Letter 5 - Kei to Gin

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Dear Gin,

I shall rush straight to the most important point of your letter: the 
forfeit.  I believe that in penance I shall insist you study from the 
enclosed book, a tome of commentary on ancient writings, and return to me 
a report on the origin of the word "radar".  I shall give you a hint: it 
began as a word of magic from long ago.   

Your esteemed master would likely wish to have words with me for giving 
you this book, and your parents would tan more than my tongue for 
encouraging you in studying, as you say, "cant", but since your formal 
studies have been necessarily restricted, the least I can do is provide 
you with a few informal lessons.  I have no doubt that you will get into 
even more trouble unless I take the notion to keep you occupied.  Indeed, 
your parents would likely blame me directly should you take it into your 
head to run away to join the bargemen.  After all, it was I who first told 
you the tales of life on the lazy river where my mother's people practice 
their art, and still manage to drown, despite advantages even greater than 
yours.  Take that as your warning.

The book you now hold in your hand I found at a used book stall, one of 
many stalls huddled around the outer wall of the palace.  The dialect it 
is written in is very old (though I doubt you will have trouble with it, 
given your proficiency in the language of pearls and the cobalt tongue) 
and I doubt the proprietor realized what he had.  There are many such 
bargains among the offerings of the transient population here.  I don't 
know if you realize, but thousands come to petition the court each year, 
and while they wait for their chance to speak, most have no alternative 
but to camp outside the walls and support themselves as best they can.  
Many offer services.  Some sell their posessions to people who own stalls, 
like my bookseller.  Everyone lives in hope that the court will look 
favorably upon them, and honor what requests they bring to air.  And yet, 
despite this hope, I cannot help but sense an underlying desperation.  
Only those who have need of miracles can possibly hope to profit from this 
slim chance of recognition. 

It is, for all it's impermanence, a very vital sort of place.  The 
desperation I mention lends the hodge-podge of stalls a sort of carnival 
atmosphere.  One never knows what to expect around the next corner.  If 
one draws back a curtain, one is always suprised by what one finds.  I 
have tucked several such surprises in between the pages of the old book.  
Please use the ribbons for whatever you wish, but some of the other items 
should be kept aside for when you resume your formal tutelage.  You may 
notice a pattern to the marked passages.  If you can tell me what it is, I 
may have another surprise for you.  

The Prince himself returned last week.  The court buzzes with it.  Based 
on my complete research I have perfected a scientific lecture on the 
nature of the soul using flame and steam to great effect.  I hope to have 
the opportunity to perform it tomorrow.  The Prince has seen my work 
before, of course, but always through an intermediary.  I wish to impress 
him on my own merits, and, as you say, justify his lavish support of me.  
If all else fails, I shall fall back upon _Eight Swallows on the 
Whitecaps_, and let you mock me mercilessly.

I saw Ralida, excuse me, the Dowager Princess again yesterday afternoon.  
She strode through the garden purposefully and spent two hours in the 
greenhouse before evening fell.  I feel somewhat unclean, observing her 
progress from my perch, but I have been spending much time in study, and 
the desk still has not found a better home than the balcony.  I have used 
the preparation you sent with your last letter.  We shall see if it has 
sufficient effect.  

Tomorrow, if I see her, I shall wave, and damn the consequences.

Affectionately,
Kei

p.s.  Please thank Omin for me.  You could do worse than follow his 
example of diligent study and lavish reward to those who have tutored him.  
You notice I do not put him forth as an example of other virtues.  All 
humor aside, I predict Hakan will not last another season.  Place your 
bets as you see fit.  
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