The Valley

11 August, 2011 at 15:24 (Lace and Steel, Short) (, , , , , , , , , )

He peered into the mirror at the suit’s reflection, he still wasn’t completely certain but his mother, visible out of the corner of his eye nodded, pleased. He looked down at the tailor, a small fellow, even for a pixie. The pixie seemed to be making some last minute adjustments to the fit of the hose, presumably accomodating for his hooves which didn’t seem to help the fuss of the fashion. He wondered if the pixie too felt the sense of ridiculousness and then concluded that he probably did not, his wings were tucked neatly into a roomy linen shirt showing at least a nod towards the fashion of the commoners.

He returned his gaze to the mirror, his own outfit was more than a nod. His mother had insisted that he be ‘up to the minute’ for his first presentation at court. This at least included a comfortable linen shirt but then the tailor his mother had appointed had been stopped short by the notion leg garments for a half-horse. His mother had written to her cousin and then shown the tailor some of the sketches and read out some of the descriptions of precisely what was being worn in Paris and Strelsau. The result were the modified stockings and hose that the tailor was fiddling with now.

The stockings had no feet and were tied to the ankle above the hoof with ribbon they extended above the knee where they were again attached by ribbon. The hose…he shut his eyes and refused to look at this part of his reflection…it looked more like an apron intended for wear by his sister. Brightly patterned with the greens and golds reflected in his doublet’s slashed sleeves, it billowed out around his upper legs and was tied at the waist over his shirt and below the doublet. It was of course open at the back where the rest of his body remained it’s unclothed chestnut coated self. He wished his father was still alive and would come in, wearing his favourite leather jerkin, and kick out the tailor and tell him that no son of his had to undergo this ritual humiliation. But his father was dead and his mother looked proud enough to burst at the sight of her son in all the needless fripperies of court.

“Of course you shall have his hair in curls?” asked the tailor of his mother.

“Oh yes.” she said and he winced at having his hair in rags the night before, so tight as to make sleep impossible.

“Can’t I have a hat?” he asked, thinking of the felt creations with the feathers that he had seen some of the french musketeer’s wearing.

“You’re too young for a hat.” said his mother sharply.

But not too young to have a sense of shame, he thought looking at his unhappy reflection.

“Is madam happy with the final fit?” asked the tailor.

His mother looked at him, had him turn around in front of the mirror, expressed some last concern over a part of the belt and then pronounced him finished.

It was with some relief that he shed the uncomfortable garments, pulled on a soft jerkin for what would be the final time and ran out of the house. His hooves clattered over the fashionable sandstone and at last began to sink slightly into the lush green of the estate beyond. He charged headlong up the valley until he leapt the stone wall marking the boundary of his family’s land and raced up the wild mountainside, breathless. Coming to the summit he paused and looked about him, the forested mountains, the farmed valley, the wild rocky mountains to the east and the warm civilised Ruritanian hills to the west. This would be the last he would see of them for some time. He breathed in the air that was his own, opening his lungs as much as he could, holding it in until he could do so no longer. There he remained, on the mountain at the end of the valley until the sun’s rays turned from bright daylight into the orange-pink of twilight.

He breathed his silent goodbye to the land of his childhood and turning to head back down the mountain wished he could put off the spectre of his adulthood just a little while longer.


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