Monday, December 15, 2008


Or: a Boy and His Manservant.

The Earl of Nikolassia walked to get a cup of morning tea, having just awakened. "Top of the morning to you, good sir," he remarked upon seeing his faithful manservant in residence. "Be so good as to fetch me a cup of the other Earl, would you?"

"We should go to the Lexington Reservoir, sir," the manservant told him in response.

"What?" the Earl inquired, now within a carriage driven by the manservant. "Where are we going now, my good man?"

"Apologies, your lordship, but there is a rain falling, and I must outrun it," the manservant informed him.

The Earl, still rather befuddled, nodded his head sagely. "Carry on," he said, and then noticed that he was holding a full tea-cup in one hand. What a pleasant surprise!
He sipped. Daintily, as a Gentleman ought.

The rain being outrun, and the tea being finished, the Earl once again turned to his manservant. "Wherever are we going?" the Earl asked somewhat puzzlement. "Lexington Reservoir, you said?"

"Yes, your lordship," the manservant replied with indefatigable patience. "We are going to the Reservoir to see the structures the Ancients built there, which have been exposed owing to the prevailing conditions of drought."

"The Ancients, you say?" the Earl exclaimed. "Why, that's wonderful! They must have been there, beneath the surface of the reservoir, for decades - perhaps centuries! Well worth a trip, I'll say!"

"Thank you, master," the manservant said humbly.

The carriage reached the turnoff to the reservoir; two forks were available. After a brief consultation between manservant and master, they elected to take the left route. Much traffic of man and beast was observed.

"Peculiar!" the Earl said. "Whatever can they all be doing here?"

"Perhaps they are here to see the works of the Ancients, just as we are," the manservant speculated. "But... then why are they all at the rowing club, when the provocation of our visit is drought?"

"Perhaps it is simple coincidence - a weekly or monthly meeting scheduled at the time of our visit?" the Earl suggested.

They continued on, seeing no easy route down to the base of the reservoir from the rowing club.

Shortly thereafter, the manservant pulled the carriage off the road to a scenic point. "Douglas Miller Memorial Point," the Earl read off a nearby sign. "Killed in the line of duty - tragic! And so soon after he ceased to be a sonar, too!"

There was a moment of silence for the deceased Doug.

Then they continued on.

"There's no route down from here, either", the Earl sighed, looking downwards from the memorial point to the base of the reservoir. He could see others who had already made their way down, reduced nearly to specks by the effects of distance. "Perhaps we could take that trail along the side...?" he suggested, gesturing.

"No, your lordship, I'm afraid that really wouldn't lead us where we want to go," the manservant said.

"I'm afraid you're right," the Earl admitted. "Very well, then. Ho!"

They set off again.

To one side, they saw a curious road: "Soda Springs", leading upwards and away from the reservoir. The name intrigued them; but they did not take the road.

After some time traveling upon the circumference of the reservoir, the Earl and his servant became demoralized. "Perhaps we will be unable to make it down," they mused grimly. "Perhaps those people we saw made it down from private property, their own houses. Perhaps we were doomed to failure from the first."

The carriage reached one last turnoff; they turned off. "We have nearly circled the entire reservoir, your lordship," the manservant remarked grimly. "This is where we would have gone if we had taken the right fork. If there is no route down from here - and I do not see one - then this expedition is in vain."

"Wait!" cried the Earl suddenly. "I saw something - there, to the left, as you brought the carriage in. Let us look."

They beheld a gate.

"Here," the Earl said excitedly, pointing to a sign upon the gate. "No Swimming or Wading, Good Gentle- and Lady-Folk - implying that there must be a way to get to the reservoir from here! And - ha - just as I surmised - a foot-path around the gate, which must be here solely to block equestrians and those in bulkier modes of transport!"

Delighted, the Earl and his manservant forged onwards. They encountered fellow travellers - whom they greeted cordially - en route to the ruins of the Ancients, which matched all their expectations. Daguerreotypes were taken, items were studied, an ill-considered movement of the Earl resulted in widespread application of silaceous ooze to his boots. ("Drat!" the Earl remarked.) Quite a successful expedition, both Earl and manservant agreed.

When the rain finally caught up to them, they hardly even minded!

(The mud caked on their boots, though, was rather more a bother to remove - but that is a story for another day.)

A pictorial augmentation of this stirring tale will be forthcoming, so soon as the manservant finishes his duties in the darkroom. Have patience, dear friends - it shall be well worth the wait.

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