Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Heart of a Pig

The map will have to wait! The most exciting development has occurred!

When that it happened I took a moment's whim to settle down to while an hour by fishing, I did this in my usual fashion (lacking pipe or cup of tea, of course): I found a nice slope by the house, I carved a serviceable pole from a stripling and some spider's silk, then seated myself comfortably to cast into the lagoon.

Yet another dreaded sea-temple, uncomfortably near the cabin.
Now, one troubling thing about this atoll is that it is frightfully near another of those underwater temples that blister up occasionally throughout the Sewall Sea. To overreach and strain the analogy, it was not unlike the woman I thought I loved, where at first I took in her comport and façade at face value, believing her to represent herself as I saw her. Call me naïve, yes, but no moral crime was committed by yours truly in assuming people to be representing their truest selves. When in the course of time, as must naturally transpire, one becomes aware of greater depth and dimension to another person—and certainly, no human has ever laid out all their cards upon the table, at first meeting—this manifested in a certain turbulence beneath the placid surface, shall we say. And this is reasonable and acceptable in a beautiful young woman, as it is in any human being; on this I am confident we all may agree. All of us, we have our undercurrents, our riptides, our ebbs and flows. How churlish would it be to permit these within us but little tolerate them in others?

But then there are the maleficent underwater temples, with horrid aberrations of nature swarming about, attacking wayfarers in the most otherworldly of ways. That would be the lurking conservatism within. That would be the stone-heart that bulwarks against progress and liberalism, that lashes out against growth and development and evolution. Let's say that.

To circle back, at wide, circuitous berth, to my original topic...

The sun above had begun to warm pleasantly my shirt and vest, so I rolled up my sleeves and nestled into the soft loam to enjoy an hour or so of relaxation. I stretched out my legs, and I exulted in my muscles, strong and taut with just that level of ache that feels as much a reward to a life of hard work, as I'm informed the tang of bitter hops will accentuate and heighten a good beer. I've never touched the stuff myself, but my neighbors have gone some length to describe what I'm missing.

The ocean began to upheave very unusual subjects, this morning: I had the usual fish and then one puffer-fish, but then I withdrew another magical bow. It shimmered slightly as I held it, and it resembles Typhoon, my previous bow I obtained through similar circumstances. This was a good spot to fish at, I determined, and I continued my thoroughly pleasurable pastime.

One saddle, fresh from the ocean.
My rod tugged, my silk strained, and with some effort I hauled out of the waters a saddle.

A saddle! Now I can ride a pig!

The diligent reader will flip back a few pages to when I first mentioned this possibility. Mayhap a number of you (should this tome be passed around among the youth, whether for enlightenment or 20 minutes' low chuckling and mockery) will have seen that strange passage and dismissed it, for perhaps it is not the fashion in your region for young men to mount swine and race them about, but back in Concord, Massachusetts—indeed, pervasive throughout all of Middlesex County, I daresay—there is no finer pastime than to ride a pig! Oh, the memories of it make my heart swell with joy. Now, obviously a young man must not break the back of a young pig: no, the best mounts are large adults, about whose barrel-chest one strains to wrap one's legs for a secure hold. Fully grown adults, however, will venture into the hills and woods, the better to flush out a wild boar, more suitable to bear their load.

This is only sensible, I feel: all right-thinking men and women of breeding and education should see the sense in this.

Your author, proudly astride his mighty steed.
And so it happened that I hauled this sodden, dripping saddle out of Sewall Sea. (I cannot contrive a suitable analogy for extracting a saddle from my ex-girlfriend.) I examined the device: neither large nor small, it seemed as though it should accommodate a range of creatures, in fact. I marveled at the cunning construction, which was made plain upon upending the seat: a network of straps and buckles effectively expanded the stirrups and fender, the flank billet and rear cinch, to fit a variety of animals. I was well impressed! On the other hand, the fender, seat jockey and skirt were unadorned and strictly functional. There was no hand-tooling or design to decorate it, but this is a trivial issue in the face of its brilliance of design.

There being no shortage of pigs about this atoll, I immediately threw the saddle across the back of a particularly strapping boar. The saddle required very little work on my behalf, seeming almost as if to adjust and fit itself! Remarkable! I could not wait another slim moment to try it out, and I threw myself upon the pig.

He sat there, and so I sat there. He looked up at me, and I looked down at him. What had I forgotten?

But of course: the carrot-on-the-stick! What wild Middlesex youth cannot construct these in his sleep? I ran to the garden and selected a likely specimen, attached it with spider's silk to a suitable dowel, and back on the saddle I went. At once, loyal Piggie began to trot and build up momentum, unsure at first but by measures amenable and, if I can read porcine manner at all, even taking to it rather well.

La Parade des Cochons.
And so we perambulated the countryside, going up the hillock, going down the hillock. We explored the depressions and the swells, we rambled about the rough, untamed terrain, we plowed through the tall grass. Oh, this brought me back to my youth! I quite forgot myself, reliving those golden halcyon years, so I was quite surprised to notice a small herd of pigs trailing along behind us. This was too much! The sight of all those roly-poly pigs tumbling all over themselves to get at my carrot-on-the-stick struck me as high comedy! How I laughed, how I threw my head back and howled my delight to the heavens! Those precious beasts, with their bright, intelligent eyes, their radiant hearts beating within each ivory cage, so full of earnest desire and the simple love to be alive. Watching them gambol about, I doubted I could ever take the life of another one, simply to feed myself. Many times I've wondered why I did not wholly subsist on the roots and fruits of the earth, instead plundering the lives of these intelligent, loving creatures.

They followed us around and I led them everywhere. They were indefatigable in their interest. I made a note in my head to reward every last one of them with a juicy, sweet carrot. There were plenty in the garden—especially now that the villagers had disappeared—more than enough for my needs, so why should I not share the bounty with my new companions?

They splash about, truly enjoying the cool, refreshing pond.
I only shook them off, inadvertently, when I meandered too near a natural pond. The piggies at once fell to swimming and wading and bathing, as they will, for they are not the filthy degenerates genteel folk imagine them to be. They are quite healthy and clean with a certain degree of pride, in fact. It is my belief that they roll around in mud and waste because they sense something in the microscopic organisms which thrive in these to be beneficial to their being. I will note every last one of these animals was hale and strong, without a blemish upon their hide but the light scrapes they are built to endure in the pursuit of snuffling and feeding among brambles. This is fine and good. I'm not about to scrub my corpore down with pig-waste, but there must me something in this to bear examination.

All of this quite absorbed my attention and imagination, and I did not notice night falling. The bittersweet longing for my formative years, the acrid bite of missing those familiar and dear to me, were slowly but completely washed away in a tide of alarm at realizing my environment. The new moon was rising and the sun was quite gone, and I found myself some considerable distance from the cabin, formerly of Selidon and Voessi tenancy. I had one last task to complete, and to be swift about this, before the landscape was thoroughly swarmed with the monsters and fell creatures of darkness.

A fine Concord boar with saddle.
The greatest test of a Concord pig-rider, to say nothing of the Concord boar, is to ride it off a cliff. This may sound alarming to you, O my reader, but I assure you: quite often we survive this feat. Most of the time both rider and mount can walk away with nobbut a few scrapes and a shattered bone. This is a point of pride among Concord men, and in any public house during any holiday, a traveler may find former riders laughing and trading stories of their caprices about the hearth.

But the hills around me were low and weak: several times I attempted to ride off of them at a good trot, yet my stout boar easily found the most convenient way down and we achieved nothing. Then it came into my mind the gorge I found prior to this evening, in which four or five pigs were wandering aimlessly. I supposed they must have landed fortuitously in the waterfall, midway down, and were guided to the earth in all gentleness. Without a second thought I turned my porcine steed to where I thought I remembered the gorge to be, and I hoped to guide us both to the same waterfall.

The site of dear piggie's demise.
However, gentle reader, let me stress that the steering on a saddled pig, by way of the carrot-on-the-stick, is ponderous at best. The change of direction is considered by the pig to be little more than a suggestion, and it takes some moments for the new information to be digested and processed into something meaningful. So it happened that the gorge was several meters closer than I'd recalled and we happened upon it abruptly. When I saw the earth open up before us, I labored to steer us swiftly aside, but my dear piggie was unwilling or unable to react with any measure of alacrity. We went straight over the edge, nowhere near the cradling waterfall, and we plummeted to the granite bottom at top speed.

It is with greatest regret that I must record my dear piggie did not survive the ride. I collected his broken remains and surrendered them unto the earth. With the tip of Biter I carved a few words of memorial into the stone, realizing too late I had not even bothered to name the noble beast. I felt quite low at this point, ashamed of myself, and I sensed a storm brewing within my chest: a conflict between the rich history of Middlesex men, the heritage of pig-riding, and my nascent appreciation for who and what these beasts truly were at their core. I knew I needed to hustle back to my cabin before the full combustion of my emotional torment erupted, to say nothing of the monsters which doubtlessly waited for me. I salvaged the saddle, clawed for what handholds I could find in the rock, and scaled my way back up to the surface. It would be worth my while to carve a staircase down to this area, as I noted many rich elements of value.

Already, a large platoon of archer-skeletons, A.C.M.s and others were forming between myself and the cabin. There was nothing for me to do but slap the saddle upon another pig and ride him as swiftly as I may back to the shelter. In my emotional state I should be good for nothing like leaping about like some class of cat-lord, predating upon the lives of these baleful creatures, but locking the door and bawling in the corner.

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