1. Arriving in the Town.
It was a dork and strummy knight who came clopping clopping through the muck then. The knight was called Sir Gregorio Chant and his dork was Ostinato. The spring crusades had brought them along from the village of Cantabile in Canton Cadenza to our town of Capriccio, whose burgmeister is the well-known military man, Major Seventh Flat-Five and the burgmeister's wife is Augmented. The Major's children are Semiquaver, the girl, and Diminuendo, the boy. As often happens, it was the children who welcomed the duo.
--Ho, Knight, could'st strum a story for us upon your dulcimer with the hearts for holes and sing sweet neverminds?
--Why yes, young lady, I suppose I could'st as soon as I get myself unmucked. Where might I and my dork get cleaner?
--Well, if you want scraping there's the blacksmith up aways. If you wish for water, best go to the barber shop. I've heard Gavotte has a tub but I've never seen it. He charges dear for anything he can.
--Scraping I can get from my modest but faithful dork, Ostinato, who carries with him a half-sharpened bone for just such purposes. But this muddy mire is from pigs and needs serious sloshing. Is there a rill or a pond or a river?
--Of course there is a river, why else would anyone build a town here? Trot your burros, who I dare say could use a bit of a soak themselves, straight ahead for about half an hour. Would you like food when you come back? My mother Augmented can cook.
--Wouldn't that be a charming experience. Can I pay her by singing and frailing on my heart-hole dulcimer?
Take that up with her. She'll have a meal for the two of you one way or another. I'll see to it. And welcome to Capriccio!
Like Ostinato the dork, Diminuendo had said nary a word. He was not yet tax-registered in the town or canton so his father had trained him to lay low until the approaching census. Of course, everyone knew he existed; after all, he was eight years old, but silent to be safe.
2. At the River.
Whilst splashing and scrubbing au naturel in the River Mixolydian, the pair espied a band of miscreants hoving into proximity. Ducking behind shrubbery, they trembled with cold and fear for their donkeys and garments, and not for no reason. It was, they soon observed, the outlaw Sforzando and a crew of seven barrel-chested, hirsute associates with big sticks, and all a-horseback.
This perilous situation was not improved by the presence much too close of a wasp nest, alive with buzzing. At first Sir Gregorio was more afraid of being attacked by the wasps than by the highwaymen. Then Ostinato the dork, silent even yet, crept over to the tree which held the bulb of waspery, picked up a substantial length of loose log and smacked the orotund nest with great force straight toward the thieves, who abandoned any thought of mischief and galloped their steeds like antelopes as thither as possible right now.
Thus saved, the travellers dried off and returned to a hot meal of corn dodgers and chicken. Augmented was more than satisfied to be paid in the currency of song and listened widely to each melodious descant. Burgmeister Major directed Sir and Dork to bunk up in the hayshed where they dozed till cock-cry.
3. The Burgmeister's Dilemma.
While it was undeniable that Semiquaver was fourteen years old and so of marriageable age, Major Seventh Flat-Five was uncomfortable about the looks she exchanged with Sir Gregorio. He was a wanderer, a musician and, worst of all, lank. Any husband coming into this family would have to lug bales, bundle twigs, wrestle stumps and push cows. Gregorio was a sir and neither used to this sort of work nor built for it. Burgmeister Major would keep close watch.
On the other hand, fourteen was getting on and the only batchelor in Capriccio was Duple Duple the twine-twister, who knew nothing else and precious little of that. Twine was a needed commodity, so there was a livelihood ahead for him, but a duller twine-twister never twisted twine. He could not sing, he could not juggle, he could not whistle. He was not pleasing to the eye. But this Sir Gregorio might well want to run off with the Major's daughter rather than fit in with the Capricciosi. That would not do. No.
4. The Progress of The Romance.
And so it came to pass that in the fullness of the morning, after hens had been handled, cows relieved, water dragged, pigs fed and lambs curried, Sir Gregorio and Semiquaver found themselves flopped upon a sward underneath the St. John's Bread tree in back of the old short silo no longer used except for hiding unregistered children from the king's warders.
As befit his nature, Sir Gregorio chanted an epistolary and occasionally tootled on his krummhorn. He seldom did this because it upset his donkey, who seemed to think that it was a previously-thought-lost uncle of his remonstrating him for his misspent life. This was all conjecture on Sir's part since he certainly cannot have known what was in the donkey's mind, such as it was.
Whatever the case might have been, Semiquaver was charmed by the not unhandsome passer-through and conceded a kiss from time to time as seemed to fit the rhythm of the chant and the mood of the melody. These gestures were not a bit lost on Sir Gregorio, who responded in very kind, and as the day wore on, it seemed that the kissing took precedence over the chanting and krummhorn tootling until the absence of the kissers was noted by an agitated Major Seventh Flat-Five, and also by Augmented, though she was rather more tickled than worried.
5. The Ordeal of Ostinato and Diminuendo.
The silent ones, having been abandoned by Sir and Semiquaver, wandered off to whack trees with switches. This activity required no conversation so both were well suited to it. In their absentminded pursuit of oblivion, they pretty much found it in the form of getting lost in the wood. Midday though it was, the thickly canopied wood was much darker than one would have wished, even if one had had a well-functioning wishing-brain.
Not knowing which way to turn, they sat down on a mossbank and stared. An observer might have imagined that they were distressed by their circumstance. This was true. So distressed were they that they cried out loud for hours. The trees and animals and moss paid no attention, so finally they stopped crying and just sat.
6. Everybody Discovered.
Sforzando, astride his horse Fermata, pulled up to the distraught duo and gently asked about their plight. It seems that Sforzando had been stripped of his role as chief troublemaker when he had led his troupe into that wasp encounter. As a result, he too was lost, though not geographically. He uplifted the gents young and not so young onto Fermata and ambled into town, hoping that the sight of him rescuing the lost souls would incline the townsfolk to accept him as a peace-loving resident. If so, he would set up shop as a fletcher, a service he well knew to be wanted.
Back of the silo, Sir Gregorio and Semiquaver found themselves interrupted by the uncertain Major. The three meandered back to the house quietly discussing options and jockeying for position.
7. How It All Ended.
Burgmeister Major Seventh Flat-Five, his wife Augmented, his children Semiquaver and Diminuendo, Sir Gregorio Chant and his dork Ostinato, Sforzando the fletcher cum bandit, and the barber, name of Gavotte, who had just wandered in out of curiosity, sat down to a dumpling dinner over which the future was discussed. Sir Gregorio and Semiquaver proposed that they marry and go off on a quest of some indeterminate nature, accompanied by Ostinato, promising to return and settle down in Capriccio after one year. All consented, Gavotte cut everyone's hair for free on condition they each would rent the tub at least once in the year that would intervene, Sforzando fletched Sir Gregorio's full quiver and Diminuendo finally spoke:
By Jack Wilson