Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Editor's Corner

June 2016

June brings thoughts of brides, memories of weddings, invitations to weddings to be (which includes the nuptials planned for Bethany Davies and fiance Blake Whitaker. We have shown many of her compositions in our pages - she is one of your editor's great-granddaughters.) Nothing tops the excitement and joy of romance finding a happy ending, or should that be happy beginning? May your June bring sweet happenings and memories to you.

Phil Hennessy gives us the poem "Nothingness Blues plus the link to hear it on You Tube. His other poem for June is "Pleasure Today." Bud Lemire submits three verses with "Stinky Perfume," "I Thought I Knew You," and "Enjoy And Have Fun." Bruce Clifford's two poems for this issue are "Do You Think We'll Make it to the End" and "Dry Your Eyes."

John I Blair, still battling health concerns, but assures us he believes he is winning, sent four poems: "We Agreed," "Happiness," "NORTH, SOUTH (EAST, WEST)," and "Endgame." Your editor burst forth with "Trial and Error," which rounds out the dozen poems this month.

LC Van Savage, in our single article, confesses to an embarrassing moment, then adds save the day info for using chopsticks.

Thomas F. O'Neill, "Introspective," tells about the strange looking 'Straddling Bus' and its possible future.

LC Van Savage's column "Consider This" gets into storage containers while Mattie Lennon in "Irish Eyes" waxes eloquent about storytellers and introduces an Anti-Cyberbullying solution for some people.

Rod Cohenour, "Cooking With Rod," really dishes up a Mexican style meal "Lime-Cilantro Grilled Chicken Fajitas and Southwest Pineapple Salsa." Melinda Cohenour, "Armchair Genealogy" adds Part II of the interesting facts surrounding David Motley Ellington, an American Patriot, then shows how he connects to her family tree (and your editor's, since she is my youngest sister.)

In "Adventures of Ollie-Dare" Chapter 14 by Rebecca Morris, the bear learns about the Great Lodge. Mark Crocker's series "Rabbo Book 5" adds Chapter 3 "Holes within Holes."

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

Watch for us in July!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy

The Story of David Motley Ellington,
An American Patriot

Part II

      This column resumes the fascinating story of David Motley Ellington’s service in the Revolutionary War. Most of the information has been derived from the Pension Application he first filed in 1834. As previously reported in the author’s column for May 2016, the first Act authorizing remuneration for those who served in the Revolutionary War without proper recompense was enacted 7th June 1832 by the Congress of the United States.

      Ellington’s initial application was filed on his behalf after he had suffered a probable stroke that left him “afflicted with a long spell of sickness, which has almost deprived him of recollection.” As a result, in his old age and suffering from the resultant memory loss, he struggled to recall the names associated with his service. The author has attempted through extensive research to track his recalled events of service with factual accounts of the War. In 1844, David Motley Ellington was spurred by his children to renew his application, believing him to have been wrongly deprived of his just rewards. Some of the research, thus recounted in this series of two columns, has been derived from a review of the full Pension Application package on file with the United States government and transcribed previously by the author, painstakingly attempting to translate the archaic handwriting and, in some cases, weathered and damaged original documents.

     In many instances, names provided by Ellington in his application package have been shown to be recorded along with service that emanates from Amelia County, Virginia. For instance, on the 2nd day of January in 1844, Ellington’s application mentions the name of Lt. Joshua Hundley: He States that his recollection does not serve him accurately respecting his officers, as well as he can remember he served under Capt. Phillip Payne and Capt. (blank) Harrison; Lieutenant Joshua Hundley served in the same company with him throughout a greater part of the time in which he was engaged in the Service.

      Research shows that one Lt. Joshua Hundley did, indeed, serve. The Virginia State Library, in its List of the Revolutionary Soldiers of Virginia (Supplement), a Special Report of the Department of Archives and History for 1912, compiled by M. J. Eckemp, QDE, the Archivist, reflects the following:
Lt. Joshua Hundley: Hundley, Joshua (11 V. R.), W. D. 224, 1; (15 V. R.), W. D. 272, 1; (5 & 11 V. R.), W. D. 327, 1; (11 & 15 V. R.), W. D. 343, 1.

      This means one, Lt. Joshua Hundley, served with the 11th Virginia Regiment, as reported by the War Department, at page 224,1. That his service continued with the 15th Virginia Regiment, as reported by the War Department at 272, 1; that his service continued in the combined 5th and 11th Virginia Regiments as reported by the War Department at page 327, 1; and carried forward as the combined 11th and 15th Virginia Regiments, as reported by the War Department at page 343, 1.

      Per Wikipedia:
The 11th Virginia Regiment was a Continental Army regiment that fought in the American Revolutionary War. Authorized by the Second Continental Congress on 16 September 1776, it was organized on 3 February 1777 and consisted of four companies from the Virginia counties of Loudoun, Frederick, Prince William, and Amelia; Captain Daniel Morgan's Independent Rifle Company from Fauquier County; and five companies from the state's portion of the Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment.

      In researching the name “Harrison” as one of Ellington’s superior officers, we find one Benjamin Harrison who was mentioned in a Harrison family genealogy report as “the other Benjamin Harrison” as having been one of Morgan’s “Indian fighters” who was called upon to join his unit and given some level of supervision.

      This would appear to substantiate at least part of the accuracy of David Motley Ellington’s recollection. His pension application(s) were further supported by various affidavits of those who knew him for many years, knew him to be a truthful man, and had recollection of both he and his cousin, David Motley’s service during the Revolutionary War. Given that other researchers have felt their efforts rewarded by an assurance of the validity of his claims, I continue to share the facts of his remarkable service through his own voice:
States … from thence we was marched to Gilford (Guildford) Courthouse in the State of North Carolina where we again had a Battle with the Brittish and Tories in which battle we was compelled to retreat from thence we was marched to Richmond in the State of Virginia and thence
"The Battle of Guilford Court House" March 15, 1781. 
After Morgan's victory in the Battle of Cowpens, both Morgan and Greene knew that Cornwallis would not allow the victory to go unavenged. At the same time, Morgan did not want to give up his prisoners or supplies. Greene thus directed his army north, while at the same time taking direct control over the troops of the badly ailing Morgan. Greene then masterly withdrew northward, skillfully delaying Cornwallis all the way. In order to catch up with the Americans, Cornwallis burned his supply train and extra supplies. Greene retreated all the way back to Virginia, pulling Cornwallis the whole way. When it became clear that Greene and the Americans had gotten away, Cornwallis realized how exposed he was, with no supplies in hostile territory. He began withdrawing southward. Greene and the Americans followed. When the British arrived at Guilford Court House, Greene felt the time was right to fight. Green had 4,300 troops, of which 1,600 were Continental regulars, facing 2,200 British regulars. The battle lasted for most of the day. The result was a British victory in the sense that the Americans were dislodged from their positions and forced to withdraw. The cost to the British, however, was too high. The British lost 93 killed and 439 wounded, while the Americans lost 78 killed and 183 wounded. Cornwallis' army was now in tatters. Source: American Revolution Website -Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Illustration: Location of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, where Morgan and Greene engaged General Cornwallis' British troops resulting in a great loss of life and many injuries to Cornwallis' army.
States … to Yorke Town in said State and joined the main army commanded by General Washington at which place we remained until discharged as all hostilities Seased in the year 1781, with the Brittes;
"The Battle of Yorktown" October 6-19, 1781.
The Battle of Yorktown began after the Battle of Guilford Court House. At that time, British General Cornwallis moved his battered army to the North Carolina coast, then, disobeying orders from General Clinton to protect the British position in the Carolinas, he marched north to Virginia and took command from Loyalist (Tory) General Benedict Arnold. At the same time, General Washington was planning to attack New York with the help of the French, who had been convinced by Benjamin Franklin to join the Patriots. Because the British knew of the Patriots' plan to attack New York, they did not send reinforcements to General Cornwallis in Yorktown. General Cornwallis had been ordered to bring all his men to New York, but again he did not obey orders. Instead, Cornwallis kept all of his troops, totaling about 7,500, and began fortifying Yorktown and Gloucester, across the York River. Washington sent his French aide, the Marquis de Lafayette, to Virginia in the spring of 1781 with a few Continental troops. Lafayette observed Cornwallis’s troop movements up the Carolina coast and their settling in at Yorktown. Upon hearing this news, Washington abandoned his plans to attack New York and Washington and French General Rochambeau, with 2,500 Continental and 4,000 French troops, started their march to Philadelphia. General Clinton realized the Americans were not going to attack New York, and ordered the British fleet to the Chesapeake Bay. On August 30, Admiral de Grasse, with the French fleet arrived at the Chesapeake Bay and the British fleet from New York arrived on September 5. A naval battle ensued, with the French navy driving off the British fleet. 3,000 French troops from the naval fleet joined with General Washingtons army. After waiting a few days while the British admirals Graves and Hood sailed back to New York, the Americans attacked. Cornwallis was besieged by a Franco-American force of 16,000 troops. They captured two main redoubts on October 14. The British launched a counterattack but it failed. Cornwallis was outnumbered, outgunned, and was running out of food. Realizing that his situation was hopeless, Cornwallis asked for a truce on October 17. He surrendered to George Washington on October 19, 1781. Back in New York, the British admirals had been deciding on how and when to rescue Cornwallis. On October 17th a British fleet finally set sail out of New York, but it was too late. And when General Clinton, who had been marching towards Yorktown with 7,000 reinforcement troops, learned of the surrender, he turned back to New York. The surrender of Yorktown ended the fighting in the War for American Independence, except for some minor fighting that continued in the south, and other battles that still went on overseas. Losses on both sides were light: British and Hessian 156 killed and 326 wounded; French, 52 killed and 134 wounded; American, 20 killed and 56 wounded. The Battle of Yorktown, is recognized as one of the most skillful military actions in history. The British prime minister, Lord Frederick North, resigned after Cornwallis's surrender. The new leaders signed the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, which officially ended the American Revolution. Source: American Revolution - Website American Revolution -Battle of Yorktown 

Illustration: Battle of YORKTOWN - 1781
He states that he fought in the Battle of Guilford Court House when General Green commanded the army after Gen Gates had been defeated at Camden. He then continued as a regular soldier in the Infantry service with the Continental Service until Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown where he was & saw him deliver his sword.(This from an appeal of his original pension application, the appeal being filed in Crittenden County, Kentucky on the 2nd day of January 1844, some ten years following his initial application.)

Request for Truce and Surrender of Cornwallis

Illustration: Cornwallis was outnumbered, outgunned, and was running out of food. Realizing that his situation was hopeless, Cornwallis asked for a truce on October 17. He surrendered to George Washington on October 19, 1781
Illustration: Troops, horses, carriages, canon, artillery, and supplies surrendered by Cornwallis to Washington. The Articles of Capitulation detailed the flags to be furled and the songs to be played as the historic surrender occurred.
Illustration: David Motley Ellington participated in the Battles of Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown, Virginia, resulting in the resounding defeat of General Cornwallis and his ultimate surrender to General George Washington.

      One of David Motley’s sisters married Capt. Joseph Motley, III, and named one of their sons David James Motley. This cousin to David Motley Ellington would play a large role in the life of our 5th great-grandfather. They fought together in the Revolutionary War until cousin David Motley was severely wounded in the leg at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse (noted in the book The Patriots of Cowpens, by Bruce G. Moss.)

      From the website,, we find the following text:
David James Motley
born: 1753 in Amelia County, Virginia
died: abt 20 March 1826 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Military Service: Revolutionary War - Co B, 38th Regiment Military Service, Amelia County, Virginia.

(Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 2, p 368) He was in Howard's Continental line behind Pickens' Militia and ahead of Washington's Cavalry along the Green River Road at the Battle of Cowpens. His uncle, David Ellington, Jr., stated that the two of them were together in campaigns and that David was wounded in the leg at Guilford Courthouse. (The Patriots at Cowpens, by Bobby G. Moss.)

      It would appear all of David Motley Ellington’s family played some important role in the gaining of our Independence from Britain. Martha Ellington, David’s sister, married Capt. Joseph Motley, III, who served General George Washington as Captain during the French and Indian Wars and was with him at Braddock’s defeat and served the Continental Army as a Supply Agent. (Per Find-A-Grave memorial # 101049722, originally created by deefraver on 21 Nov 2012.) It is believed that her husband’s service in this connection led a group of Tories and their Indian conspirators to invade her home in the Captain’s absence, while she lay abed after the birth of their 11th child, and torture her in an attempt to gain knowledge as to his whereabouts and the location of the stores of armament and other goods.

      His father, Jeremiah Ellington, is said to have maintained a store of food and goods to help the Patriots. Due to his advanced age, this was the extent to which he was able to serve, but he served, nonetheless. He is noted as “supplying beef to the Continental Army.”

      In summary, it behooves me to relate for my children and theirs, our relationship to David Motley Ellington, the Patriot.

   David Motley Ellington married Mary Malone DuPuy, 27 October 1785 in Amelia County, Virginia. During their 37 years of marriage before their annulment 22 October 1821 (basically, a divorce so named at that early time), they had eight children, among them their third-born, Prudence Ellington (1788-1860).

      Prudence Ellington married John Wade 29 Oct 1806 in Greenup County, Kentucky. It is believed the Ellington family resided together here for some time before the divorce of David and Mary.

      After the divorce (and some think, perhaps, the causative factor being a disagreement concerning the intended move) Mary Malone DuPuy Ellington moved with her children to Missouri. Prudence Ellington moved with her mother to Platte County, Missouri following the divorce and separation of assets.

      While still living in Virginia, Prudence and John Wade had a son named Peyton Wade, born 25 May 1808.

      Peyton Wade moved along with his mother, her siblings and his grandmother to Missouri. There, in Clay County, Missouri, Peyton married Elizabeth Wilhoit on 26 October 1832. In 1847, the exact date not being known, they had a daughter they named Martha Ann. By 1850, the US Census, would record their family in Fishing River, Clay County, Missouri. At that time, it would appear Martha was one of eight children of the marriage.

      On 12 August of 1866, Martha Ann Wade would wed Absalom Creek, the son of Virginia Lee Younger and Jacob Haudenschildt Creek. Virginia Lee Younger was the sister of Henry Washington Younger, the father of the sons who would later become infamous as the Younger Gang.

      Martha Ann Wade Creek and her husband, Absalom, would have seven children, the next to the youngest being Flutie Creek, born 19 August 1877 in Lockwood, Dade County, Missouri.

      Flutie Creek would first marry Lewis Wallace Alexander (born 22 March 1862 in Crawford, Indiana and died 29 August 1941 in Los Angeles, California.) Their marriage ended in divorce only a few years after its inception, but not before the birth of their only child, a daughter, named Nora Viola Alexander. (Flutie would later marry Russell Kendrick, a Spanish American War veteran.)

      Nora Alexander was born 23 December 1896 in Galena, Cherokee County, Kansas. She was the only child of Flutie Creek Alexander, but had a half brother from “Wall” Alexander’s first marriage to Ida M. Qualls, who it is believed died giving birth to Nora’s half-brother Thomas Wallace “Tommie” Alexander on 30 October 1894 in Willow Springs, Howell County, Missouri.

      Nora Alexander married first Everett Marion Carroll (born 11 February 1894 in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri). Their marriage vows were exchanged 22 December 1912 in Barton, Missouri. This marriage would result in the birth of one child, their son, John Edward Carroll.

      John Edward Carroll was born 19 October 1913 in Joplin, Jasper County, Missouri. He would marry Lena May Joslin in Pineville, Missouri, on 10th June of 1934. Their marriage would result in the births of four daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Noralee Edith, Jacquelyn Earlene and Melinda Ellen Carroll. 

Researched and compiled by author.

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Cooking with Rod

Lime-Cilantro Grilled Chicken Fajitas
and Southwest Pineapple Salsa

      Hope all of you enjoyed a safe and loving holiday this Memorial Day weekend. This particular holiday is often hard for me as I remember so many friends and fellow Marines that did not make it home to celebrate. I am particularly thankful, though, to live in and experience the greatest country in the history of the world. Lord knows we have our iniquities, our problems, and our issues, but when everything is said and done, the Red, White and Blue still rules the world, at least in my humble point of view.

      Melinda and I spent a beautiful day with our daughter Melissa, granddaughter Erin, great grandson, Kingston and our nephew, Earl. A fun day was had by all. Melissa and Erin, as usual, were great hostesses and our precious Kingston was most gracious in his appreciation of our presence in his home. We are, extraordinarily, blessed and never lose sight of that.

      This weekend we were treated to Melissa and Erin’s great cooking skills with grilled hamburgers, baked beans and potato salad. We also took the opportunity to marinate and grill the chicken fajitas (which we all love) for later enjoyment. We tried out Melinda’s new recipe of Southwest Pineapple Salsa, using part as a pre-burger dip and splitting the balance for tonight’s meal of fajitas. So, this column is a collaboration between myself and my wife. (See our pic of this meal below.)

      Once again, God bless each and all of you, your families, your friends, those lost, those still serving, and especially those – who at this very time – are still in harm’s way. Above all, God bless the United States of America!

      Bon appetit!

Lime-Cilantro Grilled Chicken Fajitas

  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

  • Juice of 3 fresh limes
  • Leaves from ¼ bunch fresh cilantro, removing all stems
  • Fajita seasoning mix, dry (I used Sprouts Whole Foods Market brand but I provide the recipe for my own Fajita Blend below)
  • 3 large bell peppers, deseeded, cut in long strips
  • 3 large purple onions, sliced to result in long strips
    Prepare two bowls or plastic bags to marinate, separately, the chicken pieces and the vegetables.
    Roll the limes around the tabletop or cutting board before cutting to permit the pulp to release its juice easily. Squeeze at least 2 of the limes over the chicken, the balance over the vegetables. Add the cilantro leaves, splitting about evenly over the two marinades.
    Sprinkle both the chicken pieces and the vegetables with a dash of the Fajita seasoning mix, remembering this mix is mostly salt, so no additional salt should be used. If your diet precludes use of salt, you can mix your own fajita seasoning mix the way I usually do. Mix the below ingredients in a bowl or cup, whisk together to blend and rub over the chicken pieces and toss the vegetables in some as well:
Rod’s Fajita Blend:
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • Dash of garlic powder
Leave the chicken pieces and vegetables in the marinade for at least an hour, or over night before grilling.
Grill over medium coals. Remove the vegetables as soon as they become translucent and lightly charred. Make sure the chicken pieces are done well by testing the thickest part. Juices should run clear.
We served these fajitas in flour tortillas, using Melinda’s Southwest Pineapple Salsa to spice things up.
Southwest Pineapple Salsa
(Melinda Cohenour – May 30, 2016)
  • 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 15 oz. can black beans, drained (rinsed if needed)
  • 15 oz. can pineapple chunks in natural juice
  • 1 medium or ½ large purple onion, diced fine
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced fine (no seeds or membrane)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, deseeded, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, rinsed well, leaves only
  • Dash of Fajita seasoning mix (dry mix)
    Drain corn and black beans and place in medium large bowl. Add pineapple chunks and juice (I actually used fresh pineapple chunks in natural juice from Sprouts, a whole foods market here in Oklahoma City). Toss together.
    After finely dicing the purple onion, add to a glass or bowl of ice water. Leave for 5 to 10 minutes while you complete the balance of the recipe. This will remove the bitterness of the onion while leaving the flavor intact. Be sure to drain well before adding to the salsa dish.
    Dice the bell pepper after removing all the seeds and membranes. Try to make sure all your fresh vegetables are cut so that no piece is larger than the black beans, best would be between the size of the corn kernels and the beans. Add to the salsa dish.
    Mince and add the garlic cloves. Toss the salsa to let the garlic flavor begin to infuse the other ingredients.
    Mince the jalapeno pepper, removing all membranes and seeds. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth during this process, and make sure to thoroughly wash your hands after the job is complete. The oils from hot peppers can cause severe burning.
    Halve the ripe avocado, remove the pit and score while still in the skin with a sharp knife. To remove, use a large tablespoon that fits smoothly inside the skin. This will result in nice avocado chunks and prevent the ripe avocado from being mashed. Be sure to scrape out the remaining avocado from the skin shells and add to the bowl. This will provide the salsa with an avocado-lime dressing.
    Squeeze the juice of the lime over the avocado. To get the most juice out of the lime, be sure to roll it around the tabletop or cutting board before cutting. This will permit the pulp to release the maximum amount of juice before the fruit is cut. I like to cut the lime into halves and then into fourths, as that makes the pieces easier to squeeze. The lime juice lends a marvelous flavor to the salsa and will prevent the avocado from turning brown before serving.
    After rinsing the fresh cilantro, be sure to shake all the water you can before gently removing the balance using dry paper towels. Strip the leaves from the stems. I added most of the leaves to the salsa, but retained about ¼ for use in marinating the fajita grilled chicken, peppers and onions.
    Sprinkle a dash of the dry Fajita seasoning mix over the salsa dish, not using too much. Just a thin sprinkle over the top of the dish should be plenty.
    Toss the salsa gently so as not to break up the avocado. Chill until ready to serve as an ingredient in Lime-Cilantro Grilled Chicken Fajitas or, separately, as a dip.
This makes a colorful and tasty fresh chunky salsa, with just enough heat to keep it interesting.

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Irish Eyes


“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” ( Indian Proverb.)

      Laurie H. Hutzler says, “Storytellers are the most powerful people on earth. They might not be the best paid-- but they are the most powerful. Storytellers have the power to move the human heart-- and there is no greater power on earth.”

      The late Eamon Kelly was, arguably, the greatest storyteller that Ireland ever produced. He has many imitators but no equals. As a storyteller, his vivid and evocative descriptions are unsurpassed. Be it was about an emigrant-laden train gathering speed before fading from view at Countess Bridge or sparks flying when the blacksmith struck red hot iron, nobody could tell it like Eamon. Once, in the Brooklyn Academy, while telling one of his famous stories he mentioned an Irish town and drew a graphic word-picture of emigrants at the station. From the audience he heard; "Divine Jesus" and a man crying. Ever the professional, Eamon instantly changed gear, swung to comedy and in seconds had the homesick exile laughing. Watching him on the stage, the Paps-of-Dana and Dooncorrig Lake almost materialized around you and there was a temptation to look up for the rising ground above Barradov Bridge.
Eamon Kelly with Mattie Lennon

       May God forgive me but I sometimes like to think of myself as a bit of a storyteller even if the view is seldom shared by others. I’ve been in the final of a few storytelling competitions, had a couple of modest wins but I mustn’t be much of a storyteller.

     Because . . . a new study has shown that women view men who are good storytellers as more attractive. On the other hand, this preference for good storytelling skills wasn’t reciprocated. Seemingly men don’t find loquacious women any more attractive than their more reserved counterparts.

      “There has been quite a bit of research on the persuasive power of narratives, but most of that work has just examined how people's attitudes or beliefs change as a result of hearing or reading a story,” According to Melanie C. Green, an author of the study from the University of Buffalo. Dr Green says “We were interested in extending that work to look at the interpersonal consequences of stories — that is, how do people perceive or judge the people who are telling the stories?”

      The team ran a series of experiments to determine the value that men and women placed on good storytelling skills in a potential partner. They recruited 388 undergraduate students in the United States, 55 percent of whom were women, and had them all rate a potential partner’s attractiveness based on their written biography. Along with other characteristics, the biographers either highlighted the individuals as good storytellers, poor storytellers, or did not mention their storytelling skills at all.

      Results showed that, based on their biographies, both male and female respondents considered storytellers as having a higher status than those who couldn’t tell a tale. For women, however, storytelling skills did more than just increase the perceived social status of a man; it also made them more attractive but being a good storyteller did not increase women’s attractiveness.

      Next, the team wanted to see if simply reading a good story written by someone of the opposite sex was enough to inspire attraction. Some stories were vivid and well written while others were less entertaining to read. Interestingly though, the quality of the story did not affect how attractive the writers were perceived to be, suggesting that what makes storytelling so attractive lies not in the actual story, but in its delivery.

      According to the researchers, the reasons for this may have evolutionary roots. “The pattern of results suggests that males who were better storytellers might have been better at gaining resources (food, shelter, etc.), perhaps because they were more likely to assume leadership roles or have higher status in society,” Green theorized. She goes on to say, “From an evolutionary perspective, men might be more focused on other features in a potential mate — for example, cues to health or fertility (such as some features of physical attractiveness.)”

      “Historically, men haven’t considered higher social status as an important trait in the women they find attractive”, the researchers said. And according to Peter Brooks women’s erotic force is, “ . . . something that male storytelling can never quite explain.”

      This may explain why good female storytellers are less often viewed as being especially attractive. What’s more, the researchers said that society may have even trained men to be suspicious of a woman who tries to catch the attention of others, as they might through captivating stories.

      The authors hope the research will make people think about the importance that storytelling plays in relationships. When I contacted Dr Green I pointed out to her, in all humility, that we, the Irish, are the worlds greatest storytellers. She didn’t contradict me but said, “ . . . of course Ireland is renowned for its storytellers -- the land of James Joyce continues the noble tradition today!”

      I didn’t bother telling her that my feeble efforts at storytelling didn’t ever attract a female. (Of course it has been said that all storytelling involves omission; perhaps I don’t leave enough out!)

      So, males, if you want to be a hit with the ladies, whether you believe a storyteller is a person with a good memory who hopes other people don’t or if you agree with Linda Daly that, “Storytellers are individuals who enjoy creating a holiday for the mind,” have a go at being a seanachai. In the words of Eamon Kelly. “Be telling.”


      Cyber bullying is a major problem worldwide. It can be defined as, “unwanted messages, images, audio or video sent by electronic means to threaten, abuse or harm someone. “

       Many institutions are doing their best to combat cyberbullying but none is more innovative than Cyber Smarties. They are “ . . . committed to developing technology which educates positive behaviour on a practical, safe platform for Primary School children and young adults with Special Needs, to ensure that all can learn safe, fun and positive social networking skills which promote self-confidence, self-esteem and eliminate cyber-bullying. The Core Values that guide us are collaboration, excellence and creativity.”

      CEO Diarmuid Hudner (see pic above) told me, “ is the FIRST SAFE EDUCATIONAL SOCIAL NETWORK designed specifically for Primary & Special Needs Schools. Through in-built behavioural technology​, ​ allows kids to use social media in a controlled​, supervised​ and safe environment without the fear of harassment or cyber-bullying​. Cybersmarties​.com uses technology to educate children in a practical way in positive online behaviour, to protect their own well-being, to make friends with other kids safely and promotes netiquette and empathy. It is the first social network to use behavioural technology combined with education to teach ​children to use social media responsibly and protect their online presence. For more information please contact

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Consider This

Things That Wait

       Do you ever think about your containers? I mean storage containers? The boxes, jars, crates and bags we have around our homes, all filled with stuff, sitting in silence, just waiting for forever? I think about them often and own far too many. So do you, I’ll wager. There are so many of these silent receptacles about us they are like the stars above; uncountable.

      These boxes, barrels, trunks, cases, chests etc. are filled with things, stuff, objects made and used by humans, then stored, spending the beginning of eternity in the dark insides of pods, useless, silent, hopeless. Waiting. One can hope these things are stored together so they can converse, although I can only assume they soon run out of things to discuss as time drags on. Oh, you’re wondering how I know that non-human things can chat and think? OK, well, who says they can’t?

      As I’m approaching the prime of my life—what a joke ---at nearly 79 I’m far more approaching the eventide of my life, but whatever, at this point I’m paying a lot of attention to our supply of crates and sacks filled with patiently waiting things that have served us well, howsomever briefly, and then tossed into boxes, lids closed, lives over. For example, I have a box of very old fashioned silver brooches stored at the bottom of a bookcase stuffed with books I might actually read if I live past my 149th birthday. There they wait, and wait, worn maybe during the day of the flapper, or even before that, where they gleamed upon milady’s collar, jabot or cloak and where they may have even been commented upon, admired, perhaps loved. And now they wait, bundled together, tarnished and useless. They should be worn but are not. Frankly, they would look awfully out of place pinned to the frayed collars of my favorite sweatshirts. And yet I could put one on if Mongo and I went out to dinner and I upped my wardrobe a bit. But I don’t. Those pretty pins, likely not very valuable, wait silently in a dark box. No longer chatting. Waiting.

      So do my favorite books, mostly biographies, but primarily history and art that don’t get looked at any longer, and there they wait, and wait. I can donate them and they still wait for me to do that. I walk around our basement and look at organized jars of nails, and screws, drill bits, flotsam and jetsam, things saved, jarred and boxed up, sometimes labeled, their chances of getting used again about zero. And so there they languish, year after endless year. Waiting.

      The same with junk drawers. These remarkable repositories are filled with the small saved pieces of our lives we simply cannot throw out and never will. Occasionally they are rummaged through with hopes that one missing important shard of our life will be in there, but even if it is, we can’t find it under the huge amount of junk drawer stuff we’ve tossed on top. All those disparate pieces of stuff wait and wait to be chosen, resurrected, pasted back into our lives, probably having more to say than the other drawer residents scattered about our home because they keep getting new additions to their collected family. Sometimes I think junk drawers should be gathered from everywhere, their contents glued/sprayed into place, all sent to the Smithsonian and put on display in one huge wing of that great institution where the world could really see how we live and who we are.

       Our storage vessels abound, filled with thousands of things we save for unknown reasons, or may even harvest from time to time, like one filled with a collection of safety pins. I take one out to use and look at the others lying in the blackness, wondering what’s left for them to discuss. Some of them are even diaper pins from the days when our sons were babies. Treasures. Waiting.

      When we die, our families will add all these stored things to their own, or will tip them into garbage pails and they’ll all then live in a lightless land-fill, this time for a real eternity until they rust or rot to nothing.

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   There are 20 million new cars being added to China’s roadways each year. Those new cars are also adding to China’s mounting traffic congestion and not to mention the ever growing problems of air pollution. I too have witnessed growing traffic jams and air pollution in China, especially, in the city of Suzhou where I live and work.

   Many local governments in China are hoping that parking regulations and plate restrictions will ease the traffic congestion, while engineers and designers are trying to find relief in technology. Engineers in Beijing believe they have come up with a solution in relieving some of the traffic congestion.

They call their solution the “straddling bus” which has the capability to glide above the city traffic.

   Participants at the 19th International High-Tech Expo in Beijing (in May of this year) watched excitedly as a tiny “straddling bus” glided above the traffic in a model city. It’s a replica of what could be the future of China’s public transportation.

   The bus will be able to carry 1,400 passengers above the city traffic at a speed of approximately 40 miles per hour. The bus would span two traffic lanes on a special track, allowing regular cars under 7 feet high to freely pass underneath.

   What captured the interest of the City of Beijing is that the “straddling bus” would run on electricity and take the place of 40 buses, which could cut annual fuel consumption by 800 tons and carbon emissions by almost 2,500 tons. It would also be less expensive than a subway system because it would not involve digging up the ground.

   The concept of a “Straddling Bus” is not new, a similar proposal, was offered to cut down traffic congestion in New York City back in 1969. Two architects—Craig Hodgetts and Lester Walker called their 1969 dream proposal the Bos-Wash Land-liner, as it would run between Washington, D.C., and Boston. They envisioned the Bos-Wash Land-liner - bound for Boston - to streak through the 86th street reservoir area of Central Park dropping off and picking up busloads of commuters before it resumes full speed of 200 miles an hour. They also envisioned their land-liner to ride on nearly friction-free air cushion bearings with fan-jets having a re-generator cycle. That means no hot exhaust—important since the Land-liner will be zooming only 16 feet over your head if you are driving along the freeway.

   The concept of the “straddling bus” grabbed international headlines in May of this year. 
                 The Beijing-based company Transit Explore Bus is currently building 
               a life-size model in Changzhou and they plan to test it in July or August.

China’s government is hoping that the “straddling bus” will ease their transit problems but the Chinese government is fully aware that it will take years for the country to bring down its pollution levels.

               China will have to develop new technologies that go far beyond the “straddling bus” 
                                                    in order to reduce its pollution.

 They also need to find ways to encourage China’s 1.4 billion people to change their behaviors and attitudes by becoming more environmentally friendly. Pollution and traffic congestion are truly problematic in China and the “straddling bus” seems to be a small step in the right direction.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
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I Thought I Knew You

Why do people do, the awful things that they do
I search my memories, I thought I knew you
What made you do it, my friend?
Did your sanity, finally end?
I heard about other people, doing dreadful things
I guess somebody must have clipped your wings
As you sit there thinking in your jail cell
I wonder what it is that you'd tell

I wonder what made you do something so wrong
When I thought I knew you all along
It doesn't make any sense at all
You must have climbed over the wall

I didn't think any friend of mine could do that
Makes me wonder where you were at
Can it be that you were drinking
It doesn't excuse you for your poor thinking

Could it be a control issue you had
That turned you into doing something so bad
All these years I thought I knew you
Now I wonder, what it was I really knew
©May 19, 2016 Bud Lemire
                         Author Note:
This is for a childhood friend of mine, who I
just found out recently is in jail for something
he did. It shocked me that he could do something
like what he did. When I hear of something like
this, it makes me wonder how anyone could do
something so awful. I guess we'll never know
the whys for why they did it, because we don't
think with their mind-settings. He's the one
who'll have to live with it, and the people he
hurt. Makes me realize I am so happy to be
who I am. Caring and sensitive to those around
me. I'd never want to hurt anyone.

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Trial and Error

When at the computer
I pull an all-nighter,
I'm fond of saying it's
Because I'm a writer.

Yet if it were true
Zephyrs of romance would spiral
From the phrases formed
With my error and trial.

The pure intensity of facts
Related with serious thought-
Bear no poetic pulse or throb,
Of feeling, they bear naught.

A weaver of words can lift
Others to heights of passion,
Or plunge them into depths,
Or simply applaud their fashion.

But the audience would grasp
Both audible and unspoken,
And the bond of those words
Would forever be unbroken.

So I'll yet dream of composing
Such an infinite verse
That it brings forth lovely blossoms
From what began as something worse.

©May 31, 2016 Mary E. Adair

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This is the endgame.
I knew at the start
Who would win, who lose.

I’ve always known
But refused to believe.
Now’s no time to grieve –

That time is passed.
Instead I choose
To love the play,

Use the best moves I own,
Go out content,
No need to explain.

©2016 John I. Blair

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If happiness
is being married to
my best friend

As that old stitchery
on my bedroom wall

Then what is
being widowed, left

Is it not another face
of happiness,
the face that grieves

And yet is
in its quiet way
no less happy?

Just not the smiling kind.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Enjoy And Have Fun

When I was younger, I had fun, that's what I did
Because when you're young, that's what you do, I was a kid
Now I am older, I still have fun, because I can
It doesn't matter if you're a kid, because now I'm a man
Having fun is what everyone needs to do
A little enjoyment in each day, until it is through
Have fun, bring out the little girl or little boy
By having fun, doing the things that you enjoy

Some people tell me I'm like a little boy
I think it must be because I do things I enjoy
In your life, you need to have a little fun
So you experience it, before each day is done

Listen to nature, hear the music and song
While the birds sing, as you walk along
Smile when a butterfly happens to fly by
For me, the world of nature makes me high

Get out of the house, and have a great time
Socialize a little and you'll notice each sign
Release the little girl and the little boy
Have the best of fun, and just really enjoy
©May 9, 2016 Bud Lemire
                       Author Note:
To get the most out of your life, you need to have
fun. Enjoying the little things as well as the
larger things that come along. When you can
enjoy the little things, they become much larger.
When you see things that you never seen before,
you are appreciating the greater things in life.
Life is a fun experience. Laugh a little, smile
a little, and have fun. In fact, have a great time.

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We Agreed

I know that we agreed
I should be
The one to stay behind,

The one most fit
To stand the pain,
The emptiness.

And I know that choice
Was right,
Was true.

But sitting here
Tonight without you
Broke my heart again,

And I wonder
Just how many times
It can be broken.

©2016 John I. Blair

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Written after a debate on whether Confederate soldiers should be remembered on Memorial Day.

In those times,
Like all times mixing good and ill,
Our great grandfathers,
Nor saints nor devils,
Took the side they lived in.

They fought, or helped the fighters,
North, South (East, West).

And whether understanding,
Grace was theirs,
Any more than ours,
Shall we judge them now?

Who will judge us
When our time comes?

©2016 John I. Blair

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Dry Your Eyes

Dry your eyes
Wipe your tears away
All these years
What can I say

I most go now
The stars await
Don’t cry for me
I can’t be late

Dry your eyes
Find your place
All these years
I don’t know my face

I must go now
The climate changed
Don’t feel bad for me
The tide is in range

Dry your eyes
Wipe your tears away
So many nights
Not enough days

©5/7/16 Bruce Clifford

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Pleasure Today

Pleasure today
and heartache tomorrow
There's so much to say
when you partake in sorrow
It's all been seen before, you see
It's all been in your prophecies

For what you Think, (for you), comes true
and what you Feel, is what comes, too
You are, what you wish, beyond your dreams.
It's there, deep inside, that destiny beams.
Your soul will decide
what's best for you,

You get what you Need.
what you Want, isn't True.
You may get your wishes,
you may have your lot
It's all about Intent,
if you receive, or not.

Spirit moves in mysterious ways,
it's miracles to perform.
For success, without praise
is empty, forlorn.
Creation begins,
with the sound of Intent.

Be sure that your prayers
are all heaven-sent.
For Creator will channel
those thoughts for you
and bring to Reality
all that is True.
take Care, what you wish,
for it may reveal

The dreams we create
are not Ours, to make real.
Surrender your heart
Surrender your life
let Love be your guide,
no heartache, no strife.

Creation decides
what's best for you,
You get what you Need,
when your Want, is your Truth.

©2016 Phillip Hennessy

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Nothingness Blues

In hell or heaven
Here on earth
What you're given's
what you're worth

You're given your Life
You're gifted your Love
What's Taken, for Granted
Gets taken away

When there's nothing to prove
And there's nothing to lose
that's all you're left with,
The Nothingness blues.

Some will leave,
Some will grieve
Some return,
and Some will burn

From nothing, we came,
so it's all returned.
All you take with you,
is what you have learned.

©2016 Phillip Hennessy

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LINK for Song sung by Lilia Ricci from this Poem
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Stinky Perfume

When she wears perfume, I wear it too
It's in my clothes, no matter what I do
She must bathe in it, from head to toe
Then she carries it, and makes the scent flow
I tell you, it comes with a taste too
Try eating food that tastes like perfume to you
Open the window, spread it around
That stinky perfume can always be found

When dabbing it on, don't you assume
That many won't smell, that stinky perfume
Too much perfume is as bad as a stinky underarm
I'm writing this poem, I'm pulling the alarm

I'm sure they'll keep wearing it, I'm sure it'll be strong
Stinky perfume should stay in the bottle, where it belongs
Try knocking some sense into someone who can't smell
When they bathe in perfume, and they can't tell

Smell the perfume, boy does it stink
It is so strong, it's making me blink
I wrote a poem about perfume before
Yet that stinky scent still comes under my door
©Apr 29, 2016 Bud Lemire
                        Author Note:
Okay, I think you get the message. I just wish
those that wear it would understand. But it's
like knocking your head against the wall. Some
people just don't get it. Maybe they never will.
Maybe I can get some really stinky perfume and
spray it under their door. Maybe not, but it was
nice thought that made me smile just thinking of it.

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Respect, Honor and Chopsticks

      Do you ever get pang of regret when some past embarrassment pops up in memory? I sure do. Lots of times these things “appear” in my head when nothing I’m doing triggers it off, but there you have it. It arrives and there’s nothing to be done about it.

      Chopsticks. That was the latest pop. I quite suddenly remembered when I was on a trip to California years ago and had been invited to lunch in a fabulous restaurant by a terrific and beautiful Japanese family. They told me what to order and could not have been kinder or nicer. They spoke perfect English with a charming Japanese lilt and I was happy.

      And then I blew it, bigtime. My parents taught me to never use my eating utensils as pointers so I knew better, but when I saw someone famous across the restaurant that afternoon I said, “Oh look!” and used my chopstick as a pointer. Uh oh. A tiny hand shot out like Japanese lightning and grabbed that pointing chopstick, pulled it from my hand and semi-slammed it down onto my plate. Those delicate little Japanese women are amazingly strong! I was stunned and embarrassed. The tiny woman regained her composure gave me a little history lesson.

      It’s thought that chopsticks began to be used around 5000 years ago in China and they perhaps evolved from the use of twigs used to retrieve hot foods from cooking pots. Years later, this was followed by people preparing food in small bites so the meals would cook more quickly, eliminating the need of knives on the table, and that was exactly what the philosopher Confucius wanted---non-violence, no weapons, especially at meal time. He, like many, disapproved of carving up a dead carcass on the family dining room table. One of his quotes is; “The honorable and upright man keeps well away from both the slaughterhouse and the kitchen. And he allows no knives on his table.” Perfect for chopsticks!

      Chopsticks began to be used in Japan around 500 AD and moved on to Vietnam and Korea. And then, (and here’s why I got into trouble with my rude pointing) early Japanese chopsticks were solely used for religious ceremonies. Back then, they were one single piece of bamboo, bent and wound together at the bend, resembling tweezers.

      I could have made more faux pas had I stood my chopsticks up in a bowl of rice for example, and I could have done other things that would have seriously offended my kind hosts, so I’m grateful all I did was rudely point with one.

       There are a few interesting fables about chopsticks. For example, silver chopsticks were sometimes used because of the belief they’d turn black if the food was poisoned. One cannot be too careful. Some Asians will tell you that if you’re given an uneven pair of chopsticks at the table, forget about making that plane or boat or train on time; you won’t. And it’s said that Koreans believe that if one holds chopsticks too close to the tips, one might possibly never get married. And one must never, ever let “tears of soup drip from the ends of one’s chopsticks.” But they don’t explain why that’s a problem.

       Chopsticks come in various forms---wood, plastic, ivory (no more of course) and there are those who insist we should all use them instead of the cutlery we Westerners use today, because amongst other good things, it’s believed using them will improve memory. I’m buying mine today.

       From this embarrassing incident in California, I learned many things; one was to never demean or belittle the sacred chopstick and do not ever use them for anything other than eating. I am now a respectful believer. After all, everyone’s hero, Confucius, was a principled wise man, and a believer in the practice of good manners. He also coined the Golden Rule much earlier than some would believe it had been, only Mr. C. said “What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.” Well said, Confucius, and from this moment on, I promise that chopsticks I own will always be treated respectfully and with honor, as I would wish for myself.

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Do You Think We'll Make It To The End

Do you think we’ll make it to the end
Will we have to run and hide and climb over the fence
Do you think to get there we’ll  have to pretend
Do you think we’ll make it to the end

For so many years I’ve told you not to worry
It’s not like I’m waiting for a new day

Do you think we’ll make it to the end
Will we know just what we need and know just what to spend
Do you think we’ll get there and still be friends
Do you think we’ll make it to the end

Do you think we’ll get there safe one day
Will we have this meeting place. 
Will I be the grand marshall of our parade 

Do you think we’ll make it to the end
Will we have to run and hide and climb over the fence 
Do you think to get there we’ll need to pretend
Do you think we’ll make it
Do you think we’ll make it
Do you think we’ll make it to the end

By:  Bruce Clifford

Rabbo Book 5 - Chapter 3

Holes within Holes

         Rabbo woke up just before dawn aware that the elders where still sleeping downstairs in the living room. So quietly he hopped down the stairs and slipped out though the flap in the kitchen door and head out down the garden across the little bridge into the meadow where the cattle were grazing.

         Rabbo headed towards the far corner of the meadow towards where two round houses had been built and rebuilt over the years.

         Asleep in one of the round houses was Bastet and the maiden. In the other round house was the sailor that Bastet had brought with her.

         Rabbo hopped up to the two round houses and closed his eyes and looked for Bastet’s aura.

         Having spotted Bastet’s aura Rabbo went up to the door and let himself in.

         Bastet and the maiden where snuggled together still sleeping so Rabbo went over to the fire and using the kindling and the embers in the fire, Rabbo got the fire going and started to boil water to make a warm morning drink for Bastet and the maiden.

         As the water came to the boil Rabbo heard behind him a soft moan and the sound of Bastet starting to wake up.

         “I’m boiling water” Rabbo said softly as not to wake the maiden.

         “There is cha leafs in my bag if you want to make some cha” Bastet said with the tone of sleep still in her voice.

         “I thought I should come over before you left” Rabbo said.

         “It won’t be an early start” said Bastet. “We where talking late and getting to know each other”.

         Rabbo laughed softly and added the leafs to the boiled water before he turn to look at Bastet.

         “I hope my idea won’t ruin your trade business” Rabbo said watching Bastet as she slipped on leggings and a short dress.

         “If anything dear rabbit” Bastet said thoughtfully “It will boost business. It will mean less traveling up and down the coast as everything will be centralized. That means I won’t waste time sailing up and down the coast to collect copper from one place and Tin from another and grain from yet another place’. Bastet paused as she adjusted her belt. “So much time is lost traveling up and down the coast. By having just one place to go to means I can make more trips and thus make a bigger profit. The price of trade items will go down but I will be able to make fast trips and return faster which means I can bring in more trade items which means while the price goes down I will be able to bring in more goods thus making my profit go up”.

         “I don’t understand” Rabbo said slowly trying to understand what Bastet was trying to say.

         “Look dear rabbit its simple” Bastet said smiling at Rabbo’s confusion. “It’s like this. The price goes down which means more people can afford the items. More people affording the trade items means that I have to bring more in to meet the demand. Now if you factor in that I don’t have to race up and down the coast to collect the items I need for the other end of the supply chain and instead I just have one stop instead of the eleven or twelve I normally have that means I can load up my ships with tin, copper, wool, and grain at that one location. Then I can set sail and head to my central location and unload my ship of the tin, copper, wool and grain and reload with olive oil, wine, and any other item that is needed here. What that means is my travel time if cut down dramatically. I can make three or four trips in the same time that I would make one” Bastet smiled at Rabbo before she went on. “Three or four trips means that even if I lower my price by half I come out ahead” Bastet smiled again “You would understand it better if you came along on one of my trading trips. Or you should talk to soft eyes as she understands very well about the business of supply and demand”.

         Bastet was about to continue to explain the finer details of trading but was interrupted by a soft moan from the sleeping area.

         “I think the cha is ready” Rabbo said as he poured three cups of cha.

         The maiden came and sat next to Bastet and snuggled in resting her head on Bastet’s shoulder.

         Rabbo turned his head while Bastet leaned in and kissed the maiden.

         The three of them sat drinking the cha without saying anything. Then once the cha was drunk and as Rabbo was about to leave, Bastet turned to the maiden and spoke in a soft tender voice. “You better go and say farewell to your father”.

         The maiden stood up and started to walk towards the door but stopped and then blushed as she turned and looked at Bastet.

         “I better put on more than a smile” said the maiden as she turned and reached for her dress.

         After the maiden had left Rabbo turned to Bastet “Are you finally over Solee”?

         “No” Bastet said with a sad tone in her voice. “I will never be over the passing of Solee. It’s taken me over eight hundred years since Solee passed to open up enough to let someone join with me in passion” Bastet was silent for a while before she spoke again. “Last night was special for me. I’ve not felt that touch or feeling for so long. So long in fact that I had almost forgotten what it felt like”.

         “I thought you and Athena would couple” Rabbo said with confusion entering his voice again.

          “No dear rabbit we did not couple or have been intimate. As much as Athena has tried we have not. It’s not her lack of trying rather my willingness”.

         Rabbo just nodded and then turned to leave.

* * * * *

         Plautius woke early as he normally did when on campaign. Next to him still a sleep was Merryn.

         Plautius slipped out of bed and dressed quickly and headed out of his tent to make his morning round’s, around the marching camp.

         As he passed the soldiers who were just starting their day he would nod his head or stop and have a few words with the solider.

         Plautius arrived at the west gate and climbed up into the almost finished watch tower and looked around.

         From the high point he could see inside the camp as well as outside.

         Inside the camp work parties where getting ready for their morning details while a patrol was about to head out though the west gate.

          “You” said Plautius pointing at the leader of the patrol “Come here”.

         The solider walked up to Plautius and saluted “Sir”.

         “I want to you patrol to the southeast but do not pass the line of that oak tree”. Plautius paused for a moment before he continued as he pointed at the oak tree that was about a mile away. “Do you have anyone who speaks the local language? If you don’t then trade in your most junior solider for someone who does. What I want is for you to make contact with the locals but do not fight. Be friendly and kind. I don’t want to provoke a fight. Also get a good idea of the lay out of the land and where the good clear steams are. Plus look for good strong oak trees that we can use to build a strong palisade wall. Oh and remember if you make contact be kind and friendly”.

          Plautius returned to his tent and was not surprised that Merryn was gone. As he looked around he saw a note on the bedside table. “My father will see you when the sun is at its highest point”.

* * * * *

         Merryn drifted down the forest road about three feet of the ground. She was a little upset with the telepathic hail from Merwyn but she understand that there where other matters more important then her own pleasure. Her only consolation was that if she had timed things right she would have her own reward in due time.

          Merryn thought about what Plautius had told her about what Rabbo had suggested.

         It was clear that things where about to change and if things worked out there would be very little if any bloodshed and that pleased Merryn as she had seen the face of battle a number of times.

         Merryn turned her mind away from the bloodshed she had seen and instead thought about all the possibilities that had now opened up.

         If Rabbo’s plan worked Merryn could see herself becoming very rich and with luck be able to get the rare metals she needed to carry out her own plan that she had never told anyone about, not even Wenna her own twin sister.

         Merryn chuckled to herself as she thought about her twin.

         So much alike to look at yet so different, Wenna lived in the now and rarely gave thought of what would happen tomorrow.

         Bastet had often said that Wenna was more like she was than her own daughter with one big difference. Wenna liked guys and she liked to be a mother.

         Suddenly Merryn felt sad as she remembered her younger half sister Morrigan.

         Morrigan was a sweet child but as she grew there was a smoldering anger that had filled her. Morrigan’s anger was directed at her own father who she blamed for mistreating her mother.

         The anger had grown all though her teen years and by the time Morrigan was in her twenties the anger was such that it filled her life.

         But there were times when Morrigan would seem relaxed and happy. Those times were mostly when she was with her grandfather, Merwyn or when she was with Rabbo.

         Great sadness suddenly filled Merryn as she remembered the darkest side of Morrigan.

         The first time Merryn saw Morrigan’s darkest side was just after the village that Morrigan and Merryn where living in was raided.

         Morrigan was recounting how she had defended her round house and as she did her face had lit up and her skin flushed, her eyes became wide with excitement and her breath would catch almost as if she was in a high state of rapture.

         Merryn had become alarmed but thought it was best to keep her observations to herself as she was not totally sure if she was reading things right or just putting her own interpretation on something she did not fully understand.

         After the raid Morrigan had planned and led a revenge raid on the village that had attacked them.

         And again Morrigan seemed to be in a high state of rapture when she retold the tale of how she had engaged one of the warriors.

          Rumor had it that after the raid Morrigan had gotten very passionate with a number of the men in the village and her first and only child was the end result.

          Merryn stopped her line of thought as she arrived at the lane that led down to Merwyn’s house.

* * * * *

          Rabbo sat down by the river watching Bastet, the maiden soft eyes and the sailor as they pushed the small boat out in to the main stream of the river and stated to sail away.

         Rabbo watched until the small boat went around a bend in the river and was lost to sight. Only then did Rabbo turn for home.

         As he hopped though the woods he listened to all the sounds in the woods. He could hear the birds singing and a fox trying to stalk him.

          Rabbo followed the pathway though the woods until he came to the gate that Merwyn had put there many years before.

          As Rabbo crawled under the gate he spotted two of the wild hares sitting on their hind legs boxing at each other.

          As Rabbo watched the two wild hares a thought popped into his head that watching the smaller hare fighting the larger hare was something akin to watching the small Celtic nations standing up to the might of the Roman empire.

         The smaller of the two wild hares suddenly leaped onto the back of the larger hare knocking it flat to the ground.

         Then the larger hare rolled on his back kicked wildly knocking the smaller hare off. Then the larger hare turned and ran off towards the far end of the meadow.

          Rabbo continued across the meadow until he came to the small foot bridge across the stream. Once across Rabbo hopped up though the garden until he came to Merwyn who was still gazing into the meadow.

          “Did you see that smaller hare chase of the larger hare” Rabbo asked looking up at Merwyn.

          “Yes I did”

          “It made me think about the people here standing up to the might of the Romans and that even a small group of people that fight with heart and spirit can beat and win against a larger force” Rabbo said thoughtfully.

          “Ahh but did you see the larger hare return and chase off the smaller hare” Merwyn answered also with a thoughtful tone. “You think that your idea is wrong and that the Dumnonii should stand up and fight the Romans”?

          “Maybe” Rabbo looked down at the ground and pulled on a long blade of grass until it broke. He the popped the blade of grass in his mouth. “It seems to me that the trade idea is good. But the people don’t want to change and change is not always good”.

          “Why is it that sometimes change is not good” Merwyn said.

          “You have your teacher face on” Rabbo said as he looked up.

          “Maybe but you still have not answered the question”.

         Rabbo mused for a moment and then looked up again at Merwyn giving him a sideways glance. “No” said Rabbo finally.

          “Just no” Merwyn said looking down at Rabbo.

          “I’m not playing your bloody games” said Rabbo and with that Rabbo hopped off and went in though the flap on the kitchen door.

          “One of these days you are going to push him too far” said Athena coming out of the barn.

          “It’s not happened yet. Beside what will he do that he’s not already done” Merwyn said.

          “Pee in your tea perhaps” said Athena turning back to grab two pails of milk.

         “He’s done that” Merwyn said grimacing a little.

         “What” said Athena with the look of total shock on her face?

          “He peed in my wine once” Merwyn said grimacing at the memoir of what Rabbo had done. “Rabbo had threatened and threatened to pee in my wine and one day I told him that threats are not good if you don’t back them up”.

          “And he peed in your wine” Athena said trying not to giggle.

          “Well not right away and not for some months but then one day I had been tease him and Rabbo was good natured about my teasing as he is most of the time. Well he went and got some after dinner wine and brought me some. I should have known something was up as he was being so nice. But as soon as I tasted the wine I knew he had done something. All Rabbo said was “Threats have to be back up from time to time”. And I did bring it on myself”.

         “Hey I heard that” said Rabbo shouting from the kitchen. “Remember I have very good hearing”.

         “Wenna just hailed me” said Athena. “She said the elders should be here soon for their meeting with Plautius”.

         “You heard that Rabbo” said Merwyn speaking loudly.

          “Yes, yes” Rabbo’s voice said drifting out of the kitchen. “I best get busy working out the finer details of my plan as they are sure to have thought of all the holes I left”.

          “Did he really pee in your wine” Athena said speaking very softly.

          “Hey I heard that” shouted Rabbo. “I’m not deaf you know”.

          Merwyn smiled and nodded not daring to vocalize what he was going to say. So speaking on Athena’s private telepathic mode Merwyn said “I think its best we either don’t talk about it or we talk on the private mode telepathically”.

          Athena nodded and turned to look up the lane that led from the road down to the house “Merryn is almost back”.

          Merwyn just nodded and turned back to looking at the meadow.

* * * * *

         Merryn floated down the lane hoping that Merwyn would not spot her levitating and that he would not ask too many questions. She was surprised then when Rabbo hailed her telepathically.

          “What can I do for you” Merryn asked.

          “You spent the night with Plautius and I assume you talked about what he thinks is wrong with my plan” Rabbo asked trying to sound confidant.

          “Well among other things” Merryn said. “I assume you want to know what he thought about your plan”.

         “Yes I do. There are to many if and buts and it all hangs on those that don’t know what is going on thinking something different than what is really going on”.

         “Speak plainly dear rabbit. You are not being very clear” Merryn said.

          “It’s like this. We have to fool the emperor the senate, the local warriors and the local people that they are getting what they want. The emperor and the senate we have to fool into thinking that they are winning and that they will end up having control over this area. The Dumnonii we have to fool into thinking that they are winning a war with the Romans and that they are going to win. At the same time the two elders and Plautius have to act like they are fighting each other but are in fact trade partners and that they are in fact keeping both sides from all out war and killing each other. The first issue I see and the biggest is that if any of them open their mouths then everything will go wrong”.

         “True” said Merryn “but I know that Plautius will keep his mouth shut as if word gets out he will be killed. The same goes for the two elders. So I don’t see that as an issue” Merryn was silent for a moment before she continued to speak. “The Romans keep records in great detail. That I do see as an issue. Because if someone realizes that not all the items are accounted for then someone will put two and two together and come up with the right answer and that would be that the figures don’t match. Now if that happens some of it can be accounted for by raiders and sloppy accounting. So you need to come up with away of hiding what is really going on”.

          “I never thought of that” Rabbo said sounding a little down hearted in his voice. “I see another issue to and that’s Plautius being recalled to Rome. If that happens then we will have to start all over again”.

          “Not necessarily” said Merryn. “If things work out right I will be umm Plautius man here and I will have control over him as I will have something he wants”.

          “How do you plan to keep control of Plautius if he returns to Rome”?

          “Oh I have my ways” said Merryn laughing.

          “Another issue is that the Dumnonii warriors tend to enjoy their raiding more than they should. I am worried that they might get a little carried away with the raiding and that things could get out of hand and that either one or both of the elders won’t be able to control them. As yet I’ve not come up with a way to control them” Rabbo said with worry once again creeping into his voice.

          “I think that’s a non issue. If we ask Wenna and entice her with something she wants she will help. Plus she is very good at keeping her mouth shut and controlling people” Merryn said trying to put Rabbo’s worry to rest. “You have to remember that a lot of the Dumnonii are descended from dad, mom, Wenna, Morrigan and the rest of us. Our genes are mixed with theirs and we are grandparents great grandparents and great, great grandparents as well as mothers of many of the Dumnonii. Both elders are descended from me and Wenna. We have control over them”.

         “Something else I had forgotten” Rabbo said.

         “There is also another control factor you are forgetting too. And that is fear. They also fear us as we have full mental abilities while they are latent”.

          “But fear also breeds anger and that can turn against us very quickly”.

          “That’s why we stay in the shadows and as dad puts it we pull the strings from behind” Merryn said her tone becoming soft and gentle to still Rabbo’s worries. “We just have to be careful that all. Remember how Morrigan was and what happened before she went off and anger got the better of her”?

          “Yes I remember” said Rabbo. “What a mess that was. She created a warrior cult which brings us back to the local warriors and their enjoyment of raiding and how do we control them”.

          “There is good and bad in everything Rabbo” Merryn said. “Mom often gets mistake for Morrgian. We might be able to use that to control the raiding”.

          “Some of them believe that Athena is Morrigan” Rabbo mused. “And she is fully involved with our little plan. But would she go for masquerading as Morrigan”?

          “You would have to ask her”.

          “Yes I would have to ask her” mused Rabbo.

          “The trick won’t be asking her but talking her into pretending to be Morrigan. Mom does not like being mistake for Morrigan. Its still umm painful for her” Merryn said with a tone of sadness creeping into her voice. “Look Rabbo I’ll be there soon maybe we can finish up then”?

          “Ok sure” Rabbo said his mind now racing with new possibilities.

* * * * *

         Plautius stood in his tent giving orders for the day while he waited for his horse to be saddled and brought to the command tent.

         The day to day running of an army in the field had long ago lost its glory for him and now it was a chore that he hated more than dealing with the senate or even then emperor. But like dealing with the senate or emperor it was something that had to be done. And if he delegated or ignored the daily details of running an army in the field then soon indiscipline would settle in and the army would be useless.

         Plautius laughed softly to himself as he thought about all the trouble bored soldiers could get into. The key was to keep them too busy so that they did not have time to start trouble. But that in its self could breed trouble. The trick was to find that fine balance between keeping them busy but not to busy.

          As he mused an older legionnaire entered the command tent.

          “Ahh just the man I want to see” said Plautius smiling “Last night when I came back I noticed that the defense ditch was not deep enough. I want it twice as deep and twice as wide. The dirt from the ditch can be used to increase the height of the palisade wall around the camp” Plautius paused as if the idea had just came to him before he continued to speak “I think we might be here for a while and I want the defenses so that we can withstand an attack for a long period of time. I want supplies collected that will keep us in food for a month. But don’t use our normal method of just taking. I want you to trade for the food we might need”.

          “Yes sir” said the legionnaire.

          “Oh and another thing, while the soldiers are out on work details and patrols I want them not to engage in any trouble but I want them to keep their eyes open and count how many warriors they see. I have a feeling that some of them might try to start trouble. Right now I want to avoid a fight if that is at all possible as I think we could be outnumbered here”.

          “Yes sir”

          “And I want to see the survey party that laid out this camp before I leave” Plautius then turned back to his desk and without looking up spoke again. This time his voice had a hard edge to it. “I don’t want the emperor finding out that I have been spending so much time away”.

          “Yes sir” said the legionnaire.

         “Oh and Darius it would be a pity if something happened to your only son. He’s just turned fourteen. Such a young life to lose and so ease for an accident to happen too”.

          The legionnaire suddenly stiffened and looked at Plautius. “Yes sir I understand”.

          Once the legionnaire had left Plautius sent silent thanks to Merryn who had warned him about the spy of the emperor.

         A few minutes late Plautius’s horse was brought to his tent and at the same time the survey party who had laid out the camp arrived.

         Plautius looked at the survey party and while some of them were clearly young and recruits just out of training they all looked trustworthy men.

          “When you arrived here did you see anything odd, strange or umm unusual” Plautius said smiling to each other legionnaires in turn.

          They all turned and looked at their avocati and then back at Plautius.

          “Well sire” said the avocati trying to look relaxed and instead looking very nervous.

          Plautius smiled and leaned forward in his saddle to try and seem friendlier. “You would be surprised at the odd things I have seen in my twenty five years. I remember one time in Gaul I saw a man that had antlers on his head” Plautius laughed softly to himself. “Another time I saw a talking rabbit that is just as smart and intelligent as you or I”.

         The avocati looked at Plautius thoughtfully for a moment wonder if someone had mentioned the giant bloody rabbit they had seen.

         “Just recently I had a long conversion with the talking rabbit” Plautius said trying not to sound as if he had lost his mind.

         “Sir we did see something. But I did not want my men spreading wild rumors. I told them to keep their mouths shut about it” said the avocati.

          “You did the right thing” Plautius said smiling to help relax the poor man. “Well what did your men see”?

          “It was like you said sir. It was a rabbit only huge. Taller than a tall man” the avocati said.

          Just then the youngest of the legionnaire spoke up “It was huge a monstrous thing with fangs and blood dripping from is mouth. We did not think it saw us as it seemed to be more interested in the wolves that where hunting something. Then like magic it disappeared” the young legionnaire suddenly flushed and looked down at the ground “the gods sent it to warn use that we are in danger in this land”.

          Plautius smiled at the young legionnaire “It is always wise to listens to the gods. But in this case I thing the gods where protecting you and your comrades not warning you away”.

          The young legionnaire nodded and then relaxed. He looked at Plautius and spoke again softly almost as if he did not wish the others to hear him. “You know more about the gods of this land that you are letting on about”. Then the legionnaire blush for speaking out of turn.

          Plautius gave him a long hard look then turned his horse and started to head towards the meeting with Merwyn and the elders.

* * * * *

         Merwyn, Athena, Merryn, Rabbo and the two elders sat in the garden looking into the meadow.

         “I think its going to be an early harvest this year” Merwyn said.

         The second elder nodded before he spoke “Its going to be another huge harvest. Those new methods you showed us are really paying off and we will be able to sell the Romans so much more than we planned. We just have to hide the fact that we have far more than they think. That way we will have a bigger profit”.

         “Spoken like a true merchant” said Rabbo looking up at the second elder.

         “If I didn’t know better” said the first elder “I would say you planned all of this. The Romans coming, the trade set up and the fact that you seem to know this Plautius. To me it smells of preplanning”.

         “Seeing into the future is Rabbo’s area of ability” said Merryn looking down at Rabbo.

         Rabbo turned and looked at Merryn before laughing softly.

          “With all this extra rain and the young grain growing fast I think it will be what I use to call a bumper crop” Merwyn said as he closed his eyes for a moment. “Looks like there is a high pressure system moving into our area at last and that will warm things up”.

          Merryn looked at Merwyn and the spoke softly “What if thinks don’t go as planned”?

         Merwyn opened one eye “When do they go as planned. Something always happens that make it so that the plans have to be changed”.

          “That is why I have made it flexible” Rabbo said as he listened for hoof beats.

         The second elder looked down at Rabbo “It’s all so complicated. But I think I understand things better than I would have if I had never grown up with you”.

          Athena who had been deep in thought spoke softly and slowly “It would be hard to believe or understand if you had not grown up without a talking super intelligent rabbit. This would all be something that you would not believe” Athena grinned “But you both grow up with Rabbo and this is normal. Think of the other nations that have only heard stories and half stories of this mystical talking rabbit that is wiser than all the bards and druids. To them this is something that would be hard to swallow or believe”.

          The first elder laughed “You should hear the stories I heard in my younger days when I traveled over the water to Gaul and down to Rome”. He turned and looked at the second elder. “If you had seen the things I’ve seen you would be a lot more tolerant than you are. When I was in Rome I saw people of so many different colors and shades”.

          “I know I’ve heard your tales of so many people living so close together that they can’t breathe. I’ve heard your tales of lands of just sand and dust. I am glad that I stayed here.

         “But if you had seen it with your own eyes then you would understand” said the first elder.

          “Then would I be me? No I think I would not be me as I am now. Would I be as you put it a better man? I am or I would like to think a good man. I put our people before myself and I am a good hand with a sword, spear dagger and any other thing I can use as a weapon” The second elder said his voice becoming a little dry.

          “I did not mean it that way. What I meant was that you would see things differently”.

         “Oh I am blind am I” said the second elder turning towards the first elder.

          The first elder looked at him for a moment “and deaf too”.

          Laughing softly the second elder reached out and placed a hand on the shoulder of the first elder “we are who we are. We both do what is right for our people. And in doing so we become wealthy as do our people. You know as well as I do that the key to being a good chief is to improve the lives of those that let us lead them. If we don’t become wealthy then how can our people become wealthy”?

          “I’m glad you have come around to my way of thinking” said the first elder smiling.

          “I never needed to come around to your way of thinking. I just needed someone other than myself to ask the questions I needed asked so that I could answer them myself. What I did was have you ask those questions and then listen to the answers and confirm what I already thought. To be truthful I had already made up my mind to work with this Roman and all I needed was to voice the other side of the points of view and hear them being put down so that I could put the few misgivings I had to rest”.

          The first elder looked at him carefully before speaking. “You had me fooled”.

          “And me” said Rabbo on the group telepathic mode.

          Both Athena and Merryn agreed while Merwyn looked thoughtful.

          “You have always been highly intelligent” Merwyn said looking at the second elder.

          “I should be plus I have certain other gifts that if you trace my line back eighteen generations you will see where the gifts come from. My grandfather once told me before he passed to the other world that if you see things only as black or white you see nothing that you should always use all the tools at hand to come up with the answer that is best for everyone and not just yourself”.

          “I remember your grandfather very well. So sad that he passed when he did. His wisdom would have been useful right now” Athena said.

         “He was stupid to go hunting that great white hart in the middle of winter. He knew better” said the first elder.

         Laughing softly the second elder smiled. “Not his smartest move ever. But still being one hundred and two summers he could get away with things. I do miss his wisdom”.

          “Longevity runs in your line” Merwyn asked.

          “Oh yes indeed it does. Normally we died either in battle like my father did or of great old age. My grandfather’s father passed at one hundred and tens summers, and his father passed at one hundred and twenty one summers. While his father was only seventy when he passed but that was in a raid where he traded his life so that his sons could live” The second elder suddenly looked very proud. “I trace my line back to the founder who was known as Angus son of the bow. He was the son of a great warrior who came from another world”.

         “You are descended from Angus MacBow” Merwyn asked with a surprised tone in his voice.

         “I don’t know about any MacBow. But my famed ancestor Angus son of the bow was said to have been the son of a man that was said that he came from the stars. But his wife was human from the hot lands far to the south”.

          Athena nodded and looked at Merwyn. “He is descended from Angus. I have watched over his line”. Athena paused for a moment “he is also descended from me on his mothers family line and thus from you”.

          “Why did you tell me” Merwyn said looking at Athena crossly.

          “I thought it best not to tell you” Athena said as she crossed her arms.

         “I hate to interrupt but I hear horse’s hoofs” Rabbo said as he turned towards the lane.

* * * * *

         The moon had risen and the night sky was shining bright with many stars by the time that Plautius, the elders, Athena, Merryn Merwyn and Rabbo had finished working out the final details of the planned trading center.

         “I must say that even if I get recalled to Rome this will be very profitable for all of us”.

         Rabbo laughed softly “who would have thought that the great general would turn trader”.

         “General’s do what they must my dear friend” Merwyn said as he leaned back in his chair.

          Plautius reached down to the low chair that Rabbo was sitting in and slid his fingers down the back of Rabbo’s head and back. “I have seen many rabbits. And if you will forgive me I’ve eaten a few. But I have never seen a rabbit as large of as intelligent as you”.

          “Thank you. I think” Rabbo said.

          “Talking of food” the second elder said as he turned and looked at the first elder before looking at Plautius. “The day after tomorrow we are having a gathering for local traders and farmers to trade their wares. Would you like to be our guest”?

          Plautius laughed and then spoke thoughtfully “I only have one issue. And that is while I maybe tall for a Roman compared to you I am short. I have seen Celtic children in Gaul that are taller than I am”.

         The second elder looked at Plautius out of the corner of his eye and laughed softly “aye but no child is as skilled with a sword as you. Or so I have heard”.

          Plautius smiles “and how did you come by that”?

         “I have long ears” said the second elder.

         “But not as long or as good of hearing as Rabbo’s” laughed the first elder.

          All three laughed as the looked at Rabbo who was trying to look small.

          “You will be able to see first hand what our craftsmen can make and how skilled they are” said the second elder.

          “Oh I have seen their wares many times” Plautius said. “The Celtic peoples are known throughout the empire for their skills and not just with swords and spears”.

         The discussion carried on late into the night. And all the while Rabbo worried if anyone had spotted the glaring hole in his plan.

Watch for next Chapter!

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