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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 2: Slade 168
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 172
Robert Slade had again found himself in another world. This time, though, there was something familiar about it, as he found himself face to face with one of the parakeet people he had met a few years back in his own experience, but from the appearance of the world millennia before. Remembering what he could of their musical language, he had whistled, “Hello. My name is,” and then reverted to English to finish with “Bob”.
The bird-like humanoid appeared startled, repeated Slade’s name twice, and then took off in a song which would have been pleasant bird song were it not that Slade knew it meant something and had no clue what.
“Shella?” he called, and his wife immediately responded.
“Yes, my lord?”
“Did Lauren teach you that mind trick, to read the language of someone talking to you?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Well, if I’m not mistaken, she taught it to herself so she could talk to these bird people.”
“Oh, these are the parakeet people the two of you sometimes talk about?”
“Yes, and I’m afraid that my ability with their language isn’t keeping up with what he’s saying. I was never very good at it, but I think it’s changed a bit since I learned it.”
Shella came over. The parakeet had stopped singing when Bob had called her, and now Bob whistled “This is my wife,” or at least he thought that was what he whistled, and again in English, “Shella”.
Shella must have made the trick work, because now she was singing—Lauren always sang rather than whistled—and the birdman was chirping back to her. After several minutes she interrupted that conversation, and turned to him.
“Apparently, my lord, you have the name and the appearance of a legend. I’ve told him that you are indeed that Bob who saved the girl in the legend. He is some kind of doctor or teacher who studies the ancient legends, but he never imagined that they were true. He hopes that we will come with him to the school, and promises to feed us and find us a place to stay.”
“Well, that sounds like the best offer we’re likely to get today. Let’s grab our gear and go.” Then turning to the parakeet, he attempted to whistle “Thank you” in their language before walking over to his backpack, securing the loose gear including their bedding, and making sure he had everything. Shella already had her bag, although it seems she had hand packed it rather than running her quick packing spell. He wondered whether it was because magic wasn’t working well here or because she didn’t want to risk it until she could test a few things.
“Lead on, good sir,” Slade said, knowing it would not be understood but hoping that the sense would come through anyway.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #432: Whole New Worlds. 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: