Once upon a time when the world was new … on the edge of a gloomy wood lived a handsome man whom everyone called, Tatterdemalion. He was tall and as lithe as a willow with fair skin, dark hair and hazel eyes. Some thought he was a hermit, some a luminary others still thought he was just lazy and a ne’er-do-well.
In point of fact, he was the descendant of a great king, but couldn’t ascend to the throne until he’d killed the leopardess Bryndle. Tatterdemalion wasn’t the sort of person who liked to grope in mortal combat with leopards, in fact, he’d rather have made friends with the beast. So, he’d left his father’s kingdom and found this tiny cottage on the edge of the gloomy wood and draped himself in rags to hide his origins.
One day while out walking in the woods gathering mushrooms to make his dinner, he came upon that very leopard he’d been pledged to kill the day he was born.
The leopardess sidled up to the tree he’d scrambled up when he spotted her and said, “I’ve been informed that you are no common woodsman draped in rags, but a prince.”
“And who told you this?” Tatterdemalion asked warily.
“I’ve my informants. They also say that you are supposed to kill me.”
“Yes, I’m a prince and I’m supposed to kill you but as you can see, I prefer a woodman’s life to a king’s life.”
The leopard looked at the prince and said: “You wouldn’t be a very good hunter, don’t you know that leopards can climb trees?”
“No I didn’t, nor did I know that leopards could speak with a human voice.”
“And do you know why you’re supposed to kill me?”
“Well then let me tell you the tale.”
And here is her story:
When you were being born, your father went out hunting to calm his nerves. He came upon my father, the great leopard king Mauer who was out hunting as I was being born. Your father and mine had come upon a herd of gazelle and chose the same male to hunt down. They mutually agreed that whoever caught the gazelle would take it home and keep it’s skull as a trophy but also as a reminder that one day their heir would be required to hunt and kill the heir of the other in order to reign.
They made their vow before the fairy king Simerson who placed the pledge in a potent magic prism with this apothegm : “An heir is only an heir by keeping birth rite pledges.”
“And so, Bryndle you’ve come to kill me today?”
“No, I went to my fairy god-mother Bast, who is the mother of Simerson and asked for her to find a way to break the prism and free us from that stupid pledge! There is only one way. We should marry! So, she gave me a potion and upon drinking it, we will be of the same species and thus we can break the pledge … so neither of us will be required to kill the other.”
Tatterdemalion thought and thought … “And what species will we be?”
“I’m not sure … I think it will be a new one which will be able to live with both humans and leopards.”
And so, Tatterdemalion and Bryndle drank the potion and married living happily ever after. The results can still be seen today we call their children, brindled cats.
© G.s.k. ‘15
1. Grope 2. Hazel 3. Skull 4. Mutual 5. Luminary (A6. Leopard 7. Potency 8. Tatterdemalion (A 9. Sidle ( 10. Prism 11. Apothegm ( 12. Drape