Courtship in the Swamp

So what, exactly, gave our Crandal the idea that the neighboring lord’s daughter would want to marry him? Was it merely that he and the girl’s father were on the same side in the civil war and they were neighbors, in a display of lordly oblivion to the actual wishes of the young woman in question? Did she lead him on, flirting with the neighbor boy for practice while waiting for bigger fish to fry? Would she have been surprised, even horrified, that Crandal had the expectation that she would marry him, or would she have known all about it and viewed it with amusement and disdain?

Since Sashira needs to be an incredibly horrible and heartless individual to support plot points, I’m leaning towards making her a heartless flirt with a distinctly mercenary bent. How obvious should it be to others? How oblivious should Crandal be? I think he should be completely oblivious and in full-on courtly love with the girl. It’s just a nastier thing to do to the poor boy. He’s going to be having an irredeemably awful time of it in Smuggler’s Pursuit, though, so why not throw something else at him?

I sometimes think that half of writing this novel is finding nasty things to do to already-benighted characters. The charm of that is in allowing my overactive and evil imagination to run wild. It’s a far safer occupation for that particular beast than setting it free in public, of course, a service for which all the world should likely thank fiction most heartily.

Speaking of the sort of things my diseased imagination has in store for these characters, how crazy will the convoluted form of feudalism on this swampy world make our Melia? Worse, she’s an Amazon, how will she react to women being even potentially traded around like currency in some sort of land-grabbing board game? What reaction will she have to the concept of droit de seigneur? Just in being from Amazon the concept of ‘women’s liberation’ won’t have crossed her mind any more than an American middle-class white man from 1930 would grasp the concept of ‘men’s liberation’ that is just beginning to really take root on Amazon. She would certainly have roughly the same reaction as any American to feudalism, though I do note that some of my fellow Americans don’t seem to have nearly that level of psychic dissonance with other versions of totalitarianism, even though in practical application those forms of totalitarianism have certainly led to essential serfdom for the largest part of the population so afflicted.

Sophocles, and of course Maggie, having had first-hand experience with the American government as a totalitarian system as well as with many and varied other forms of totalitarianism in their long lives won’t be particularly all that shocked by feudalism. While it’s somewhat Trekkie and Whovian of me, they may actually be more offended by arms dealers interfering with the development of the society on its own.

Naturally, Sophocles hates the idea of the serfs being defenseless against the depredations of the nobility, but Melia may not be as horrified since it is only in the last hundred years on Amazon that people other than the Warrior Caste were allowed to own weaponry, as the Warrior Caste served as both army and police force until the Annexation. Having this to look back on in her own world’s history, particularly the essential serfdom – though not direct connection to any one Warrior – of large swaths of her own world’s population, would she disapprove of much about feudalism other than the actual ownership of the serfs and the abuses directed toward women? After all, her grandmother, aunt, and cousin are Warrior Caste and she could have been herself if she’d cared to take that path. I think, given Melia’s choice to refuse the honor, that she would disapprove of the feudal system setting up the nobility as protectors of the serfs even in ideal conditions.

How will Melia react to Crandal’s courtship of Sashira? How patient will she be with his reactions once the full-scale of his humiliation is revealed to him? Melia is a bluff and hearty individual with little time for – or inclination toward – sentimentality. She has a driving urge towards justice, of course, but not out of a sentimental sense of what is ‘fair’ by any means. In practical terms, she has a very set idea of the rights of human beings (and, with a nod to our Maggie, the rights of ‘derivative beings’), and will fiercely defend those rights, but she doesn’t much care for touchy-feely ‘well it’s only fair’. She firmly believes in equality under the law rather than preferential treatment under the law. Feudalism is going to tick her off for that alone, but she certainly has no time for Crandal’s moaning that the girl he’s formed a tendre for doesn’t love him back, nor for his concepts of courtly love. I imagine her reaction to his fumbling attempts to compose a ballad to his lost lady to be more Simon Cowell than second-grade music teacher.

On the home front –

Little Man goes back to school today, and while he was deeply displeased with the idea of waking up at the normal time and getting dressed in school clothes instead of play clothes (easily distinguishable by the presence of ankle-foot orthotics), he does seem to be pleased at the prospect of going to see his friends, particularly since Wednesday is ‘farm day’. Nearly anything can be made palatable by a visit with bunnies and llamas and cows (oh my!).

Teenager actually did his chores. I haven’t noticed any news flashes claiming that hell has actually frozen over.

Himself is still on vacation, so he’ll be at loose ends today without Little Man to play with. I’m guessing he’ll have a nice day watching the Roku – and be bored out of his mind by the time the afternoon rolls around, if not before.

As for me, two days of work coming right up, so I’m hoping for better weather than is currently being predicted!



Filed under writing

4 responses to “Courtship in the Swamp

  1. I love torturing characters! It’s a good thing authors have a creative outlet or we would all be in trouble! 😀


    • robitille

      Mwahahahaha! Yeah. Nobody wants that many evil geniuses loose in the population with nothing to do but cause mayhem to find out what happens next.


  2. I think that the heartless bitch cannot be underrated in a novel with political overtones. Every machine should have an engineer and a kill-switch, and what is a marriage subplot if not a device with lots of moving parts? 😀


    • robitille

      I think so too… I’m thinking that Crandal may have older ‘bachelor uncle’ type relatives who may have unexpectedly married with intentions of churning out heirs. That would certainly sour an acquisitive heartless bitch’s interest in courtship. Crandal, being an idealist, would be delighted for the uncle, having never really thought to inherit anyway, so it wouldn’t occur to him that anything had changed.


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