Una screamed. I mean, is there a better opening to a chapter possible? Not sure that there is! Poor Una opens this scene with a bang and a crash as she falls down beneath her mysterious assailant. Then he grabs her and covers her mouth and . . . I don't know about you, but I'd freak out under those circumstances!
I say! Really, I'm sorry! Okay, so the first words out of her "attacker's" mouth aren't so terribly threatening as all that. Maybe he's not such a bad bloke? Wrong place at the wrong time . . . it could happen to anyone.
I'd still freak out. And kick. And elbow. And possibly bite.
A thorough apology. I laughed when I wrote it, and I laughed all over again when the poor jester began making his apology. EXTREMELY over-the-top, and really quite adorable when you think about it. Granted, I probably would have screamed again and booked it up the garden path by this point. But I'm glad Una didn't and therefore allowed us to witness the whole of the jester's apology.
The siege of Rudiobus. The jester makes reference to this siege and Lady Gleamdren. Would you believe it if I told you this "siege" is recounted in Starflower? Yes, it is . . . but it might not be quite the epic event that poets (coughEanrincough) have made it out to be in later years. By the time of Heartless, it is considered quite the catastrophic episode, and Lady Gleamdren is a tragic heroine. Heh.
And yet another reference comparing Una to Lady Gleamdren! Just how pretty is this Lady Gleamdren?
Leonard. I'm not certain if there is anything in this world more pathetic than an out-of-work Fool. I mean, it's hard enough being a Fool in the first place! Leonard seems to enjoy his foolery well enough, though. I love how he continues his introduction while still lying on the ground. Don't think he realizes he's talking to a princess!
The Geestly Knout: Okay, a song that random must have some meaning behind it, right?
I wrote that poem a good year and a half before Heartless was even dreamed up. I was in my sophomore year of college at the time and taking a wonderful poetry class with Professor Lehman (a long-suffering man if there ever was one). He taught us great things about poetry and also how to make a whistle out of an acorn cap. I mean, how awesome is that?
He also had us writing various types of poetry as class assignments. Now, I am no great poet! But I did have a lot of fun experimenting around with these various poetic types. "The Geestly Knout" was something called a "Carrolian Carol." We were supposed to find a whole slew of actual English words, archaic or simply strange, and put them together into a nonsense poem, Jabberwocky-style.
"The Geestly Knout" was my contribution. And when it came time for my jester to begin jestering, it was very nice to have a bit of nonsense at the ready to simply hand over to him.
You never know when nonsense will come in handy.
Ooops. And a little late, Leonard realizes that he jumped on the princess. Not a great beginning to his jesterly career! But his charm and easy manner seems to have delighted her, so there's not too much to fret about.
Do notice that he bows quite gracefully for a jester. Foreshadowing . . .
My Personal Favorite Lines:
. . . he sprang to the pedestal on which stood the marble statue of her many-times-over great-grandfather, Abundiantus V, whose head was turned to look over a marble shoulder. He seemed to glare directly down at the strange young man who wrapped an arm around his stone waist in a familiar manner, balancing beside the old king.
"She says I must die," the stranger told the statue, waving a hand toward Una. "Will you mourn for me?"
King Abundiantus looked severe.
The stranger turned away with a sob. (p. 116)
"The siege of Rudiobus was hardly a greater tragedy, but then, Lady Gleamdren was not such a one as thee!" (p. 117)
"I don't suppose my end could be put off until tomorrow, could it?"
"I--" Una began.
"No!" he cried. "For you and your wounded dignity, I must perish at once. Go to, foul varlet! Meet thy doom!" (p. 117)
"Composed in the immortal spirit of the great Eanrin himself, it is bound to bring tears to your eyes!" (p. 119)
Heheheh. Given Leonard's later-revealed dislike of everything Bard Eanrin ever wrote, I think this line might just have a double meaning.
Questions on the Text
1. See if you can find definitions to one or two of the following words: "geestly," "knout," "foiter," "noggle," "becket," "louche" and "filiferous." If everyone can find a definition to at least some of these words, we'll try to put them together and find out what the first verse of this poem actually means . . .
2. So, based on what you've seen of Leonard the Jester, would you have been as quick as Una to forgive being jumped upon and invite him up to your palace? (Assuming, of course, you live in a palace . . .)
3. What were some of your favorite lines?