|Very Slight Stories | Like short stories, only shorter.||
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Darcy and O'Mara - Chapter One
Darcy and O'Mara were walking along the banks of a river one afternoon when they came across a woman who was crying. They asked her what was wrong and she told them a story about a man who had called to her house earlier that day. One of the maids let him in. He wore a dark green cloak, and he brought his own breeze to keep the cloak flowing behind him, even as he stood still. He introduced himself as one of her distant cousins, Corcoran 'Cloudy' Mac Giolla Mo Chuda. He gave her a card and he bowed. On the card his name was written in gold letters, just above the word 'Historian'.
His breeze went all over the house. It confused her dog, who ran around in circles. The servants didn't know what to do. One of them was setting a fire in a bedroom when the breeze entered through the open door. He lay on his back and pretended to be dead. This was what he always did when he was confused. He thought it made him look cool-headed.
The woman, whose name was Aishling, didn't know if she should trust this man who claimed to be her cousin. She decided to go to sleep to consult the committee that appeared in her dreams because they always gave her sound advice. After falling asleep on an armchair she asked the committee about her visitor. The chairman of the committee, who was trying to ignore the crow on his head, told her to wake up. The crow nodded to indicate his approval of the chairman's advice. When she woke, Corcran 'Cloudy' Mac Giolla Mo Chuda was gone. She immediately thought of the ring. She went upstairs to the bedroom where the servant was still pretending to be dead. She went to the chest of drawers and she opened the bottom drawer. The fake back to the drawer had been removed and the ring was gone.
The ring had been in her family for generations. Her father once told her a story about how one of their ancestors was amongst a group of men out hunting with a king on an afternoon in August. They were hunting a famous stag that had evaded capture for years. After hours of searching for it, they saw the stag on top of a hill. An archer was about to fire an arrow at it when a hawk landed on the stag's antlers. The men were transfixed by the sight. They stared at the hawk as they walked towards it, but when they got to the top of the hill they realised that the hawk was perched on a branch of a bare tree. They looked back and they saw the stag in the valley below them, where they had just been. The stag ran away. Between the roots of the tree they found a red bag full of gold brooches, rings and bracelets. The king divided these amongst his men, and the stag was never hunted again.
When Aishling saw that the ring had been taken she went outside and looked for her so-called cousin. She ran as far as the river, but she couldn't find him, and she feared the ring was gone for good.
Darcy and O'Mara promised to find Corcran and return the ring to its rightful owner. They went back to her house, and they questioned the servant who had been playing dead. He said, "I saw the man looking through the drawers and I knew exactly what he was looking for."
"Why didn't you stop him?" Darcy said.
"I formed a plan. I pretended to be dead. My father used to do it every Saturday night when he was courting my mother. She didn't know he was courting her at the time, but that's another story. I thought that by pretending to be dead he'd do whatever he planned to do and I'd be able to observe him. And he did. When I saw him searching for something I thought he must be looking for the ring, and I knew he'd find it eventually."
"When you saw what he was doing, why didn't you stop him?"
"Because he'd have known I wasn't dead and he'd have stopped doing it."
"I can't fault your logic."
Aishling showed them the card. The only two people who had touched the card were Aishling and Corcran. They went to see a man called Brendan who had a dog with an exceptional sense of smell. The dog's name was Mullins. They got him to sniff the card, but he went straight to Aishling and started wagging his tail.
"He always goes for the easy option first," Brendan said, and then he said to Mullins, "No, not her. The other one. The other one."
Mullins ran off, then slowed to a canter that became a walk, and then he stopped. He lay down on the ground and he fell asleep.
Darcy said, "That option wasn't much more difficult."
"Just keep heading in that direction and ye'll find him," Brendan said.
O'Mara patted the dog on the head as they walked past him.
They spent the rest of the day walking in that direction. They met a man who was fishing at a lake, and he said he'd seen a man in a dark green cloak go around the lake about half an hour earlier.
When the sun reached the horizon they stopped before a field full of rocks and gorse. Beyond the field there was a hill.
"Is there any point in going on?" O'Mara said. "He might have set off in this direction, and we know he stuck to this route as far as the lake, but he could have gone left or right at any point after it."
"He wouldn't have gone too far left or right. He'd have a destination in mind, and he'd take the quickest route to it."
A woman with long golden hair appeared on top of the hill. Her face was illuminated by the last of the evening sun. A gust of wind blew in her direction.
Darcy and O'Mara saw a dark green cloak rise out of the field, revealing a crouching man who had been hiding beneath it. When he saw his cloak flying away he ran after it. Darcy and O'Mara ran after him.
As Corcran ran up the hill he tried to control his breeze with a series of commands and whistles, but the breeze seemed intent on running away with the wind. The woman waved at him as he ran past her on top of the hill. Darcy and O'Mara followed him shortly afterwards. She smiled at O'Mara.
Corcran was looking up at his cloak as he ran down the other side of the hill. He tripped and fell, and he rolled to the bottom of the hill. He came to a halt in a stream, and before he got out of it, Darcy and O'Mara caught up with him.
"Give us the ring," Darcy said.
O'Mara held up his spear and said, "Maybe a hole in your head would help jog your memory."
"Here," Corcran said, and he threw the ring to Darcy. The cloak landed on his head.
Darcy and O'Mara walked back the way they came, and they returned the ring to Aishling late that night. She was overjoyed. She felt that the occasion called for a celebration that would burn brightly in people's minds for months to come. Within minutes, all of her friends and neighbours had arrived and they were well on their way to burning holes in their minds. Music and laughter filled the rooms. Mullins slept soundly through the whole thing.
On the following day, Darcy and O'Mara went back to the hill where they had caught Corcran on the previous day. O'Mara wanted to meet the woman with the long golden hair. There was a village called Kilforrinne near the hill. When O'Mara told the villagers about the woman with the long hair they knew exactly who he was talking about, but no one could say where she was. She had been kidnapped during the night.
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|very slight stories||
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