HARKEN, THE BARD
Around this time last year our Bard, Harken fell in love with a mudslide down by Singing Creek. Well, I have to admit that once he pointed out the details, it did sort of resemble Cleopatra. Forgiving of course, that one rock eye was slowly oozing down the side of the cliff. Harken nearly drowned, sitting on the bank in a stupor as he was, surrounded by all those pretty little flower bouquets and scented candles, trying to make a tune on a thumb piano. I don't think Singing Creek appreciated his efforts, being renowned for her own music. She rose up and swept him a mile downstream, leaving him flopping around like a trout in an eddy pool, mumbling something about the mystical mire of the loquacious loganberry…or was it the lubricious logorrhea? We had to haul him out and do a bit of fast talking to keep him from going back upstream and find that his lovely Cleo had oozed into something resembling more of a Sumi wrestler than a nubile maiden.
We have good reasons for not wanting to destroy the boys illusions. Although he tends to be a bit of a snot and a bore most of the time, when he falls in love with one of these illusions we get some fine poetry out of him.
I'm supposing, falling in love with inanimate organic forms is the way Harken sparks his bardic soul without having to pay for the consequences. I mean what can be more comforting than having all the fun of the romance without having to take any responsibility?
We were feeling this year that the lad was getting old enough to have a real courtship so we tried a bit of match making, to no avail! He was so rude and superior to the sweet young maidens we introduced him to, it was embarrassing and we finally gave up. Then, it turns out; Harken is walking through the oak grove behind Sulvin's lavender fields one-day and falls in love with a tree knot!
Now the Dryad who lives there was just a bit put out by Harken romancing a knot in her tree and not even having the courtesy to pay her the time of day. So, a few of us got together and decided to play a little trick on him. Nothing mean, mind you, just a little laugh to maybe wake him up and set him on the right track.
We put a twilight spell on the grove, so as not to disturb the lad and then whispered in to talk to Tetherine, the Dryad. Teth is only a few hundred years old, being as how all the old oaks were destroyed by fire many years ago. At first she thought we were a bit dafted when we suggested tricking Harken, but after a nice cup of my special blend of fruity hooty tea and a few stories of his past escapades, she began to see our reasoning.
Agreeing to help, Teth jumps into the oak tree and fits her face into the tree knot and when Harken looks up, she sends him a big air kiss. We were peeking around, trying not to giggle, but the look on his face was like somebody had snapped him with a rubber band. Then he squints and peers all around, moving his lips and pointing at the knot, but no one, not even the lavender fairies revealed themselves. We'd threatened them with influencing Sulvin to plant a vervain crop next year if they did. Lavender fairies are very jealous of the Verbenas you know, so not one made so much as a titter. The West Wind was weaving about at a distance too, holding his hand over his mouth, so as not to let out a sudden amused gust and break the spell.
Oh, it was quiet! So quiet, we were beginning to think Teth had chickened out and wasn't going to go on with the plan. Then suddenly she says, talking for the tree knot, "Oh Harken, listen to my heart. Can you not hear the depth of my love for you?" Well, Harken was definitely overcome and speechless, for once. One of his love objects had finally responded to his displays of affection and he wasn't quite sure what to make of it. And then Teth says, "Oh Harken, how I would adore to make house with you. You could get a job as a bank teller or a mechanic and we could have 3.6 children." That was enough for Harken. He jumped to his feet, quickly gathering up his little tokens of adoration and stuffing them in his pockets. When he stepped backward, Teth cried out, "Oh please, don't leave me now. Not when I've just awakened to this true love for you!"
Harken gulped, took three more steps backward, fell over the rock wall into the drainage ditch and crawled away babbling like a squirrel with a mouthful of nuts. Of course, we waited, just barely long enough for the lad to be out of earshot, and then you should have heard the hoot that went up.
Now, I'll not be saying that we all feel guilty, exactly. But it seems we have lost something in the bargain. Harken has been drooping around for a long time now, his writing tablet a blank, his pen dry. This need to commune with tree knots and such seems so important to his artistic process that we'll be laying off with the tricks from now on. Well, except we have done something to sort of stoke the furnace, so to speak. Bayful and Purdy have trained two young saplings around a boulder and transplanted it near Harken's hut. If he looks at it just right, and Harken knows how to do this, it seems to resemble two lovers entwined around a single heart. We are hoping, when Harken finally sees it, new inspiration will erupt from his bardic soul, and we'll have the benefit of its outcome, some fine new poetic entertainment by the Summer Solstice.