Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Glass of Cold Water

Feev climbed over the terra-cotta partition outside the garden and dropped, breathlessly, to the ground next to the alstromeria. He paused, straightened out his robe and cloak, and looked around. There was only his own sweating self, and the quiet babble of a brook. There were columns of stone with trays of fire on the peak. The air smelled sweetly of ferns and a wooden bench called to his posterior to sit and meditate upon the Lord.

"Mayhaps I should sit... just for one moment. To pray." And he knelt, praying and cupped a mouthful of cool water into his hands.

"Fivim! Why aren't you at the monastery?" sang a joyful voice from a bank of reeds. "As this was said, a singularly handsome and youthful face was thrust through the opening in the leaves" (Deerslayer p 19)

"Olga Shuisky! Would... can I get you a glass of cold water?" he said, thrusting his hands at her.

"Thank you kindly Feev. I might as soon ask you if you've had breakfast?" she stepped out of the reeds, alongside a tiny bard with ringlets of gold and a serious expression.

"I have... who is this, so serious?"

"This is Princess Isabella, from Castile. She has been sent as an envoy from Henry IV."

"I'm firsty."

And lo, FVMMA did give Princess Isabella a handful of cold water. And it was good.

"I... I need to speak with you... alone!" quoth Feev, looking nervously at the cherubic visitor.

"Of course, Fivim. What is it?"

FVMMA took Olga's hand and drew her abrubtly into the reeds from which she had come.

"I hear word of spies abroad, possibly from Dmitri himself!"

"Why, Dmitri is always sending spies. There's nothing so awful about such news. You must read the subject line before you read the message itself.. and if you don't recognize the sender's name or address, you simply drag the message into the delete box."

"What... what is the delete box?"

"Where the gnashing fangs live. But enough of that! Why did we leave the Princess behind?"

"I was concerned about her... that she might be a ..."

"A spy?! Fivim you are too bold! She's a child! A three-year-old. Have you ever heard of a spy too young for schooling?"

"I've not heard of such, Ma'am. Your excellency, your..."

"Are the vespers upon us at the monastery? I don't want to keep you?!"

"No... it was with news that I sought you out."

""of spies, and babes-in-arms. You need some breakfast, mayhaps."

"No! No... I met a fellow on the highway from the Red Ermine. From Boston or some such..."

"English, then?"

"From farther west he said. In the ocean I imagine. He is your spy! I fear. I fear he is your spy. Be careful Lady Olga. I must avaunt."

"Does this spy have a name, or an appearance?"

"Das Brick. He is bald, and wide in girth. He wears cotton breeches and a red cotton El Pelon shirt. And a coat of fur, and a plaid cap."

""How do you know he's a spy, Fivim?"

"Because he's from Boston. Farewell!"

Burren Notebook pp 57-60

Das Brick: Edderbrache is a villain, then? Why'd you not vanquish him?

Afanasy Nikitin: He's no villain, rather, a man of honor. The former liege of Tver', before Ivan made Tver' part of Rus. Muscovy. I grew up, truly, with his lovely daughters in Muscovy!

DB: Not Fernigo?

AN: No, he sent his daughters off to the Kreml once Ivan married his oldest daughter Maria. Maria, Olga and Anna were my playmates at the Kreml.

DB: Not Fernigo?

AN: No, Fernigo he sent off to Greece, Turkey and Scythia for training to wrestle.

DB: How did you come to be raised at the Kreml?

AN: No real idea. Just the Lord's plan for me. I was found by Bukol, the hermit, up in the hills behind the Kreml and delivered to the doors of the fort back before Ivan. It was Vasilii who took me in as a babe. Ali Qushji, the great scholar from Samarkand, raised me alongside the Shuisky sisters inside the walls of the mighty Kreml.

DB: So how'd you come to wrestle?

AN: Mostly tales of Alnus Rugosa - the greatest wrestler in all Rus. He wrestled against all comers - even Mongols. He wrestled the Kazan guys: Mahmudek, Yakub and Kasim. It's a wonder he survived! Some even say he lives to this day, driving a kvas wagon thru the woods from land to land. He was seen in Venice last.

DB: Would you wrestle him?

AN: I'd wrestle the Lord God himself! I love to wrestle! I envy Jacob wrestling the Lord's own angel in Genesis 32:24. It is to live, to wrestle. Touch the hollow of his thigh.

And I saw, surprisingly, a kvas wagon coming thence, with a samovar in front, and with the sounds of the lute coming beforehand. A mighty wind blew the grass serially across the entire meadow as in Tarkovsky's The Mirror. And yet the kvas wagon did not meet Afanasy on that day. It moved unnaturally quickly, like Nosferatu's carriage did in that silent film.

And the sledge came slowly unto the Red Ermine, as evening crept up upon the land of Tver'. And Afanasy tied his steed (Foma the idiot) to a stout post theirinfrontof. And in the dark, unpleasant recesses thereof, did he find two vodka-shrouded prophets. Leaning one against the other, as in days of old. Boris against Gleb, and Gleb against Boris. And bothe of them were Schnookered.

"What Ho?" quoth Afanasy.

"Must be Afanasy Nikitin!" quoth Boris and Gleb.

"Coming from Victory against Fernigo, we know! And with a voyager from betwixt I-95 and I-495 with ye? What ho?"

"I brought ye a snipt of vodka." Afanasy hurled a container of vodka thence.

"Hope ye heard of Dmitri's spies hence!"

"Not a word. Where might I find 'em?"

"Couldn't tell ye. Baba Yaga and Dmitri Shemyaka got a hold of a foreign spy who's making tracks into the Kreml. May be your friend, may be?" they said , leering at me.

"I'm no spy."

"Well that's wot spies say!"

Fortunately, I had my ignorances. And FVMMA thought well of me when he saw me.

We first saw FVMMA hopping a fence outside of Edderbrache's villa. He was in mid-breach when we seen him.

"Feev! What ho!" saith Afanasy.

FVMMA stopped, with one foot on each side of the stucco fence.

"Meet Das! He's from hence, like Boston."

So FVMMA tramped hither, wringing his hands. His skin was dark, like an Ethiopian.

"God's blessings! What brings ye thus to Tver'?"

"No idea, actually. I was in bed, and the bed sort of dropped into Tver'. Is this Russia?"

"May be. We're still part of the Mongol Hordes. Can I get you a glass of cold water?"

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