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Joseph stood on the ship’s deck where he’d served for the last three years and stared at the miniature painting his wife had sent. The picture showed his smiling two-year-old son in a sailor’s outfit.
“I show him your portrait and tell him about you every day. We are very excited you will be home soon,” her most recent letter had read.
Joseph smiled. The shortcut through the pass would allow them to be home in a few short weeks. He would see his wife and meet his son. Best of all he could now retire from the navy. The crew had made a fortune on this voyage. His percent plus the money he’d saved from his pay was enough to buy a small house.
The ship’s bell tolled and someone yelled, “Amar Pass ahead! Make yourself ready.”
Joseph stuffed the letter and miniature in his pocket as he ran toward the helm. Sailing through the pass required strict protocol. Every sailor must have their ears plugged and be tied to the ship. One man steered the ship with his hands tied to the helm. The pass’s smooth water held few hidden rocks, despite the high hills on either side. The pass itself was safe. Any danger came from the creatures who lived there.
Commander Weldmen would steer the ship, and Joseph’s assignment was to help him prepare. When Joseph arrived Weldmen handed him some rope. “Get on with things Midshipman. We don’t have long.”
“Yes sir.” Joseph took the rope and waited while Commander Weldmen plugged his ears with wads of cloth. Then he tied the Commander’s hands to the wheel. Weldmen nodded and Joseph ran to the main deck.
The pass was in view. The sight filled him with dread no matter how many times he’d seen it before. He took some rope from Billy, another Midshipmen, and tied himself to the railing. He double checked its tightness around his waist, and stuffed his ears with cotton cloth.
The only sound Joseph could hear as they entered the pass was the breathing inside his head. Huge boulders jutted up out of the water on either side of them. He looked toward the shoreline where the sirens sat.
They were ugly. They looked like women but green and blue scales covered their skin. Instead of legs they had long tails, which flopped in the water like a dying fish. When the ship steered close enough they bit at the sailors with their sharp teeth.
All the while they sang a song Joseph couldn’t hear. The song enchanted men to drown themselves. Stories told of only one man who heard the song and survived. His shipmates kept him from jumping overboard and he lived out the rest of his days in an asylum. Joseph shuttered when he thought about it.
The movement loosed the cotton in his left ear and it fell into the water. Horrified he watched it fall into the water, and the beauty of the song wrapped around his heart.
Joseph reached up and pulled the other plug from his ear. Waves of song flowed through him. The water, clouds, and rocks dazzled before his eyes. He looked at the singing women and sighed. Such beautiful women! His heart leaped in his chest when one smiled at him. Her teeth shined like pearls and her scales glistened in the sun. She waved him over. He waved back. He thought about feeling her cold skin and wet tail. He imagined putting his arm around her tiny waist and pulling her close. Would she let him give her a kiss?
He tried to jump over the railing but a rope tied around his waist stopped him. He remembered tying the rope but couldn’t understand the reason. There was no danger here. He grabbed at the knot with his fingers. It wouldn’t budge. Curse his knot tying skill. He pulled a knife from his pocket and sawed at his prison.
Someone grabbed his arm. Joseph looked up. Billy shook his head and reached for the knife. Joseph scowled and jerked it away. Wasn’t Billy his friend? Now, when he thought back, he remembered all the times Billy had betrayed him. Why hadn’t he seen it before?
Billy reached for the knife again. Joseph hit him with its handle. Billy’s nose started to bleed.
Joseph smiled. Serves him right. He finished sawing and jumped into the water.
Cold engulfed his whole body and a current pulled at his legs. The sensations invigorated his body. He’d never felt so alive. He kicked to the surface and looked around. The ship had passed him. He waved at the men who watched him from the poop deck. Silly fools, they would regret not taking this chance. He turned to the shore and spotted the flirt who smiled at him before. He grinned and swam toward her.
He ignored the current pulling at his legs, and imagined running his fingers through her long clammy hair. His muscles grew colder but rainbows danced off her scales as the sunlight hit them. He smiled again. His eyes had never beheld such a feast. He had never heard such a song. He ignored his body’s protests and swam closer. His whole purpose in life was to make this beautiful creature happy.
She was so close now. She smiled at him again with her beautiful arrow-like teeth. Inviting teeth. Oh, to kiss her mouth!
The current pulled at his legs again, he fought it, but his cold muscles protested. His head went under water. He kicked hard and resurfaced. He reached for her. She sang her song. He relaxed and sunk again. He looked up through the clear water. She grinned at him. Water filled his mouth. He didn’t fight. Water filled his nose. He breathed it in. He could still see her smile. He had made her happy. Now he knew every event in his life, good and bad, had happened to lead him to this blessed moment.
November 6, 1895
My Dear Mrs. Hansen,
I understand you have heard the news of your husband’s death. I write to offer you my deepest condolences. I served with your husband on the Greenfly for the last three years. He talked of you often, and was very proud of his son. He showed me the miniature you sent. He looks like a strong healthy boy who takes after his father. I was with him as he went overboard and I know he thought of you ‘til the last. Your husband was a good man, and a good friend. It was an honour to serve with him.
Since it’s a form that uses another piece of text as source material, I’m going to ask that all entries credit their source. Also, this is the one form in which I’ll let folks submit directly to me but only if you use the subject line: WD Poetic Form Erasure. Any variations may be deleted without being read.
So start writing them and sharing here on the blog (this specific post) or via e-mail for a chance to be published in Writer’s Digest magazine–as part of the Poetic Asides column. (Note: You have to log in to the site to post comments/poems; creating an account is free.)
Here’s how the challenge works:
Challenge is free. No entry fee.
The winner (and sometimes a runner-up or two) will be featured in a future edition of Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.
Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on December 12, 2014.
Poets can enter as many erasures as they wish. The more “work” you make for me the better, but remember: I’m judging on quality, not quantity.
All poems should be previously unpublished. If you have a specific question about your specific situation, just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just write a new erasure.
I will only consider erasures shared in the comments below or sent via e-mail using the specific subject line mentioned above. It gets too confusing for me to check other posts, go to other blogs, etc.
Speaking of posting, if this is your first time, your comment may not appear immediately. However, it should appear within a day (or 3–if shared on the weekend). So just hang tight, and it should appear eventually. If not, send me an e-mail at the address above.
Please include your name as you would like it to appear in print. If you don’t, I’ll be forced to use your user/screen name, which might be something like HaikuPrincess007 or MrLineBreaker. WD has a healthy circulation, so make it easy for me to get your byline correct.
Finally–and most importantly–be sure to have fun!
2015 Poet’s Market
Get your poetry published!
Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by the always lovable and encouraging Robert Lee Brewer.
This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, original poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!
I'll start with this: I think Francesca Lia Block likes Indians.
I'm just not sure what she knows about us. I kinda think she doesn't know a Native person.
By that, I mean one who is on-the-ground Native, as in living on the reservation, or hanging with the Native community in whatever city or suburb they're in, or, if they're in a part of the country where there is not a Native community, then, one who goes home to that community and/or talks to people from there a lot.
That on-the-ground identity is in stark contrast to the person who has a family story where a great great ancestor was Native. This group tends to romanticize who Native people are, and it comes out in dreadful ways. Case in point: mystical Indians. With powers.
Let's talk about Francesca Lia Block's Teen Spirit. I'll start with the synopsis (pasted here from Amazon):
Francesca Lia Block, critically acclaimed author of Weetzie Bat, brings this eerie and redemptive ghost story to life with her signature, poetic prose. It's perfect for fans of supernatural stories with a touch of romance like the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
After Julie's grandmother passes away, she is forced to move across town to the not-so-fancy end of Beverly Hills and start over at a new school. The only silver lining to the perpetual dark cloud that seems to be following her? Clark—a die-hard fan ofBuffy and all things Joss Whedon, who is just as awkward and damaged as she is. Her kindred spirit.
When the two try to contact Julie's grandmother with a Ouija board, they make contact with a different spirit altogether. The real kind. And this ghost will do whatever it takes to come back to the world of the living.
Francesca Lia Block's latest young adult novel is a haunting work about family, loss, love, and redemption.
Block has tons of fans. You can go to Goodreads and read all the things people like about her book. I'm giving you my view on what she does with Native content.
In the first chapter, Julie is with her grandma. First clue that you gotta pay attention to is that her grandma is wearing "Native American turquoise" (p. 13). That's fine. I hope it was the real thing, though, made by a Native person.
Hitting the pause button: did you know it is against the law to sell something as though it is Native if it isn't? Go read the text of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. My best guess, given what Block did in the Weetzie Bat books and in Teen Spirit, is that she doesn't know about that law because she doesn't know much about us at all. Somehow, I think that she has some image in her head, some super cool image of who she thinks we are, and that is what shapes what she does when she writes us into her books.
Back to Teen Spirit.
Julie is living with her grandma and her mom. But, alas, Julie's grandma dies suddenly. Right there in front of her. As she is dying, she tells Julie she has something to tell her but doesn't get it out. Looking at her lifeless body, Julie sees "a pale lavender radiance" (p. 14) hovering over her body and she hears some "baroque and strange, otherworldly" music playing, too. She doesn't tell her mom about it. With grandma dead, there's other things to worry about.
As that chapter closes, we learn about Julie's dad. She never met him. Julie was an in vitro baby. All her mom told her about him is (p. 18):
"that he was over six feet tall, full-blooded Cherokee, and had a master's degree in psychology."
And that he was a sperm donor.
Let's hit that pause button again. That bit of info raised all kinds of questions for me that I kinda doubt even occurred to Block. I went to a donor site online to see what I might learn. I wondered, for example, how they know a person is "full blooded Cherokee" or "Blackfoot." On one site, a chat window popped up immediately. I asked my "how do you know" question and they answer was that it is self-reported. I asked about tribal ID and learned they don't ask for it. Those questions matter, in light of another law (that I'm guessing Block doesn't know about): the Indian Child Welfare Act. It was passed in 1978, to keep Native children within Native communities. I could do some research to see if there have been any cases in which a sperm donor sought information about his child and how that would play out in a courtroom. But, I'll set that aside and get back to Teen Spirit.
Why did Block go with a "full blooded Cherokee" sperm donor? Asking that question makes me think that maybe she knows that claiming a great great Cherokee grandma wouldn't cut it. If she has Julie's dad be Cherokee, for real, does that mean we're to believe that Julie's ability to see those lights around her grandma are legitimized by the sperm donor? Scary thought! Scary because it isn't any better. It is STILL mystical Indian stuff that does not work.
In the next chapters, Julie and her mom move across town, she gets a job in a dress shop that sells vintage clothes, and she meets a guy named Clark (his aura is green) at her new school. She also finds a Ouija board in the dresser drawer in her new room. She is intrigued by it, wondering if she can use it to talk with her grandma. Clark is freaked by it. Later, she meets another guy. His name is Grant (his aura is red), and though he tells her he is Clark's twin, we're going to learn that Grant IS Clark's twin, but that he died a year ago and that his spirit has entered Clark and takes over Clark's body from time to time.
So. Julie finds a card that a lady at an occult store had given her, to a place in Chinatown called Black Jade. Julie and Clark go there and learn from the lady there that Julie is "an intuitive" and that she probably got that gift from her dad. She gives them some treatments and tells them to see Tatiana Gonzales to get rose petals they need for a tea she wants them to use.
They call Tatiana Gonzales and then go to her house. There, they see milagros embedded in the outer adobe walls of her house. Tatiana greets them (her aura is indigo). She has powers, too (of course). She's petite, black curls "adorned with fresh gardenias and cascading to her minuscule waist" (p. 151). She tells Julia that her ability to see auras can be developed with practice.
Back at her house, Julia picks up a book with a poem by Emily Dickinson. She'd been reading aloud from it to her grandmother when she died. A piece of paper falls out of it. It is an advertisement for a store called Ed Rainwater Designs. It sells figures carved of bone, dream catchers, jewelry, and sage. Since sage is one of the things that they need, Julie and Clark go to that store (p. 166):
When we walk in we see an extravagantly tall man in sunglasses, sitting on a stool behind a counter. At his side was a three-legged dog that resembled a coyote. Both of them shone with almost blinding white light in spit of the dimness of the room.
They tell him they need sage for a ritual. He asks them (p. 167):
"Looking for some kicks? Some native enlightenment?"
"No, sir," I said. "With all respect, we take this seriously. And even though I don't know anything about it, I'm half Cherokee."
Ed looks them over and then takes them out back. He gives them some special sage he grows and tells her to burn it, and that she'll know when the time to do that is right. Like the others, he tells her to develop her skills. Clark asks if he means the ability to see the auras, and Ed replies:
"More than that. Your friend has a gift that can magnetize certain spirits."
Enter another character! Amrita (her aura is metallic gold). She has very long black hair, wears a bunch of gold bracelets, and looks (p. 70):
"like a Hindu goddess statue. I wouldn't have have been surprised if she was hiding a few extra arms behind her back."
A Hindu goddess. Are you groaning? Or shaking your head? Or your fist, perhaps?! Ed and Amrita invite Julie and Clark to stay for dinner. Amrita teaches Julie how to meditate and then it is time for a sweat.
Pause button! I gotta get up and walk around a bit. Shake off some of this nonsense.
Inside, Ed pours water on rocks that are on top of coals. They sweat. Ed prays. They come out feeling great (sigh).
Things eventually get resolved for both, Julie and Clark. And of course, they figure out that Ed is her father. She thinks she'll go visit him sometime. For now, she's gonna explore her relationship with Clark.
I hope that is the end. I hope Block isn't going to go from this to a book where Julie's "powers" are more developed. My overall sense is that Block is really taken with "other." She likes not-white peoples. She's put them in this book and in Weetzie Bat, too. People obviously love her writing. I wish she'd stay away from this kind of writing, though.
In a twitter exchange earlier this month, she apologized for the problems I described in Weetzie Bat. I thought it was a sincere apology, but she didn't say a word about Teen Spirit. I wish she would. Without addressing it, her apology rings very hollow. Very hollow, indeed.
This is our fifteenth NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. To help GalleyCat readers take on the challenge of writing a draft for a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, we will be offering advice throughout the entire month.
Attention, indie ebook authors. Mark Coker at Smashwords wants you to know that there’s never been a better time to be you. He writes, “Thanks to an ever-growing global market for your ebooks, your books are a couple clicks away from over one billion potential readers on smart phones, tablets and e-readers. In the world of ebooks, the playing field is tilted to the indie author’s advantage.”
Then, the wake-up call. Coker goes on to report that “the gravy train of exponential sales growth is over,” with indie (self-published) authors seeing “significant” sales decline at Amazon, especially since the July launch of Kindle Unlimited. He had predicted the slowdown and attributes it to the glut of high-quality low-cost ebooks, the increasing rate of ebook supply outpacing demand, and the slowing, much-discussed transition from print to ebooks.
However, all is not lost. He offers tips on how to succeed in this new ebook environment. You’ll want to see his entire piece at Smashwords, as space constraints require editing them down. Here is a short take on Mark Coker’s 20:
1. Take the long view; focus on aggressive platform building.
2. Good isn’t good enough. Are you bringing your best game?
3. Write more, publish more, get better.
4. Diversify your distribution.
5. Network with other indie authors.
6. Publish and promote multi-author box set collaborations; you can build your base.
7. Leverage professional publishing tools, like preorder, to your advantage.
8. Best practices; there are seven, and Mark gives a good summary in his blog. Your fellow indie authors pioneered these practices, so listen up.
9. You’re running a business: be nice, ethical, honest, and humble. It pays.
10. Pinch your pennies; practice expense control.
11. Manage your time.
12. Take risks, experiment, and fail often.
13. Dream big dreams; aim high. Salvador Dali said: “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”
14. Be delusional.
15. Embrace your doubters.
16. Celebrate your fellow authors’ success. Their success is your success.
17. Remember that past success is no guarantee of your future success.
18. Never quit.
19. Own your future.
20. Know that your writing is important.
I’ll just repeat that last one: Know that your writing is important.
Don’t get me wrong. White guys working in children’s books have it good. In fact, it would be fair to say we have it pretty much made. But in the wake of host Daniel Handler’s remarks at Wednesday’s National Book Awards, I find myself thinking about the privileged but peculiar position white guys have in this field. (Some of what I have to say applies to the non-white guys, too, but I am not going to generalize that far.)
I wasn’t at the event and can’t bring myself to watch the video because I know it would have me writhing in empathetic embarrassment. So all of my information is from the transcript and subsequent internet outrage. And what I’m left with—even more than my happiness at Jackie Woodson’s win—is how sorry I feel for Handler, and how easily I could have fallen into the same trap. (I confess to some impatience with all the talk of him stealing Her Moment because Woodson is getting a way longer moment than any children’s National Book Award winner has ever gotten before. Quickly, who won last year?)
The main thing about being a white guy in children’s books is that you get a lot more attention—not to mention Caldecott Medals!—than you would otherwise, and than is really good for you. Award committees want you as a member. Conferences want you to speak. People look to you for a “male point of view”—especially when they are seeking to solve the perennial problem of The Boy Reader, attention to whose needs getting far more ink than the needs of his sister. If you’re good-looking—and here I speak from observation—you are really set. Molly Ivins would have said that you were born on third base, and, professionally speaking, she would have been right.
It’s a nice life that’s easy to get used to. But as Handler learned, it can bite you in the ass. There he was in the spotlight, doing what he’s been amply rewarded for doing for years, and he overreached. He was trying to show us that he was as cool as we’ve long been saying he was: I am so cool I can get away with a racist-not-racist watermelon joke. He couldn’t, and I’m sorry there was no one to tell him he wouldn’t. Or maybe he didn’t think to ask? It’s the least a guy can do.
AHH, I've been so busy working up my Work in Progress for a new Easy Reader Series. Yes, it is coming along so well. And since I've fallen in love with my characters, I've decided to get them out of my head and onto my sketch pad. The dummys are almost done.
So please be patient with me as I finish up. Here are a few tips I ran across from The Editor's Blog to help me with this project. Lots of great tips.
Earlier this week, the executives behind the Oxford Dictionaries announced that “vape” was chosen as the 2014 Word of the Year. With the popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) on the rise, usage of this word has increased.
Over at the OxfordWords blog, the team posted an infographic to share “the history of vape and why we’ve chosen it for Word of the Year – as well as looking at previous winners of Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year over the past decade.” We’ve embedded the entire graphic after the jump for you to explore further. (more…)
The first of two beautifully lavish books created to celebrate the distinctive designs behind the Adventure Time title cards. Combining sketches, works in progress, revisions and final title card art, the book will take readers on a visual guide of the title card development, with quotes from each episode and commentary from the artists – Pendleton Ward, Pat McHale, Nick Jennings, Phil Rynda, and Paul Linsley.
Alex Field‘s talents as an author, publisher and speaker, her love of Christmas pudding, and her overt enthusiasm for Jane Austen all cleverly amalgamate in the latest of her series, Mr Darcy and the Christmas Pudding. Having previously featured her beloved Pride and Prejudice characters in Mr Darcy and Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck, Alex […]
I’d been meaning to get out my scissors & create shadow box type stuff, next chance I got. Turns, out, this was a great chance. ReNeux clothing boutique in Taos, always puts on a compelling holiday show each year, and so of course, needs a poster design to match!
Collective Digital Studio will develop a five-part animated web series inspired by James Patterson’s forthcoming book, House of Robots. The story follows a fifth grader named Sammy and his robot named E (which stands for “Error”).
Here’s more from the press release: “It was never easy for Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez to fit in, so he is less than thrilled when his genius mom insists he brings her newest invention to school: a walking, talking robot he calls E—for ‘Error.’ The web series brings to life several scenes from the book as Sammy discovers the amazing secret E holds that could change him and his family forever…if all goes well on the trial run!”
The video embedded above features the House of Robots book trailer. The first episode will debut on the FЯED YouTube channel on November 28th. Each subsequent installment will be posted on Fridays.
Chris Grabenstein, Patterson’s collaborator for the I, Funny and Treasure Hunters series, served as the co-author for House of Robots. Juliana Neufeld, the artist behind the Treasure Hunters series, created the illustrations for this new project. Little Brown Books for Young Readers will publish the book on November 24th.
*I saw Murder on the Homefront the other night and it ain't half bad. Granted the plot's a little thin, but oh goodness, the costumes. Seriously. Hats, wraps, teetering heels, even down to the acid yellow knit vest Lennox Collins sports, it's all a visual treat.
*I'm on pie duty again this year, which begs the very important question: what's your go to Thanksgiving dessert?
I am excited to share with you that Sketchbook Skool klasses will begin again in January — and that you can sign up today! When Danny and I founded Sketchbook Skool about a year ago, our basic goal was to inspire people. To ignite them into a habit of sketchbook keeping that they never want to miss again in their lives.
Are we succeeding, you may wonder? Well, I'm not going to bore you with a success story, or with an epic story about the ups and downs of the life of an entrepreneur, about following artistic paths, finding the way to keep creative habits, and balancing work, art, life... Let's skip that whole bit. Because I am so passionate about it, and I want the whole world to know about it, I could talk for hours about Sketchbook Skool. But I won't. Why not just simply show you what Sketchbook Skool Students have been up to lately?
So without further ado... Here's a bunch of examples of happy Sketchbookers!
Lesley Hilson Bergen created a video about the homework she did in Danny's "Storytelling" klass:
Helen Leigh-Phippard, Student in "Beginnings" blogged:
"So it’s the last week of “Beginnings”, my first Sketchbook Skool kourse. I’ve done my homework and posted it in the klassroom, I’ve given my feedback on the last week of skool and I’m feeling kind of sad that it’s over. But I’m looking forward to having some time to build on everything I’ve learned (and that’s a HUGE amount) and practice, practice, practice and develop some of those skills over the the next months or so. And I’m also excited about moving on to doing another kourse in the new year – because one thing I do know is that now I’ve started I have no plans on stopping. I hope to be in Sketchbook Skool until I’m 100 or dead, which ever comes first!" Find her blog here
Sketchbook Skool student Cathy turned her homework in "Storytelling" into an illustration job, it's published here
You can read about Liz's experiences in "Beginnings", in her wonderful Blogposts, Here.
Below, one of the sketches she made of her Greyhound Tanzi, after taking Roz Stendahl's klass in 'Beginnings'
A Sketchmeet in New York City on a sunny Sunday in October:
Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]
I have been wanting to reread Black Beauty since I finished it in July 2012. I loved it then. I loved it now upon rereading. In fact, I think I loved it even a tiny bit more since I knew exactly what to expect. I was able to relax a bit more, not worrying that something horrible was about to happen. Granted, plenty of horrible things do happen. If not to Black Beauty then to others. But their is a sweetness, a hopefulness to the book that keeps it from being dark and gloomy.
What I loved best about Black Beauty is the narration. From cover to cover, I was engaged with her story, her narration. I loved the writing. The book is rich in description and observation. The worldview of the book has a just-right feel to it. It's very quotable. I loved the characterization. I cared about the horses. I cared about the humans in the story.
If you haven't read it, you should give it a try. Even if you don't like animal stories.
"I wish you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The colts who live here are very good colts, but they are cart-horse colts, and of course they have not learned manners. You have been well-bred and well-born; your father has a great name in these parts, and your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races; your grandmother had the sweetest temper of any horse I ever knew, and I think you have never seen me kick or bite. I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play." I have never forgotten my mother's advice; I knew she was a wise old horse, and our master thought a great deal of her.
The next day I was brought up for my master. I remembered my mother's counsel and my good old master's, and I tried to do exactly what he wanted me to do. I found he was a very good rider, and thoughtful for his horse too. When he came home the lady was at the hall door as he rode up. "Well, my dear," she said, "how do you like him?" "He is exactly what John said," he replied; "a pleasanter creature I never wish to mount. What shall we call him?" "Would you like Ebony?" said she; "he is as black as ebony." "No, not Ebony." "Will you call him Blackbird, like your uncle's old horse?" "No, he is far handsomer than old Blackbird ever was." "Yes," she said, "he is really quite a beauty, and he has such a sweet, good-tempered face, and such a fine, intelligent eye--what do you say to calling him Black Beauty?"
"I suppose it is fashion that makes them strap our heads up with those horrid bits that I was tortured with in London," said Ginger. "Of course it is," said he; "to my mind, fashion is one of the wickedest things in the world. Now look, for instance, at the way they serve dogs, cutting off their tails to make them look plucky, and shearing up their pretty little ears to a point to make them both look sharp, forsooth. I had a dear friend once, a brown terrier; 'Skye' they called her. She was so fond of me that she never would sleep out of my stall; she made her bed under the manger, and there she had a litter of five as pretty little puppies as need be; none were drowned, for they were a valuable kind, and how pleased she was with them! and when they got their eyes open and crawled about, it was a real pretty sight; but one day the man came and took them all away; I thought he might be afraid I should tread upon them. But it was not so; in the evening poor Skye brought them back again, one by one in her mouth; not the happy little things that they were, but bleeding and crying pitifully; they had all had a piece of their tails cut off, and the soft flap of their pretty little ears was cut quite off. How their mother licked them, and how troubled she was, poor thing! I never forgot it. They healed in time, and they forgot the pain, but the nice soft flap, that of course was intended to protect the delicate part of their ears from dust and injury, was gone forever. Why don't they cut their own children's ears into points to make them look sharp? Why don't they cut the end off their noses to make them look plucky? One would be just as sensible as the other. What right have they to torment and disfigure God's creatures?"
"He had no business to make that turn; his road was straight on!" said the man roughly. "You have often driven that pony up to my place," said master; "it only shows the creature's memory and intelligence; how did he know that you were not going there again? But that has little to do with it. I must say, Mr. Sawyer, that a more unmanly, brutal treatment of a little pony it was never my painful lot to witness, and by giving way to such passion you injure your own character as much, nay more, than you injure your horse; and remember, we shall all have to be judged according to our works, whether they be toward man or toward beast."
Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.
But what stuck in my mind was this, he said that cruelty was the devil's own trade-mark, and if we saw any one who took pleasure in cruelty we might know who he belonged to, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and a tormentor to the end. On the other hand, where we saw people who loved their neighbors, and were kind to man and beast, we might know that was God's mark." "Your master never taught you a truer thing," said John; "there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham--all a sham, James, and it won't stand when things come to be turned inside out."
"Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance? Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?--and which does the most mischief heaven only knows. If people can say, 'Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is all right.
"Right, Joe! you did right, my boy, whether the fellow gets a summons or not. Many folks would have ridden by and said it was not their business to interfere. Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody's business to interfere when they see it; you did right, my boy."
Every man must look after his own soul; you can't lay it down at another man's door like a foundling and expect him to take care of it.
If a thing is right it can be done, and if it is wrong it can be done without; and a good man will find a way.
Our friend stood still for a moment, and throwing his head a little back, "Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?" "No," said the other. "Then I'll tell you. It is because people think only about their own business, and won't trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrongdoer to light. I never see a wicked thing like this without doing what I can, and many a master has thanked me for letting him know how his horses have been used." "I wish there were more gentlemen like you, sir," said Jerry, "for they are wanted badly enough in this city."
"My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."
"Is it not better," she said, "to lead a good fashion than to follow a bad one? A great many gentlemen do not use check-reins now; our carriage horses have not worn them for fifteen years, and work with much less fatigue than those who have them; besides," she added in a very serious voice, "we have no right to distress any of God's creatures without a very good reason; we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.
“Heard melodies are sweet,” Keats wrote, “but those unheard are sweeter,” and for Joan Aiken they often provided the inspiration for stories full of music which the reader can hear only in his imagination. She invented some marvellous musical creations, like a tune which when whistled or sung brings a cardboard cut-out garden to life, […]
A ship sales toward home. Joseph is excited to see his wife again and meet his 3 year-old-son. They will arrive in three weeks thanks to the shortcut through the Amar Pass. The water in the pass is easy to navigate but the creatures that live there are deadly.