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Old 12-01-2009   #21
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Re: Warriors of Love

"Margaret" is now nearly finished. I need to polish the last two chapters, and that's pretty well it.

I will be creating some CDs with "Jane" and "Margaret". If anyone would like one, do get in touch.

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Old 12-03-2009   #22
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Re: Warriors of Love

I may polish the final chapter of "Margaret" this evening.

Then, over the next few days, I'd create CDs of "Margaret" and "Jane" (to send to people). I'll maybe post the first few in Theydon Bois on Monday.

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Old 12-03-2009   #23
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Re: Warriors of Love

At about quarter past eleven this evening, I completed work on "Margaret".

To celebrate, here's another short excerpt. This is from Chapter 19. Margaret is on her way northwards. For non-British readers, I will mention that what the Germans call an Autobahn is a Motorway in Britain. I think (though I'm not 100% certain) that in the USA such roads are known as Freeways. The original nature of the road is remembered with less than total accuracy...


A couple miles further, we emerged from the woods, and took a road branching off to the right of Wattle Street. Beyond the shady trees, it was very hot. A pair of well armed riders passed us – in doing so, they glanced incuriously at our caravan. Sir Dagobert saluted them, although I didn’t think that they were soldiers.

“This,” announced Sir Hainward, “is the Emswon Road.” He had ridden back from the head of his caravan, perhaps to escape any further mayhem Sir Lionel’s lads might cause. “The route was laid down in the Old Time as what they called a matter-way.”

“A matter-way?” I replied. “What an odd name.”

“I believe that it was so-called because only traffic that mattered was allowed to use the road – that is riders, carriages and carts. Pedestrians were forbidden. It must have been a lot easier, in those days, for caravan masters to sell riding beasts. Not all changes are for the better.”

“But the Old Time,” I protested, “was an era of wickedness and blasphemy.”

“My dear princess, I am as opposed to blasphemy as the next man. All I meant was that we are too lenient with pedestrians in the modern age.”

“Lenient?” Jenna sounded as though she were teasing him. “Are pedestrians criminals?”

“Perhaps not, your highness – although stripping a poor caravan master of his rightful profit is not far short of theft.”

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Old 12-03-2009   #24
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Re: Warriors of Love

With "Margaret" (Warriors of Love Volume 2) now put to bed, I expect (for various reasons) to work on Volume 5 ("Tuerqui") next. Volume 3 ("Daisy") is unlikely to be ready before 2011, and Volume 4 (title currently projected to be "Jane -- the Mum", but subject to change) might be completed in 2012.

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Old 12-04-2009   #25
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Re: Warriors of Love

I'm just completing my first day in a LONG time with no work on "The Warriors of Love". It feels downright weird. I'll probably begin work on "Tuerqui" tomorrow. I can't keep on with this break from writing.

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Old 12-05-2009   #26
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Re: Warriors of Love

I've done a little work on "Tuerqui" today. I should be doing more.

I've also created 15 CDs to send to people. Each disc contains:

Jane
Margaret
my tarot pack

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Old 12-08-2009   #27
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Re: Warriors of Love

With all the festive nonsense assailing us just now, here's a passage from "Margaret" Chapter 6. The young Margaret is engaged upon shopping for Solstice gifts...

At last I won through to the comparative quiet of Gibson’s harness emporium. As I entered, the shop bell clattered, loudly but not very musically. Young assistants attended to perhaps a dozen customers. An elderly gentleman looked up from his workbench.

“And what may I do for you, young lady?” he asked. “From the cut of your breeches, I’d wager fifteen shillings to a farthing that you like to ride.”

“Yes, I do,” I replied, “but I haven’t come for me.”

“A Solstice gift, then, I’ll be bound. For a gentleman? Your father, perhaps?”

“No, sir, it’s for a lady. She likes to ride, too”

“And how much money can you lavish on this equestrienne?”

Surprised by the bluntness of this question, I did some mental arithmetic. Suppose I spent sixpence each on mother, grandfather, Nanny Spencer and Biddibelle – that would make two shillings. Better, I thought, to add an extra sixpence, just in case. My purse contained ten and a penny.

“Seven and seven,” I replied.

“Seven and seven takes a little girl to heaven. Or her mother, anyway. Now what could we do for that? Ah! The very thing!”

Having rummaged on a shelf, he withdrew a piece of harness, his manner triumphant. The leather had been dyed white, embellished with depictions of holly – green leaves, red berries – and other seasonally appropriate motifs. Looking at the object critically, I tried to imagine Miss Fletcher’s face on receiving it. The metal picture that arose did not encourage me.

“It’s a bit Solsticey,” I observed with unassailable accuracy.

“Well, it is Solstice, isn’t it? Or will be in a couple of days. There’s no whiff of bunny cakes from Littlejohn’s bakery.”

“No, of course there isn’t, sir. All the same, I’d like something that was for always, not just for Solstice.”

“Fair enough, and point taken.” His voice betrayed disappointment. No doubt, if he didn’t sell this strip of leather soon, it would languish on the shelf for fully another year. “Let me see. For a lady, you said?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then I think this might be the very thing.”

Alas, the object he presented for my inspection was very much not the thing. It was dyed pink, and marked with hearts and flowers in white and yellow. Miss Fletcher had white handkerchiefs, and sometimes wore a white shirt, but I’d never seen pink or yellow about her person, nor depictions of flowers or hearts. Her imagined face, on receiving this, was even less encouraging than her fancied expression on receipt of the Solstice nightmare.

“I think she likes horses more than she likes hearts and flowers,” I said.

“Well, that is a puzzler, young lady. If you were prepared to advance – say – another sixpence, there’s something I might let you have for eight and a penny. Even that, by rights, should be a bit more, but…”

“What is it?” I asked.

“This!”

He produced a rather dainty saddlebag of soft brown leather. Worked upon its surface was an exquisite image of a prancing pony. The silver coloured clasp was in the shape of a horseshoe. This, at last, was perfect.

“Eight and a penny?” I asked sharply.

“Robbing myself, at that, but eight and a penny is what I said. And I’m not a man to go back on his word.”

“Then I’ll buy it,” I said, pulling my purse on its string from my jersey.

“Merry Solstice,” he replied with such cheeriness that I felt sure he’d have sold the saddlebag for eight shillings, or probably less.

“Merry Solstice,” I said, pleased to have secured the most important present.

With the small leather saddlebag in one of the large canvas ones, I hurried back on to the street. It seemed more crowded than ever. Disoriented, I bumped into a coarse woollen stocking, covering a middle aged woman’s scrawny leg. She glared down at me from over a tray of merchandise.

“Look where you’re going, nipper!” she snapped.

“I’m sorry, lady. But there’s such a crowd, and I’ve still got four Solstice presents to buy.”

“Have you, now?” she asked, starting to smile. “And how much of a fortune do you have to spend, if I may ask?”

“Two shillings,” I admitted.

“And who are the lucky folk who’ll receive these wondrous gifts?”

“Grandfather, mother, my old nanny, and the slave who helps me. I thought sixpence each. It’s all I’ve got.”

“Tell you what, give me one and six, and I’ll fix up granddaddy, your ma and the old nanny.”

“What have you got for them?”

“Tie-pin for grandpa, brooches for mum and that nanny of yours.”

Reaching into her tray, she produced a painted tie-pin, in the form of a leaping hound, and two brooches glittering with what was certainly glass rather than diamonds. She was, I realised, the peddler of flashy jewellery from whom I’d first thought to buy mother’s gift. My intention had been to purchase lavender scent for Nanny Spencer, but the brooch would surely do very well. I’d had no idea as to what grandfather might like, and a tie-pin seemed as good as anything.

“I’ll take them,” I said hastily, withdrawing my purse once more.

“Sensible girl, keeping your purse nice and safe. You can’t be too careful, especially not at this time of year.”

“But isn’t Solstice a time when everybody’s supposed to love everyone else, and give presents, and…?” I counted three of my four sixpences into her grubby palm.

“Some like to give, plenty like to take. But I’ll tell you one thing – I won’t take your last sixpence – not if it’s for that slave. A couple of bad days’ trading, and I might be bankrupt and enslaved myself. Or if a certain snooper looks where he shouldn’t. Well – kid – never you mind about that, least said, soonest mended.”

“Thank you, lady,” I said, taking the three pieces of inexpensive jewellery, and slipping them into the previously empty saddlebag.

“Now, you take your last tanner into Mrs Trotter’s sweetshop and buy that slave as many honeycake candies as the lady will advance for the cash.”

“Merry Solstice,” I replied cheerfully, pleased that I now had all but one of the planned gifts.

“Merry Solstice, kid – and to your slave.”

The sweetshop was full of people buying sugar paste robins, sun fruitful slab, daybreak nutty clusters, and other seasonal specialities. Half a dozen assistants scurried about the shop, occasionally clambering up ladders to fetch items no longer to be found within reach. One such returned to the counter with a fresh jar of sugar walnuts, another with an unbroken block of pear juice toffee. Watching customers with purses of florins, even the occasional gold coin, I felt shy with only sixpence about my person.

“What’s it to be, love?” Mrs Trotter herself said to me at last.

“Six penn’orth of honeycake candies, please, Mrs Trotter.”

“Plain? Mixed? Raspberry? The bramble is nice…”

“Yes,” I replied, “the bramble ones.”

“I didn’t ought to discourage trade,” she said, lifting down the box of bramble honeycake candies, “but maybe you shouldn’t go eating too many sweets this close to Solstice.”

“They’re not for me. They’re a Solstice present for Biddibelle.”

“Beddibelle?” she asked distractedly, clattering a few candies into the pan of her scales.

“No, Biddibelle. She’s the slave who helps me, and…”

“A Solstice present for your slave, dear me! Well – that’s kind of you, I’m sure. Tell you what,” she leant forward confidentially, “I’ll add two or three extra, just for that, but don’t tell no one.”

“Thank you, Mrs Trotter,” I said, retrieving the almost empty purse from my jersey.

“Merry Solstice – and to Beddibelle, as well,” she replied, continuing with the wrong slave name.

“Biddibelle – and Merry Solstice to you, Mrs Trotter.”

She was already serving another customer. With my purchases complete, it was clear that the canvas saddlebags were more capacious than I’d required. Rolling them into a manageable bundle, I battled my way on to the Broadway and through crowds thicker than ever. The press of bodies held a foolish carter and his wagon stationary in the middle of the road – he glared at me as I ducked under his wheels.

“Merry Solstice, Mr Carter,” I said, giggling.

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Old 12-08-2009   #28
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Re: Warriors of Love

Skipping "The Warriors of Love" volumes 3 and 4 (for the time being), I've been working on Chapter 1 of Volume 5 "Tuerqui". Volume 5 "Tuerqui" begins exactly where Volume 2 "Margaret" ends. Yet it has to be written on the assumption that the reader either hasn't read or, at least, has substantially forgotten "Margaret". So I'm having to be alert for things that would overly-perplex the reader, inserting explanations which would be entirely unnecessary were this Chapter 21 of "Margaret". At the same time, I don't wish to over-burden the reader with details she or he may not need to know. It's a challenge. But, now that I appreciate that it's a challenge, I'm rather enjoying it. Weirdly, it's a problem I didn't foresee.

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Old 12-09-2009   #29
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Re: Warriors of Love

Another Solstice from "Margaret". This time, a teenage one from Chapter 12. Margaret is fifteen years old at this point.

With father in an unusually pleasant frame of mind, it seemed a good opportunity to broach something to which he might object: “Father, I was thinking of holding a celebration… a Solstice dinner.”

“I’ll be having a Solstice goose, of course,” father replied, “but, if anyone expected a giddy occasion, they’d be disappointed. The excellent Mr Lock, and a few others, will be joining me.”

“I was thinking of a dinner with my slaves. Girls’ talk, and all that.”

“What would you eat?”

“I’m sure the kitchen would supply us with something, father. Nothing as grand as you and Mr Lock will eat, of course. But it would be nice to celebrate in my own way.”

“If that’s what you wish, go ahead by all means, daughter. I’m sure that my own celebration will be none the worse for no girly giggling.”

“Thank you, father.”

“May I join you?” Jenna asked, “…and perhaps Beddibelle, my slave.”

This was a development I’d neither foreseen nor desired, but how could I refuse? “Of course you can, Jenna – and your slave.”

Looming larger than the question of whether or not I desired Jenna’s company, my concern was with what had been planned as a small private celebration escalating into something else. We had our ups and downs, of course, but an easy intimacy generally prevailed between Inqui, Fliti and me. The presence of my cousin and her slave was sure to change the dynamic beyond recognition. On returning to my rooms, I found that I wasn’t alone in feeling thus.

“We’ll have to be on our best behaviour,” Fliti said sadly.

“I know,” I agreed, “but how could I refuse her?”

“After what they did to her in the Grim Tower, you couldn’t,” Inqui confirmed. “All the same…” Her facial expression said the rest.

To my alarm, a day or two later, my modest celebration underwent further escalation. Jenna and I were in the stitch rooms to be fitted for New Year dresses. My cousin was draped in unstitched wine coloured satin, I was in blue. Mrs Clay fussed about us with a mouthful of pins, whilst two stitch slaves – Chesti and Workibelle – attended to matters more calmly.

“Hey!” Jenna said, as though suddenly struck by a brilliant thought. “Why don’t we invite Mrs Clay and her stitch slaves to join our Solstice celebration?”

“I’m not sure about that,” I replied, disliking the idea, and searching for an acceptable reason to dismiss it. “How many people would that make?”

“I have six stitch slaves,” Mrs Clay said. “Is that so very many?”

“Well,” I responded, “there would have been five of us. Add on you, Mrs Clay, and your slaves that would make a dozen. We’d need a lot of food. Fliti thinks she can snaffle a small goose, but would that be enough?”

“Well, no,” Mrs Clay admitted, “but we’ve managed to scrape together some special food for Solstice. If we add that to what you have…”

“And my sitting room isn’t huge,” I voiced a promising fresh objection.

“Oh there’s stacks of space,” Jenna said, with an assurance at odds with her having only once stepped into the room.

“Then it’s settled,” Mrs Clay pronounced with considerable satisfaction. “We can scare up quite a reasonably sized goose to add to Fliti’s… and at least a dozen Solstice pies… a decent quantity of wine… oh, and a bottle of Hen’s Foot Special Reserve…”

“I know where I can lay my hands on a bottle of Surrey whisky – a brand called Sailor Girl. It’s lovely, although some might think it a bit too sweet.”

“Oh no,” Mrs Clay said firmly, “sweet suits me nicely. What do you think, Margaret?”

“Yes,” I admitted, “sweet is good.”

It was now clear that the addition to our party of Mrs Clay and her stitch slaves was inevitable. Returning to my rooms, I wondered how Inqui and Fliti would react to the expansion of our guest list. Could I rationalise it in a way that would sound even half way convincing? In the event, the justifications I’d mentally rehearsed proved unnecessary.

“Mrs Clay’s stitch slaves?” Fliti asked, her face registering delight. “That’ll be great! I used to work with them, they’re lovely. And Chesti can sing as though she was a goddess’ handmaiden, and…”

“Seeing as we’re so many,” Inqui said, “why don’t I invite my cousin?”

“That would make thirteen at table,” I objected, “which is supposed to be unlucky.”

“But I could invite Daffi from the kitchens,” Fliti said enthusiastically. “That would make fourteen. She’s great company, and would be able to lay her hands on a bigger, plumper and tastier goose than I could… and, come to think of it, even better than that…”

Inevitably, or so it seemed, by Solstice day the party had expanded further. More than twenty girls arrived – all but three of us were slaves, and fully half of the company strangers to me. It seemed astonishing that so many could fit into my apartment. All of the sitting room chairs soon occupied, some sat on the floor, others on beds – not only mine but also those provided for Inqui and Fliti, but in which they never slept.

At first, after saying Merry Solstice to each, I looked in consternation. Where was everyone to go? How were all of us to eat? Who were these unfamiliar slaves?

Few, in any, of the guests arrived empty handed. There were at least eight bottles of strong spirits, and more than twice as much wine. We had no less than five ready roasted geese, needing to be reheated in my tiny kitchen. Nuts, preserved fruits, Solstice pies, and other sweet treats were available in abundance.

Others brought musical instruments. A drum, I noticed, bore what was certainly a regimental badge – perhaps all had been borrowed from a guards’ band. Soon, the first carol of the day filled the air – Dress the Sun in Skirts of Satin, a traditional favourite that brought tears to my eyes. The sweet voices of two girls singing in harmony truly sounded, as Fliti had said, as though we listened to a goddess’ handmaidens.

“Here, love,” said a slave whom I hadn’t previously seen, with the name Chiki branded on her thigh. “Have a glass of this – it’s a drop of good.”

“Thank you,” I replied, accepting a generously-sized measure of dark liquid.

“You’re welcome, love. You’re one of the princesses, I suppose.”

“Princess Margaret,” I replied.

Taking too large a swig from my glass, it burnt my throat and had me choking. My assumption, on the basis of the quantity I’d received, had been that it was wine. Instead, it was liquid fire – albeit with a pleasant, sweet, aftertaste. Chiki thumped me hard on the back, which I welcomed more as a friendly gesture than as a practical measure.

“You weren’t expecting that, were you?” she laughed.

“No, I wasn’t! It’s fierce!”

“Fierce, but good. Try a smaller sip.”

Trying smaller sips, I found myself pleased by the fieriness of the spirit – better yet, it tasted delicious. Chiki and I settled ourselves on the floor in a corner – the bottle at our side. The crowdedness of my rooms soon ceased to matter. Although I knew nothing of my companion except her name and the fact of her slavery, we soon seemed close friends… I had a fit of all but uncontrollable giggling.

“You’re all right, Margaret,” she said when, finally, I fell quiet.

“Kiss me,” I replied.

As she did so, I found myself melting in her arms. Chiki’s mouth, filled with the fiery spirit, proved extraordinarily pleasant. After briefly coming up for air, our lips locked once more. A second break in the extended kiss was to sip more of the drink.

“You two will be the talk of the pump house,” said a slave I didn’t recognise, chuckling.

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Old 12-13-2009   #30
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Re: Warriors of Love

I'm trying something a bit different with Chapter 1 of Tuerqui, with at least a line or two of dialogue between any two descriptive paragraphs. It submerges the action (and any introspection, and/or summary of the "Margaret" plot) in a river of conversation. Since it's set on a journey by canal, the river-like aspect seems to me apt.

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