Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Editor's Corner

October 2012

"Compassion is a far more powerful weapon than violence. Let us all become weapons of mass compassion."...Carlos Santana

Love the quote and not just because a great deal of compassion has come this way recently.  For those who don't know, your editor will have a left side mastectomy on October 11, and therefore the November and December issues will be combined for one Holiday issue to be released (hopefully) the first of December.  Please, authors, get your compositions in by the 20th of November.

There are two poems included from the late Linnie Jane Joslin Burks,  sister of your editor's mother, and missionary partner of her husband Dr. Edgar Burks.  They served in Nigeria over a span of 34 years with the Southern Baptists Convention.  Many of her poems extol the beauty of that area, and of the people.  One is about her brother Rex when he lost himself at the tender age of three, "Life at Three," and the other was for her daughter Alice Anne when she had the measles.

Bruce Clifford sent two poems, "Moving Mountains" and "The Race."  John I. Blair's second "Always Looking" column about "People Who Made A Difference, II" focuses on Peter Cooper.  With his recent pc crash, however, no new poetry submissions this issue. Happily, Phillip Hennessy sent one titled "Compromise."  Also included one poem by yours truly, "How to be Nice."

 In"Angel Whispers" Peg Jones lets us keep up with her new endeavors and why she feels the angels guidance plays a big part. Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" tells us all about Leo Dunne, an Irish author. Leo C. Helmer has been under the weather and introduces a Guest Columnist, SeLena May Olgin, with her "Apple Crispy Treat."  SeLena is one of your editor's granddaughters and since she is borderline Autistic, her recipe here is one that those who are also disabled can still have fun assembling and fixing something special to share.

Thomas F. O'Neill discusses current events before elections in "Introspective," while "Eric Shackle's Column" by Eric shares some innovations in technology and the background of the face on the new Australian $50 note.  His article about Napoleon Bonaparte's gifts to Josephine is eye-opening, romantic, and a treasure of information.

Mark Crocker has added more to his second book of Rabbo Tales, "Rabbo II -Chapter 8 Planning." Previous chapters of this tale can be accessed by clicking the author's name.

See you in December.

Click on Mary E. Adair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.
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The race for the White House seems to be turning in President Barrack Obama’s favor especially after a video surfaced of Mitt Romney speaking at a Florida fundraiser. In the video he said 47 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes. His statement is correct but what he went on to say angered many. He stated that 47 percent of Americans have a victim mentality and feel entitled to our Government entitlement programs. He sounded as if he was saying nearly half of our country is made up of moochers.
In the same video Romney stated 47 percent of Americans won’t take responsibility for their lives and that he won’t win those people over because they will vote for Obama. He came off in the video as if he doesn't care for nearly half of America.
Is there abuse within the welfare system you bet there is but many people in our country the ones Mitt Romney appears to be dismissing don’t want to be in that situation. Many are retirees barely getting by and millions of others have lost Jobs, homes, and their savings. They have truly fallen on severe difficulties not the moochers Mitt Romney makes them out to be.
A large percentage of our country’s homeless are veterans living on the streets of America going through their daily routine mostly ignored. Many people have lost their self-respect, their dignity, and feel as if they are failures in life. They feel they have fallen flat on their face unable to get back on their feet.
Falling flat on your face does not make one a failure remaining flat on your face defines a failure. The moment you pick yourself up and brush yourself off is the moment you take a fresh start in life. There are those who think they can’t and give up trying and there are those who think they can and continue on against all adversity. That is the true measure of one’s character and it is not gauged in times of comfort and convenience but rather it is measured in times of challenge and controversy.
Most voters feel our country lacks vision and leadership and they are not really satisfied with the 2012 Presidential choices. That won’t stop many from voting though but I don’t think this will be the year of Mitt Romney. He is trying to pass himself off as a great righteous soul a man for all the people but he seems to have made quite a lot of missteps throughout his campaign. The missteps were mostly due to saying the wrong things at the wrong time to the wrong people.
America is searching for a leader who will tell them not what they want to hear but the truth. They are searching for a great soul that can provide our country with vision and direction toward a brighter future.
Great souls enter the world and become known by the sheer force of their opposition from small mediocre minds. The light that emanates from these extraordinary leaders will always dissipate the darkness from the mediocrity. The Republican Party however is trying to win over the American people through mediocre leadership.
No matter who wins the election America will still have rough times ahead but our country has been in rougher times in the past. We always pull through in times of great need and our country has enjoyed the fruits of our labor in times of plenty.
Our national character will always be measured though by how well we reach out to those of the least influence, the unseen, the undetected, and the downtrodden those with the least means to stand on their own.
I suppose in Mitt Romney’s eyes those who care for the poor are the Obama people and I suppose that is why I will be casting my vote for Barrack Obama in 2012.

Always with love from Suzhou, China

Thomas F O'Neill

U.S. Voice mail: (800) 272-6464

China Cell: 011-86-15114565945

Skype: thomas_f_oneill


    Click on Thomas F. O'Neill for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes

“ . . .the Hill”
It was 1965. I hid a book in the cow-house, in Kylebeg, between readings. Why am I telling you this? The book was Lee Dunne’s, Goodbye to the Hill a publication which would be deemed to corrupt the teenagers of Ireland.  A year earlier Dunne, former resident of Mount Pleasant Buildings in Dublin, and now London cabbie had sat down , “ . . . with the idea of writing a short story about a fourteen-year-old-kid who rides his bicycle down this hill six days a week for three years, vowing in his own way ; ‘ Someday real soon, I’m going to say goodbye to this place’ .”
Goodbye to the Hill was a bestseller in England and the USA selling more than a million copies worldwide but banned in Ireland.  It was made into a Hollywood film Paddy in 1970 which was also banned in Ireland. (It was granted a 12A certification in 2006.)
Lee Dunne didn’t rest on his laurels. He adapted Goodbye to the Hill as a stage play and it went on to break all records and became Ireland’s longest running play.    Like John B. Keane before him Dunne was rejected by the Abbey. The national Theatre turned down Goodbye to the Hill   because they “didn’t think it stageable.”
During the plays epic run in the Regency, in Dublin, (from September 1989 to December 1992) one journalist wrote, “Many of the audience have never been to a play before or, if they have been, it was this one. During the interval, we all talk to each other. It’s not like the Peacock or the Gate where people at the bar are commentating on the interpretation or the interaction. At the Regency, we’re here to enjoy ourselves. Which is why you hear the occasional bottle being knocked over as someone makes his or her way out in the middle of the show for a natural break.”
One unkind critic who criticised Goodbye to the Hill for its “scatological pursuit of laughter”  showed his agreement about the certain continued  success of the play by  grudgingly writing, “ . . . certainly it seemed at times that the only way to end its run might be to get a heavy stick and beat it to death.” George Moore hit the nail on the head when he said, “The lot of critics is to be remembered by what they failed to understand.”
Lee Dunne could see the reason for his sidelining by the established intelligentsia, “Of course they didn’t like me, I never joined clubs; I never played the games. If you look at the artistic structure in this country, it is people who went to university together who are on the same boards, people that don’t even rock the boat with a statement that’s one degree starboard of port.”
However Dunne’s genius was noted by many commentators. In his, meticulously researched, Writing Ireland’s Working Class, Dublin after O’ Casey, Michael Pierse compares the messenger- boy from Mount-Pleasant Buildings with great writers of Ireland and beyond.   Pierce puts the man who brought “working- class Dublin into the nation’s living rooms” up there with Brendan Behan, James Plunkett, and John Osborne and gives a nod to Lee’s similarity to Daniel Defoe and to Dickens in his insight into slum life where poverty and frustration had people “screaming at each other like wild animals.”
Dunne’s, insight into socio-economic deprivation, the effects of TB and slum-dwelling on  those exposed to it, is laconically summed up by Pierce when he refers to, “echoes of another Dubliner, Robert Tressell” author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
Goodbye to the Hill is of course largely autobiographical. We learn in Lee’s autobiographical work No Time for Innocence (which he later did as a one-man show)  that  the character Paddy Maguire’s relationship with Clare Kearney, a woman in her forties,  was based on the author’s experience which he describes as, “ A metaphor  for exploitation and the taboo of child abuse.”

Keats said, of poetry, that unless it comes “as naturally as leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” Lee Dunne would agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. Writing always came easy to him.  In all of his twenty novels, screenplays, radio-dramas, one-man shows and articles the words just flowed. The characters took on a life of their own. As a child going to the pictures in the Stella in Rathmines he copped on pretty quickly that what was happening on the screen had been written by somebody. He wasn’t slow to tell the family and anyone else who would listen that he was going to be a writer. The result?  He was branded a “nutcase.”
Mount Pleasant Buildings, where it all started, are no more; demolished and replaced with Swan Grove. Perhaps the old buildings had, if not charm, character (whatever that is.)
Lee Dunne has described it as, “a scab, a sort of dry sore on the face of Dublin, and to this day I believe that it was just that, a custom-built slum -- of cold-water flats, situated on Dublin's south side.It was a concrete and iron-bars place, like a prison unit that, to my young mind, was barely fit for people to exist in, but deemed more than good enough by the powers that were in a position to dump the poor anywhere they liked, without one among us being able to do a thing about it.” 
I lived in Ranelagh in the 70s in the dying days of “the Buildings” and it would be hard to disagree but as that other great Irish writer Maurice Walsh said,“A place acquires an entity of its own, an entity that is the essence of all the life and thoughts and griefs and joys that have gone before.”   
Despite the hardship and defeatism is the much traveled, cosmopolitan, Lee Dunne’s heart still there, at 162 where he was born on Friday 21st December i934(?) As the Greek poet Cadaly wrote: “No matter where you wander all over the world, in the fields and streets where you grow up, there you will live and there you will die.”
George Bernard Shaw who was born less than a mile from Lee Dunne’s birthplace said, “The man who writes about himself and his own time is the only man who writes about all people and about all time.”   
And Goodbye to the Hill is not fenced in by time or geographical boundaries. Just as John B. Keane’s rustic characters served as a universal blackboard to illustrate the foibles of human nature to an off-Broadway audience, so a rural Irish audience would have no difficulty recognising “Harry Redmonds” and “Paddy Maguires” in their own community.  Any drama group, amateur or professional, in any part of the world, wouldn’t go far wrong by staging Goodbye to the Hill.
The author (who is still pounding the keyboard at 78 years of age) can be contacted at leeleedunne@eircom.net
His website is; www.leedunne.com
Lee Dunne.jpgLee Dunne.jpg

Click on Mattie Lennon for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Cookin' With Leo

Apple Crispy Treat

So now we have the opportunity to rest on our laurels and simply introduce Guest Cooks from time to time.    Dear Sweet Italian Fairy Godmother suggests that good cooks run in the family and she cast her eye in SeLena May's direction saying that one has a real touch in the Kitchen. So when asked to help out, Wow! that gal whupped up a tasty dish you can serve hot or cold and set back and listen to the applause.  Here's the way she does what it takes to get it on the table.
Here is your recipe for this great treat:
  • 6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 3/4 Cup pure Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup rolled Oats
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup softened Butter
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  •  1/8 Tsp Cloves
  •  1/2 Cup Pecans, chopped
Here is how to do it:

Mix together Flour, Oats, Brown Sugar, and spices, and half of the pecans; set aside.
Put apples in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish first and coat well with Maple Syrup.

Mix butter into dry mixture til crumbly then sprinkle over the apples

Sprinkle remaining pecans on top.
Bake in 350 degree oven 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
         Very good ala mode while hot or served with a big glass of milk.

SeLena says it is good hot out of the oven but still good the next day cold.
She has tried different varieties of Apples but prefers the sweeter Red Delicious
or Mackintosh.  The green Granny Smith or Golden Delicious are more tart and
you may want to add more sugar for them.  She suggests around Thanksgiving to
add some of the dried cranberries (Craisins) with the apples. 

Take Care Now, Ya’heah!

Click on Leocthasme for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Angel Whispers

Happy October to      everyone on Pencil Stubs.

I know the angels have a lot to say but they aren’t saying it to me at this time.  So I am going let you know of my newest venture that the angels have lead me to.  There is a new website that just opened up. The name of the site is SOC LIVE. It’s a site where you can have free chats with the staff on there.  In addition to free chats, we offer a variety of consultants and different types of readings, and consultations.  The address for Soc live is http://spiritualistsonline.org/.   

I would love to be able to speak to any of you at any time.  You can email me at peg@pegsangelicalwhispers.com  to set a time or you can look at my daily schedule on SOC Live in my profile page.  You can also join me on Face book. I am Peg Wolff-Jones, there.  Also at Face Book there is a Soc Live Page that you can join too. I will be referring to this page when I am online.

I will be doing Angel intuitive readings and also Angel Life Coaching.  Also I'm offering readings for the Akashic Records, and healing meditations, and visualizations in meeting your angels. SOC Live is part of Spiritualists online Network. www.spiritualistsonline.com

The angels have led me to writing more articles, writing for other sites, and also I have been channeling messages from my angels almost daily for the past year and a half. I have been led to compile the messages into a year’s worth of daily meditation book.  The messages talk about the heart place, how to get to the heart place, love, healing, lightworkers, ego, and also what peace is, how to speak to your angels and how to listen to their messages too.  There is a writing exercise along with each message.

I am working on making it into an eBook .  I will keep you posted on the progress of the Ebook.  I have been writing a lot of poetry of late and I think the angels like that I am doing that .

So as I write this I wonder why they had me write all of this.  There is nothing like tooting my own horn.  But I am hearing from my angels. “You are worthy and you need to embrace this.”  So I guess this is a lesson in learning to be worthy and that I am worthy of all that may be coming to me. 

But you know, everyone is worthy of using the gifts God has given to them.  We need to feel this worth within ourselves and to share with the world in a way so we announce to the world our worthiness.  It’s taken me a long time to even feel that I am worthy.  I believe it’s better now than never.   As women, we spend a lot of time during our lives helping others, caring for others,  and we forget that we are worthy of love and that we need to take care of ourselves too.  To say 'no' once in a while, to others. 

In doing all that we have done all of our lives, we forget about ourselves, and what we truly want to do with our lives.  My angels suggest that we take a day, a weekend to be with ourselves and write our goals for ourselves and to be just ourselves.  They remind us that this is ok because many of us have forgotten what it’s like for us to truly think of our goals, gifts and dreams.  So as an act of kindness for yourself,  take this time for you and to know that you are worthy of all who you are.    And do it often… 

And do it often…

Peg Jones, ALC
Angelic Life Coach
office:  The Healing Center, 234 Cabot Street, Beverly, MA 01915
website : http://pegangelicalwhispers.com
Blog : http://angelwhispersangelmessagefortheday.blogspot.com/

Click on Peg Jones for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Eric Shackles's Column

Man on the $50 Aussie Note 

Clicking on the Google banner the other day I was pleased to find that it paid homage to a remarkable indigenous Australian who was born 150 years ago. David Unaipon (1872-1967), is portrayed on Australia’s $50 bill. He was a preacher, inventor and writer. Unaipon's fascination for science was kindled under the teaching of Mr. W. Hutley.

Unaipon went on to develop many inventions including an improved hand-piece for sheep-shearing which was patented in 1909 with the help of Herbert Basedow, a former South Australian Protector of Aborigines His most successful invention was a shearing machine achinhat converted l motion into the straight line move which is the basis of modern mechanical shears, was introduced without Unaipon receiving any financial return.

From 1909 to 1944 he made a number of other patent applications. He conducted experiments and made models in an attempt to discover the 'secrets' of perpetual motion. He wrote in his 1951 Life Story: "Even if I never arrive, I shall always recall with pleasure the hours I have spent and the experiments I have tried in endeavouring to solve a scientific problem."

Images: http://preview.tinyurl.com/9dwxjyr David Unaipon College: http://www.unisa.edu.au/Education-Arts-and-Social-Sciences/David-Unaipon-College-of-Indigenous-Education-and-Research/
From Sydney, Australia. Posted Thursday, 27 September 2012, at 23:04

Geothermal Power Is HOT!

If you drill a deep well in several areas of Australia, and then pour water down it, the water turns to steam, and returns in a jet fierce enough to drive a turbine to generate electrical power. It’s an exciting concept called geothermal power.

It’s in its infancy in Australia, but several companies are actively developing it. There are known and potential locations near the centre of the country that have been shown to contain hot granites at depth which hold good potential for development. Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected. As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations.

For the British company specialising in the development of geothermal resources, see Geothermal Engineering Ltd.

At the core of the Earth, thermal energy is created by radioactive decay and temperatures may reach over 5000 degrees Celsius (9,000 degrees Fahrenheit). Heat conducts from the core to surrounding cooler rock. The high temperature and pressure cause some rock to melt, creating magma convection upward since it is lighter than the solid rock. The magma heats rock and water in the crust, sometimes up to 370 degrees Celsius (700 degrees Fahrenheit).

Exploratory geothermal wells have been drilled to test for the presence of high temperature geothermal reservoir rocks and such hot granites were detected.

As a result, projects will eventuate in the coming years and more exploration is expected to find new locations. From hot springs, geothermal energy has been used for bathing since Paleolithic times and for space heating since ancient Roman times, but it is now better known for electricity generation.

Worldwide, about 10,715 megawatts (MW) of geothermal power is online in 24 countries. An additional 28 gigawatts of direct geothermal heating capacity is installed for district heating, space heating, spas, industrial processes, desalination and agricultural applications.

Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries. Recent technological advances have dramatically expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating, opening a potential for widespread exploitation.

Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped deep within the earth, but these emissions are much lower per energy unit than those of fossil fuels.

As a result, geothermal power has the potential to help mitigate global warming if widely deployed in place of fossil fuels. The Earth's geothermal resources are theoretically more than adequate to supply humanity's energy needs, but only a very small fraction may be profitably exploited.

Drilling and exploration for deep resources is very expensive. Forecasts for the future of geothermal power depend on assumptions about technology, energy prices, subsidies, and interest rates. Polls show that customers would be willing to pay a little more for a renewable energy source like geothermal.

But as a result of government assisted research and industry experience, the cost of generating geothermal power has decreased by 25% over the past two decades.

In 2001, geothermal energy cost between two and ten cents per kilowatt. The 30 MW Paralana project is located adjacent to the Beverley Uranium Mine. It is an enhanced geothermal system (EGS) project, based on Petratherm’s "heat exchanger within insulator" model.

The 25 MW Cooper Basin demonstration project will demonstrate the potential of hot-rock geothermal energy for zero-emission, base-load power.

The project is owned by Geodynamics and will be the world’s first multi-well hot fractured rock power project. Geodynamics has assessed its resource as holding geothermal energy sufficient to support several thousand megawatts of electricity generating capacity. The Jurien-Woodada project, owned by New World Energy Limited, is the most advanced geothermal play in Western Australia for electricity production.

The project is adjacent to transmission infrastructure and large resource-driven energy markets in the mid-west region. The project area has the potential to contain both hot sedimentary aquifer and EGS styles and is being assessed for delivery of electricity into Western Australia's South West Interconnected System. [ The Penola Project is part of Panax’s Limestone Coast Project and is the largest of only three known Measured Geothermal Resources in Australia. An independent assessment has estimated the geothermal resource potential at 11,000 petajoules.

The Penola Project has an extensive database with 28 petroleum wells. The deepest petroleum exploration well is approximately 4,000 metres and intersects more than 1,000 metres of the target reservoir, the Pretty Hill Sandstone.

Panax’s Salamander-1 well, drilled in 2010 is the first deep geothermal well drilled in the Otway Basin. It was completed in record time and is the first to demonstrate conventional geothermal technology in Australia. First steam was produced and the well-testing program was also completed on the project in 2010. The Salamander-1 well met its primary objectives.

At 4,000 metres projected geothermal temperatures were exceeded by more than 10oC and target reservoir rocks met the requirements for the development of a geothermal demonstration plant. An in-house pre-feasibility study found the project has the potential to generate power at $83 per megawatt hour, which is cheaper than wind power.

Complication with the well were found during well-testing. Reservoir engineers have been engaged to examine the well and carry out remediation works. Panax is pioneering conventional geothermal technology in Australia with its Salamander-1 well and is securing funding from the Australian Federal Government to progress the

Penola Project. Video: http://www.rtbot.net/Geothermal_power_in_Australia
From ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia. Posted Friday, 31 August 2012, at 18:01

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online
Author's Blog.

Always Looking - People Who Made a Difference, II

  Meet Peter Cooper

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in 1859 in Manhattan, New York, is among the nation's oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education. The college offers an unparalleled education in art, architecture and engineering, and has given every admitted student a full tuition scholarship for 150 years. It was founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist, Peter Cooper. 

Cooper (1791-1883) was a workingman's son who had less than a year of formal schooling. Yet he went on to become an industrialist and an inventor. Cooper made his fortune with a glue factory and an iron foundry. Later, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to successful ventures in real estate, insurance, telegraphy, and railroads. It was Peter Cooper who designed and built America's first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb. Cooper also invented instant gelatin (for which he received a patent in 1845). 

As a boy, Peter Cooper learned carpentry, beer brewing, and hat and coach making; but he was acutely aware of his lack of "even a common education." Though he later became one of America's richest men, he could not spell. In 1800, as a nine-year-old apprentice carriage-maker in New York City, he had unsuccessfully sought a place where he could learn scientific techniques and theory to supplement his innate inventiveness and manual skill. 

As he grew up, Cooper never forgot his beginnings or his lack of education. He thought children of immigrants and the working class deserved access to education. Believing that education should be "as free as water and air" he spent the last 30 years of his life creating and nurturing a school for the "boys and girls of this city, who had no better opportunity than I." 

Peter Cooper
As one of the first colleges to offer a free education to working-class children and to women, Cooper Union was a pioneer long before access to education became public policy. At first, Cooper Union provided night classes for men and women in the applied sciences and architectural drawing. 

In addition, the college's Female School of Design, open during the day, offered free art classes as well as training in the new occupations of photography, telegraphy, "type-writing" and shorthand. Those free classes — a landmark in American history and the prototype for what is now called continuing education — evolved into three distinguished schools that make up The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art: the School of Art, the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. 

Cooper, however, founded more than a college. From the beginning, Cooper Union also provided a public reading room and library, and a meeting place for artists and inventors. In the historic 900-seat Great Hall, the public heard social and political reformers as well as free lectures on science and government. 

Today, the Great Hall continues as a home for public forums, cultural events and community activities. Cooper Union is also the place where Thomas Edison and Felix Frankfurter were students; where the Red Cross and NAACP were organized and where Susan B. Anthony had her offices. Peter Cooper's dream was to give talented young people the one privilege he lacked—a good education. He also wanted to make possible the development of talent that otherwise would have gone undiscovered. 

Since 1859, Cooper Union has educated thousands of artists, architects and engineers, many of them leaders in their fields. “My hope is that the love and desire for scientific knowledge will cause unborn thousands to throng the hall of Cooper Union to learn the beauties and to obtain the benefits provided in nature for the use and elevation of mankind. These will be known and enjoyed where men keep, subdue and hold dominion over the world and all that is in it. I trust the young will here catch the inspiration of truth in all its native power and beauty and find in it a source of inexpressible pleasure to spread its transformed influence throughout the world."

Adapted from:
Cooper Union today

Click on John I. Blair for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Napoleon gave Josephine kangaroos, emus, black swans

By Eric Shackle

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Josephine stocked their Versailles palace garden with gum trees, kangaroos, emus and black swans. Those little-known facets of history must have surprised many viewers of Gardening Australia on TV-1 the other day. Melbourne garden guru Jane Edmanson interviewed Amanda Dunsmore, one of the curators of an exhibition. “Napoleon: Revolution to Empire”, at the Melbourne National Gallery:
The interview went like this:

JANE: I think everyone's very well aware of how famous Napoleon was for his military battles in Europe and conquests, but perhaps people are not quite so aware of his interest in Australia and the scientific interest that he held for Australia since he was a young boy and reading Captain Cook's Voyages. He was a man of taste and scientific interests.

Josephine, his wife, had a passion for exotic flora and fauna and she brought of Australian plants to France for the first time where they are still growing today.

Napoleon's interest in Australia seemed to begin early. The explorer, La Perouse was sent to New Holland by the King of France, Louis XVI in 1785 and Napoleon, as a teenage cadet, tried to join the expedition, but was knocked back.

It's incredible to think that La Perouse landed at Botany Bay just days after the First Fleet and I like to think just how excited he would have been in jumping out and seeing our Australian flora and fauna for the very first time.
Amanda, La Perouse died at sea - that we know - and if Napoleon had been on that expedition, history would have been really different.

AMANDA: Oh indeed, indeed. They sent out another expedition to look for La Perouse - they still didn't necessarily believe that he was actually dead. It was led by a man called d'Entrecasteaux.

JANE: So what did he discover?

AMANDA: La Perouse, who was, in fact, lost at sea, but he did undertake scientific explorations of the south-east of Australia and particularly Tasmania and with his botanists and gardeners and scientists, collected thousands of specimens of flora, but also fauna - Australian animals as well.

One of the publications of the d'Entrecasteaux mission is his book by his botanist Labillardière and the book is the most significant publication on Australian flora to this date.
While Labillardière gathered plants in Australia, back home, the French Revolution was in full swing. Napoleon's battlefield victories saw him rise decisively to power and he married Josephine.

Together they set up house at Malmaison - an extravagant home just outside of Paris. It was in Malmaison's vast grounds that Josephine was able to indulge her love and passion for plants from all around the world, including many from Australia.

AMANDA: Malmaison was where she really stamped her mark and people, both explorers and collectors and naturalists, would send her specimens from all over the world.

JANE: So she was a real 'plantoholic'?

AMANDA: Oh undoubtedly.

JANE: So what kind of Australian plants did she end up with?

AMANDA: She had over 200 species of Australian flora growing. She was cultivating all thirteen known varieties of Eucalypts, she grew Mimosa of course, she had the banksia - these are all published in her very famous book Jardin De La Malmaison.

JANE: And a third of this book includes species from Australia. It was published in 1804 and these are the examples of the first Australian plant in her garden - named after her, Josephinia imperatricis.

Amanda, that's an amazing illustration of Josephine's hothouse. Was that her secret weapon to growing Australian plants?

AMANDA: I suppose you could put it that way. She built this hothouse within the first five years of moving to Malmaison and it really would have been one of the largest hothouses in Europe. That, of course, is where she was able to cultivate so many plants that otherwise wouldn't have survived out in the gardens of Malmaison.

JANE: A further French expedition in 1800 saw Nicolas Baudin not only finishing the final piece of Australian coastline mapping from Wilson's Promontory to Adelaide, but also providing fresh supplies of thousands more Australian plants - not just for the natural history museum, but specifically for Josephine's beloved garden. Did Josephine continued to love her plants and garden?

AMANDA : Yes absolutely. She lived at Malmaison till the day she died in 1814. By this stage though of course, she's divorced from Napoleon. He's remarried to Marie Louise and then of course, we know the rest of the story. He's defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and he's sent to exile in St Helena where he dies in 1821.

JANE: There's a touching poetic epilogue to this story. When Napoleon was exiled to St Helena, he took with him a collection of Australian plants as a constant reminder of Josephine and they are still growing there today.

Napoleon: Revolution to Empire: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/napoleon
From Sydney,Australia, Posted Monday, 17 September 2012, at 20:56

Click on Eric Shackle for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online
Author's Blog.

Rabbo Tales, Chapter 8 - Planning

 Lexsan and Devon sat facing Angus explaining about what he would need to lead the move to the third planet and what dangers he would face once Ra knew that he had landed with only thirteen others.
 Lexsan had kept her hands hidden though the whole interview as she knew that it really made Angus very uncomfortable that her fingers had starting to fade away.
 Angus looked thoughtfully at Lexsan pondering her comment about Ra and making sure Yhva was kept well away from him. He was also bothered by the location that Merwyn had picked as it was too far away from Merwyn for his liking as he would have preferred to spend time with his old friend. But Merwyn had always done right by him so while it would be hard to visit it would be nice to be on the same planet. And that had to satisfy him for the time being. Besides Merwyn had pointed out that Bastet was talking about setting up a trade route that would come to the port that would have to be built for the settlement anyway.
 The logistics of setting up the settlement with just fourteen people was not as much as Angus thought. Thankfully Bastet has stepped forward and offered supplies that would hold the settlement though the first year. She had offered grain, seeds, olive trees and a whole myriad of things that would be needed. She had even said that she would send craftsman to help build the houses plus help set up a defenses wall that would protect them if the locals became hostile due to what Ra had done in the past.
 But Lexsan had brought up an issue that was clearly bothering her and that was Yhva who to Angus seemed very quiet polite and friendly.
 “He is not what he seems. He is a very powerful young man and he might be even more powerful that Merwyn. You have to keep a close eye on him. You don’t want him taking over things and he will give half a chance” said Lexsan looking hard at Angus.
 “How do you know how powerful he is” asked Angus.
 “It is something I stated to see in my dreams as I fade” said Lexsan with a worried tone in her voice. “I am starting to see things very differently as I fade. It’s hard to explain. I know that my body fades but my mind is becoming more powerful and I see things better than I did before. Yet the words lack what I see, feel and know. Fading is not the end nor is it the beginning. It’s something different. Not like the fading we go though when we die. I just can’t explain it. But Yhva he will be trouble for you. It would be better if he stayed here. But I won’t let him stay here as that would kill him and I will not murder him by keeping him here. So he is to be your problem and he will be a huge problem”
 “How will he be a problem Lexsan” said Angus.
 “He is power hungry, very ambitious, under handed, charming, sweet mouthed and very cunning. You can’t help but like him. But as for trusting him? I would not trust him one bit. But he is to be your problem” said Lexsan.
 “Yes he is very charming” said Devon.
 “I agree he is very charming but I would also add not too bright” said Angus.
 “Not to bright? That’s a huge under statement Angus and you as leader can’t afford to make that kind of mistake. He will be a problem. The best way to deal with him is to keep him so busy that he does not have time to sweet talk anyone. And in how powerful he is and you will have your hands full’ said Lexsan.
 “Let’s get back to your departure time Angus” said Devon dryly. “Has Bladud given you a full report of when you can depart and how much fuel, water and food you will be taking and how much weight and how long the trip will take”?
 “Yes Bladud has it all worked out and I have to trust his figures as I will admit that my math skills fail in that department. I am a simple solider nothing more. But he assures me that the trip will take three and a half months and that we will arrive in time for Aerten to have her children. However the food rations worry me as we only have enough for the trip as long as there are no issues and you know how there is always issues and problems. Bladud explained to me that more weight means the trip will take longer and I don’t want to risk Aerten unborn children anymore than I have too. Beside I have become fond of Aerten. She really is a very sweet woman. But back to matters at hand. We are not taking anything as that would weigh too much. The only things I am letting them take are personal things that don’t weigh much. Bladud have gone over what each of us is taking and each item has been weighed and accounted for. Sadly I am leaving most of my armor and weapons. But I am taking the sword that my father gave me when I took my oath to be an oath keeper plus the lock of my bond mates hair and our child’s blood and hair. They don’t weigh much and they are all I have left. Most of the others are taking small items such as I am. It seems that the weight issue is key to a speedy trip. Bladud keeps explaining that as we get closer to the star and the third planet we will speed up. Partly due to the lighter weight of the ship as fuel and food is used up but mostly due to the gravitational pull of the third planet and the star as we get closer. As I said I don’t understand the math involved” Angus paused to marshal his thoughts. “What I do understand and I have to trust Bladud is that everything is as it should be. After all he is risking his life too. What worries me is that he had not yet finished his training as a ships engineer. But as he was one of the last alive we have to trust him and hope that he has the skill to get us all there alive” said Angus.
 “He got us here with old outdated ships. And it was he who has kept the last ship running and ready to depart. He did have the sight to stop us from ripping the ship apart like the others where. And that is what will save you” said Devon looking and Lexsan.
 “Ok so I was wrong and you were right my beloved” said Lexsan clearly making some comment that had been part of a private discussion.
 Lexsan turned and looked back at Angus “how soon will you be departing”?
 “We can leave once the fuelling is done. Merwyn told me this morning his time that the weather is bad but it will be much better in three months when we will be close”.
 “Good. I feel that the sooner you leave the better as waiting would be harder on all of you. And watching myself and Devon fade is painful for you and the others to watch. Again I must warn you not to trust Yhva”.
 “I understand” said Angus.
 “So when will you be departing” asked Devon.
 “I don’t know. All I know is when we are fuelled. I have Bladud waiting outside to give you all the details” said Angus.
 “Well have him come in so that he can update us” said Lexsan.
 Bladud walked in smelling of dust and fuel. He looked around but failed to spot a chair to sit in. He looked at Lexsan and Devon before he turned and bowed to Angus.
 “Please make your report” said Angus trying to sound like a captain of a ship.
 “Sir we have about two more days’ worth of fueling and we are currently loading ships stores for the trip which should be finished by tonight thanks to the aid given with loading by Yhva. Private property has been stored and we can lift once fueling is completed in less than 12 hours. Once the fueling is complete I will start the count down as soon as you give the order sir. We can start loading personal as soon as you wish. But no later than three hours before departure. Is there anything more as I wish to return to the engine room and finish cleaning? After all sir a clean ship is a happy ship”.
 “Thank you Bladud that will be all” said Angus turning back to Lexsan and Devon.
 “Ok give the order to start boarding as soon as the fueling is done” said Lexsan as she stood up making sure that her hands stayed hidden and that her feet were covered.
 Angus stood up bowed and left the room.

Yhva sat alone having just finished the loading of the ships stores for the trip to the third planet. He had secretly been watching Ra and Bastet. He had tried to watch Merwyn but he had been unable to locate where Merwyn was. But that did not worry him as he could deal with Merwyn the same way that he dealt with everyone that was a threat to him.
 But Ra could be a useful tool and as for Bastet while she was powerful and smart she was to kind hearted to be a problem. But the famed general Merwyn could be a problem for him so he would have to use his charm and wit to win him over and by doing so he would have control over Merwyn.
 Yhva was just glad that no one knew who is grand father was. If they knew he would be put out on the surface of the planet to die and that would not be good. Beside while he carried the genes of Toner he was not Toner. And it was better to use people in a manner that did not spread fear.
 To Yhva it seemed wrong to use just fear. True fear was a useful tool but it was better to have people follow and obey without question by using love. But fear worked just as well too. It was far better to have people under you to do your bidding that loved you and would do what you told them without question. But to gain that goal was the tricky part as sometimes you just had to use fear.
 Yhva was glad that Lexsan would not be coming as he had a feeling that she might soon figure out who he really was and he had been so careful not to let anyone know that his grand father was the very man that they all hated. Even Yhva hated his grand father as he knew what he really was and that he did not have the courage to bring about what could have been.
 But if Yhva had known the truth about what Toner had really intended for Yhva he would have known that he was very much his grand fathers grand son.
 Yhva thought about Ra and how he could win him over and use him for his goal of creating a planet where the people loved them and treated them as loving and benevolent gods. And one day be able to raise the people on the planet up to the same level as themselves so they too could be god like and so that he Yhva could be there leader and create a Sirian empire and retake the sister worlds.
 He would have to have a son and or daughter for that but as yet their was no one that aroused his passion other than his faithful friend and sometimes lover. But she was not able to have children and besides she was of a different race and planet.
 Yhva turned his inner eye back to looking for Merwyn.

 Rabbo sat on the edge of the chair listen to Helena sing as she packed her few belongings that she had brought with her from her temple.
 It had been three weeks since she had arrived and the weather had turned nice and while there was still about two feet of snow outside the pathways were clear and the path to the temple had been kept clear of snow.
 Helena was happy as she had missed her period and Athena and Bastet had tested her and found that she was about a two weeks pregnant.
 “Why do you have to go” asked Rabbo.
 “I have duties that I need to perform at the temple Rabbo. Beside it’s not like I am a day’s walk from here like Athens is. Its only two and half hours though the woods” said Helena in a tone of voice that she hoped would reassure Rabbo.
 “Maybe for you its only two and half hours of walking but for me it’s a long hop. And Merwyn does not like me going though the woods alone” said Rabbo. “I can’t blame him really I am a rabbit if somewhat of a large one. And there are things in there that would eat me or so I am told”.
 “You are welcome to come and see me any time Rabbo” said Helena as she placed a stuffed rabbit that Wenna had given for Diana in her pack.
 “I think that was very sweet of Wenna to give her stuff wabbo to Diana” said Rabbo.
 “Yes very sweet of her” mused Helena. “Beside I have to travel down to Athens so that I can deliver the message from Merwyn I mean Zeus has given me”.
 “Which message is that” asked Rabbo.
 Helena laughed “yes there are two messages really. One message for the people and one message for the senators. I just hope I can deliver them the way Merwyn wants me to. And that another thing I have to do is get back in the habit of calling Merwyn Zeus”.
 “Why? I don’t think Merwyn really likes playing a god” said Rabbo.
 “I know he hates it. But it’s necessary after all how could I explain all of this” Helena said waving her hand at the whole room. “How could I explain you or what goes on here? Even though I can do one of the things you can do that does not even make me close to Merwyn, Athena, or Bastet. To my people what they can do only the gods can do and that makes them gods”. Helena held up her hand. A habit she has picked up from Merwyn and Bastet. “I know they are not gods and that they come from the stars but that too only the gods can do. So they are gods even though I know they are not. But to my people they are gods. Look you can travel using your mind to other places. Ok so I can do that. But what I can’t do is levitate myself, or move things with my mind or make people do my bidding without speaking, or see into the future. Nor can I talk mind to mind as you do, nor can I make things out of nothing, nor can I make bolts of lightening fly though the air or hold a storm overhead. Those are all things only the gods can do. Or that is what my people think and believe. So to my people Merwyn, Athena, Bastet and even you and Cat are gods”.
 “I just don’t understand that” said Rabbo thoughtfully.
 “That’s because it’s all around you. You have lived with it every day since you where born and it’s nothing to you” said Helena.
 “I know” said Rabbo. “But I still don’t understand it. It’s like when Ra takes over your voice. You are aware of it and its normal. But he has no idea that when it happens that you remember. But then he does not know about you anyway”. Rabbo paused “Oh I get it. Because I am use to it I don’t see what Merwyn, Athena, Bastet or myself do as anything out of the ordinary”.
 “Yes that it Rabbo. To you its normal and an every day thing being able to talk mind to mind and travel and see things without your body. But to my people that is so god like that only the gods can do that”.
 “Oh now I get it” said Rabbo very thoughtfully. “But you can astral travel. And Ra speaks though you although he does not know it. I wonder how that happens”.
 “Bastet explained it to me. I am his grand daughter although he does not know it. She took his genes and did something to my grand mother. All I know is that I am his grand daughter and if what Merwyn said is true about him I don’t like it at all. But then I am who I am and I am not my grand father” said Helena sadly.
 “Did some one mention my name” said Bastet walking into Athena’s bedroom.
 Helena giggled as Bastet sat down on the bed.
 Bastet was wearing white stockings panties and a tight halter top. She crossed and uncrossed her legs making a show of how long her legs were. Then she got up picked Rabbo up and shooed him out of the door.
 As Rabbo sat outside the bedroom Athena came walking down the hall way wearing a piece of cloth on her hips that covered very little. She also had on stockings and nothing more.
 Athena touched her fingers to her lips kissed then and then placed her fingers on Rabbo’s nose before she entered the room. She turned back and looked at Rabbo winked and closed the door.
 We are giving Helena he going away present” said Athena.
 Oh” said Rabbo as he turned to head to his elevator.
 Going away present indeed” said Merwyn.
 Yes and a reminder that she has a home here” added Bastet.
 Rabbo rode down in his elevator and hopped across the kitchen and headed outside to were Merwyn, Wenna, Merryn and Diana where.
 Merwyn was standing next to the children making snow balls dance in the air. Sitting near by was mischief and her rabbit kittens. Cat sat on the chopping stump watching what was going on as well as keeping one ear open.
 Rabbo turned and scanned with his ears and heard little feet hopping up the pathway so he turned and saw big sister and long ears coming towards him.
 They both looked fat and happy in their long winter coats. Behind them came Rabbo’s girl friend bossy.
 Bossy hopped right next to Rabbo and pressed against him. He noticed that she was giving off an odor that Rabbo knew meant that she was in heat.
 Great she is in mating mode” thought Rabbo.
 She is not the only one” said Athena’s voice drifting into Rabbo’s head.
 Great that means I won’t get any peace” said Merwyn with laughter in his voice.
 Bossy pressed hard against Rabbo and in the end Rabbo gave in and he and bossy hopped back down the pathway out of sight.

 It was mid afternoon when Rabbo, Merwyn, Athena, Bastet, Helena and the children arrived at the temple.
 Agatha was outside when she saw Merwyn, Athena, Bastet, Helena, Rabbo and the children step out of thin air and appear.
 Merwyn and Athena had explained to Helena that they would make everyone invisible as this is what Agatha was expecting as Helena had gone to visit the gods.
 After all if she had been with the gods she needed proof that she really had and as Athena had put it “what better way to have proof that to come back with the gods and pop out of nothing”.
 Agatha looked shocked and surprised and as soon as she saw Merwyn Athena and Bastet she got down on her hands and knees bowing so low that Merwyn was embarrassed at how low Agatha was to the ground.
 The spell was broken when Diana who Merwyn had been carrying wriggled out of his arms jumped down and went running towards Agatha squealing in delight at her Aunty Aggie.
 Agatha stood up and reached down and picked up Diana and held her close. “I’ve missed you Diana”.
 Diana snuggled in close wrapping her arms around Agatha’s neck and kissing her on the cheek.
 “Miss you Aunty Aggie” giggled Diana.
 Merwyn took Helena’s hand pulled here in to him and kissed her tenderly on the lips.
 “Won’t you stay for a while? I would so like that” said Helena.
 “Sadly we can’t. Athena and I have much to do as there is another storm coming and it will snow even down here” said Merwyn.
 “But we will come and visit again soon” said Athena. “Plus it’s not like it’s an all day walk. And with you being given a child by Zeus we will be watching over you”.
 Dad we have to play the gods. Not the lovers” Athena reminded Merwyn on his private mode.
 Oh yes that’s right” said Merwyn on the same mode as he turned and looked at Wenna and Merryn who where levitating a little so that they could see over the wall into the walled off garden.
 Agatha who had been watching Wenna and Merryn gasped as she saw them gentle lift off the ground and look over the wall at the garden.
 “Please Wenna, Merryn don’t scare the mortals it’s not nice” said Merwyn.
 “Sowwy Zeus” said the twins in unison.
 You told them to call me Zeus” said Merwyn.
 No Bastet did” answered Athena.
 Oh and where did she go? I did see her become visible
 She is in the temple checking things out. She is being a trader” giggled Athena.
 Merwyn looked over at Wenna and Merryn who were still floating looking over the wall at the rabbits who were eating the grass around the edge of the wall.
 “Please stop levitating” said Merwyn.
 The twins floated down to the ground and walked towards the gate that was held closed by a rope.
 Wenna looked at the rope and it fell apart. The gate swung open on its own and the twins walked into the walled off garden towards the rabbits.
 The rabbits all stopped eating and hopped over to the twins. Behind the twins Rabbo stood looking at Wenna shaking his head.
 “Wenna that’s not nice to use your coercion on the rabbits” said Rabbo.
 Agatha again turned and looked at the twins then at Rabbo. She dropped low to her knees again and bowed at Rabbo and the twins.
 “Get up my child” said Athena speaking to Agatha.
 Agatha stood up bowed low to Athena and smiled weakly.
 “Its just I am not use to the gods coming to visit. In my whole life I have only seen you from a far” said Agatha in awe.
 Athena sat down on the wall and looked at Agatha carefully. She beckoned Helena over and had her stand next to her before she turned back and looked at Agatha.
 “Agatha you are going to have to take care of Helena as she is with child. My father the lord Zeus filled her with his grace and she carries his child. Take care of her as she is loved and adored by the gods” said Athena playing goddess.
 Agatha looked at Helena walked shyly over and gave her a hug before she turned and looked at Athena. “My goddess I will look after the most beloved to the gods”
 Bastet sudden popped out of thin air with a loud bang and flash of light.
 Show off” said Merwyn on the general telepathic mode.
 I know how to play at being a goddess and the people expect a dramatic entrance” said Bastet.
 Bastet walked over to Agatha looked at her then reached down picked up Diana and hugged her. She then put Diana back down on the ground smiled and looked around.
 Athena slipped off the walk called Wenna Merryn and Rabbo out of the garden and then turned to Agatha.
 “We must depart to our home. The wind changed and we must be away. May you be blessed and loved Agatha. You are loved by us the gods and we hold you high. Love and honor out beloved Helena and Diana as they are much beloved by us” and with that Athena waved her hand and Rabbo Merwyn Bastet the twins and Athena all became invisible.
 They turned and entered the woods and started the two and half hour hike back to the house.

Dinner was cold cuts with pasta and a milk sauce. The meal its self was very tasty but hardly anyone talked as they all missed Helena and Diana.
 “I will have to leave soon too” said Bastet at last as dinner was nearly over.
 “I know” said Athena sadly. “You have been missing your children and I know you astral travel and talk to them all the time”.
 “I miss them so much” said Bastet becoming misty eyed. “Plus once I am home and recovered from self teleporting I have to sail to the location that you both picked for Angus and his people. It’s going to be a rough trip as I will be loaded down with lumber and tools”.
 “You have the plans I gave you for the windmill and the solar panels stored away in your head right” said Merwyn sounding all business like to hide his own feelings.
 “Yes” said Bastet.
 “No fair” squealed Merryn “Di leave and go home now aunty Bassy go” and with that both Merryn and Wenna started to cry 
 Athena slipped out of her chair and wrapped both her arms around the squealing and crying children and pulled them in close burying her head between them to hide her own tears that were now flowing.
 Rabbo too felt sad as he had grown very fond of Bastet as well as Helena and Diana. He hopped down from the table and hopped around to Bastet and looked up at her with huge eyes that were all glassy.
 Rabbo stood up on his hind legs and placed his paw gentle on Bastet’s leg and smiled weakly at her.
 “I am going to miss you Bastet” said Rabbo suddenly getting a lump in his throat.
 “Umm well ok now about your plans for their village” said Merwyn trying to sound cheerful and to lighten the mood. “Why so many houses? There are only going to be fourteen of them and seven houses would do fine”.
 “Well there are people in the area and they have a settlement up the coast and I was thinking that some of them might want to move in with them. Kind of like the set up I have” said Bastet with tears in her eyes.
 “But still is forty houses and a fortified wall a little overkill? They have a good view up and down the coast and the hill is the highest around and they have plenty of farm land and water. If you are worried about Ra sneaking up the coast or overland Angus will spot them. I know him well. Good man very good man is Angus”.
 “It’s not Ra I am worried about. It’s those people to the east that are making an empire for themselves. They might move in on that area. It’s a very good location so that’s why I am going to fortify it” said Bastet.
 “I don’t want to sound like I am stupid” said Rabbo “but why do you always have to build walls and worry about people attacking you. Walls break up the land and the land is so beautiful. I just don’t get it”?
 “It has to do with us being different and that people fear others than are different. And we are very different my dear rabbit” said Merwyn. “We have to be able to protect ourselves so that we don’t get killed. And given half a chance they will kill us as they fear us and worship us all at the same time. And that is wrong. Myself I just want to be left alone to live my life with those I love and adore. Myself I don’t care what they do to me. But hurt or harm those I love such as you Rabbo and I get very upset. So we have to build walls in one form or another”.
 “But you don’t have walls around the house. Well other than a wooden fence to stop the cattle wandering off” said Rabbo.
 “Oh but we do you see. We have a wall of trees all the way around us and if your future dream is right when we move there will still be a wall of trees around us” said Merwyn. “A wall is not just wood or stone in can be made in any shape or form you so wish. Here we use live trees”.
 “Oh I never looked at it that way” said Rabbo.
 As Rabbo and Merwyn talked Athena held her two girls close and the three of them cried softly.
 Bastet stood up walked over to Athena and knelt down with her and embraced her and the twins.
 Bastet stood up and took Athena and the children by the hand and lead them off to the living room where Cat, Rabbo’s mother, mischief and the rabbit kittens were curled up napping.
 “Rabbo human nature is sometimes strange. We often destroy what we don’t understand or what we fear instead of getting to know it and understand it. The people here on this planet are like how we were on Sirius. There were many that did not understand those that learned how to use their minds. At first they feared us but as their children started to learn how to use their minds they started to understand those with mental abilities. It took thousand of years for that to happen. But once most of our planet had learned to use their mental abilities it was easy. But before that it was bloody and nasty as they fought each other. Mostly out of fear and misunderstandings. At first they were freaks. I mean the ones with mental abilities. But as they became more and more they were looked on as the next logical step for the race and that was true. By the time I was born there where hardly anyone that did not have mental abilities. But Toner who was a very powerful man and who had been made planet ruler for life long before I was born thought that those with three or more major mental abilities where better than those that did not. We were the elite, the best and treated so well. To me that was so wrong so very wrong indeed. Just because genes gave me all the abilities that I have did not mean I was better than those that did not have as many as I do”. Merwyn paused for a moment and looked at Rabbo. “Long before I was born Toner was just a president of one of the continents. I don’t remember which one. I think it was one of the northern continents. But anyway he helped to unify the whole planet and was elected planet president. Again I am not sure if he was the second or third president? Anyway after his first ten year term was up he was elected for a second and third and finally a fourth term. And from what I learnt in school and found out later he did a very good job. But once he was made president for life that’s when things started to change. Slowly at first then faster as time past and he had more control of the government set up. Myself I don’t think he thought of himself as a bad man. None of us think that. You see Rabbo in our own minds what we do is for the betterment of ourselves and others. And I don’t think Toner was bad. Rather that those around him turned his wishes. But there again I could be wrong. You see Rabbo all of this happened before I was born and I have only second hand information and what I read in books and that could be all wrong. Anyway just after I was born the laws of the planet started to change terrible. By law only those with three or more major abilities could bond and then only to those that had three or more major abilities like themselves. Their children had to go to special schools once they passed a test to show that they had three or more major abilities. Those that had less than three major abilities where told who they could bond to and how many children they could have and where they could live and work. They were even told what they could do as work. In other worlds they were treated like second class citizens. My father and mother had three major abilities each and had been boned for I think two years before I was born. My father was the headmaster of the local school and my mother was the governor of the board of the local hospital. I think it was my mother that first started to get involved in the freedom movement as the followers of Toner started to tell her who the hospital could treat and who could work there”.
 Rabbo held up his paw to interrupt Merwyn. “Umm why did the people let this happen”?
 “That’s a good question Rabbo. And it goes to the very heart of the problem of people and human nature. People are just plain lazy. What I mean is that if life is easy they won’t work any harder than they have too. Look at it this way. If I gave you everything you need such as food water a roof over you head what would you do? Ok so you are not human. But a human would after a while expect those things and after a while they would tell you “it’s their right”. But it’s not their right. But by using their methodology it’s my right to take it away from them. But now if a human has to work for the food, water and a roof over their head they will do more and be much healthier than just sitting around being taken care of. But that’s just what Toner did he make it so easy for everyone to do as little as possible that lived in the huge cities. Out where the farm land was it was very different. The elite over saw those hard working people that the followers of Toner sent out to work the farms and factories and the fishing boats. Those poor people that the followers of Toner deemed were too stupid to be usefully for their needs work long hard hours for very little. They lived in long houses with thirty or forty to a house that was meant for ten. When I first saw what was happening I really did not see it. At the time I was young and stupid and had just joined the oath keepers and I had been away on one of our sister planets helping put down a rebellion against Toner. You see I still believed what I was being told at that point. I was swallowing the lie that was being told. And I had my eyes closed. It was after my second tour on yet another planet that was in rebellion that I met a man that opened my eyes”. Merwyn laughed softly. “I was a regiment commander by that time. Anyway Angus a sergeant in one of my platoons came to me with a problem. You see he had married this very smart woman before the laws about those with three or more abilities bonding to only those with three or more abilities. His bond mate only had two while he just barely had four. The problem was their son who had just been born. He had five abilities and the government wanted to take their son away as she was by law an unfit mother because of her lack in mental abilities. She adored their son and to me it was clear that she was a fit mother as well as smart and funny and took care of their son as well as working hard. But the law was the law and the law said she was an unfit mother. Which from what I had seen and what I believed was not the case and still do believe was not the case. So I went to the regional governor and explained the situation. I pleaded with them I begged them and I made sure that Angus was with me all the time when I went to those meetings. Even my general stepped in to help but would they let Angus’s son stay at home. No they took the child away tested him and found him wanting. When they returned him he was so quiet and his abilities where shut down. I still don’t know what they did but whatever it was damaged him for the rest of his life. Poor Angus became so depressed and his wife in the end took her own life as she felt she had failed Angus and their son. By the time she took her own life Angus and myself were already involved in one of the groups that kept opened minds about what the followers of Toner called the lesser peoples. It was then that I started to understand that just because some people had more abilities than others did not make them less than those like myself with more abilities. In fact to me they are the same as us. But well at that point I was still young. It was when I was about five hundred and years later when I was retired from being an oath keeper that I started to teach at a collage near to were I was born. By then I was so involved in the underground movement to repeal those laws that said who could bond to whom, who could work where and how many children could bond mates have. And all those stupid wrong laws that were holding us all back. By then I was so deep into the movement that I started to see things going on that I did not like. The new laws mostly restricted those people with less than three abilities. So I started to train those people that were in the same movement as I was. Then I met her. The most beautiful woman that you had ever seen”.
 “I love this part” said Athena who had returned to the kitchen.
 Rabbo and Merwyn turned and looked at Athena who was standing at the end of the kitchen table.
 “You and Bastet have finished planning her return to her village” asked Merwyn.
 “Yes but do continue with what you were explaining and telling Rabbo” said Athena.
 Merwyn laughed and looked at Rabbo before he turned back to Athena. “I’ve lost my train of thought when you interrupted”.
 “Sure you did. Why is it dad that when ever I am around and you are explaining the whole Toner thing and talking about my mother that you stop and won’t talk about it and or change the subject. Dad it would help you heal to get it all out in the open. Plus I think you should record it all for history” said Athena putting her hands on her hips.
 “As I have said in the past there were things that I did and saw that you should not know. Things that I did that I am not proud of. And well now there is only a few that remember or wish to remember and none from Toners side. So all that I tell is just from my side and Toners side can’t defend themselves for their actions. Besides you really don’t need to know” said Merwyn.
 “And why don’t I need to know” said Athena.
 “Because I don’t wish you to know’ said Merwyn.
 Bastet came walking out of the living room with Wenna on one hip and Merryn on the other.
 The twins looked tired and sleepy and hung on to Bastet as if they did not want to ever let go.
 “The girls are tired and sleepy. Let’s get them ready for bed” said Bastet. “Beside I think Merwyn needs to finish up talking with Rabbo about his past. As long as you and I are here Athena he won’t talk about it”.
 Bastet, Athena and the children all went upstairs leaving Rabbo and Merwyn alone to talk.
 “So you where saying about the laws and how you met Isis” said Rabbo.
 “Yes I was” Merwyn closed his eyes and leaned back and smiled to himself as he relived that moment when he met Isis. “It was late summer early fall and I had a class of first year students that were talking Sirian military history. And there she was. The oldest in the class but looked so young and youthful. I found out later that she was just auditing the class to learn something new. She did not need the credits as she already had a degree. Well she had five degrees at that point and was working on her sixth. Anyway the class was full of young men and women that wanted to be officer oath keepers and not one of them able to take orders. This is the first step to being a good officer. You see Rabbo you have to know what the common solider feels and you have to of been in their shoes and know what true fear is before you can be an officer. These young men and women all came from elite families and they believed it was their right to command. And serving in the oath keepers was a step towards being what was laughingly called the brothers or sisters of Toner. A kind of elite force that went around enforcing the laws that Toner and his followers had come up with for a cleaner more pure race. And there she was taking a class meant to turn young men and women into officers. At first I focused on teaching her while at the same time finding out who she was. What I found out though my contacts in the underground was that she was from an area that was in rebellion against Toner and that her real name was not the name she had given when she had signed up at the collage. She was a contact for the armed force that her family was funding and that she while looking young was in fact one hundred and seventy years old. Oh she was so beautiful and men and women chased after her to try and win her heart. Then one day I slipped and used her real name. Thankfully we were alone and I had to explain to her that I was a member of the local underground. After that she opened up and well we fell in love. Ok so it did not happen as fast as I made it sound or as perfect as I made it sound. It took time and me being turned down a number of times. But in the end we did go out for dinner and we started to talk about more meaningful things than just the class I was teaching. As much as I wanted her I kept my mouth shut about what I had done when I was a full oath keeper. We talked instead about what was wrong with our planet and what should be done about it and in the end we agreed that the force her family was funding needed a real officer and an officer oath keeper. You see I had retired from being an oath keep with the rank of battalion commander a low general. Well I ended my contact at the collage I was at and Toners government sent me to the high mountains to teach collage there. And well I was only 2 hours flight time from the high desert that Isis was from. I guess I better explain the area that her family was from. To the north of them was a high mountain range that is where the collage was that I was sent too. It taught mountain warfare. Two hours flight time and about two thousand feet lower down was this huge high desert that Isis’s family controlled and about an hour flight time and still in the area they controlled was the ocean. Anyway I taught there for about ten years before Isis gave in and we bonded” Merwyn paused.
 Rabbo thought that Merwyn was not going to say no more. Then Merwyn started to speak in a tone of voice that Rabbo had never heard before.
 It was a voiced filled with deep love and longing with a dash sadness thrown in.
 “We had ten wonderful years of peace and quiet. We faked my death so that the government thought I was dead. We hid in the mountains in a cottage much like this one. We had a garden and traded with a village near by. It was the perfect life. Then the government stepped in and ruin it. They sent a force to reestablish control over the area that Isis’s family controlled. And I was asked to train an army to fight. So we moved back to the town that Isis had grown up in and I started to train a force. It was meant to be just ten thousand strong but some how word got out and I thought that the government would move against us. But they were busy off world fighting to keep the sister worlds in line and losing badly. But people came to join us and soon I had a force of over forty thousand. I trained each platoon and regiment. I trained them hard and Isis helped me. She showed a natural ability for leadership. I had figured that we would have twenty years to mass a force that could take control of the continent. We kept in contact with other underground groups on our continent and the other three continents. The idea was that all together we would rise up and revolt together as one and that way the government could not focus on one group or area. But it did not work out like that. I guess it was about year twelve when things started and Toner brought the troops home and started to move against the area’s that where about to revolt. He moved against us first which was his mistake but cost me dearly. The government forces hit the coast so hard burning the cities to the north of the one that Bastet had moved to with her parents. They swung east and matched on the regional capital. But to get it in they had to go though this desert area that was perfect for my forces so we set up and waited. I had this really smart regiment commander that had seen more than his fair share of battles. Well when the government forces moved up on the region capital we let them set up and we used a fixing force to keep them in place while we moved around on the flanks and rear. Then we hit them hard. So hard in fact that out of one hundred thousand there was just ten thousand left. We lost just a few hundred. The regiment commander I mentioned who lead the attack on the right flank was our good friend Ra with his aid de camp Hermes. The pair was great officers and soldiers. For us the war went well and about two years into the war we had control of over seventy five percent of the continent. Then things started to go all wrong. And it all went wrong so fast.
 I was away when it happened. You see Isis had just given birth to Athena. And I went home to be with her. Athena was I guess about three months old and had already named herself and that was unheard of.
 Anyway Toner sent his elite force. And these soldiers were fanatics. Ready to die if Toner said “Die”. They hit my army so hard using their mental abilities as weapons. They worked together as one. It was brutal and nasty fighting and by the time I got word my army which had grown to over a million was holed up in the mountains and was back down to the size I had started with of just forty thousand. So we made a stand in the mountains. And at the end of the battle there were just ninety nine of us left. Then he came in person. Toner himself. Old gray and fading. I was offered a choice either to die on the spot with my bond mate and child and the last of my force or to leave the planet and never to return. If I took an oath never to return to Sirius my life and those of my soldiers would be spared. What I did not know was that a deal had already been cut between Hermes and Toner. So to save my bond mate and daughter I took the easy path and we left and came here to this planet. Now you know my side of the story Rabbo”.
 “Dad you seemed to have skipped over a lot of other stuff that I read about” said Athena sitting on the top stairs and looked down the stairs. “But that last part I never heard before about Hermes”.
 “Well he sold us all out” said Merwyn.
 “Yes I remember” said Bastet. “I was there too. The only time I ever saw battle and the only time I saw you as you really are Merwyn”. Bastet turned and looked at Athena “You dad can be very scary when he has a battle to face”.
 Merwyn turned and looked sadly at Rabbo.
 “You did what you had to do. Not for you Merwyn but for Isis and Athena. Don’t feel bad” said Rabbo.
 Bastet stepped over Athena and came walking down the stairs. She sat down at the kitchen table while Athena walked down the stairs went to the cool storage room and came back with a white wine skin. She placed four goblets on the table and filled them with wine.
 “Now to change the topic” said Bastet. “Angus and the others arrive in about three month’s right”?
 “Yes that’s right” said Merwyn.
 “Ok I figure that we can have a village built in three months and the harbor built in six months. With the natural blocks of rock in the area and the rich soil we can have the village up and running in less than a year”?
 “That fast” asked Athena.
 “Yes that fast” said Bastet. “The way we have planned it is that Angus will be able to control the coast along that area and be able to set up a good trade harbor that will make the area able to support its self in less than five years”.
 “Plus there is copper and tin in the area that should be able to be mined with great easy. Thus giving Angus something that he can trade for things that he can’t get any other way” said Merwyn. “The reason I put Angus there and not closer is that he can be an early warning if Ra gets it into his head to move up the coast against us. And that Angus is far enough away that he and I don’t sit around and talk about old times and do nothing. It’s like I said Rabbo. If life is too easy we as a race will take the easy path and do nothing but sit around”.
 Athena smiled at Bastet and then turned to Rabbo and Merwyn. “So if I understand right Angus is to watch Ra and to become a trader. Would that be hard for an old soldier”?
 “It would be good for him. After all he would be learning something new. And learning something new is what keeps us going” said Merwyn.
 “I take it this is all part of your plan” asked Bastet.
 “Pretty much” said Merwyn.
 Athena leaned over to Bastet kissed her passionately and slipped her hand inside Bastet’s top.
 “Daughter you are as bad as your mother” laughed Merwyn.
 “Well she is her mother’s daughter” laughed Bastet. “Beside it would not be the first time that you saw me being made love to on a kitchen table. But it would be the first time that you saw Athena and me make love on a kitchen table”
 Bastet pulled away from Athena turned and sat on the kitchen table and pulled Athena in closer by wrapping her legs around Athena’s hips.
 Merwyn stood up yawned and looked at Athena and Bastet as they started to get passionate.
 “I will leave you two be” said Merwyn as he walked towards the stairs not looking back at Athena or Bastet.

Click on Mark Crocker for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.