little quinette was in the last seat on the right. "pick for me, please, miss."
"non-violent. and your author is stendhal."
"that's a pretty broad category," said dorine. "that's another pick i wouldn't mind."
"who are you, the roving commentator?" rosalind asked her. "is anybody asking for your opinions?
"i'll say whatever i please, thank you very much."
by quinette de quieroz
illustrated by rhoda penmarq
special thanks to Prof. Dan Leo for his editing efforts
the valley of o---------- had long been reputed to be the most peaceful in italy. for centuries its lack of natural wealth and its remoteness kept it from being fought over by princes, and its temperate climate - hardly subject to storms or severe winters - made it a favorite retreat of those same princes and their wealthy supporters, when they sought brief respite from the turmoils and dangers of power. indeed, the valley became in effect a neutral area where arms were laid down, quarrels set aside, and the fiercest enemies - even those embroiled in blood feuds of millennial duration - could side by side enjoy what the poet calls "the beautiful wine of peace."
the only dwellings in the valley, besides the castle and surrounding buildings belonging to the ancient duchy of o----------, were the country retreats of the aforementioned potentates, and the humble huts, scattered about the countryside, of the few shepherds and herdsmen who survived on the barren hills and plains. these herders plied their ancient craft almost year round, and for centuries it had been the chief delight, of the owners of the country estates, when taking their ease in the valley,
to observe from their verandahs and balconies the wanderings and frolickings of these unencumbered ones, and to compose poems and songs based on their observations.
this account, i am sure, brings a smile to the lips of the reader, accustomed as he or she may be to the frenzy of the modern world.
in any case, everything changed with the coming of the corsican.
from daphne, countess of v----------, to renaldo, marquis of y------------ :
i am safely ensconced in my rustic garden, my dear friend ... but for how long! you may perhaps be surprised to hear from me so soon after my arrival, when i have hardly had time to observe the latest follies of my distinguished neighbors. but change is in the air! the dust had hardly settled around the wheels of my carriage, and i had barely stepped down from it, than clovis, the rustic swain i pay to keep birds and animals and hopefully, brigands from my humble little house, rushed upon me, and in a torrent of words in his uncouth dialect , informed me of the basic outline of the facts i now propose to acquaint you with in a more coherent fashion...
it seems that mars has indeed invaded the domain of venus, at least, at this point, to tread on its toes, if not to fly in its face. even you, my dear friend, who so deliberately profess disinterest and annoyance in anything so much as hinting at politics and war, must be aware of the upheavals in the barbaric western hinterlands of the continent, culminating in the invasion of the ancient lands of empire by the savages from beyond the mountains. of course, some of our dearest and most refined friends have long had the fairest portions of their dominions among these uncouth ones - thinking - alas! - that they had tamed them.... (i blot a tear from my pages)... well, i see even at this distance that i am boring you.
in a word, recruiting parties from the corsican's army have invaded the valley and proposed carrying off our lovely shepherds and lusty swineherds to share in the glory in their ever expanding conquests. from what i can gather from poor clovis's barely coherent account - and his incoherence distresses me doubly, as i had taken such pains on my previous visits, to try to give him a veneer of civilized behavior - the duke of o---------- has so far resisted the efforts of the recruiter, with such poor means as he has at his disposal. i shall call on the duke tomorrow, to get a clearer understanding - and i greatly fear, perhaps news of such dreadful import that what i have already heard will seem but a joke...
this has given me a dreadful headache. i have so far presumed on the marquise of l--------'s friendship to decline her invitation to play whist this evening.
i shall write when i have more news. please, my dear, i implore you, write to me, even if you have nothing to say. no one can say nothing more prettily than you, when you have a mind to do so. and i need to hear something pretty.