Harold and Morgan: Not A Romance – A comedy of pollen, snark, biology and high finance with the Just King and an Evil Banker.
Not a Mary Sue! Plz Read & revu!
The following, to be in vignettes, is the continuation of the association begun in By Royal Decree. This is for the lovely women who have encouraged me and, however inexplicably, expressed their interest in seeing more of The Just King and the Evil Banker.
You know by now if you've come this far. This is not my children's Narnia. It may not be yours. This is romantic comedy, and while its formula is popular in other fandoms, it is far less common here. T. It will be T. This is written with a restrained hand, more verbal than descriptive, on the assumption that less is more, and that if you are old enough to understand what is going on, you are old enough to read it.
With gratitude and admiration (and sincere apologies) to the creator of The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis. I claim no ownership interest whatsoever in any derivative fiction I write, and never have. Any original content in my derivative fiction is in the public domain and may be used freely and without notice to me or attribution.
The Morning After
In which dim princesses depart and Mrs. Furner frets about laundry
If he were a betting Tiger, which he was not, Jalur would have put down about even money on Lady Morgan being with King Edmund on this morning after the tedious Occasion on the lawns. As he ambled from his private (of course they were private!) quarters at the Tree, he ignored the four separate Crow inquiries, blunt and rude. Approaching Cair Paravel, he espied two more Crows encamped in the Tree outside King Edmund's balcony windows. They were undoubtedly hoping for a wing up on the intense wagering on the outcome by trying to get a glimpse into the King's rooms.
Jalur was approaching the day with trepidation. It was foggy and cooler, which would make the day more comfortable for King Edmund's Spring allergies. The Tree and tree pollen did not circulate so readily in the damp and still air. If the King had taken the opportunity so plainly there the night before to mate with Lady Morgan, he would be irrepressibly cheerful. Jalur did not approve of such a wearying excess of spirits. On the other paw, given the King's irascible Spring temperament, it would be a relief for everyone.
If the mating had not occurred, Jalur anticipated a truly wretched day and he would probably have to take matters into his own paws lest murder be done. He and the Hound Bitch, Jina, temporary guard to Lady Morgan, might conspire together and barricade King Edmund and Lady Morgan in the Tower Library. In this he wished for Dalia's assistance. The Cheetah and former Guard to the High King had elevated subtle mating manipulations to an art form.
He rounded the path to the Palace and from the tilting field near the Training Yard and Barracks rose the voices of the Red Dwarf work party. They were breaking camp, chanting,
A Fox may steal your hens,
A Squirrel may steal your Pence
An Otter rob your Chest,
A Rooster may steal your Rest,
A Thief your Goods and Plate,
A Thief your Goods and Plate.
But this is all but picking,
With Rest, Pence, Chest, and Chicken,
If ever was decreed,
If Crow's claw is fee'd
Crow steals your whole Estate,
Crow steals your whole Estate.
Jalur never did like singing much. The good news was that Red Dwarfs would be leaving soon, marching toward Archenland with the High King, his Guard, and two very silly Princesses.
Entering the Palace, he heard and smelled the High King and Queen Susan and their Guards breaking fast with the Princesses Dim and Even More Dim. It was early yet, but everyone was anxious to see the troublesome females out of Cair Paravel. Mrs. Furner and the Dryads who assisted in the guest wing probably dumped the Princesses from their beds at dawn.
It was strange that Lady Morgan did not grate upon the Beasts as other Humans could. Apart from her manners, which were deplorable, though the Rats and Crows were no better, he had found the Lone Island Banker not objectionable. He had spent some time examining why this was so.
Jalur swung his head around, perceiving Jina coming from the direction of the guest wing. The Hound was alone, which meant Lady Morgan was not in her own rooms. In turn, this meant only one thing.
In confirmation and reaching the same conclusion, a voice croaked triumphantly, "Ah ha!" from above. In a flurry of wings, the Crow launched from a perch on a cornice and flew out the double doors.
The word would be spread in the Murder and the Roost within minutes.
Jina trotted down the stairs, tracking the Crow with her sensitive nose. "I suppose you should commend Kangee to King Edmund for his initiative," she commented.
"Or recommend him for eating," Jalur sniffed. He looked the Hound over, for she was still wearing that ridiculous corset, the arrangements of which he of course had known of and neglected to mention to his King as they did not involve eating threats to a Monarch.
He stalked toward the staff wing, his customary first stop in the Palace every morning so that he might learn the day's planning with Mr. Hoberry and Mrs. Furner.
Jina perked her sensitive ears and sped up. "I wonder what ails Mrs. Furner?"
The Red Dwarfess was in the storage room, a tiny office she shared with the head housekeeper, Mr. Hoberry. She was weeping into her apron and leaning against a precariously stacked tower of cookbooks: Offal not Awful! (one of Cook's favorites); Return to Moosewood And Never Miss the Meat!; Better Dens and Gardens Official Cookbook.
"I will turn him over to Cook, I will! And the Sword Master can dice what is left!" wailed Mrs. Furner on seeing Hound and Tiger slip into the storage room.
"Who?" Jina asked. In the presence of the intelligent and conversational Hound, Jalur found he never had to say anything at all.
"What has happened?"
Mrs. Furner brandished a note. "He wanted a tray brought up! In his rooms!"
Jalur studied the note. He knew his King's hand well enough and saw a request of tea for two for that morning. "Clotted cream?" he read aloud. "Honey?"
He glanced at the Hound, but Jina seemed no more comprehending of the problem than he. Perhaps this was another Human or near Human thing that Beasts really were unable to comprehend not matter how many times it was explained, like washing clothing and body separately.
"It's bad enough that I must explain to the launderers all that food he always leaves in his pockets for the Rats and the ink stains on everything." Mrs. Furner dabbed her eyes and her voice turned savage. "Honey! Sweet cream! I'll set ants in his rooms, I will!"
"Shall we just say that Mrs. Furner is overwrought and forget we heard this?" Mr. Hoberry said from the door.
To make room for the Faun, Jalur squeezed up against the wall of broken crockery. The storage area was, save for the Physician's office, the most uncharacteristically disorganized place in all of the Cair Paravel grounds.
Mr. Hoberry kicked the door shut with a hoof, sealing them all in. "Good morning Jalur, Jina. You have surmised the evening's events?"
Mrs. Furner gave a mighty sniff. Though too quietly for Mr. Hoberry to hear, Jalur heard her mutter Ants. He chose to let the comment go without further remark; Jina twitched an ear but similarly betrayed nothing.
The Faun took the note with the tea instructions in King Edmund's hand, carefully shredded it, wadded the scraps into a ball and tossed it in a pail in the corner labeled, "Shredder." Feeding confidential documents to the Goats, Sheep, and Rabbits was more effectively permanent than burning them. Mr. Hoberry personally saw to the document destruction every evening.
"I do not expect we shall see King Edmund until luncheon which I shall plead is impossible to deliver to his rooms."
"Thank you, Mr. Hoberry," Mrs. Furner sniffed again. "If he resists, I'll give Cook complete discretion in what she sends up and that will drive him out.
Jalur half wished that would indeed happen. The foods Humans found loathsome were tasty by his judge, save for those slimy vegetables.
"Shall we see to the day then?" Mrs. Furner said with her more customary briskness.
She and Mr. Hoberry turned in tandem to the charcoal stained white-washed wall that contained the schedules for the Monarchs. Next to the icon of the sword, for High King Peter, On the road was already written in, with no expected date of return. With the weather fair and the company good, both true here, the High King could be traipsing about the Narnian south for two weeks or more.
Below the High King's sword, the heart icon designated Queen Lucy and To the Telmar basin was also scrawled next to her name on the wall.
"Our Queen will show that little Beaver tart what for," Mrs. Furner said, smugly, writing in the beginning of the complement that would accompany the Valiant Queen on the journey. Beneath Briony, the Queen Lucy's Guard, Mrs. Furner wrote Lady Morgan, Jina, and Sallowpad the Raven, Chief of the Murder of the Narnian Intelligence Service.
"Just so," Mr. Hoberry responded writing information about the Library and Lone Island taxes next to the crow icon for King Edmund and the rat that represented Queen Susan on the schedule. "Jezebel has made no friends to plead her cause, first targeting Mr. Beaver as she did and now threatening the Willow Grove."
With singular enthusiasm, Mrs. Furner was vigorously wiping away the schedules of Princess Dim and Even More Dim: Dine with Queens; Ride with High King; Walk with High King; Dine with High King; Dancing/sword/archery/riding lessons with High King; Stalk King Edmund in Library; Pretend to learn business of governance from King Edmund; Needlework with Queens; Practice knife throwing and archery with Queen Lucy (have Physician standing ready).
"Briony and I will be speaking with King Edmund about outfitting the troupe to accompany Queen Lucy to the Telmar," Jina put in.
"Take it up with Queen Susan and Master Roblang," Jalur said quickly. "King Edmund will want to avoid an appearance of partiality."
"True," Jina mused.
"Lady Morgan to me and Queen Lucy this afternoon," Mrs. Furner said, adding the information to the wall. "She'll need help with her equipage and packing." The Dwarfess wrote out some further instructions about clothes and seamstresses.
"I do not believe Lady Morgan will be a Princess about it all," Jina said with satisfaction.
"Not as you are wearing her corset," Mrs. Furner agreed.
A rousing tromp of boots and Heigh Ho! announced the Red Dwarfs arriving to escort their King and his unwelcome Princess guests on the Southern roads.
Mr. Hoberry winced, undoubtedly for the mud being tracked in on his clean floors. Carefully wiping his charcoaled hands on a towel, he picked up a tray. "And speaking of Princesses, our guests our undoubtedly ready to be farewelled."
"I do hope it rains," Mrs. Furner muttered.
"I do hope it rains," Edmund announced. From his balcony, he waved enthusiastically at the departing troupe.
"Don't take less than three to one and the Crows'll fleece you unless you define rain," a woman's voice responded from his bed.
A woman's voice. Emanating from his bed.
Feeling very smug at the accomplishment, he turned back into the room, firmly shutting the door behind him. He sneezed. She sneezed.
Any further sensual moments were temporarily suspended for application of handkerchiefs and hot tea. What else had come on the tea tray would await the head clearing that accompanied the hot tea and handkerchiefs. Edmund has thought he might have heard some mild censure from Mr. Hoberry who had delivered the tray, but such an event was so unthinkable he dismissed it.
Retrieving from a table top extra clean handkerchiefs, he crossed back to join in his bed the Evil Banker Who Was Most Assuredly Not A Lady. She was in quite the state with Crow combed hair and not a few Crow scratches. These and more besides were all quite in evidence as she was naked. In his bed.
The Most Assuredly Not A Lady status had been verified by vigorous testing methods.
"Thank you," she said through a sniffle, taking the handkerchief. He tucked the others in the pockets of his dressing gown.
"How would I define rain?" Edmund asked returning to the point about Crow wagering.
Morgan shrugged and the bedclothes sloppily drawn about her slid away again. Her shredded, pollen-filled gown had been tossed into a far corner where it would not vex them. She had expressed no concern thus far in finding other clothing. How she would travel from his rooms to hers was something they would have to resolve, eventually. Edmund wondered if she would be Narnian about it.
Half-heartedly, Morgan tried pulling a cover over her shoulder. "I would require that rain be measurable, or over a period of time, and specify liquid as opposed to frozen precipitation."
With a glance toward the gray window, Edmund added, "You could also clarify that condensation in the form of fog or dew does not meet the definition." He took a contemplative sip of tea. "I would not have thought to define natural acts with such specificity, I suppose."
She snorted. "You can put anything in writing. You know that. You have."
As in dealing with Rats and Crows, he had to remind himself to respond to the sentiment behind the words, rather than the blunt words themselves.
"You specified thigh circumference limitations as a condition precedent, Harold."
She stretched out her own shapely leg across his for emphasis. "Did you review my calculation? I was hoping you would notice my cleverness."
"I did." He ran an appreciative hand along the slim expanse sprawling across his lap. "We shall have to locate measuring cords to confirm your sum."
The horrified look told him he had said something impolite. "But it hasn't changed!" she protested. "I checked the measure and the other variable contract conditions you specified before arriving in Narnia! I met all of them!"
Steady there. Conversing with Morgan was a prickly business. "I was not implying a breach of a condition precedent," he assured her, emphasizing the point with another long stroke, hip to toe. "I am admiring your wit in conveying it as you did."
While he could compliment her figure as well as her figures, Edmund had not found Morgan especially responsive in regard to the former. For his part, he had been pleased to find Crow scratches notwithstanding, she was as attractive in morning as at night and with gown or without. There was nothing outsized or especially noteworthy, no saucy markings or impressive battle scars save quill calluses more formidable than his own. More to the point, she was naked, she was Most Assuredly Not A Lady, she was in his bed, and she did not want to be in anyone else's bed. Those factors alone would have offset any number of ills had they been present.
"Oh." She appeared mollified, but the frown deepened again. "Harold, you need to correct this omission. The contract did not specify a duty to report material changes on those parameters."
"Perhaps we might do so together. I would appreciate your analysis."
Morgan shuddered delicately at the prospect of protracted negotiations. "Hand me my cup, would you? I'll spill it otherwise and Mrs. Furner will be cross."
Edmund had thought at her first that her concern for upsets and pratfalls was overdone. It was not. She had already spilled one cup of tea, dropped a honey spoon, and last night had snagged her unraveling gown on a door handle – twice.
She slurped her tea with more enthusiasm than elegance. Given how adventuresome her mouth was, he considered it a fair trade. "Why were they here?"
Edmund was becoming more accustomed to this manner of speech. When Morgan did speak, it was to bring him, without preliminaries, into the middle of a conversation she had been having silently with herself. That she only spoke a small part of the dialog ongoing in her head was, by all developing indication, a very good thing.
"Why were who here?"
"The usual, with seduction of the High King topping of the list."
She leaned about and over, exposing a breathtaking stretch of flesh in very easy reach. He had to quickly snag her cup before the whole contents upended into the bed. Rooting through the parchment strewn about them amid the bedclothes, Morgan found the object of her desire and withdrew the page, uttering a sound so satisfying that it circumvented rational thought. His sated imagination, dozing through all the dull morning talk, perked up for the display, then perceiving yet more of the same, groaned and rolled over for another recuperative nap.
Finding the pertinent discussion point on the page, Morgan settled next to him again and blew her nose. "They don't really disclose Seduction of High King in Section 4(b)(iii)(V), do they?"
"It is not the avowed purpose, no." Edmund handed her back her cup. "Would you advise one of your customers to so disclose?"
Morgan had quite the expressive scowl. "If I thought you'd try to enforce it, I would."
"Enforcement? For breach of a courtship agreement?" It was impolite to scoff, but really, he did not see the merit of something so preposterous at all.
"Yes!" Morgan exclaimed so vehemently, her tea cup sloshed. "Sorry," she muttered and gulped the dregs of her cup down hurriedly. Dashing the tea away from the precious documents she flicked it everywhere else. Edmund wiped the drips from his face.
"Remind me where I splashed on you and I'll clean that up later."
His imagination snapped to attention in order to dutifully catalog the many tea-dripped places on his body. As his imagination was not accustomed to such scholastic rigor, it begged the assistance of his intellect, which was only too happy to assist.
"Anyways," Morgan continued, as if without interruption, "it's bad business if your trading partners don't think you won't enforce your rights."
He was still trying to sort through her double negatives, but Morgan blathered on. "And, besides, Harold, I really don't understand all this fuss about your brother. You seem pretty magnificent to me."
"Well thank you for that." Her frank admiration was very flattering and spoken so disarmingly, he believed Morgan was speaking truly. She was intensely preoccupied with his contract drafting skills, mental acuity, and person, in that order. It was not unpleasant, for sincere praise was gratifying when it came from someone whose intellect he was coming to respect, but it was very odd.
"As you know, the Just serves me well and I have many titles besides. I am well content with them and the latitude they afford me."
"Titles." She made a little huff of annoyance and began carefully organizing the parchment, flicking away tea spots.
Picking up the last page of her contract, Edmund noted anew that Morgan had executed it herself and now considered the fact more carefully.
"Speaking of titles," he said, thumbing the last page with her own signature, "I thought only senior officers in the banking syndicate could execute a contract."
"Yes," she replied with a non-committal shrug.
"So what is your title, Banker Morgan?"
She uttered a deep sigh. "Well, I've got a lot of them, like you do. Everyone's got a different name for me – trustor, manager, executor, advisor, danisman."
Edmund felt his interest rise further still. Depending upon the country and its laws, Morgan was describing positions with significant influence and importance. "What of your House of Linch? What is your title there?"
She was reading the contract in her hand and as her wont, attending solely to it. While Morgan's focusing abilities had significant advantages in certain pleasurable contexts, that same concentration made it difficult to shift her attention when it might be wanted elsewhere.
"It's so nice to have a clean copy of this brilliant document," she said happily, inhaling the scent of fresh parchment. "Mine is all crushed from sleeping on it. I'd like a new one in your hand when I leave."
"Morgan? Your title?" he repeated.
"Associate Director," she tossed out offhandedly, still wholly intent upon admiring his draftsmanship.
He stared so long in silent and dumbfounded shock at the naked Evil Banker Who Was Most Assuredly Not A Lady stretching invitingly across his bed that even she finally had to notice his gape-mouthed astonishment.
"What?" she asked, defensive.
"Associate Director?" Edmund repeated.
"Yes." She rolled on to her stomach and kicked her feet in the air. His imagination leapt up and Edmund's flabbergasted intellect beat it back down with a not now you idiot reprimand. She could not be serious, except that that Banker Morgan of the House of Linch plainly was.
He swallowed the surge of anxiety and frantically dredged up what he knew of the banking syndicates' organizational structures. "This places you as reporting directly to the Director of the House of Linch, correct?" He was ashamed his voice hiked a little with the unexpected stress.
"Yes. I'm Director of Portfolio Management, House of Linch."
Oh by the Lion. "Morgan, why are you here! Your status warrants a State Visit!" Susan and Peter both would have his head and innards strung up for this. Lucy would laugh. Lucy probably already knew.
She had the grace to flush a little and buried her head in her arms. "Oh don't start, Harold," she muttered. "I'm not here officially."
He stared again at the executed page. It was signed in her own name, and not on behalf of the House in which she held such considerable authority. Still, this seemed an uncomfortably fine line to be walking, or as they were now, lying upon. "Banker Morgan, I …"
"Stop it!" she blurted. "I would have never been allowed here otherwise. The Director only let me come because it was a personal visit."
"So he could disavow your presence?"
"Yes," she mumbled miserably. "They don't let me out much anymore, because I cause problems."
He was doing quite the echo imitation. "Problems?"
This was beginning to make a twisted sort of sense given her manner and speech. Were Morgan part of an official delegation, he could easily see her tactless ways giving offense to touchy dignitaries. "Such as?"
"Did you hear about that huge dispute between Terbinithia and the Zalindreh Silk Makers? Or, the boycott of the Galman Winemakers Guild?"
"Yes, of course. Susan even went to Galma to try to improve the poisonous atmosphere." Both had been colossal misunderstandings and generated significant ill will.
"The boycott was good for Narnian winemakers, though," Morgan mumbled into the bed. "They saw a 12.5 percent increase in exports."
He felt his mouth twitching. "And at the root of both disputes was Associate Director Morgan of the House of Linch?"
"Don't laugh," she muttered, still into her arms. He sensed a creeping mortification.
"I am afraid I cannot promise that."
She petulantly kicked her legs into the air again. His imagination, now rested and motivated, contemplated this vision of a naked Evil Banker Who Was Most Assuredly Not A Lady. He gently seized the nearest of her legs and set a kiss near her knee.
He was hoping to hear a repeat of that very satisfied noise she had made earlier involving the location of Section 4(b)(iii)(V). The sound she now uttered was close, but not quite identical. It would require further effort, and he knew just how to accomplish it.
"There is a provision of the contract involving the requisite Physician visit we should probably review."
Morgan turned her head and opened an eye. Brown, he noticed, for the first time, like her skin. "Section 32? I had wondered why all the caveats about how the Narnian sovereign is not responsible for injury inflicted during a visit to the Physician."
"Oh yes," Edmund agreed fervently. "It is very wise to keep one's distance from our Palace Physician."
With a flailing of limbs that almost connected with his head, Morgan thrust the contract back at him. "If you read, I can look for where I spilled tea on you."
"Not just look, I hope?"
Jina sat patiently and well to the side while the Physician completed his examination. He was holding a glass that magnified his tiny eyes enormously. "Crow, I see, Lady Gorgan."
"Lady Morgan," the Hound supplied, not that it would matter.
Sitting on the hard little examining cot, Lady Morgan was working very hard to not flinch unnecessarily, for that would only increase the risk to her person. It was, however, very hard to remain still when the Physician came close. He was not a comfortable Beast to be near.
"Scratches to arms, neck, face. Does it hurt when I do this?"
Holding Lady Morgan's arm in his paws, the Physician pressed down on the fine red scratches.
"No," Lady Morgan said quickly, jerking back her arms. "It's fine."
"I'm the judge of that, Lady Gorgan, not you," he grunted. "You flinched when I touched your scratches."
Of course she flinched. Jina sighed but remained silent. Lady Morgan was, to Jina's sensitivity, obviously nervous, but who would not be in this company? Everyone was twitchy around the Physician.
Nor did the Physician's office inspire confidence. Floor to ceiling was a library of books and scrolls that seemed likely to cascade at any moment from the bulging shelves. And the smells! The lingering odor of every nervous Beast and Being of Narnia mingled with the pungent scents of dried herbs, seeds, oils, alcohols, minerals and tinctures. Baskets held linen strips and rags for bandaging. Plants and strange, dead things dangled from the rafters drying. Disturbing instruments hung from wall pegs – the bone saws, birthing ropes, hooks, arrow extractors, and long lines of horse hair for stitches. As for the needles, well those were always in ample supply, in many intimidating lengths.
The Physician shuffled away from his patient toward the work bench where he kept his medicines, ingredients, mortars, pestles, and mixing measures. "Clean the scratches well, twice a day, and not in the Bathing Pond. I'll order Mrs. Furner to provide you with boiled water and laundered rags."
Hobbling back, the Physician handed Lady Morgan a lidded clay pot. "After cleaning, apply this salve and notify me immediately if you notice any redness or discharge. I want to see you in seven days."
Lady Morgan opened the pot and Jina sensed the healing balm common in Narnia with its soothing scents of bee wax, seed oils, and fleshy plant matter. There was another balm that had a spicy, peppery smell for warming sore muscles and aches.
"Lady Morgan will be going on the road with Queen Lucy tomorrow," Jina injected.
The Physician grabbed a twig from the counter and manipulated it in his paws. "How long?"
"A week," Lady Morgan said, leaning further away from the prickly Rodent. "Perhaps two."
"Jina, keep a nose for infection then," the Physician said. "Anyone going who knows field medicine?" He bit into the twig with his front incisors and began delicately chewing.
"Master Roblang," Jina said as Lady Morgan shrugged her ignorance. The Red Dwarf Arms Master was coming at her own suggestion. Jina had been developing some theories concerning Lady Morgan and wished for the views of one of Narnia's most astute experts in Beast language.
The Physician nodded his agreement. "That's well, then. Take the salve with you, Lady Gorgon, and speak up to Jina and Master Roblang if there's a problem. The Queen Lucy can always fetch her cordial in an emergency, though we dislike reliance upon it."
The Physician shambled over to his ruinous desk, taking a bigger bite of his twig and spilling bark and spittle on the floor of the examining room. He drew a parchment sheet out – The Release was what King Edmund called it, though Jina did not understand what was being released from what. Taking a quill from an inkstand on his desk, the Physician dabbed a paw with ink and signed the bottom of the Release page with his print.
Lady Morgan slid off the table and from an arm's length, gingerly took the quill (in his paw).
The Rodent pointed to the line at the bottom of the page with his twig. "You'll need to attest that whilst in Narnia you have not been coerced, injured, or manipulated, save for those Crow scratches."
"It's in Sections 31 and 32, already," Lady Morgan responded, which made no sense to Jina at all. She only comprehended about a third of what Lady Morgan said.
The Banker took her time reading the Release, frowning as she did so, and Jina sensed disapproval. The Physician was unconcerned and continued chewing on his twigs.
Whatever was troubling her was not, however, impeding, and Lady Morgan signed the Release with a flourish. "Do you have another copy? I can see you're trying to prevent extortion and blackmail, but I think the wording's sloppy."
The Physician waved his paw. "Thatz fwn," he mumbled around a mouthful of bark. "Twk it up wid Kwng Edmd. He wowt it." Rooting around on his desk, the Rodent found another Release and handed it to Lady Morgan, who took the parchment from him at the very furthest tip of its corner.
Swallowing his snack, the Physician shuffled back to his crammed bookshelf. The Rodent had scholarly pretensions and was always trying to publish his monographs in Calormene journals. He had long sought invitations to physicians' meetings but none had been able to accommodate his special needs. "Lady Gorgan, if you would?"
The Banker cautiously approached and attentively studied the stacks of parchment, scrolls, and ledgers of the Physician's library. According to the Rats who had been trailing her, Lady Morgan had already spent three dull days in the Tower Library reading about Narnian laws and history. Jina hoped they would not be spending such time in the Physician's office. It would be very tedious and in such close company to the Physician painful injury was certain to result.
The Physician gestured to his sagging, groaning bookshelves. "I understand you are interested in Narnia's ways, Lady Gorgan, so here are my contributions. You've read Pliny the Elder's Animalia and Botanica, of course."
"Yes!" Her endorsement was enthusiastic.
Jina sighed. They were going to be here a while longer judging from Lady Morgan's bubbling zeal.
"Pliny's is an excellent source document, but it's dated, in my opinion. Also, it suffers from observer bias."
Jina managed to not growl her protest.
"Here are my better and more comprehensive monographs," and he began methodically removing titles from the shelves for Lady Morgan's ecstatic perusal.
Communication – Talk With The Animals, Learn Their Languages
Comparative Analysis of Beast and Dumb Societies – How the Other Half Lives
Mating and Bonding Systems of Primates Explained – It Doesn't Make Any Sense To Me Either
Medical Care In Narnia – Open Wide And Say Ouch
Materia Medica – Guide To Common Narnian Ailments And Their Cures
Botanicals, Homeopathy, and Pharmaceutics: Compounding Medicines Without Killing The Patient
A Guide To Preventatives –Certified Canine Specialists For When Reliability Really Matters
What To Expect When You're Expecting
What To Expect In Infancy
How To Survive The Rebellious Adolescent Without Murdering Your Offspring
Caring for the Elderly of the Herd
Counseling The Bereaved
A Practical Guide to the Three Year Bonded Pair Presumption
Lady Morgan eagerly plucked each Monograph from the Physician's paws, with coos of interest, thereby encouraging the Rodent to further eccentricities and digressions.
As he began rooting through the species-specific titles, Jina decided to end it.
The Physician looked up. "Who's that?"
"Oh!" Lady Morgan exclaimed, reaching for another ledger. "What about that series on The Circle of Life! And Digestive Systems of Ruminants!"
"Lady Morgan!" Jina butted her head into the woman's side. "It is time to attend the Queen Lucy and prepare for your Telmar journey."
"Bad business there," the Physician said grimly, forgetting himself briefly and gnawing on the edge of his wooden bookcase. "She-Beaver Jezebel ought never to have crossed Mrs. Beaver."
Lady Morgan was now juggling a hefty of collection of books and scrolls. With a swish of his bristling tail that caused them both to jump back in alarm, the Physician shoved a wooden box toward Lady Morgan.
"Put them in there, and I'll want them all back," the Physician muttered, beginning to strip another length of branch and eating it.
"Thank you, Sir," Lady Morgan said, dumping all into the box, and still looking longingly at the bookshelf. Her already considerable reading material had made barely a dent in the Physician's enormous collection of minutiae.
It took a few more forceful shoves before Lady Morgan could be persuaded to leave the Physician's macabre office.
To her credit, Lady Morgan was learning. They were climbing the stairs, and well out of earshot of the prickly Rodent, before the Banker finally hissed, "Jina! Why did no one tell me the Cair Paravel Physician was a Porcupine?"
Chapter 2: Up A River or Mrs. Furner's Revenge
In which Queen Lucy mediates a dicey stand-off between a Grove of Willows and a Beaver tart named Jezebel, letters are exchanged, and there is an intelligence briefing.
It's back to TQSiT now. With Evil Banker Morgan still fresh in our minds from Chapter 15, I did want to try this out. Updates will be squeezed between other things and, frankly, depend on reader interest. If you are interested, I'll pander to it.
I was remiss in failing to point out earlier that Andi Horton first noted the document eating propensity of Goats in her stories. What? You are not reading her fabulous and recently finished Kingdom's Come? Her lovely The Water Witch? The adventures of Cor and Aravis in Someone Else's Story? What are you waiting for?
PS: Why is Morgan calling Edmund, "Harold?"
From By Royal Decree:
Out of the darkness, beyond the light of the bonfire, Jalur said in a very irritated tone, "Oh, just be done with it and tell her to call you 'Harold.'"
Evil Banker Morgan choked on her ale and started coughing into her Crow-tattered sleeve.
"Jalur, what are you talking about?"...
Edmund turned to her. "Do you know what he meant?"
In a very neutral, flat voice, Evil Banker Morgan said, "From this morning. When you expressed a willingness under some circumstances for any name save, 'father,' 'brother,' and 'Peter.' Jalur was suggesting I call you 'Harold.'"