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The Hammer and the Shoe

by Tom Kissack 2 months ago in Short Story
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Tale 11 of Jonathan's Tales, Volume 1 in which Prince Rupert saves a cocooned fairy trapped in a spider's web to be gifted a golden hammer which brings both good and bad fortune. There is love, betrayal, treachery and all's well that ends well...a happy ending for all !! The theme of kindness is a final footnote to the credit of the main players. Get the tissues ready, I needed them, and I wrote it !

The Hammer and the Shoe

Tale 11 of Jonathan’s Tales, Volume 1

Once upon a time …. There was a very brave, handsome and adventurous Prince called Rupert. Prince Rupert, lived in the family castle with his father and mother, the reigning King and Queen. Of late, it had been quite a hectic life for our young hero, a truly mixed bag (1) landing on his plate (2). Incorrigible enemies attacking unprovoked, fire spitting dragons to slay, plagues and famines, and of course, the odd pleasurable opportunity to rescue damsels in distress, you get the picture.

Prince Rupert rose to such challenges delivering for his King and country resounding successes on all fronts (3). The gratitude of his people was plain to see; wherever he went there was praise and adoration. But all was not sweetness and light (4) for our handsome Prince; there was a problem, what you might call a downside to Prince Rupert’s amazing successes. Sitting in his castle, twiddling his thumbs (5) with absolutely no distractions, he was bored to tears (6). Casting his mind back to earlier days he decided to take a stroll in a wood accompanied by his magnificent white horse. The wood was a little distance away, perhaps an hour’s ride on horse-back, but distance was not an objection, as the wood in question was magical, a wood he hadn’t visited for an age (7). Prince Rupert yearned for adventure, and the wood in question was just the ticket (8), it always without fail provided that.

It was a warm, sunny day when he left the castle. Springtime had burst upon the land, and Spring for Prince Rupert was an especially favoured season. By and by (9) he approached the wood, and was delighted to observe Mother Nature (10) awakening. His spirits soared (11). All around there were dainty spring flowers, pretty arrays of scattered blues, and isolated clumps of yellows and whites, the signature hues of forget me knots, dandelions and daisies all bedecking the forest floor. Prince Rupert felt serenely happy, the recent past had seen him lead an army bravely and victoriously against his enemies, his kingdom was now safe, at least for the time being he mused.

Stopping to allow his horse a momentary drink in a bubbling rill by his feet, he heard above an unmistakable plaintive sobbing. That must surely be someone in distress he thought, an unexpected opportunity to set the world to rights (12). Casting a glance upwards he saw amongst the branches high a huge spider’s web, and in the centre of the web was a diminutive little fairy dangling down, suspended seemingly in thin air (13), the chains holding her almost invisible to the naked eye. She was in fact tethered to a wicked spider’s web by two translucent gossamer silken threads. The fairy was helplessly wrapped in a cocoon-like straight jacket of spider web, her body completely ensnared leaving only her head free, she couldn’t budge an inch (14) . Sadly, her one means of escape was her magic wand, a wand that had jolted out of her tiny hand falling to the ground when the nasty spider had pounced upon her unawares, immediately spinning her around and around in dizzying revolutions, strong silken thread trapping her tighter and tighter.

The Prince who was by nature both brave and gallant, shouted up, “Ahoy there poor fairy, do not worry I shall rescue you without delay. It is my Princely duty to do this. ” The Prince was conscious this was an enchanted wood and knew of spiders there that were extraordinarily large and much to be feared. Caution advised him to search in the trees, and he scanned all around, but could not immediately spot the spider, who was of course hiding somewhere out of sight. Drawing his sword quickly from its scabbard, a needy weapon if attacked, he began to climb the tree. After several branches’ ascent he saw a large and gruesome spider creeping down the tree to meet him. The spider was bigger by a half again the size of the Prince, and glared malevolently down at the climber thinking to himself, “Today it is a most fortunate day, here I have a larger prey for dinner, and a delicacy of sweet fairy for dessert.” Confident of realising this unexpected opportunity, principally as this most fearsome arachnid had no predators in the wood to challenge his top spot (15) in the. might we describe, wood’s pecking order (16), he immediately took to battle; stealthily raising his spinnerets two parallel streams of tricky sticky thread shot out, which the Prince agilely dodged. The Prince knew he had little time to overcome this formidable foe, one bite would render him insensible, drugged by the spider’s poison, he too would be trussed up in silk, and at that on the Spider’s evening menu. He leapt upwards with alacrity to engage at close quarter this terrifying creature. In a few seconds they were locked in a ferocious battle. The spider lunged at him twice, snapping its huge jaws, fangs dripping with deadly poison that barely missed him. The Prince on the first lunge cut one leg off his adversary, then another, before finally thrusting upwards and plunging his sword deep into the spider’s chest. The spider screeched out in pain, before plunging to the ground below and landing with a thud. After twitching involuntarily for a few seconds, he lay still.

With the spider dispatched the Prince resumed his ascent and reaching the fairy cut her free. Now free, the fairy looked at her rescuer with deep gratitude as she hovered above him. “Oh, thank you my mighty Prince, that was a very brave thing to do.” She smiled at Prince Rupert and looked down at the defeated spider on the ground and involuntarily shuddered, but then saw the Prince’s horse. “What a beautiful horse you have.” “Yes,” said the Prince, “She is rather magnificent isn’t she. My pride and joy in battle or in leisure, she is my best friend.” The fairy flew down to the ground and retrieved her magic wand as the Prince descended the tree. The fairy then looked at the horse thoughtfully and turned to the Prince, “Handsome, brave Prince allow me to introduce myself, my name is Elvina.” “And I, Prince Rupert at your service,” was the proud reply, words delivered with a dignified princely bow. “Well, Prince Rupert, in thanks for saving me from that horrid creature I’m going to give you a present. But this all in good time. I must quickly go to my people first, to tell them I am OK, as I have been a ‘guest’ of that awful spider for several days, but by the time you have walked out of this wood, I will meet you again.” “Thank you, kind fairy, Godspeed you to your kinsfolk. Farewell for now.”

They parted company, with the Prince thinking how strange she wants to reward me, it was just a kind gesture to save a little fairy, and my bounden duty to do so. As he came to the end of the wood now riding his horse he beheld his castle in the distance, easily in sight, perched as it was on a hill overlooking a valley. At that moment the fairy reappeared, flying down from a nearby tree. Prince Rupert saw in her hand an object, something golden. “What’s that ?” said the Prince. “It’s a golden hammer, my gift to you.” “A golden hammer, what should I do with gold ? Should I sell it my generous friend ? I am not in desperate need of money today.” “No, Good Gracious (17) Prince Rupert !” exclaimed the fairy, “This hammer is magical. It will in time make you very famous and even braver than you are now, if that is at all possible.” “But how ?” asked the Prince, looking puzzled. “Well, I am sure one of your duties to this lovely horse is to, from time to time, replace the horse’s hooves as they wear thin.” “Yes, of course I do. In fact, only yesterday I was contemplating a visit to the blacksmith to do this for my trusty steed. I have my own blacksmith in the castle, an expert at removing and replacing horse shoes with little fuss and pain to my horse. He also makes the lightest horse shoes in the kingdom. But how will the hammer help ?” “Well, please alight from your horse Prince Rupert and lift up one of the horse’s legs to show me its foot.”

The Prince, thinking this a strange request nevertheless obeyed the instruction and the fairy tapped the little hammer on the iron shoe. In an instance the shoe became golden, and shone with a bright intensity. The Prince was delighted, and assuming this was just a cosmetic change effected by the fairy said, “Oh please, let’s change them all.” After all the shoes had been tapped the fairy looked at the Prince surveying his horse; he had stepped back a few paces to admire the golden hooves. “Now I would like you to place this tiny hammer around your neck on this chain I have attached. It will keep it safe. It must not fall into the wrong hands might I warn you. Use it every time you change your horse’s shoes to give her brand new golden hooves again.” “But I don’t understand, my horse does look astoundingly pretty with golden horse shoes, but you said it would make me famous ?” “Yes,” said the fairy smiling, “Now I am excited to tell you in reward for your bravery that with the golden horseshoes you will be like a God, in fact just like the winged Greek God Pegasus (18), for you, on this beautiful horse, will move faster, and more skillfully than any other rider that has ever lived, and also you may fly. “Faster and more skilful than any horseman ever lived ? And flying too ? Really ?” said the Prince, trying hard to disguise a tone of scepticism at the fairy’s announcement. The fairy smiled at the Prince noting his obvious incredulity at what she had said. “Well good luck with your life Prince Rupert, and thank you for saving mine. Remember to always keep the golden hammer safe.” “I will fair Elvina, I promise.” “But before we part you must try out what I have said. I see you are harbouring a sliver of doubt (19). You must believe you are fleet of foot, ride as fast as you can, and your horse with the golden hooves will surprise you today.” The Prince again looked at the Fairy with a half-smile of disbelief, and no little embarrassment at her pointing out his obvious scepticism, “I see my castle is there yonder, I will make haste to it !” The Prince jumped on his horse and said, “Good bye fair Elvina, I hope we will meet again one day.” “We will, I am certain,” she replied smiling. The Prince stirred the horse into movement shouting, “Onwards Pearl, make haste to the castle my trusty steed !” The horse shot off at an amazing pace, and lifting his head he soared into the air, ascending high into the sky and arriving overhead the castle in less than 5 seconds. “Heaven’s !! ” said the Prince as he circled above the castle, his servants looked up in wonder at their Prince on his horse. The Prince then commanded, “Homeward Pearl,” and the horse descended almost floating the last few yards to the ground in the castle courtyard. The Prince was thrilled at this quite startling change in his horse’s abilities and said to his servant, “Take my horse to the groomer. Tell him to look after the horse well.”

The Prince strode into the castle apartments excited to tell the King and Queen, his mother and father of the strange events of the day. Before he could relate the good fortune of meeting the fairy his father said solemnly, “I’m glad your back son, we have a war on our hands.” “A war ?” said the Prince, surprised. “Yes,” said the King, “I have received news the Black Prince of Estobransia, by all accounts a quite wicked opportunist, whose land lies a distance away, has annexed the lands of the enemies we recently defeated, and is now on our doorstep (20) ; amassed is a vast army on our border threatening to invade unless we pay a ransom. Bah ! I will jump in a cauldron of boiling hot oil rather than pay anything to that blackguard, his reputation for cruelty is well-known, so to war we must go.” And then the old King looked gravely at his son, “Alas, the fate of our kingdom must fall upon your young shoulders once more, I am too weary and too old to fight now, so you must again lead my army.” “Father, I will indeed,” said the Prince, “When can we expect these ‘uninvited’ guests?” “I have already sent messengers refusing the enemies' demands, so when to expect them ?” the King paused before saying, “I should think before the sun sets. Make haste to our border once the army is assembled. May God keep you safe and strong my brave son, and forget not our family motto, hold onto it in your heart, ‘Glory or Death !’ I pray it is the former that is on your lips at the end of this unwelcome encounter.” The Prince smiled at his father, a proud old king who had been a valiant and brave warrior in his youth. “Father, I will don my armour immediately and get my horse to meet our army.” He turned on his heels and strode purposefully away shouting over his shoulder, “GLORY OR DEATH ! I will not let you down, father.“

That day the Prince led his army into battle proving both an inspiration and source of wonder to all before him. He was swifter than all other combatants, killing more of his enemies than any other, slaying all in his path. The Black Prince seeing the battle going against him spurred on by their fearless Prince ordered the release of two fire dragons in the belief his dragons would turn around the fortunes of his flagging soldiers. Prince Rupert instantly seeing the danger leapt into the air astride his white horse soaring high above the men below, and within seconds had struck both dragons down in two mighty blows of his sword. As they fell to the ground the Black Prince looked in awe and envy at this strange Prince, who fought like a God and could even fly like one. With the dragons slain he saw the game was up (21). In a desperate attempt to save what remainder of his army he had left he commanded his General to give the order to retreat, “Retreat ! Retreat !” shouted the General, “Save yourselves as you can,” and with that he and the Black Prince turned on their horses, and galloped away. All men in his vicinity followed suit (22). Those in the thick of combat, seeing their Commander in Chief, the Black Prince, leaving the battlefield turned tail (23) in fright. Prince Rupert flying high above and his valiant army gave chase to the unwelcome invaders right to the adjacent kingdom’s border. When the last of the enemies had fled the Kingdom there arose a jubilant cry piercing the air as Prince Rupert and his horse landed amongst the victorious army. The Black Prince some distance away on a far-off hill with a handful of his men by his side, stopped and listened to the huge cheer and tumultuous cries, “Death or Glory ! Death or Glory ! All hail our brave Prince Rupert.” they proclaimed repeatedly. The Black Prince looked at one of his generals and said, “Who is that Prince with a white horse and golden hooves ? What magic drives this Prince and horse to hold such a victory over us ? I will gladly give a thousand gold coins for any news on this.”

Reports of the Black Prince’s defeat reverberated broadly, sending a welcome message to all those that had fallen foul (24) of his personal relish for war and land sequestration. Prince Rupert’s fame on the white horse spread far and wide. His kingdom now once again safe, enjoyed great prosperity, peace and happiness. The Black Prince, having received an unexpected military drubbing, his army vanquished and demoralised, was not, surprisingly, unduly concerned. Ominously, he did not retreat far, relocating to one of the kingdoms he had previously annexed, and there establishing a court relatively close to Prince Rupert’s own kingdom, just a few country’s buffer kingdoms between the two. The Black Prince never forgot the humiliation Prince Rupert had visited upon him, and secretly nursed a desire for revenge. And so, as we see in time immemorial (25), a few years passed and the battles of yesteryears were forgotten. The victorious Prince thought no more of the Black Prince, he and his father never had desires to expand their kingdom, and although they knew the defeated enemy was not far from their lands, they let sleeping dogs lie (26). Was this wise the reader might ask, given the close proximity of an enemy, although defeated, known as a ‘celebrated’ unprovoked attacker ? We might soberly give an answer to this question by remembering a military wisdom of the past : Si vis pacem, para bellum (27). And so, poor Prince Rupert’s and his father’s complacent approach to security, not disregarding at their heart a commendable, even laudable belief that we must not think ill of others, rather see goodness therein, was unfortunately very soon to spectacularly backfire (28); the writing was on the wall (29) as the Black Prince patiently, diligently and secretly assembled another army.

One day a visitor arrived at the Black Prince’s court. The visitor was holding a grudge (30) in his heart; a former servant in the Royal stables of Prince Rupert he had been dismissed for thievery. The visitor gratefully receiving an audience, after saying he had news about Prince Rupert greeted the Black Prince, “Sire, you were defeated by Prince Rupert several years past.” The Black Prince smiled at his visitor, but underneath was quite irked to be reminded about this failure. “Yes, I do not thank you for the reminder, that is now history, but I still seek news on this, specifically news on Prince Rupert and his horse. I will gladly pay handsomely to whomever can furnish me information, I have well publicised this offer, 1000 gold coins, as yet an offer not taken up.” “Yes,” said the visitor, “I am aware of your generous offer to know Prince Rupert’s secret in battle. Well, I will impart to you this very exciting news today. It’s the horse, the horse with the golden shoes.” The Black Prince looked incredulously at the visitor and his bile rose, suppressed anger underlying his next words, “I would advise you to tread very carefully. And DON’T take me for a FOOL ! I KNOW it’s the horse. But WHY ? What is its POWER ? How can it move so FAST ? How can it FLY ?” The visitor was a little taken aback by the open hostility in the Prince’s voice, he was well aware of the reputation of the man in front of him, and had been warned he was not called the Black Prince for his kindness. The visitor hastily replied, “I’m sorry Sire, there is more. Prince Rupert wears a golden hammer around his neck, and it's a magic hammer. One touch of the hammer changes the hoof of a horse to gold. If you got that hammer, any horse you have could also be magical with golden hooves.” The Black Prince‘s dark angry countenance altered immediately to one of puzzlement, “Hmm,” he murmured thoughtfully weighing up (31) the information just given and wondering about its truth. The Black Prince, really a King now, as his late father had passed away, still retained his title as the Black Prince for a single notorious reason, in every battle he fought and had won, setting aside his defeat to Prince Rupert which was his very first, he cruelly left no survivors on his battle fields after defeating them. He without mercy had every last man standing or injured executed on the spot. For this reason alone, the Black Prince title never left him.

The visitor watched the Black Prince, patiently awaiting a more detailed response to his news. The Prince gazed at the visitor steadily, taking his time to consider his words in his mind, wondering if he was telling the truth, and if so, the information imparted must be judged as immensely valuable. Then the Black Prince broke the silence challenging the visitor, “Are you certain of this information you bring ? Can I trust you ?” “With my very life Sire, I utter nothing but the truth, you now have the means to overcome Prince Rupert if you so desire.” After hearing this the Black Prince again fell silent, scrutinising his guest for a few more seconds, concluding finally the man seemed genuine. He immediately changed his demeanour, now more friendly saying, “Thank you good man for this news. It is interesting to know the power Prince Rupert wields, power is a gift from God, and we must thank God for Prince Rupert has been surely blessed as such.” Unbeknown to the visitor, behind the last comment was more than meets the eye (32) , for the Black Prince archly continued not wishing the man in front of him to have any inkling of his future intentions, “But of course, my days of war are now over, I am becoming older and wiser to the view that conflict is a fruitless endeavour, merely youth’s high treason to our vanity, propelling us at times to reckless acts that serve no one and harm all, acts quite unnecessary I’m sure you would agree.” The Black Prince, having settled a red herring (33) upon his visitor’s mind, and now believing he had the intelligence he had sought for a long time, smiled saying, “Go my friend in peace to my chief advisor and collect your reward. My servants will show you his whereabouts. You will be able to live comfortably from this gift of thanks I give you.” The visitor left with his booty, not realising one strand of the Black Prince’s last words in connection with war was a blatant untruth, a clever evasion, a lie to hide the action he was about to take.

Once alone the Black Prince summoned his daughter Princess Clarabella. Awaiting her arrival, he fell into thought. He loved his daughter dearly, and she loved him; for of all the people he never showed his true ‘black’ nature to it was her, taking always deliberate care to hide this from her. Her mother, whom he was devoted to beyond measure (34) and loved beyond words, had died in giving birth to her baby daughter, and she, Clarabella, remained a precious memory to his beloved wife. He never took a wife again, his love for his wife was so utterly consuming, so irreplaceable a loss, a deeply sad loss that constantly and always weighed heavily on in his heart (35), leaving him, not only cold to other possible amorous relations, but an abiding sense that the world was unjust and needed repayment, just repayment he saw as natural retribution. Princess Clarabella grew up to be an astoundingly beautiful woman, the spit of (36) her late mother, her charm and beauty were legendary throughout many lands; she was not just beautiful, she had a greatness of kindness and generosity of spirit, paradoxically contrasting her father’s well-hidden more dark nature. Being so beautiful she had many suitors seeking her hand in marriage, but her father every time a proposal was received rejected it. No one was good enough for his daughter, she began to despair she would never get married. “Yes, father, what is it you want of me today ?” The Black Prince broke his thoughts and turned to his daughter. “Clarabella, , I have a job for you.” “Oh, not today Daddy,” she said wearily, fearing he would set her on an errand to go to some adjacent kingdom to court favour with dignitaries there, “I feel tired at travelling.” “You want to marry somebody, Clarabella ?” “Yes, Daddy of course, but all have been rejected by you for so long, will I ever have your blessing in marriage ?” “Well now is the time,“ said the Black Prince, “I will have you introduced to Prince Rupert, once my sworn enemy, time heals these things and our mutual enmity is now past, but still he is without a wife presently I have been reliably informed. I’m sure he will fall in love with you, but when I grant permission for you to marry you must do one thing for me.” “What Daddy ?” she said with a mixture of excitement and happiness, “Anything, if only I can have a true love to call my own forever. ” She was overjoyed at the prospect her father would at last choose a husband for her. “Bring the golden hammer to me that Prince Rupert wears around his neck.” She was a little puzzled at her father’s request. Prince Rupert had been the topic of conversation often in the Royal Court over the last few years. Her father would regularly make comments about Prince Rupert’s horse and its magical powers, powers she knew helped to defeat him in battle, but there had been no mention whatsoever of a golden chain. Clarabella, in her innocence and naivety, thus chose to dismiss her father’s desire as just a personal quirk to own a golden chain. Heaven knows why she thought, as he had more than enough gold in royal coffers across the kingdoms he already owned. If it would help her father become happy, she would do as he wished. His only joy ever she knew was annexing kingdoms, and of the last few years he had not even bothered with this, his lifetime passion seemed lost now. She knew deep down he was sad about something, but could not fathom out (37) what it was that was bothering him. In herself she did not really approve of his lust for war, but as it gave him a sort of happiness she overlooked this, and besides, she loved him dearly and would not thwart his desire for a simple thing like a hammer. “I promise Daddy, if I like this Prince and you let me at last marry, I will bring you the hammer.”

Securing his daughter’s cooperation to obtain the hammer, the Black Prince sent a message to the King, Prince Rupert’s father. He sought an amnesty between their kingdoms and offered a friendship for the future. For now, he had a pressing concern that the King might help him with. He must travel to lands beyond his current Kingdom and requested safe passage to transit his country and an overnight stop at the castle, for him and his daughter. In time, a magnanimous communication of invitation came back, the Black Prince and his daughter Princess Clarabella would be most welcome. Both father and daughter duly travelled to Prince Rupert’s kingdom to stay overnight. Before he left, he ordered his military generals to put his army on a war footing, I must make a brief visit to another kingdom, but when I return it will be a time to settle old scores (38). The Black Prince thus arrived at Prince Rupert’s kingdom where he had suffered his one and only military defeat; Prince Rupert graciously received him and his daughter. The young Prince fell hopelessly in love with Princess Clarabella the moment they met, and she him, he was so very gallant and handsome and she so beautiful. The overnight stay with him set off a brief courtship between the couple, and they were married with great pomp, the two kingdoms celebrating the union of friendship on that day of their marriage; a perfect couple all were to say, a match made in Heaven (39).

As the reader knows, although the Princess was ecstatically happy marrying her Prince, she had one task to complete before settling down to a fairy tale life with Prince Rupert, an act of obedience to her father, a promise she had made that she would dutifully deliver. Princess Clarabella had already hatched a plan (40) to remove the hammer from the Prince when he slept, but events rendered this rather tricky resolve unnecessary. The Prince had since the fairy had bequeathed him his golden hammer never allowed it out of sight, always wore it around his neck. But today was a special day; he had taken a wife and wanted his first night to be perfect, unencumbered by a hammer swinging betwixt him and his new love. Despite having a brief inner disquiet at straying from his promise to the fairy to always wear the hammer, the Prince reasoned that all dangers were now passed, all known enemies despatched. Even the Black Prince was now allied through his daughter’s marriage to our kingdom, so we had little to fear from him. Thus, in his desire for a blissful evening with his new wife he made a grave error of judgement. On his wedding night he took off the chain with the golden hammer and left it on a table in his sleeping chambers. Princess Clarabella could not fail to notice this, and when her Prince fell asleep quickly retrieved the chain and hammer. Without waking her husband, she ran to the stables. Knowing the legendary speed of her husband’s horse Pearl with the golden hooves, this she thought cleverly was a way to quickly travel to her father, give him the hammer, and be back before her handsome Prince awoke. And that is what she did, alighting Pearl, off they disappeared into the night, in lightning quick time (41 ). father, a promise she had made that she would dutifully deliver. Princess Clarabella had already hatched a plan (40) to remove the hammer from the Prince when he slept, but events rendered this rather tricky resolve unnecessary. The Prince had since the fairy had bequeathed him his golden hammer never allowed it out of sight, always wore it around his neck. But today was a special day; he had taken a wife and wanted his first night to be perfect, unencumbered by a hammer swinging betwixt him and his new love. Despite having a brief inner disquiet at straying from his promise to the fairy to always wear the hammer, the Prince reasoned that all dangers were now passed, all known enemies despatched. Even the Black Prince was now allied through his daughter’s marriage to our kingdom, so we had little to fear from him. Thus, in his desire for a blissful evening with his new wife he made a grave error of judgement. On his wedding night he took off the chain with the golden hammer and left it on a table in his sleeping chambers. Princess Clarabella could not fail to notice this, and when her Prince fell asleep quickly retrieved the chain and hammer. Without waking her husband, she ran to the stables. Knowing the legendary speed of her husband’s horse Pearl with the golden hooves, this she thought cleverly was a way to quickly travel to her father, give him the hammer, and be back before her handsome Prince awoke. And that is what she did, alighting Pearl, off they disappeared into the night, in lightning quick time (41 ).

Arriving at her father’s castle in little more than a whisker of time (42), she awoke her sleeping father. “There you are father,” she said, handing him the hammer, an object he strangely prized, she thought. The father took the hammer and as his eyes fell upon the object handed to him by his daughter his eyes became curiously transfixed, then he broke into a broad smile. “YES !” he rejoiced, holding the hammer aloft, “I’ve got the golden hammer !” “Father, I have fulfilled my promise to you on my marriage.” The Father with difficulty snatched his glance away from the object that held his rigid attention. Turning to his daughter he smiled at her, then drew her to him, kissing her upon the cheeks several times thanking her quite profusely, a reaction which quite disturbed the Princess as her father was not the least of a demonstrative open nature. Then the Black Prince turned his eyes once again to the hammer, and his eyes lit up with what she could only describe as utter joy. The daughter was pleased to see her father’s happiness and said, “I must return now to my handsome Prince. I will come and visit you soon again father.” “Yes, yes daughter, thank you,” he said distractedly, hardly taking his eyes off the hammer before adding, “You may see me sooner than you think, but for now, God grant you a safe return to your husband.” The Princess left her father’s castle and with Pearl’s help returned to her husband before she was missed.

As soon as his daughter departed the Black Prince summoned his advisors and generals. “I have the hammer, let us make haste. Alert my army we shall make preparations to attack tonight ! “ He asked his servant to bring his horse to the courtyard at once. The Black Prince was in a hurry, now fully resplendent with armour, he ordered the servant to lift each of his black horse’s hooves up tapping one after the other with the hammer, magically transforming from dull grey to golden shining hooves. “Excellent,” said the Black Prince, but for him fortune would smile (43) further, beyond his wildest expectations. Unbeknown to Prince Rupert or indeed his newly wedded wife, for she probably would never have agreed to aid her father to possess the golden hammer, only one person could ever wield the powers of the golden hammer at any one time. Whomsoever used it to transform a horse’s hooves to golden shoes, any other horse that had golden shoes would revert to normal shoes, immediately losing their magical powers.

It was then the case that Princess Clarabella had just returned to her husband’s castle, and as she gave charge of Pearl to the stables she noticed its hooves fading, completely losing their golden colour. Far away the Black Prince had wielded the hammer transforming his own horse. Princess Clarabella thought nothing of this change in Pearl, having a more urgent need to make haste back to her husband’s sleeping chamber. This took precedence over all as she was anxious to be there before he awoke. Arriving in his chamber she said a silent prayer of thanks, her husband was still sleeping deeply; joining him she quickly fell asleep too, happy she had made good her promise to her father and returned home to her husband safely. Sadly, she was quite ignorant that her actions that night would soon land herself and her handsome Prince in more trouble than she could ever imagine.

Later the following day news came of a new and unexpected threat to the Kingdom. Prince Rupert’s father strode into his son’s private chambers and looked at his son in earnest, “Son, it is impossible to believe, but we have word that a vast army is on our border. It is the Black Prince again asking for a ransom to be given within 48 hours, just as before ! I have delayed sending a message as we need to buy time and besides, I wanted your opinion on this strange turn of events (44), especially as it is your father-in-law that is involved.” The Prince was astounded at this news and looking at his wife said, “Clarabella why is your father threatening war with us once again ?” She was at a loss to comment (45) on this news, and Prince Rupert had no time to further explore this matter with his wife, fearing it was war again he made haste to assemble his army to meet the invader. “Father please send word to the Black Prince we are considering his request, we might still avoid war, but we need to buy a little time (46), time to get our army together. Once we have our army ready we can negotiate from a position of strength with my father-in-law.” “Yes, of course son,” replied the King. By late morning, Prince Rupert was satisfied his army was on a necessary war footing. He then asked for his horse to be saddled and brought to him. Pearl still looked a magnificent steed; the years had not changed her beauty and strength; she remained a pride of force. But the Prince was shocked when he looked down at her hooves. “ The Golden hooves !” he shouted, “Where are the golden hooves ?” He rushed up to his rooms seeking the one thing that would restore Pearl’s magic feet, and saw immediately the hammer was no longer on the table, it had disappeared. “Someone has stolen the golden hammer ?” he exclaimed in disbelief. His wife, seeing her husband’s obvious distress, fell down on her knees and confessed what had happened and burst into fitful sobs. “Wife, dear wife, what have you done ? Pray tell me more later, I must now meet your father and if we cannot settle matters amicably then it is regretfully war.”

Prince Rupert after a brief parley with the Black Prince’s emissary and after refusing the terms the Black Prince had demanded, led his army into battle, his horse Pearl now without magical powers could give him little help beyond her natural equestrian abilities. The Prince fought valiantly as did his loyal men, but this time faced with a determined Black Prince, bent on revenge, and assisted by an invincible black horse with golden hooves his position was hopeless, and he faced certain defeat. By nightfall the Prince’s army was routed, and he was one of only a few left standing, many had either been killed or captured. Prince Rupert surrendered and the Black Prince, at his daughter’s begging request, spared all the defeated soldiers’ lives, the first time he had granted such clemency ever. Prince Rupert was imprisoned, kept under house arrest (47) in his own castle, as was his immediate family, his mother and father. Princess Clarabella was granted permission to see her husband daily. But what passed between husband and wife during this dark time could not be told openly, and best kept private.

The Black Prince gave instructions to his victorious soldiers to enslave the peoples he had now defeated and returned back to his own lands, his sense of honour and pride now restored, revenge was very sweet (48) for this Black Prince with the blackest, blackest of hearts. The Princess stayed in her husband’s kingdom becoming more and more saddened each day at her husband’s incarceration. Many days passed, unbearable days for Princess Clarabella, and she eventually resolved to confront her father. Travelling back to his Court she fell on her knees and begged him to stop the nonsense of imprisoning her husband. “Daddy, how could you let me marry my handsome Prince and then go to war with him the day after we were married ? I must ask you to release him immediately. Please, please I beg you Daddy, you were deeply unkind and heartless to take this action against your new family.” The father in reply for the first time revealed his true nature to his daughter, “I wanted my revenge Clarabella. And now it is done. Prince Rupert deserves his fate, he proved less able to defend his kingdom than last time. Our family is triumphant now and masters of all the lands we own, as far as the eye can see.” He then looked fondly at his daughter and smiled, and within that smile was an invitation, a father’s attempt to win over (49) his daughter. His smile did not last, briefly crossing his face unnaturally. He knew the contention between him and his daughter was her husband. He might in a magnanimous gesture consider one day the release of her husband, but for now let him stew in his own juices (50). Clarabella, having pleaded with her Daddy and waited for his response saw a strange coldness in his eyes that she had never noticed before; it made her shudder. “No Daddy, I love you, I do love you, but I sense you are adamant about this matter. You are a bad wicked man; I see a cruelty in your heart I have never seen before.” The words she threw at her father hurt this poor, now distraught woman just as much as it hurt her father; seeing his pained expression she burst into tears and ran from his presence, besides herself (51) with grief and upset.

Her desperateness to escape her father’s presence took her straight out of the castle and running pell-mell (52) she entered a nearby wood. Stopping at a pond she fell to the ground sobbing. And it was there that a wise old frog sitting on a lily looked at this poor forlorn creature and said, “What is wrong with you that the world’s weight is upon your shoulders (53), Princess Clarabella, you are too young and beautiful to bear such grief. Don’t worry, I’m not a Prince so don’t bother kissing me.” The Princess looked up in surprise, and wiping the tears from her eyes she managed a weak laugh at the silliness of a frog talking to her as if she was in a fairy tale ? And how did he know her name ? She decided to tell the frog her story, pouring her heart out (54) to him. The frog after hearing her story said gravely, “Oh my, my, oh dear, dear” The frog began shaking his head, but what she saw in his eyes belied his apparent sympathy, they seemed to be dancing with a jolly frivolity, not in keeping with his words. “Well, I must declare, listening to this terrible story I’m sure Elvina might wish to hear this news.” “ What ? Who is Elvina ?” said the Princess. “It’s the fairy that met your husband a while back, he was kind to her, in fact he saved her life, and she in turn helped him.” “But, but how do I find her wise frog ?” “You don’t, she will find you. In fact, she is here now, she heard you crying.”

The Princess saw a little fairy hovering over the pond, “What’s wrong child ? Life cannot be so bad for one so beautiful as you ?” The Princess repeated her tale she told the frog and ended by saying, “I have been tricked by my father, I do love my father dearly, but he used me horribly to hurt my new husband, I am so ashamed at what I have done.” The fairy looked at her, initially rebuking her for her actions, “This story you have just told me would be considered I think in anybody’s book (55) a cruel act of betrayal on your new husband.” “I know, I know” said the Princess shaking her head in shame, “It is that I love my Daddy, and have always been a dutiful daughter. But I did not think he would do this, to use my gift to him in such, in such a ….” and struggling to find the words then said, “in such a bad way. I, I don’t know what to say. It is all my fault. And the worse, I love my husband Prince Rupert beyond this world, but I fear now he will never forgive me.” The fairy was silent for a moment before replying, “Well, let us see. There is hope Princess Clarabella and I will tell you why. I knew the magic of the hammer was a valuable gift to Prince Rupert, and he has a kind and generous heart and would not turn its use to bad deeds. But I also knew he is only human and one day it might fall into the wrong hands. So, one of the things I set with the golden hammer when I cast its spell, beyond its obvious powers of golden hooves, I ensured if it ever got taken by somebody else, within 100 days it’s power would cease for the second person that owns it, and the magic would revert back thereafter to Prince Rupert.” “Oh really !” exclaimed the Princess, her spirits lifting immediately, feeling for the first time for a very long time since she had betrayed her husband a faint happiness, a hope that things might change. The fairy continued, “Yes, the hammer would not only stop working for the other person, it would return back to its original owner, Prince Rupert.” The Princess smiled and said, “Thank you dear Fairy, you are so very wise and clever. I am overjoyed to hear this news. But let me think, how long has it been now my father has had the hammer in his possession ? It’s been many, many days. I must return to his castle and look at the royal calendar; my father keeps our family history rather meticulously on events that have happened.” “You will find the time is near approaching that your Prince will regain the golden hammer, so I would advise you to be the first to bring him this news before it happens, you must secure his love which is still in his heart for you Clarabella, I can happily tell you now. And there is one more thing I will tell you about the hammer…..” The Princess listened intently to all the fairy said. Learning the news that her Prince could be free she was overwhelmed with gratitude to the fairy and burst into tears again. Seeing the great distress of the Princess the fairy looked at the young woman with compassion for a few seconds, but also searched her heart, before saying, “You are a good soul. I clearly see the impossible pain this business has caused you. The conflicts in your heart that you faced between your father and husband, this conflict will not do you a disservice permanently in the overall balance of goodness and badness in your life. Make haste soon child to your husband. When you see him again, after telling him the news, do once again thank him and say I will never forget his kindness in saving my life. From this day forth you must be a rock (56) for him to lean on for his life, and with your help, although he has a natural goodness in his own heart, urge him to rule wisely and kindly in the future, and set aside (57) the measure of unhappiness that he has recently suffered, unfortunately Princess Clarabella, at your hands.” The Princess once again thanked the fairy and returned to her father’s room, and in his absence looked at the calendar. “Oh Heavens ! It is a hundred days in two days’ time !” she said to herself, “ I must make haste to return to my husband with this news.”

Returning to her marital kingdom and approaching the castle her heart broke seeing her husband fretfully pacing up and down high above in the upper tower ramparts, his current prison now. She shouted up to him, “My husband, my beloved husband, I have news for you about tomorrow which will make you happy.” She rushed up the stairs to see him and touched him tenderly through the prison latticed door. “What news Clarabella ? Nay stop please my fair wife.” Before she could say another word he continued “My love, I forgive you for this business with the golden hammer. I understand you had divided loyalties with your father and you knew not his aims. It is I must say most unfortunate that your father has its power, but in time I’m sure you will win him over to be merciful in freeing my Kingdom, nay, our Kingdom to live in peace.” The Princess said, “Oh Darling it is about the golden hammer I bring you news.” But then Clarabella abruptly checked herself and turned to see the guard looking curiously at the couple realising he was eavesdropping their conversation having heard the mention of the golden hammer. She knew to impart more of this it must be in private, news only for her husband’s ears. She turned around to the guard and said, “Please allow me to spend some time with my husband. I have been away visiting my own father, your King, for several days.” The guard allowed her entry to her husband’s prison chambers, and they retired to a separate room safe from prying ears where she told her husband about her chance meeting with the fairy.

The next day as dawn arose a hundred days had passed since the fateful day Clarabella had given her father the hammer. Strangely, a strong wind passed all around the castle where Prince Rupert was imprisoned. The Prince awoke and heard a loud ‘whoosh’ as the golden hammer flew through the window on its own volition and landed on the table next to him. His wife was beside him, spending the one night granted by her father every week to stay with her husband overnight. “What is this ?” the Prince asked, picking up the golden hammer, “It is as you related yesterday Clarabella. My golden hammer is returned as you predicted. What strange magic the fairy cast those many days ago when I helped her, much to my fortune. But I am still imprisoned here alas.” “Oh, my loyal faithful husband I have forgotten to tell you one more thing that the fairy said; the hammer has additional powers not just magic to give golden horse shoes; you as its rightful owner can at your will do other things, even partially fly and without your horse. By this you can escape using the hammer to fly down to safety on the ground below. If you jump from height and hold the staff of the hammer it will transform to parachute you to the ground below. ” “Can I ?” said the Prince, expressing deep surprise. “Yes, wait until I leave, I will ask the guards to release me first.” The Princess knocked on the lattice prison door and a guard who was sleeping awoke, and on her request let her out. The guard looking in, seeing the Prince still there, went back to his seat to resume his repose.

The Prince checking the coast was clear (58) from interruption by the guard, climbed onto the open window and crossed himself in religious gesture, beseeching the eternal powers of this Universe to aid him, “I do hope she is right,” he thought as he took a deep breath and bravely leapt out of the window holding the golden hammer’s handle. The hammer was as sure as she said. It changed itself extraordinarily into a type of umbrella, the top butt and claw magically spread out like a fan, allowing Prince Rupert to float with ease and safety to the ground below. Prince Rupert, now free, knew immediately what to do. Rushing to the stables, much to his immense delight, he saw Pearl, his beautiful white horse, who neighed her happiness at seeing her Master after so long. The Prince made quick work of restoring her golden hooves by tapping each shoe in turn. Then he considered what next to do, his heart was heavy with one thought. He had watched for many days his soldiers and subjects enslaved as servants from his prison window high up; it pained and angered him to see them being ill-treated, used as ‘pack horses’ to take goods hither and thither by the Black Prince oppressors. He needed to rally his oppressed people, give them hope to be free again. Taking Pearl beyond the stables, he alighted on the horse and soared high above the castle, shouting aloud, “My people, my loyal soldiers, my friends behold your Prince has returned, let us throw off these invaders and once again claim back our kingdom.” His soldiers and followers within the castle and beyond couldn’t believe he was back; they were astonished at seeing their Prince free and once again on his steed with golden shoes urging them to fight for their freedom. The soldiers in the castle started fighting the guards. Taken by surprise the oppressors were quickly overcome, the castle seized back and the “Death or Glory” flag once again flew across the ramparts.

Within hours word got out that the Prince with his white horse was free. People came from hiding in woods, and beyond, all those that had fled for their lives the day Prince Rupert was defeated, returned to the castle, all hailing their Prince. The aging King and Queen were set free and ordered the Royal armoury to clothe the regular soldiers and anyone willing to fight, with armour and weapons. Prince Rupert landed in the castle grounds amongst them to a huge tumultuous cheer. “Silence now my friends. We have been by Graces I will say later been granted a respite; we must now take battle one final time against the Black Prince, and expel his soldiers from our lands forever. A huge cheer arose with a ringing chant, “Prince Rupert ! Prince Rupert ! Prince Rupert !”

The Black Prince soon learned the news of Prince Rupert’s freedom. His General, much to his dismay, related how his occupying forces had been taken by surprise by a ragtag and bobtail (59 ) makeshift army with Prince Rupert at its head. The Black Prince was furious and resolved to quell this uprising against his authority. Several days later having assembled his militia, summoned from several countries he occupied, the Black Prince entered Prince Rupert’s kingdom, his soldiers vastly outnumbered those of Prince Rupert, but now strangely his black steed no longer had magical golden hooves and he had no means to restore them as the hammer had disappeared. Prince Rupert, now with his golden hammer around his neck once again, riding like the wind (60) on his horse with golden hooves inspired his men to an unlikely victory. Despite the huge superiority of numbers of the enemy facing him, it proved his greatest battle against the Black Prince. The Princess, who was herself an accomplished swordswoman, asked to join the battle alongside her husband. Initially, Prince Rupert tried to stop her saying it is not right she should fight against her kin. She insisted it was her duty to be by her husband, for deep in her heart she knew this was her only chance to seal her loyalty to the man she loved. Fighting by his side she fought just as bravely as any regular soldier, and was amongst all those brave souls victorious that day. Prince Rupert and his horse Pearl, as with the first battle with the Black Prince, proved the deciding indomitable factor.

When the battle was over the defeated Black Prince found himself before his son-in-law on his knees, a sword pointed to his neck. Prince Rupert stared down at the prostrate King, his breast heaving convulsively as he caught his breath after the exertions of battle, spirits within him highly inflamed with victor’s pride, an impossible battle against all odds (61) now won. He was angry with the man before him, his eyes filled with outrage that twice his kingdom had to be wrested free from this aggressor. He heard cries from his own quarters, “Kill him my Lord, strike him down, kill him as he has done to many of us.” He looked at his loyal victorious followers and turned back to the King on his knees. His wife gently placed a hand on his shoulder. The Prince looked at her, her face flushed with the fighting too, she also breathing heavily. She smiled at him and in that smile and in her eyes, there was not only a pride at her brave and victorious Prince, and a deep love too, but a kindness and a loving mercy. Prince Rupert stepped back, his anger fell away, replaced by a kinder expression, an expression revealing the true core of his heart, a compassionate, forgiving nature, a man with a big heart even for those that wrong him, traits his wife knew he possessed, knew and loved so much. “I won’t kill you Black Prince, although you hear the cries aloft, I am sure I should do just that. I love your daughter and with that love in my heart I will stay my revenge against her kinsfolk, and ask also my people to forgo its justifiable revenge upon you, but you must promise me and your daughter, you will never step foot in my kingdom again; twice now you have with great treachery and unkindness caused my subjects untold pain and death, and the last time, abject humiliation imprisoning me and my family. Arise, you are still a King and deserve that respect, and still my wife’s father. I grant you freedom to allow your men to tend to your wounded, my soldiers will help you, but leave this Kingdom as you may immediately.”

The Black Prince stood up and looked with a strange humbleness at his adversary. “Thank you, Prince Rupert for this unexpected clemency, clemency that reflects your noble character, and sets mine in shame.” Turning to his daughter he continued, “ I must admit Clarabella that I have not been a good father in my recent actions. By trickery and manipulation with your unwitting help I defeated your husband, but was also to my discredit unkind in that victory, became through my dark nature, and I am not making excuses, his jailor, and now I find the boot on the other foot (62). It was my fate and also my misfortune that my daughter would aid me in the first, and be my nemesis in the end”. He briefly bowed his head momentarily, trying to collect his thoughts he sighed before looking up at his daughter once again, “I apologise to you Clarabella and in my heart I love you more than ever. You fought well alongside your husband, and must be commended for your loyalty, a loyalty that it is right in the end to rest with your husband. I note from your kind Prince you will allow my wounded soldiers to leave the field safely. I too will as requested leave the field.” He once again turned to Prince Rupert and said “For one last time I look in your eyes Prince Rupert, and give you my solemn word upon my daughter’s life, I promise I will never return to this Kingdom in anger. If in time it is with friendship then I will deem my life blessed for you are a great man, a better, greater, and kinder man than I ever was or ever could be. I have treated you with disdain and arch wickedness and for me it is a bitter lesson I learn. Daughter, if you can ever forgive me, do come and visit me when you have time; bring me some grandchildren to dote over, so I can forget, nay remove, the hardness in my heart that I have allowed to gain dominance through this business of war, a business I now abhor. Bring me your children to give me a salvation of peace in my late life, to resolve and ease the shame I now feel. I promise and give my word I will not raise a sword in anger against your husband’s kin, or indeed any other. And I wish you to have a happy life, free from the curse of an ambitious cruel parent. Goodbye Clarabella, Good Bye honourable Prince Rupert. ” And with that he held up his head and left the field of battle, defeated but with dignity, and as promised, never returned.

As the moment the Black Prince left Prince Rupert heard a voice behind him. Elvina hovered within a yard of his immediate party; she was smiling, “Prince Rupert I said we would meet again. You are a good and brave man, a great and merciful Prince and will be in time a much-loved King alongside your beautiful wife. As the departing Black Prince said, enjoy your life, for peace will be upon your kingdom now for as long as you reign. Goodbye, once again to you both, I shall watch you from afar, you have my blessing always.”

So, what of the future ? The Prince and Princess did lead a happy, joyful and peaceful life, bringing into this world a handsome brood of three little princes and two princesses. As a final act of generosity and reconciliation, in keeping with the rich seam of kindnesses in both the King and Queen’s hearts, after acceding to the throne they took their children to visit their maternal grandfather. The receiving grandfather knew he did not deserve from past actions this kindness. But as time passed, and as he saw his daughter’s family more and more, something changed in him. The cruelty and hurt and bitter anger he had nursed for many years fell away; he became an open, generous and yes, kind old man. But for the kindness of others, he would never have known this happiness and the joy of children once again around him, and through this kindness he touched a goodness in his own heart, a heart that had been for so very long closed, overlaid by hurt and pure bitterness at the tragic loss of his much-loved wife. As in many of these stories of Jonathan’s Tales, we see kindness to others as a truly transforming power, sometimes on those at first view undeserving; kindness is a special, universal and unifying force, and in my author’s book ranked high as a human trait to be included as one of the Eternal Verities. Kindness acting almost as a ‘gift’, one to another, given without design, delivered unwittingly and altruistically, helps another to change, to become what is in modern popular parlance, a better version of themselves. Kindness given in this way will always be to the greater good of all those receiving it, and of course, unsurprisingly, cannot fail but to build bigger hearts in those bestowing it too.

And that’s the story of the Hammer and the Shoe !

Notes

(1) Mixed bag – Phrase : If you describe a situation as a mixed bag, you mean it contains some good items, features and people and some bad ones (page 1).

(2) On one’s plate – Phrase : Used to refer to the things that a person has to do or deal with at one time (page 1).

(3) On all fronts – Phrase : From every direction (page 1).

(4) Not all sweetness and light – Phrase : If you say that a relationship or situation is not all sweetness and light, you mean that it is not as pleasant as it appears to be (page 1).

(5) Twiddling one’s thumbs – Phrase : Be bored or idle, This expression alludes to the habit of idly turning one's thumbs about one another during a period of inactivity (page 1).

(6) Bored to tears – Phrase : Extremely bored to the point of distraction or irritation, that you almost want to cry in frustration (page 1).

(7) For an age – Phrase : For a very long time (page 1).

(8) Just the ticket – Phrase : Exactly what is needed (page 1).

(9) By and by – Phrase : Before long; eventually (page 1).

(10) Mother nature – Noun : The meaning of MOTHER NATURE is nature personified as a woman considered as the source and guiding force of creation (page 1).

(11) Spirits soared – Phrase : Used to say someone becomes very happy and excited (page 1).

(12) Set (put) the world to rights – Phrase : is to put (something) back into the normal or proper condition (page 1).

(13) Thin air – Phrase : Used to refer to the state of being invisible or non-existent (page 1).

(14) Cannot budge an inch – Phrase : To not be able to move, change or shift in any way at all (page 1),

(15) Top spot – Noune : The first position in ranking (page 2).

(16) Pecking order – Noun : The way in which people or things in a group or organisation are placed in a series of levels with different importance or status (page 2).

(17) Good gracious !– Phrase : An exclamation of surprise or dismay (page 2).

(18) Pegasus : In Greek mythology, Pegasus was an immortal winged horse, one of the two children of Poseidon and Medusa (page 3).

(19) A sliver of doubt – Phrase : A very thin slice or bit of something is a sliver (page 3).

(20) On one’s doorstep – Phrase : Situated very close by (page 3).

(21) The game is up : Idiom - someone's secret plans or activities have been revealed and therefore must stop because they cannot succeed (page 4).

(22) Follow suit – Phrase : If people follow suit, they do the same thing that someone else has just done (page 4).

(23) Turned tail - Verb : to turn around and run away, usually because you are frightened (page 4).

(24) To fall foul of someone – Phrase : To come into conflict with; to quarrel (page 4).

(25) Time immemorial – Phrase : Is a phrase meaning time extending beyond the reach of memory, record, or tradition (page 4).

(26) Let sleeping dogs lie - Proverb : Avoid interfering in a situation that is currently causing no problems but may well do so as a result of such interference (page 4).

(27) Si vis pacem, para bellum – Latin : If you want peace prepare for war (page 4).

(28) Backfire – Noun : (of a plan or action) have an opposite and undesirable effect to what was intended (page 4).

(29) The writing is on the wall – Phrase : If you say that the writing is on the wall, you mean that there are clear signs that a situation is going to become very difficult or unpleasant (page 4).

(30) To hold a grudge : Idiom - To hold a grudge is to have and maintain a feeling of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward someone for something they did, especially a wrong that you think they committed against you (page 4).

(31) Weighing up something – Phrase : To look at and listen to (someone) in order to make a judgment about that person's character, abilities, etc. (page 5).

(32) More than meets the eye – Phrase : If there is more to something than meets the eye, it is more difficult to understand or involves more things than you thought at the beginning (page 5).

(33) Red Herring – Noun : A clue or piece of information which is or is intended to be misleading or distracting (page 5).

(34) Beyond measure – Phrase : If you say that something has changed or that it has affected you beyond measure, you are emphasising that it has done this to a great extent (page 5).

(35) To weigh heavily on (one’s) heart - Idiom : To say something weighs heavy on your heart means it is causing you some emotional distress, that it is making you sad and feeling low (Page 6).

(36) The spit of - Noun : Be the perfect likeness (page 6).

(37) Fathom something out – Phrase : to understand someone or why someone acts as they do (page 6).

(38) Settle old scores - Idiom : To avenge an injury; to get even (page 6).

(39) A match made in Heaven - Idiom : a relationship or pairing where each member perfectly complements the other (page 7).

(40) Hatch a plan – Phrase : To make a secret plan to do something that is usually illegal or harmful (page 7).

(41) Lightning quick time – Phrase : Very fast (page 7).

(42) Whisker of time - Idiom (informal) : A very small amount (page 7).

(43) If fortune smiles (up) on someone - Idiom : Someone is especially lucky, fortunate, or successful (page 7).

(44) Turn of events – Phrase : A change of what is happening (page 8).

(45) At a loss to comment - Idiom : filled with bewilderment; puzzled (page 8).

(46) To buy time – Phrase : Delay an event temporarily so as to have longer to improve one's own position (page 8).

(47) House arrest – Noun : The state of being kept as a prisoner in one's own house, rather than in a prison (page 8).

(48) Revenge was sweet - Phrase : When you feel satisfaction from harming someone who has harmed you (page 9).

(49) To win over someone – Phrase : To persuade (someone) to accept and support something (such as an idea) after opposing it (page 9).

(50) To stew in one’s own juices – Phrase : To think about or suffer the results of your own actions (page 9).

(51) Besides oneself – Phrase : If you are beside yourself with a particular feeling or emotion, it is so strong that it makes you almost out of control (page 9).

(52) Pell-mell – Adverb : In a confused, rushed, or disorderly manner (page 9).

(53) To carry the weight of the world upon one’s shoulders - Idiom : To feel or act like one has immense amounts of problems (page 9).

(54) To pour out (one's) heart (to someone) - Idiom : To share one's deepest or most intimate emotions, thoughts, or secrets, especially in a profuse or sudden manner (page 9).

(55) In anyone’s book – Phrase : According to one's opinion or way of thinking (page 9).

(56) To be a rock for someone - Idiom : It means that you are someone that they can confide in, open up to, rely on. You support them when they fall (page 10).

(57) To set aside – Verbal Phrase : To not let a particular feeling, opinion or belief influence you, in order to achieve something more important (page 10).

(58) The coast is clear – Phrase : There is no danger of being observed or caught (page 11).

(59) Ragtag and bobtail – Phrase : A disreputable or disorganized group of people. This idiom dates back to the 17 Century when ‘ragtag’ meant a lot of ragged people and ‘bobtail’ a horse whose tail had been cut short (bobbed) (page 12).

(60) Riding like the wind - Idiom : To ride really fast, make haste, ride quickly (page 12).

(61) Against all odds – Phrase : If something happens against all odds, it happens or succeeds although it seemed impossible or very unlikely (page 12).

(62) The boot is on the other foot - Idiom : Used for saying that a situation has changed completely, so that the person who had the least power now has the most (page 12).

Short Story

About the author

Tom Kissack

I am the author of Jonathan's Tales, told to my son at bedtime, after he gave me a binary subject theme, recorded initially on audio, and transposed to enriched stories thereafter, some 90 plus tales.

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