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Stories from the Verse
Garden of Versers
Chapter 69: Slade 147
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Slade and Shella were resting on their bed in the hot afternoon after dinner.
“I’m worried about Derek,” he said.
“Again, my lord? What now?”
“For the last several days he’s been sitting with the princess and her entourage.”
“Why should that worry you?”
Slade sat up, pondering. “I’m not sure,” he said. “I just think that a lot can go wrong. What if one of them seduces him, and insists he marry her? Or what if one of them claims he seduced her, and insists he marry her?”
“I can imagine such conduct among peasants, but among the nobility?”
He thought for a moment. “No, you’re right. It’s unlikely. On the other hand, they’re all teenagers. Someone is going to think she’s in love with Derek, or Derek is going to think he’s in love with one of them, and next thing you know we’re going to be looking at a wedding.”
“And that’s bad because?”
“It’s bad because he’s a verser. We could stay here a thousand years, and he would never age an hour. His wife would probably grow old and die, and if she lives to be forty they’re going to be an odd couple indeed.”
“I’m sure that even in this world younger men sometimes have older wives.”
He nodded. “The alternative, though--what happens if he dies before she does?”
“She’s a widow?”
“Maybe,” he said. “I think probably not though. Even if she is a widow, he’ll take his possessions with him, leaving her rather impoverished. But no, I think she’ll go with him--and whether she’s fifteen or fifty-five, I don’t know that his girlfriend would do well in the verse. Besides, I don’t think he knows which one is the princess, but whoever marries the princess will be expected to succeed the Caliph when he dies, and father a successor. That would be a problem.”
“I think you’re overreacting,” Shella said. “Derek has been in the verse a while. He knows all of this. I think he’s just a lonely teenager who has found some friends.”
Slade shrugged and lay back down on the bed. “Let’s hope you’re right,” he said.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twelve other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #293: Versers Relate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: