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A Couplet Novel: A Tale of Elder Earth
© 2023 James LaFond
Copyright 2022 James LaFond
A Crackpot Book
Lynn Lockhart Publisher
Dust Cover
Half-Orphan, Lynn Jamison bled her first this last spring. Now, before her fourteenth winter, the quiet recluse of a milkmaid, faces a fate even worse than being the ever-scolded stepdaughter of Cowherd Plowbent, one of six peasant farmers to scratch a living from Shinglemill Hollow. For, as Wakesummer Eve brought news of a plague from The New Dead Sea, up through the Midland hamlets, up to the tiny hamlet of Shingle Mill, the news itself was brought by a Plague Didact in his beaked hat. Accompanied by a brutal man-at-arms, the Plague Didact not only brought news of death and new rules to live by—but sought also a wife.
Thence, on Wakesummer Eve, dragged from the cowshed and promised to a man face-unseen behind a sinister mask, Lynn Jamison saw but one course open to her short of taking her own life with her long lost father's hunting knife—to flee by night up Shingle Creek.
Author’s Cue
Written according to an outline suggested in a fairy friendly conversation with a young lady, had as storm winds howled up the canyon behind the bench of the highland vale where this dark desk sits.
-James LaFond, Oakley, Utah, Tuesday, September 27, 2021
Author’s Remove
Outlined 13 months ago, in Utah, this novel is being written in memory of that place I recently up and left, while the train a like to the mechanical monster that brought me here, echoes down by the Columbia River, up to this cozy car shed where I, for now, live.
-James, Portland, Oregon, Sunday, October 30, 2022
For Jamie and Esther, ladies of a forested mind.
Shingle Mill Hollow is one quarter of a league wide at its southeastern mouth, nestled between long, granite-toothed Mount Tioga towering to the south and short hump-backed, Mount Millwright brooding to the north. The hollow is said to be over 20 leagues long, rising and narrowing along the northeast trunk into uncounted and even unnamed high hollows that grieve and howl deep into the Utesh Mountains. The Front Hollow itself is largely devoid of trees other than the cottonwoods and willows upon the creek bank and the stunted oaks and maples at the base of each mountain.
The mountains all along are crowned and cloaked in evergreen, fir, ponderosa and lodge pole, those timber breeds that have been cut in Shingle Mill Hollow to build the modest hamlet. Booted in grass, sage and hawthorn at their base, thence dressed in the stunted oak and maple to their stony waist, these mountains are belted below the evergreens with aspen, a white-barked and leaf quaking tree, used for quick fire wood down in the hollow. [1]
Shingle Mill Hollow rises upon the north bench [2] of Vale Bernie. The Vale is ten leagues long from the south hills to the north hills and two leagues wide. Vale Bernie is supported by six dairy, gardening and oat-growing hamlets: Wooden Shoe, Oaktooth, and Shingle Mill to north, Virgil, Francine and Wolfvine to the south of the long east-west alpine valley. The Lord resides on the central plain in a Moat and Bailey Tower keep, where Beaver Creek flows into Wooden Shoe River [3], which does emerge from Shingle Mill Hollow, its main tributary being Shingle Creek. [1]
Beyond are tilled lower and broader lands supporting the Church Manor of Lower Awes West, of which little is known other than it was the source of the Bible held by Cowherd Plowbent as Census Alderman; and also that these lands are situated upon The New Dead Sea, a great salt water lake where the Cavernous Cathedral of the Angel Virgil is kept by the Disciples of Dante. The Disciples of Dante were exiled from New England on pain of death upon return and granted this fief in 1845 on the condition that they:
-Keep the Shores of The New Dead Sea sin free,
-Tender a knight, ranger or nun into the service of The Knights Trace under the priory of Awes West, annually
-Witness the Gospel to the heathen Ute, Shoshone and Tipanogas tribes
-Refrain from promoting their troubling belief that the works of Dante: Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, represent the visitation of the ancient pagan poet Virgil as a Christian angel, having been delivered as later day gospels, to the easter quarters of Awes West, Awes South and Awes North, and to only worry the Dons of New Spain and the Dasts of Czardom with such doctrine. [4]
Protagonist’s View
Above Shingle Creek Pass there were said to prowl wolves, panthers, bears and even monsters, especially Big John Hide. Lynn's father was lost up there hunting, never to return. He had told her, the last time they spoke, when she was five, holding her toy bow and arrow, that the pass crept up and around Mount Tioga. [5]
The Millhouse at the mouth of Shingle Mill Hollow is the property of Lord Bernie. The men of Shingle Mill Hollow mill cottonwood shingles for His Lordship each Saturday and busy themselves with lumbering for future milling each Monday. Considering the Lord's Day of Sunday as a rest day enforced by The Church, the people of Shingle Mill Hollow have from Tuesday to Friday to sustain themselves through farming, gardening, and carving cottonwood church articles such as reliquaries, bible stands, crucifixes and panels for the Stations of the Cross to be sold at Virgil’s Modest Church on feast days. The Milkhouse of Kyle Plowbent is the last residential house, situated on rocky pasture, some two hundred yards from the mouth of the Shinglemill Trunk Pass, a long wooded canyon threaded only by Wooden Shoe River and the shadowy Shoshone Trail.
Thus was the extent of Lynn's geographical knowledge, on Wakesummer Eve, in The Year of Our Lord, 2031. [6]
Literary Setting
Elder Earth
The World of Up Shingle Creek is conceived as an alternative earth in which Constantinople never fell to the Turks in 1453, the inventor of the printing press was burned alive upon it, the Germanic Reformation did not occur, and in which King Henry the Eighth of England had been able to sire sons, and England thus remained a catholic nation.
Thus, Lord Bernie is ultimately liege under The King of England—for their have been no queens—and the Prior of Awes West owes his tithe and title to the Pope in Rome.
“The cackle of the witch
sings a song of despair
for those who can hear
becoming consumed in fear.”
-Brian William Jewell, Meditations on Madness
The Three Hymns of Half-Orphan Lynn
First Hymn
Masks of Wan Fate
-1. Darla’s Bad Cow
-2. Lynn’s Weird Hen
-3. Mum’s Bent Master
-4. Dinner with Fate’s Disaster
Second Hymn
Forest of Long Dark
-5. Up Shingle Creek
-6. The Heather to Seek
-7. Plight of a Footloose Keeper
-8. Into Dark and Untrue Timber
Third Hymn
Mountains of Grim Witness
-9. Up a Wicked Rock Slide
-10. Up with Big John Hide, Interlude
-11. Trucked off the Sly Rider
-12. Chucked off the High Divider
-13. Ground the Cracked Corn
Wife—, is a couplet novel, to be concluded in Knight.
Notes on Comparative Geography
The location of the story would conform to the geography of the Uinta Mountains of Northwest Utah.
-1. Smith-Morehosue Canyon, Utah
-2. Kamas Valley, Utah, a bench is a stony elevation of roughly level geometry to the land below
-3. Weber River
-4. The Czarist slavers and fur traders out of Russia are particularly loathed by men of Western New England, while the Dons of New Spain are merely disliked and distrusted. The Russian lords, who call themselves knights and hetmen, are thought to be deeply dastard souls and so named Dasts rather than Dons.
-5. This is a heathen Indian term out of Old New England meaning “tied-sack” used to describe a lake that has as a feature a smaller body of water on one end separated by a creek or narrow neck of water, giving the likeness of a tied sack when viewed from higher elevation.
-6. Summer’s Last, or Wakesummer Eve is, in Vale Bernie, the day in Mid September, when the Sandhill Cranes that graze about Lord Bernie’s pasture, take flight for New Spain.
First Hymn
night city
logic of steel
son of a lesser god
thriving in bad places
orphan nation
solo boxing
blue eyed daughter of zeus
when you're food
within leviathan’s craw
broken dance
honor among men
fiction anthology one
dark, distant futures
the lesser angels of our nature
barbarism versus civilization
the year the world took the z-pill
advent america
let the world fend for itself
the greatest lie ever sold
the combat space
on combat
the greatest boxer
songs of aryas
winter of a fighting life
america the brutal
taboo you
time & cosmos
z-pill forever
on the overton railroad
the gods of boxing
song of the secret gardener
masculine axis
the first boxers
logic of force
your trojan whorse
the sunset saga complete
into leviathan’s maw
book of nightmares
under the god of things
the fighting edge
by the wine dark sea
menthol rampage
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