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Ollie rested on his heels at Tjaden's side, also wearing the dark blue. Tjaden glanced proudly at the two colored bars on the left side of Ollie's chest. The first had a blue background with a gold arrow in the foreground. The sharpshooter medal was difficult to earn, even for soldiers who specialized in archery. Ollie had earned it before completing training, despite being bedridden for a month.
The second bar was much less common. It had only been awarded thrice in the history of the Elites. It was plain white with a gold letter "J" in the form of a claw. Tjaden wore its twin. He had insisted that Ollie be given the award, since it was his arrow that had injured the Jabberwocky's wing. Tjaden explained to Captain Markin, the new leader of the Elites, that the wound had saved him three times. First, it prevented the Jabberwocky from reaching the clearing and alighting directly on top of Tjaden. Second, whiffling through the forest had slowed it down and given Tjaden time to prepare for the Jabberwocky. Third, the coa.r.s.e trail left behind the Jabberwocky had allowed Elora and him to escape.
Tjaden's thoughts returned to the moment and he wondered why time pa.s.sed so slowly whenever he wanted it to go fast. The large crowd was behind him so he inspected the wabe ahead anxiously.
The toves, having been evicted from their nests under the sundial, wandered around the wabe gyring and gimbling, then picking at the uprooted grubs and worms. Borogoves, looking miserable and flimsy in contrast to the festive atmosphere, honked lazily and flew overhead.
Leaning to Ollie, Tjaden asked, "What could be taking so long?"
Ollie chuckled. "You still have a lot to learn about women if you expected her to be on time."
"I thought that's why the ceremony was scheduled at brillig, so she could have all day to prepare."
"I know you must be feeling about as excited as an adolescent Jubjub bird, but give her a few minutes."
Tjaden blushed and was about to defend himself when a murmur pa.s.sed through the crowd. The sight when he looked up made his breath catch in his throat. Nothing could possibly be so pure and beautiful. Realizing it was his bride-to-be, a warm shiver pa.s.sed through his body. Ten feet tall didn't begin to describe how he felt.
Elora was arrayed in white from head to heel, her veil thin enough to show her radiant face and wide smile. The red ribbon she'd been wearing around her wrist was gone, and her own ribbon was no longer in her hair, but in her hand. Her dark hair was a stunning contrast to the brilliant white gown. Around her neck she wore, on a thin gold chain, an oval medalliona"white, with a claw-like "J" in the center. It was the only medal ever awarded to a citizen by the Elites. When young King Antion presented her with the medallion, she had to kneel and bow in order for him to reach high enough to place it around her neck. One of his advisors, Lady Palida, offered to lift the king, or call for a stool, but Elora claimed it an honor to kneel before the young king.
She took her place at Tjaden's side, offering her hand and the ribbon. In contrast to his thick, calloused hand, Elora's was dainty, and even silkier than the ribbon they both clutched. In unison they turned to gaze at each other. The world around them faded, as it had when he faced the banders.n.a.t.c.h, at the Swap and Spar, and in the final encounter with the Jabberwocky.
Elora was all that mattered.
Tellef's voice came from somewhere else, and Tjaden didn't know, or care, if the audience still looked on. He was oblivious to the toves and borogoves that witnessed the ceremony, and even to a pair of raths who had wandered onto the wabe looking for their owner.
Tellef was reaching the end of the ceremony. "Do you, Tjaden and Elora, accept one another as husband and wife?"
The onlookers were silent as the couple opened their mouths in unison to answer. Instead of the pure sound of two lovers committing to each other, they heard a bellowing whistle with an interspersed sneeze, as one of the raths outgrabe loudly. The audience snickered and clapped as Tellef presented the new couple.
Also available by Daniel Coleman a" Hatter.
The tale of Chism the Elite and of a young man named Hatta, and his ascent into madness.
Banders.n.a.t.c.h a" A swift moving creature with snapping jaws.
Beamish a" Radiantly happy.
Borogove a" A thin, shabby-looking bird with its feather sticking out all around. Looks something like a live mop.
Brillig a" Four o'clock in the afternoon. The time when you begin broiling things for dinner.
Burble a" A mixture of a bleat, murmur, and warble.
Chortle a" Combination of chuckle and snort.
Eleventeen a" Between the ages of ten and thirteen.
Frabjous a" Fair, fabulous, and joyous.
Frumious a" Combination of fuming and furious. Frequently used to describe a banders.n.a.t.c.h that has lost its temper.
Galumph a" An awkward gallop.
Gimble a" To make holes as with a gimlet Gimlet a" A hand tool used to drill small holes.
Gyre a" To go round and round like a gyroscope.
Jubjub Bird a" A desperate bird that lives in perpetual pa.s.sion.
Manxome a" More than fearsome.
Mimsy a" Miserable and flimsy.
Mome a" Short for *from home', as someone who has lost their way.
Outgribe a" Something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle.
Rath a" A sort of green pig.
Slithy a" Slimy and lithe.
Sprythe a" Spry and sharp like a scythe.
Tove a" An animal resembling a badger, a lizard and a corkscrew. They prefer to make their nests under sundials.
Tulgey a" Thick, dark, and entwined.
Tweedle a" A simpleton; imbecile.
Uffish a" A state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.
Wabe a" The gra.s.s plot around a sundial. It is called a "wabe" because it goes on a long way before it, a long way behind it, and a long way beyond it on each side.
Thanks to the members of the Cache Valley Chapter of the League of Utah Writers for not saying, "This sucks and you're a horrible writer." To EA Younker for the best critique I've ever received. To the Writing Excuses Podcast (my first writing instructors). To my beta readers: Veronica, Heather, Mom, Jaycie, the Hoyts, and Truman. I still feel bad for asking you to read my early work. To Ben Jensen a" I never would have written without your example. To Jodie for so much more than the cover art. And to you, the reader, for trusting me enough to spend your time with my first book.
About the Author.
Daniel Coleman memorized Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky in 1998 and puzzled over the hows and whys for over a decade before attempting to tell the story behind the story. When he's not writing or firefighting, Daniel loves spending time with his wife and kids. He enjoys small-town living and would be happy to discuss ice cream or PEZ if you've got an hour or two.
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Jabberwocky will be available in audiobook format in August 2011!