am called Giselle, fourth daughter of the undisputed King of France, my father. Of age I am fifteen years. This day I am pledged in marriage to Hrolf, The Walker. Rather would I journey directly from my window down onto the stones of the courtyard far below.
Magge is my nurse and my tutor and my confidant. To me she is a mother, for the Queen, my mother, joins the King, my father, only in ambition. Magge teaches me to read Holy Scripture. Secretly she teaches me to write. She teaches me the Secret Places of women so that I might instruct a husband.
This day Magge weeps. She tells me that Hrolf is called The Walker because he is a warrior so immense that some horses cannot carry him. She weeps that he will split me like a log.
Magge’s tears fall upon my bare neck. She embraces me and kisses where her tears are fallen. She fears to soil my dressing gown so gently she slides it from my shoulders. She grasps under my arms to guide the gay cotton slowly over my breasts. Her thumbs pause at my nipples and there she bows forward and she fastens her lips so soft and warm and moist. I tremble as always I do. Her gentle hands guide my dressing gown down from under my breasts to below my purse. My dressing gown therefrom descends in a halo around my bare feet. She opens my purse with caressing thumbs. She kneels down before me and kisses my open purse and reaches inside with her tongue to polish my sacred pearls.
I swoon onto the bed dancing for Saint Vitus.
enter the council chamber of the King my father. Herein is the forest of old men with their voices rustling above me saying ~ Why do we concede such tribute to Hrolf?~ and another saying ~ Even his great heathen army could not take the Île de la Cité ~ and another saying ~ He piled the bodies of executed prisoners into La Seine to fashion a shallows over which to attack the Tower ~ and another saying ~ The twelve in the Tower fought to the death and still Hrolf could not take the Île de la Cité.~
And yet this day I learned I have been pledged to Hrolf in marriage. From across the chamber I see the King my father and the Queen my mother sitting. And standing between them is Mafeo, the Venetian advisor to the King my father. I call him Mafeo The Motherfucker. He festers with all the cunning and deceit unpossessed by the King my father. It appears that cunning and deceit are required in order to rule men. Mafeo whispers into the ear of the Queen my mother.
The Queen my mother speaks saying ~ Hrolf and the great heathen army have seen that we live a better life. Always have we given the heathen army tribute to go away. Now we offer land and title and power in the service of a Christian King.~
A man speaks saying ~ Can we really believe that Hrolf will kiss the foot of the King?~
The Queen my mother answers with a smile saying ~ His lips shall relish the foot of the King the way he relishes our food and wine.~
There is laughter. I speak loudly saying ~ And so Mother you will offer me to Hrolf like a piece of cheese?~
The King my father pounds his chair saying ~ Giselle! Insolence!~
The Queen my mother speaks bitterly saying ~ Giselle, you have always been spiteful and ungrateful. And all know that I nearly died to give you birth.~
The Queen my mother feigns to weep. I speak saying ~ What difference to me? I have always been dead to you!~
The King my father pounds his chair with both fists and rises up roaring ~ You shall dare not raise your chin thus to the Queen your mother!~
My eyes boil in tears and I speak saying ~ If Hrolf may kiss the foot of the King, oh, Father then the Queen, oh, Mother, may kiss my ass!~
I stomp out of the chambers and the forest of old men is suddenly silent as if before a great storm.
s punishment for my insolence in the council chambers of the King my father, the Queen my mother has ordered the whipping of Magge my nurse my tutor my confidant. In front of my eyes are two soldiers, one on each side of Magge, holding her erect with her arms pulled tautly outstretched. She is stripped naked and stands in a pile of straw within my own bed chamber.
The King my father and the Queen my mother and Mafeo The Motherfucker watch as the Executioner prepares to flex The Demon’s Tail down upon poor Magge. A third soldier restrains me as I scream saying ~ No, no, no, no, no!~
With that first stroke The Demon’s Tail pops like a giant ember and Magge screams and I scream with her. Her innocent blood sprays onto the straw at her feet.
With that second stroke Magge screams through bravely clenched teeth and she shudders. I hear myself wailing.
With that third stroke there is a snake of blood crawling down her bare leg. Magge’s head falls forward onto her breast and she is limp. The two soldiers hold her still erect like a crucified doll. Should I thank the Devil that she is fainted?
With that fourth stroke her excoriated flesh shakes but she only moans in delirium. A second snake of blood joins the first in a pool on the straw at her feet.
With that fifth stroke her unconscious body convulses in animal resistance and she makes an unearthly howling sound.
With that sixth stroke there is a bursting halo of bloody spray that strikes us all. The King my father says ~ Enough! ~
The soldiers let Magge collapse face~down. Her six bloody slashes pulse and disgorge a bloody tide that the straw cannot devour. I am released by the soldier and I throw myself beside Magge and I kiss her face. I become bloody. The Queen my mother unto me sternly says ~ I only hope you have learned your lesson. ~
I clench an imaginary sword and to them I say ~ Someday I will recite this lesson to all of you! ~
As the King my father and the Queen my mother turn away and leave with their soldiers, Mafeo looks back at me and I swear I see a glimmer of sadness in his eye.
Magge moans and I fall back to her and I clutch her hand and I say into her face through scalding tears ~ I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry! ~
Magge opens her eye and whispers to me, saying ~ I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry. ~
My three sisters and the Physician enter my bed chamber and immediately drop to their knees and tend to Magge. With a whisper my eldest sister Héloïse says ~ Mafeo told us to come.~
I stand myself back up above them and see my defaced image in the far mirror. Unnoticed I take a razor from the Physician’s open bag. I go to the mirror and I am talking to myself saying ~ Six lashes they were forbidden by royal convenience to give unto you? They shall not look again upon you without seeing their injustice! ~
Under my left eye I begin to cut with the surgical razor. I end having a number ~ 6 ~ carved like a tear for the six lashes of injustice suffered by Magge.
hen Magge has been whipped so cruelly for my insolence I have no one to turn toward. The Doctor and my three sisters have placed Magge’s mutilated body upon my bed. I cannot face myself as the perpetrator of her suffering so I flee from my chambers. I find myself fallen in the stables where I cry. My tears mix hideously with Magge’s blood on my face and the bloody ~ 6 ~ that I have carved under my eye for the six blows of The Demon’s Tail that Magge has borne in my stead.
Suddenly there is a snorting sound beside me. It is Chanson my beloved horse. He has broken free and he has come to me. He stamps his foot. He is upset because he has seen that I am crying blood.
I cry saying ~ Oh, my Chanson, I have brought terrible suffering upon someone that we both love. ~
He lowers his head and he nuzzles me but he is afraid. He doesn’t understand so he breathes rapidly. I gesture saying ~ I have caused the whip, the Demon’s Tail, to fall upon poor Magge. ~
Chanson bares his teeth and he rears snorting. He remembers the whip. He bucks several times and then returns and he nuzzles me.
I cry hard saying ~ Find me forgiveness, Chanson, find me forgiveness! ~
Chanson leans hard against my cheek and he rubs up and down. My God, there are tears falling upon me from his eye!
ur pathetic royal wedding entourage trudges through the forest. It has been raining. Magge rides her horse beside mine. Pale and feverish, she remains hooded like grim death in those damp riding clothes. Le Capitaine de Notre Garde rides back beside Magge and looks at her. Magge forces herself up straight and offers a pained grin. She is transparent with illness. The Captain Of Our Guard looks to me questioningly.
He is young and awkward. To me it occurs that my wedding entourage is but a minor assignment that has been given to a new recruit. I speak too sharply, saying ~ How do you like being Le Capitaine de Notre Garde thus far? ~
He furrows his brow in embarrassment at my tone. He looks at the tear~shaped ~6~ I have carved under my eye in protest of Magge’s six lashings. He says to me, ~ How do you like being a Princess thus far? ~
So, my situation is well known. He does not look away. He says to me, now kindly, ~ I am Etienne, your highness. They were unfairly harsh to your tutor ~
I reply bitterly, ~ Yes. We make up civilization as we go along. ~
Etienne offers softly, ~ It will not be much farther to Le Monastère de l’Incorruptables ~
I am not comforted. I am to reside in the Monastery of the Incorruptibles where the barbarian Hrolf The Walker will convert to Christianity. Then Hrolf and I are to be married as a political bargain. In the meantime, I am to be instructed in the Ways of Men by the monks of the abbey.
Suddenly a figure emerges from the forest and waddles hastily towards us. Startled, I do see that it is a deformed old woman. Her nest of hair holds a twisted face that looks as if it has been cooked twice. She bears only one eye in the center of her forehead. She is clothed in bark that she must have stitched with her own hair as thread.
The old woman grins crookedly and claps her hands and cries, ~ Le Grand Guerrier! The Great Warrior! ~
The mounted guards reel toward her with their swords drawn.
I cry, ~ Stop! ~
Etienne yells, ~ Stay your swords! ~
The old woman now dances, saying, ~ The Great Warrior! The Great Warrior! ~
The mounted guards halt and glance back at Etienne. He glances at me and he nervously clears his throat and then commands, ~ Give her food and leave her be.~
I watch Etienne sit up proudly and ride back to his position in the entourage.
And yet have I the feeling that the poor old witch was speaking to me.
eartsick am I, Giselle, the fourth daughter of the undisputed King of France my father, when my inferior wedding entourage arrives at Le Monastère de l’Incorruptables. Magge raises her pallid face and her watery eyes embrace the graveyard beyond. Terror impales my heart as with ghastly optimism I whisper, saying, ~ Defend your faith, Magge. The Incorruptables will intervene for you ~
Etienne, the young Captain of Our Guard, rides around the wedding entourage, guiding the straightening of the ranks. He smiles encouragement to Magge and then he salutes me, gazing into my eyes longer than protocole allows. Etienne finally assumes the point of the spear.
The Incorruptables stand outside the Monastery gates, bearing a solemn monolithic greeting. They include twelve monks in hooded robes of dark vermillion, each of these with a golden sash. A thirteenth monk, in the center, wears a hooded robe of violet with a vermillion sash. Each of them has a young man in attendance who wears a coarse loose chemise and a cullote of white. Only that thirteenth monk speaks, and smiling with ceremonial ennui, says ~ Deus nobis arridet. ~
I reply, to the gasps of the wedding entourage, ~ Yes, God may smile on all of us, but can he stop smiling long enough to tend mercy unto Magge? ~
The thirteenth monk is taken aback for a moment because I know Latin. Magge taught me well. Yet the thirteenth monk is not offended by my request. His eyes hold me and then they follow my trembling finger toward Magge’s apparition.
At once, the thirteenth monk mutters and snaps his finger, pointing to Magge. Four of the attending young men hurry toward Magge’s horse and lead her into the Monastery courtyard ahead of all of us.
To that thirteenth monk I speak, saying, ~Mihi complacui. Benedic vobis.
The thirteenth monk replies, saying, ~ Thank you, your highness. I am well pleased with you, too, your highness ~
rotocol on behalf of my Wedding Entourage is left to Etienne the young Captain of Our Guard. Etienne is officially chagrined because I, Giselle, a daughter of the King do not properly represent the King. And yet I carry Etienne’s yearning eye as I ride away. Chanson my beloved horse needs no urging to pursue poor Magge into the Monastery courtyard. The four acolytes who had been signified by the commanding finger of the Thirteenth Monk lead poor Magge away. Together we arrive at the Infirmary which is a separate house.
The acolytes gently dismount Magge from her horse. A tear is forged by me for each of poor Magge’s sharp inhalations. As they lead her inside they remove from her the hooded cloak that is heavy with dampness. Revealed on the back of her garments is a dark cloud of stain. The wounds from her whipping are exhaling her very life.
With shocking boldness the four acolytes do conspire and then do remove all of Magge’s attire. She is being held naked and barely conscious next to a stone pool of gently steaming liquid. There must be a furnace below or within the stone. The acolytes remove their own clothing while balancing Magge in a skillful ballet. They step into the pool, lowering Magge in a cruciform pose. Magge starts with a gasp as the warm unctuous water slowly submerges her body up to her neck. Her eyes are rolling now and do not seem to focus. Her eyelids descend slowly as my own eyes yet widen in anguish for her.
The acolyte who steadies Magge’s head against his shoulder and cheek speaks to me soothingly, saying ~ These waters are a medicinal concoction. They extinguish putrefaction and bind the skin. ~
Another, younger, acolyte is steadying Magge’s legs and he speaks enthusiastically, saying to me ~ These waters also preserve the dead for burial. ~
The first acolyte glances at me and then he glares at the younger acolyte and he hisses, saying, ~ You mean for Resurrection, Quattuor! I am sorry Your Highness. Quattuor is young and yet unenlightened. Your Highness, I am Tredecim, and we are all servants to The Incorruptibles, servants to Your Highness, and servants to God. ~
Quattuor, whose pride is now injured, speaks, saying, ~ But servants to Tredecim first of all! ~
They laugh gently at Tredecim’s predicament. I speak to them, saying, ~ Are all of you named as Latin numbers? ~
They all nod and mumble affirmatively, saying, ~ It is a Rite of Humility, Your Highness. ~
The acolyte at Magge’s left hand speaks, saying, ~ I am Duae. ~
The acolyte at Magge’s right hand speaks, saying, ~ I am Sedecim. ~
I now watch Magge’s face slowly transforming from death mask to sleeping maiden as her body imbibes the warm medicinal bath. For the first time since her excoriation I have a whisper of hope for Magge.
The senior Acolyte Tredecim amends on behalf of Quattuor, Duae, and Sedecim, saying, ~ It is time to dine. Your Highness, if you please to follow us. ~
I am lead across the courtyard toward the largest structure of the Monastery. Tredecim speaks, saying, ~ This Monastery was once the garrison of a Roman Legion. This structure was the residence of the Roman General. ~
We enter the dining hall. Four long tables are arranged in a great cross. On one side of the shaft of this great cross Our Guard stands facing the Ladies~In~Waiting who stand across the table on the other side. Farther up beyond them, at the arms of the great cross stand twelve of the thirteen Incorruptibles, six at each arm, facing me. At the apex of the great cross is an eating place reserved with a crown of woven roses, but no one stands there. I am to be seated at the nearby base of this great cross, as the Royal Foundation. Hovering in a halo about us all are the young Acolytes.
The Thirteenth Monk speaks ceremoniously, saying, ~ Your Highness and Beloved Guests, I am the Servant Brother Timothée. Our Servant Brother Benoît has been chosen to fast for this meal and to pray throughout in the name of Humanité. ~
I point before me to the far apex of the great cross of tables, saying ~ Is that Brother Benoît’s vacant setting across from me? ~
Servant Brother Timothée speaks in reply, saying, ~ Your Highness, that seat is always reserved for The Savior. And one of us thirteen fasts at every meal, so there is no need for our thirteenth setting, ever. Please, all, be seated. ~
I am amused that we all dine together. I know the minds of my Wedding Entourage and they too wonder why there are not mounds of food placed upon our tables, only chalices of water.
But the young Acolytes are busy conveying to each of us a plank of bread with a slice of fowl upon it that is bathed in a golden liquid and accompanied by herbs. There is a small ladle and a small trident placed beside each of us. My eyes are ebullient with this artful vision framed in bread. The aroma entices my nose like a perfume.
Alaire of Our Guard gazes into his chalice of water, saying, ~ When does this change to wine? ~
Lothaire of Our Guard attempts to pluck with his fingers the slice of fowl, saying, ~ Do we fast along with Brother Benoît? ~
Devereux of Our Guard looks to his comrades and mutters, saying, ~ Is this fowl or is this what the fowl shits? ~
The Ladies~in~Waiting suppress their giggling. All the Monks lower their eyes silently except Servant Brother Timothée whose expression to me says, ~ What can I expect from savage children? ~
Chagrined I rise and glare at Etienne the Captain of Our Guard, saying, ~ Do your men prefer a trough, Captain? ~
A Monk rises at the heated words, saying, ~ Your Highness, I am Servant Brother Affranchi. I am responsible for the nourishment here. There are several varied servings to follow in sequence for this repast. It is surely unlike the dining to which you are accustomed.
I hear but ignore as Lothaire of Our Guard whispers, saying, ~ Does he mean the dining where actual sustenance is presented? ~
Servant Brother Affranchi continues, saying, ~ I was rude not to preface this meal with my Science De Gueule, the science of eating. ~
Servant Brother Timothée smiles with the other Monks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi insists that this is a matter of philosophy. ~
I reply quickly, gesturing and saying, ~ Thus far, against this vision and against this aroma I cannot dispute. Please continue, Servant Brother Affranchi. ~
And so, in deep and serious countenance, Servant Brother Affranchi decants for us rules governing sauces and spices and philosophizes on the aesthetics of nourishment. I find myself enchanted with these subtleties.
Etienne the Captain of Our Guard notices my trance and speaks, saying, ~ Your Highness, Servant Brother Affranchi speaks with grandiloquence as if he describes the government of a kingdom. ~
I reply to Etienne, saying, ~ And he has given to me, a Daughter of the Undisputed King of France, food for thought. ~
he Thirteenth Monk nods to the Senior Acolyte, Tredecim. Tredecim comes and stands beside me as we dine. My Ladies~in~Waiting and Our Guard and I finish le fait de diner with the thirteen Incorruptibles. For this exquisite meal I give formal thanks to our hosts of the Monastery.
Etienne, the young Captain of Our Guard studies with concern that Tredecim beside me now whispers into my ear.
“Lady Giselle, Your Highness, it is time,” says Tredecim.
I am at last to be instructed in Les Voies d’Hommes, the Ways of Men. Too soon will it be my wedding to the barbarian Hrolf The Walker.
Tredecim and I exit the dining hall together. Tredecim seems quietly apprehensive, and yet I am merely curious. Magge, my tutor, my confident, had taught me well the Ways of Women.
Should I not think again of my poor Magge who is recovering in the Infirmary? Grâce à Dieu. Oh, Magge, how complicated can be the Ways of Men? I wish Magge were with us.
Tredecim leads me through the courtyard into a pillared structure. I point above and read aloud the inscription on the arched entry:
Nos es mirare
Per Venia nos teneo Is Dies
Nos es totus Unus Carmen
Nos es non Aduro
(We are a mirage
By Grace we know This Moment
We are all One Song
We are not The Singer)
“Tredecim, who wrote that?”
“Your Highness, I am told that inscription was there when this Monastery grounds was a Roman garrison. This was their pagan temple.”
“Why has the inscription remained? It does not resemble the teaching of The Church.”
“Servant Brother Timothée, the Thirteen Monk, my mentor, has told me that The Church has yet not accepted all wisdom.”
Grows my wonder at this Monastery and the Order of the Thirteen Incorruptibles. Tredecim leads me through a torch~lit labyrinth of marble hallways. We arrive at what appears to be an altar chamber. Yet upon the spacious altar is presented a bed richly provided with blankets of the most exquisite design and quality.
I notice now that Tredecim trembles as he says, “Your Highness, we are here.”
I touch his shoulder but he trembles more. “Tredecim, what assails you?”
He takes a deep breath and says with effort, “Your Highness, in the adjoining chamber will be the Purification.”
He leads me into that chamber. Therein is a stone pool of gently steaming liquid not unlike the medicinal pool of the Infirmary.
Tredecim says to me, nervously, “Your Highness, we are to enter the Purification together.” He holds my eyes and he slowly disrobes. His skin is smooth and like immaculate pearl. I have seen such Roman statues. With such anatomy.
“Your Highness?” he asks me expectantly.
I rarely undress myself. I think again of Magge and the games we would play as she undressed me. It is not so much fun to undress myself. It seems to take forever, yet Tredecim exhibits infinite patience as he bows his head and for some reason shields his manhood. I think he prays.
With Tredecim I am aware of my nakedness in a way about which Magge cautioned me, yet until this moment have I not experienced. Tredecim offers to me his hand and I see that his manhood is alert. We step together almost ceremonially into the stone pool of gently steaming liquid. The soothing liquid feels like a scented oil bath.
We are submerged to our ribs. Tredecim says that we must kneel and submerge to our necks and we do so.
“Your Highness, with your indulgence, we are to remain thus while I recite the entire Neuvaine Pour la Purification.
O la Mère Bénie de Dieu,
qui est monté à
le Temple selon
la loi avec votre
l’offre de peu blanc
les colombes, priez pour nous cela
Nous pouvons aussi garder la loi
et être pur dans le coeur
Le coeur doux de Mary,
soyez notre salut.
(O Blessed Mother of God,
who went up to
the Temple according to
the law with your
offering of little white
doves, pray for us that
We too may keep the law
and be pure in heart
Sweet heart of Mary,
I say “Amen” with Tredecim. We slowly rise. In a ceremonial trance Tredecim finds the courage to take my hand once again. We step out of the warm pool into the cool air. I feel myself firm in exhilaration. Together we return to the chamber of the bed altar.
Tredecim guides me to sit upon the bed. The blankets are deep and soft. Tredecim stands before me. I look up from his proud manhood.
“Your Highness,” and he proceeds to instruct me on surprisingly delicate matters of the Sensitivities of Man and how they may be honored and never abused.
“Your Highness, your lips and tongue as well as your fingertips are instruments of your love, which may be applied to these pleasures of your husband.”
And so of deep curiosity I take him into my mouth and I explore him with my tongue and my lips. Magge had taught me how explore women and how to be explored, but this is truly new. I study assiduously, completely, with enthousiasme.
Tredecim begins to be unsteady on his feet. “I must recline, “ he gasps between clenched teeth, “Your Highness.”
Tredecim falls back onto the blankets breathing hard. His glistening manhood now stands erect beside me as if it were his ruddy second head and torso.
I take hold of this hot fleshy scepter. I have the vision of how Men are to be ruled.
I have spent the night within the once pagan temple, the now Adytum of Purification. As prescribed by Habitude Royale I have been enlightened unto The Ways of Men. By custom I am now supposed to be fit for my impending political wedding to the barbarian Hrolf The Walker.
I have left my young tutor, the Acolyte Tredecim, sleeping fitfully upon the altar bed.
Across the Monastery courtyard do I tread pensively. I approach the Infirmary wherein my beloved nurse and confidant Magge struggles to regain health.
But at once I am warmed with joy inexpressible as I encounter Magge standing in the entrance to the Infirmary as if she awaits me. We embrace and kiss and kiss again. We turn and continue walking in the Monastery courtyard hand in hand.
We soon find ourselves at the kitchen door. It is open and we smell bread. I am so happy that Magge can now find joy at the aroma of food.
But then I descry that across from this door there is an open wooden gate through the facing courtyard wall. We follow our curiosity hand in hand.
Outside the wall, apparitions are moving in the twilight. It is the monks known as the Thirteen Incorruptibles and their cortege of Acolytes facing to the East. The sun rises struggling through the forest. It touches all of their profiles.
From the East, through the forest, there are shadows flowing towards them. The shadows become people. Women! A horde of women! Their hair is long and feral. Their eyes are fierce like she~wolves. Their bodies are smeared with colored mud.
As they approach I see that they are being led by that poor waddling hag which my Wedding Entourage and I encountered when we first arrived at this Monastery. With her nest of hair and her twisted face she bears that single eye in the center of her forehead and she yet wears that bark for clothing stitched with her own hair as thread.
The Acolytes are now trotting in pairs to the ground between the Thirteen Incorruptibles and the horde of women who approach like an army. The Acolytes place several large baskets of bread and then quickly retreat!
The poor hag stops before the baskets and the women halt. She lifts a plank of bread and takes a bite. She raises it into the air and smacks loudly. She then gestures and women run forward two by two and retrieve the baskets of bread for the horde.
The hag notices me and approaches. As she does so, she dances side to side clapping her hands and once again chanting mysteriously ~ Le Grand Guerrier! The Great Warrior! ~
The Thirteen Incorruptibles and their cortege of Acolytes turn to see Magge and me with alarm but they do not move. The poor hag takes my hand and Magge’s hand and leads us back toward the army of women.
Is it growling that I hear? I fear for Magge, but she does not fear for herself.
The poor hag then releases our hands and raises both her arms over her head and clasps her own hands while facing the women. Each of the women then takes the hands of two other women. When nearly all are so woven together as one fabric, the hag takes the hands of Magge’s and mine again and has us join as well. The hands I hold are as smooth and strong as wood. I sense contempt as they squeeze my own hands. I fear for Magge more than ever now.
All at once the horde throws back their heads and together they give voice to one undulating tone. I cannot bespeak the effect of this eerie chorus. This canorous unity is making me vibrate with chills.
I hear now a clatter and I turn my head toward the Monastery. It is young Captain Etienne and Our Guard pouring through the open gate. They are coming to my assistance. I see fear in their determination. They are falling to their knees involuntarily. Etienne catches my eye and I sense his distress as he draws sword for my protection. Instead he but falls to his knees immobile with the others of The Guard. He cries out, ~ Your Highness! Giselle! ~
I see that the Thirteen Incorruptibles and all of the Acolytes are already on their knees with their heads bowed.
I turn back to the women. Their monolithic tone pours forth louder and louder, not a scream, not a cry, but an overwhelming pillar of sound. I am feeling faint, dizzy. I see with fear that Magge’s head is now back and she joins with the horde. She is still weak! She cannot sustain this!
My God, my God, do I really see fire in the poor hag’s eye? Is there really a finger of light now reaching from her eye to my eye?
The number ~ 6 ~ that I carved like a tear under my eye in protest of Magge’s six unjust lashings begins to burn.
My God, my God, does my skin truly thus glow?
Suddenly I can feel something primeval welling up within me. I cannot oppose it: My God! Oh, My Gracious God! It is The Love of This World. It is an unending fountain! It fills me. But I shall burst! I cannot contain so much!
Now I can feel something massively overpowing pour down upon me: I cannot withstand it! It is The Sorrow of This World. It is overwhelming me. I cannot bear it. My God, help me! ~ Mon Dieu, je ne peux pas l’endurer! ~
With all my strength I hold myself erect. My head falls back. My mouth opens. My voice conjoins with the pillar of sound. I am become that sound.
I do not know how long I am that sound. Yet I know without being told that this is the Song of the Spirit Mother.
As suddenly as we all began we are suddenly aware that there is now only silence. I have never experienced such deep silence.
One by one the birds begin to sing again.
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