fast asleep. It was not long however before she was awakened by what she took to be a flickering flame. She wondered if the sun had started to come up, when she opened her eyes, and saw the mysterious lady with the dress, standing in a circle of glowing fire!

She now saw the terrible truth of who the lady really was, and the young girl trembled from head to toe to realize that she was in the presenc of the living, breathing Devil himself!

“Foolish girl,” cried the devil, pointing one long, scaly finger at the trembling girl! “I told you never, never to fall asleep without first carefully combing out my dress, and making sure it was washed and hung up properly! Now, you will pay the price for your indolence and lack of care!”

And with that, the Devil snapped his fingers, and the dress flew from the couch upon which it had been carelessly tossed, and the Devil said, “Now, you must wear this dress day and night, forever and ever, and you will not be able to take it off! And you will dance and dance and dance, and you will never, ever stop dancing! And anyone who sees you will dance, too! And if you meet your true love, he must not look upon you, or he will turn to stone!”
And with that, the Devil shrieked with laughter and delight, and disappeared in a cloud of flame and smoke. The young girl was horrified to find the dress wrapped around her; and indeed, struggle as she might, she could NOT get the dress off!

A curious thing then happened: the young girl began to shudder and shake, so that she could not sit still! Her arms began to wiggle, and her legs began to wobble, and she soon found herself on her feet, hopping and skipping and jumping about.

Her mother came in, and saw what was happening, and exclaimed, “Oh my! You have been bewitched, and now cannot stop your dancing! You must go out of this house, at once, lest you dance a hole through the floor, or break all of our furniture flailing about!”

And with that, the young girl was thrust out of doors, where she found herself dancing down the road. It was not long before she had danced her way, like a crazed maniac, all the way to the town square.

Well, when the people saw her, they were quite taken with her, and said, “Oh look! It is the dancing girl from the other day! My, look at her go! It’s as if she cannot help herself!”

And then, as if a mania swept through the gathering crowd, those that beheld her strange, maniacal dancing, began to dance themselves. They gyrated,a nd twisted about, and pulled their hair, and gnashed their teeth, and wagged their tongues and clucked their heads and exclaimed, “Oh my! it is as if we were bewitched!”

And another yelled, “No, it is worse! It is like a legion of devils inside my pants!”

And still another said, “it is as if we have been bitten by the tarantula!”

And so the crowd began to roar and gyrate, and fell upon the dusty ground, and danced through the street, and ripped their clothes,a nd tore their hair, and soon, the village priest came by.

Seeing such brazen, sinful behavior, he quickly exhorted the people to stop what they were doing.

But they simply replied, “We cannot! it is as if our bodies are moving but our minds are asleep!”

And then they told him, “It all started when we watched the little girl in the dress dancing! She has bewitched us! Oh, can’t you do anything to help?”

And the priest, realizing that such an enseemly display was sinful,a nd must not be allowed to continue, thought for a moment, before commanding a few men to go and fetch him a tent. Then, he carefully told them, “You must raise this tent around yon girl. But take car that you do it with your back turned, and do not look at her, or else you will end up just like all of these other poor souls!”

And, with his back turned, the priest pointed at the young dancing girl who had started all the commotion, and the men, with their back turned, slowly put up the cloth barrier between the morning market crowds and the girl.
Soon, no one could see her, and consequently, the dancers soon ceased to dance.

“Good!” said the priest. “That seems to take care of one problem, at least!” But, as to what to do with the girl, now hidden behind the folds of the tent, he could not say. So, he quickly decided to go back to his study and meditate on the matter.

It was not many hours before a dashing young man rode up on a horse. He was a man quite taken with tales of chivalry, and was on a search for his “one true love”; and, so when seeing the strange striped tent in the middle of the street, he became quite curious.

“Ho stranger! And what, pray tell, is the reason for that tent being pitched in the center of the road, where it blocks the traffic?”

And the man said, “Of sir! Behind the flaps of that tent is a young girl who has been bewitched, so that she cannot stop dancing! And, worse, anyone who looks upon her begins dancing as well, and cannot stop! So the village padre has commanded that a tent be put up around her, so that she is hidden. But, as to what else can be done about it, who can say?”

And the man, who was rather stupid, shrugged his shoulders and wandered off. The young squire, overtaken with heroic feelings of chivalry and daring, conceived a plan whereby he might save the girl from her bewitchment.

He decided to go to the door of the tent, with his back turned, and looking at the girl only in the polished surface of his shield.

“For, if I do not look directly at her, the bewitchment cannot effect me as it did the others.” Or, so he reasoned.

So, dismounting, he carefully went to the dark opening of the tent, where, inside, the exhausted girl was still flinging herself about madly, dancing and sending up great clouds of dust in the darkness.

“Oh, kind sir!” exclaimed the girl. “I have angered the Devil himself, who gave me this dress so I might become a great dancer! Alas, in his vengeance, I have been condemned to wear this dress, which causes me to dance and dance! Oh, if only there were some way you could relieve me of this burden, and I would surely go with you, and be your wife!”

And so the bold young man said, “Never fear, my dear! Your salvation is near!”

And, scooting backwards on his heels, with his shield held up before his face, he made his way to the wildly gyrating girl–no easy feat, as she could not stop moving!

Cautiously, he put out a gauntleted hand, and prepared to rip the dress from her body when, viewing her face more clearly in the polished surface of his shield, he suddenly exclaimed–

“Wait! I know thee! I have beheld thee in a dream. Thou art my ONE TRUE LOVE!”

And, forgetting that he could not look directly upon the girl, he turned suddenly. The dancing girl put her hands to her cheeks and screamed in terror, but it was too late!

The young man fell to the earth, stone dead.

Aghast, the young girl decided she could no longer go on. She danced from the tent, through the streets, and to the bridge above the river. It was here she cast her dancing body into the water–which was no easy feat, as she kept moving back and forth, away from the edge!

No, one was sorry to see her go.

(If there is a moral to this story, we haven’t found it yet. Except, perhaps: don’t fall asleep without hanging up your clothes.)

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