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December 02, 2023, 07:12:48 PM
Marc-- thank you!

Kelric's Adventures: Chapter 10 His Life as a Puppy

Started by Shiral, July 20, 2018, 06:17:15 PM

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Chapter 10 His Life As a Puppy

           "We're here!" Kelric crowed. He bounced once impatiently on Mummy's lap as the driver opened the carriage door before he remembered she preferred him to sit still. The warning squeeze of her hands on his waist reminded him that he had to let the queen descend from the carriage before he could get down himself. He positively quivered with longing, for beyond her, he could see the pale yellow sand and the long spit of piled up rock extending into the waves that marked the western end of the cove. And beyond that he could see the waves crest in a white ruffle before rushing up the sand.

          The King gave his hand to the queen, then handed Mummy down, and Kelric eagerly scrambled out after her, too impatient to wait to be lifted down. A green and white striped pavilion had been set up on the beach and the royal party was wandering toward it, talking as they went. There was a wonderful smell of roasting chicken on the air, and Kelric could see that a pit had been dug in the sand a little way off from the pavilion. Four large chickens were slowly being roasted on a spit above rose red coals.

             Bishop Duncan and Lord Dhugal walked to either side of the queen who carried the puppy. Lord Dhugal was trying to avoid the puppy's eager efforts to wash his face. Papa strolled after them, hand in hand with Briony who swung on his hand and skipped at his side in her own eagerness to get down to the beach. The King escorted Mummy behind them and Kelric and Uncle Seandry brought up the rear. Once they had reached the pavilion, the queen set the little dog down in the sand where it at once began to run about in ecstatic circles, wriggling with delight at being free. Kelric grinned as he watched the puppy, feeling the dog's pleasure and excitement in waves, and gave a great wriggling leap of happiness of his own. He plopped down in the sand at once and pulled off his short boots, eager to get his bare toes in the sand, even while he watched the puppy continue to run about from one person to another, leaping, wriggling and wagging its tail as it went.

         Nobody scolded the puppy or tried to calm it down in its excitement, Kelric observed. Had he been the one doing all that running and jumping, either Mummy or Papa or Nurse, or possibly Uncle Seandry would have hold of him by now and would be telling him to settle down. Perhaps life as a puppy would be more fun than life as a Ducal heir and Earl of Lendour.

        For the rest of the day, I'll be a puppy too, Kelric decided. He stood up, looked around and spotted the puppy near the queen, sniffing the air just before it bounded off down the beach toward the water, yapping loudly at the nearest flock of seagulls. Kelric ran after him and did his best to imitate the puppy's high-pitched bark. He was too happy to care that his yapping didn't sound at all convincing. He waved his arms over head, sending all the seagulls flapping off. A flock of sandpipers hurried away also, their thin legs almost invisible against the glossy dark sand at the water's edge. Then all of a sudden, Kelric found himself lying face down in the sand after tripping over a bit of driftwood. The fall was hard enough to knock the wind out of him for a moment. As Kelric lay and gasped for air, he noticed a small, feathery body lying half-buried in the damp sand. It was covered with a buzzing cloud of small black flies. The dead gull's beak was open as if it had been calling for help when it died, and Kelric felt desperately sorry for it, suddenly. He reached out a finger to stroke the feathers.

           "No, no, Kelric. We don't touch dead animals, remember?" Papa's voice asked, unexpectedly from from over his head. "It might be nasty."

             Kelric felt Papa's hands on his ribcage and he was being lifted up and set on his feet. Papa leaned down and brushed the sand from the front of his tunic, quickly yelping and standing up when a wave surged up the beach and caught both their feet.

           "There goes _that_ pair of hose," Papa said with amused resignation. "Fortunately, your mother has brought dry clothes along. But for now, you might as well go barefoot, I suppose." When they had reached the dryer sand higher up, Papa peeled off Kelric's wet sandy green hose and Kelric happily buried his bare toes in the sand. He loved being barefoot and wished that Ducal heirs didn't have to wear shoes all the time. He was unimpressed by all Nurse's scoldings about poor children who had to go barefoot even in the coldest weather and would have loved to own even one pair of shoes, while luckier little boys like him had dozens of pairs. Going barefoot in the winter wouldn't be very nice Kelric thought , but he positively envied those children in the summer time. Especially now that he was standing and wriggling his toes in the warm clean sand.

         "I've got my puppy, and I see you've caught yours too, Alaric," the King said.

          Kelric grinned up at his Godfather, gratified that he'd noticed Kelric was a puppy today. The King had the greyhound puppy tucked under his right arm. The puppy's tail was lashing and he was straining upward in his eagerness to wash his master's f ace with his tongue.

           The king gently enclosed the puppy's muzzle in his free hand. "Thank you, you're a nice little dog, but I don't need a bath, right now."

           Kelric once again regretted that he didn't have a proper tail, but he gave Papa's cheek a nice, wet swipe with his tongue.

          "Kelric, good lord !"

          The King roared with laughter while Papa wiped his cheek dry with his sleeve and gave Kelric a glare of exasperated affection.
"I should be grateful that he's onlya puppy, today," Papa admitted as the three of them started back toward the pavilion. "After I told Kelric about seeing the Queen's Zoo in Beldour, he insisted he was a monkey. He spent the next three days climbing  everything."

          "Maybe you should have told him about the camels, instead?" the King suggested, still laughing.

          "No, Kelric doesn't need any encouragement when it comes to spitting."

          "I can spit almost as far as Uncle Seandry, Sire " Kelric told the King with pride. "Do you want to see?"

          "I'm sure you can, Kelric, but I don't need a demonstration right now."

          Oh." Slightly disappointed, Kelric went hand in hand with Papa, having to trot a bit to keep up with the two very tall men.

          "Where did that puppy come from, Kelson?"

            "He was a wedding gift to Araxie from Prince Cuan," the King answered. "I'm still not sure if it was a genuine gesture of goodwill, or a sneaky form of revenge for the fit King Colman threw when he heard Araxie and I were married."

            "He seems to be a very good tempered pup."

           "He is, and he's very affectionate and fairly intelligent. The second this wiggly little fellow was let out of his basket, Araxie bonded with him. She's always loved dogs and I rather like him myself. He's incredibly destructive, even so. He's chewed up two of my boots, so far – from two different pairs, of course. And when you live in a castle, it's awfully hard to persuade a puppy not to make puddles indoors."

            "You can always have new boots made, but keeping one's wife happy is an important art to learn," Papa observed. "How have you and Araxie bonded?"

            The King just smiled. "As you've seen since we've been here, Alaric."

            "A month in Dunluce with her does seem to have done you some good--knocked a bit of sense into your head, at least," Papa chuckled. "She's a fine lass, Kelson. The more I see of her, the better I like her."

           "Odd, I was about to say the same thing about her," the King said.

           "The signs are good that you esteem her somewhat more than just liking her," Papa said, watching the king sidelong.

            "If you're asking do I love her, the answer is yes," The King said. "But it's based on more than just physical passion, Alaric. We enjoy talking to one another, too. She's full of ideas; she makes me laugh, and she plays a mean game of Cardounet."

          "I'm glad to hear all of this, My Prince. The old "carnal level" is very helpful in dynastic duties, but marriages based solely on physical passion can go sour rather quickly. Marriages last better when the husband and wife like one another during their waking hours, too.
        "Of course, I'm still glad to hear you've been paying attention to the dynastic side of your marriage," Papa teased. "Look at raising that puppy as practice. Of course, one toddler can be more destructive than an entire litter of puppies. Kelric is the scourge of Coroth Castle all by himself."

        Kelric trotted along, wondering what Papa had meant by "old carnal level." He was relatively sure that Papa _must_ have meant "carnival" rather than "carnal" but it hardly mattered as he had no idea why they'd want a "carnival" when they were alone together in the first place. Carnivals meant lots of people in the streets having fun, some of them in masks and costumes, and they were always very noisy and crowded. But when Papa and Mummy went up to their bedroom alone, it meant they didn't want anybody else around, not even himself or Briony. Grownups were endlessly mysterious.

                 "I see you've captured the pups," Bishop Duncan said as they came back to the pavilion.

                "Aye, and we've been comparing notes as to which one is more destructive," the king said. He bent over and set the greyhound puppy on the straw matting where he immediately bounded off to greet his mistress.

             "Kelric won, without a doubt," Papa said and mussed Kelric's hair with an affectionate hand. "He can climb, and he has thumbs."

             "He has quite a reputation to live up to yet, though," Bishop Duncan teased. "As Alaric Morgan's son, and all."

           "He's only three," Papa said dismissively. "Just getting started, really."

            Kelric made a face, not fancying being called "only" three. He'd felt quite grown up on his birthday, and he could do all sorts of things now that he hadn't been able to do when he was two.

             "Wherever my mother is now, I'll bet she's enjoying watching Kelric," Bishop Duncan chuckled. He put his hands on his hips and his voice was a half-octave above normal when he spoke again. "Alaric Morgan, when you're a grown man, I hope you have a son who's exactly like you to repay all the anxious moments you have given me!"
             To Kelric's amazement, Papa suddenly cupped his hands over Kelric's ears although he could still hear the grown men laughing

            "Don't give him any ideas now, Duncan," Papa objected. "Poor Aunt Vera, I did rather wear her out before I left for court. But if she had her way, Kelric would never let me  sleep at night."

Kelric looked around uneasily. First his dead grandparents, then Saint Camber and now this mysterious lady, Aunt Vera. Just how many dead people werewatching him, anyway?

You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!