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- Story Listed as: Fiction For Adults
- Theme: Fantasy stories / Fairy Tales
- Subject: Ideas / Thoughts
- Published: 12/25/2019
Who was the horsemanBorn 1956, M, from Kapiti, New Zealand
Who was the horseman ?
An uninvited guest arrives.
Who are you said the hatter to the stranger, you smell of the sea.
I am a ship's captain, said the stranger.
Well sit at the other end of the table, said the hatter, I am not comfortable with the smell of the sea.
But I think I should not sit, said the captain, because I think this is not my story.
How can that be so, said the hatter.
I have lost my way because I am not used to navigating on land.
Well then if you want tea you will have to tell us a tale, said the hatter.
The rabbit poured the captain a cup of tea.
The captain began.
This is not a long story, but many years I have studied weather. There is little else to see when at sea. So I have watched the waves and smelt the sea spray. I have felt the winds and sometimes heard them roar. I have watched the clouds as they appear from nothing on days with a clear blue sky. So let me tell you how storms start and you will then know when to take yourself to harbour.
But first please tell me why the owl is conversing with a teapot, said the captain.
The hatter replied, it is a conversation philosophical about matters metaphysical, but they are speaking quietly and not disturbing others so I think we should leave them to themselves.
Do teapots often converse here, said the captain.
Teapots lead mysterious lives which I will speak of later said the hatter, but for now let us hear your tale.
The captain began, again.
Now on a clear and sunny day, the first thing you will note is that waves will begin. Small at first but steadily getting larger. These all move the same way because water likes to join up as one and as the waves grow they start to push the air above in the same direction.
It is then you will notice the wind. The wind will rise and become stronger. The waves then throw spray and foam at the wind because they think it fun. The wind blows this spray upwards and then you will notice the clouds start to form.
Clouds at first are serene and orderly things which form lines together and point out the direction that the wind should go. But as the wind grows so does the sea spray and the clouds and soon there is no room for lines and all the clouds are pressed together. It is then that one should make for harbour because without the sun the waves grow cold and they will hit boats that much harder for cold water is a harsh thing.
But we do not have sea or a harbour, said the hatter.
Well all I can offer is my sympathy, for everyone and everything should be able to enjoy the sea. And before I go please tell me why that owl now has his head in a teapot.
They all looked to a red teapot which contained the head of an owl, the rest of the bird being on the table.
He is making a fuss about something, said the hatter.
It is the mouse which is pulling his feathers, said the rabbit.
I cannot see a mouse, said the captain.
The mouse is in the teapot, said the rabbit.
What are they both doing in the teapot, said the hatter.
They were being very metaphysical, said the rabbit, and then I believe they stepped out of a river which has made their clock run backwards, but the details confuse me. I am anxious to hear more about teapots hatter, because I am very fond of teapots.
The hatter began,
If you look in any house what you will find, is that there are more teapots than are required by those living in that house. Few think of this as anything more than trivial but there is in fact a deeper truth.
Teapots you see are one of the most peculiar and diverse forms of life in the universe. They are technically a species akin to viruses, in that they rely upon another species for their reproduction.
Something of the way they are, which I do not understand, makes people want to collect more of them than they need. This in turn means that teapot makers make more teapots than are actually required. It is a subtle and insidious stratagem.
How did you discover this, asked rabbit.
Well, said the hatter, I must admit it was not my discovery, I was told of this by Parker.
Who is Parker, said the captain.
Parker is a pen, said the hatter. An ink fountain pen and a very reputable one at that. Once I thought of him as my pen but then I learnt better. But that is another story altogether.
You could tell us a little, said the captain.
The hatter began,
Parker was a gift from my Father. For many years he made writing something to enjoy. Then I noticed that Parker would disappear for months at a time and then suddenly reappear in the most obvious of places. It was very hard to explain why I had not been able to find him for so long.
So I began to watch parker in secret and found that he would inveigle himself into others hands and pockets at regular intervals. By this means he was travelling not just the whole country, but the whole world.
He was present at many major events in history and often played a part in those events. Parker has in fact signed many major international treaties. I collected evidence of this in newspaper clippings. He was photographed in the hands of many important people.
The captain shook his head and made to leave but was stopped by the rabbit who asked, tell me, when at sea and out of sight of land, how do you find your way home.
The captain said, there are many who will tell you that if you follow the flight of birds in the evening they will take you to land, but I have never found that of use. Whenever I have been at sea it is the birds that follow me.
So my advice, and it is tried and true, is to use a GPS.
They all watched the captain leave and sure enough he was following the map on his GPS.
A horseman approached the table and gave his greetings to the hatter. The rabbit offered him tea. The horseman then asked the hatter, Why is your tea table in the garden.
The hatter turned to the teapot and asked, why does this horseman think our table is in the garden.
The mouse poked his head out from the spout of the teapot and said, this man is an outdoor creature and because he is most at home outdoors it is those parts which he prefers to see.
That explains his horse, said the hatter, otherwise it would have been rude to bring a horse to my table.
But we are in a garden said the rabbit. And what is wrong with a horse at a table.
You too are an outdoor creature, said the mouse, whereas I am mostly an indoor creature and I see a room looking over a garden.
The tea table was actually cunningly placed upon a shortcut between the dining room and the garden, so those who were indoor creatures saw the dining room and those who were outdoor saw the garden.
Horses have no manners regarding their toilet, said the hatter. The mouse and rabbit looked embarrassed by this comment and quickly checked behind themselves.
So the hatter must be an indoor creature, said the horseman.
No, said the mouse, he is simply mad and cannot see the difference.
Is the hatter mad, asked the rabbit.
The owl tried to speak but could not be heard because his head was stuck in a teapot.
The teapot then explained that many believe hatters became mad because they used mercury when making their hatbands and imbibing too much mercury played havoc with the mind.
And is that what happened to the hatter, said the horseman.
I have no idea, said the teapot, I have never seen the hatter make a hat, I said it merely to pass the time.
The owl then said as loudly as he could, his head being stuck in a teapot, that is exactly about what I will have said. You cannot say things to pass the time, it is time that passes the saying of a thing.
The hatter then asked, what are you here for horseman.
I am a messenger said the horseman. I bring news to all.
And what have you brought us asked the hatter.
All in good time said the horseman, but first where is my horse.
He is behind the curtain said the hatter.
I cannot see a curtain said the horseman.
Go to that tree and look back said the hatter, it is easier to see the curtains from there.
The horseman walked to the tree and when he looked back he said, I still cannot see the curtains.
That is because they are behind your horse said the hatter.
Now I see said the horseman, I will be on my way then.
But what of your news asked the hatter.
Beware of urchins, the horseman shouted as he rode away.
He was not able to see a great deal for a newsman, said the mouse.
It was rude of him to bring his horse to my dining table, said the hatter.
This is not your dining table said the rabbit, this is your tea table.
Do I have more than one table, asked the hatter.
In a manner of speaking, said the rabbit.
How is the number of tables one has, determined by a manner of speaking, asked the hatter.
It is a matter of philosophy, said the rabbit. If you use only one of a thing can you really own more than one. Your house has five bedrooms but you can only ever sleep in one at a time.
Property, said the owl, is but a delusion. All things we think we own are things which we are merely looking after until they are passed to someone else.
So you are a communist then, said the mouse.
Far from it said the owl, I am a conservative in the classic sense of the term as it relates to politics.
And what does that entail, asked the hatter.
Well mostly I do not like change, but more importantly I seek old fashioned ideas of society where everyone knows their place. Especially those who are food, he said, as he eyed the mouse across the teapot.
Of things metaphysical;
The mouse said to the rabbit, why is it that one cannot change the past because there are some changes I wish that I could make.
Rabbit said that to get to this point today, where we are both here at this very time, needed all of the past to make it so. Change one little thing and who knows where we might have ended up. So to ask that question, it needs be that the past is just what it was.
An owl swooped down upon the table, the mouse in great fright jumped into a teapot. The owl addressed the rabbit, I beg to differ with your claim. To change the past is easy. Why, every memory and every history makes changes to the past.
But those are not real changes said the rabbit. They are merely changes to our recollection of the past, not the true past.
So tell me what is true, said the owl. If history changes with every recollection then there is a past for everyone who wants to remember it and they all promise you their past is true. But all of that is of no consequence because the past cannot change the future. For it is the future and not the past which cannot be changed.
How so asked the mouse.
Come out of that teapot if you wish to converse about this matter, said the rabbit.
I will not come out while there is an owl upon the table, said the mouse.
How can you imply such a thing about another guest at tea, said the rabbit.
No leave him, said the owl, he is probably speaking the truth, I am an early bird and it is long time since breakfast.
To return to the matter at hand, said the mouse to the owl, tell us more of time.
The owl began,
Think of a moment rabbit. You are seated by the white teapot so touch its spout and remember that moment. Now change your chair to the one by the blue teapot and touch its spout and remember that moment. Tell me now the moment when you touched the white spout, where did it go.
It is in the past of course, said the rabbit.
And between spouts where was that moment when you touched the blue spout.
It was in the future, said the rabbit.
And now, said the owl.
The blue spout moment is in the past as well.
So it must be plainly seen, said the owl, that the moment of time when you touched the blue spout came from the future and moved to the past. Now what does that tell you about time.
The rabbit just shrugged.
It means that time comes from the future and travels to the past, said the mouse.
But my clock counts the other way, said the rabbit.
That is because all clocks run backwards, said the owl. Clocks measure life, not time. Because time comes from the future is why it cannot be changed by the past.
Tell us more, said the mouse, who was beginning to worry that the owl was inspecting the teapot where he was hiding, surely his head is too big to get in this pot, thought the mouse.
The owl began, think of yourself in a boat on a broad river. The boat is chained to a rock in the stream. You cannot move the boat forward against the stream. You cannot break the chain that holds the boat. What ever falls overboard is carried away and becomes just a memory or is forgotten. Whatever flows past in the river also becomes a memory or is forgotten.
Now you can move about as much as you wish on your boat, but however much you do has no effect upon the river. It makes its way at its own pace. Whether you rush about or sit still makes no difference to what flows past or when.
One day you will fall into the stream or else the boat will sink and you too will be carried away by the river.
But once in the water you can choose to swim to the banks and walk on those banks free from the river.
The rock is now, the river is time and the boat is life. So all you need to do to free yourself from time is simply leave the boat said the owl as he eyed the mouse in his teapot.
You are saying that just to get me to leave this teapot, said the mouse.
Life gets very hard when your food is too clever, said the owl.
Of kites and chimneys.
Two children ran across the garden towards the house. They did not speak to the party at the table. They were flying kites and were completely absorbed in what they where doing.
Who are those urchins, asked the hatter.
Urchins, said the rabbit. I thought urchins were a type of shellfish.
Really, said the hatter, I always thought urchins were rude and unruly children.
I wonder if the sea captain would know, asked the rabbit.
As they ran past the house their kites became entangled with a chimney and to the great surprise of all who saw it the chimney then fell down.
My word, said the hatter. Who would have thought a kite could bring down a chimney.
It is a very sad thing when you cannot trust a chimney, said the rabbit.
For the good of all.
The hatter picked up a letter he found upon the table. The rabbit asked who was that letter from. The hatter said it was from Sam.
Who is Sam, asked the rabbit.
I have no idea, said the hatter, I have never known a Sam.
What does he say, said the rabbit.
He is sending us a tin soldier, to protect us from enemies, said the hatter. He says we should provide whatever it needs.
I did not know I had enemies, said the rabbit.
I cannot imagine who he means, said the hatter, but everyone is fed at this table so it is probably of no importance.
He could protect me from owls, said the mouse.
A tin soldier walked up to the table. I have come to guard the gate, he told them.
I suppose that will be okay, said the hatter, but who are you guarding us from.
The enemy outside the gate will come and drink your tea and eat your cakes if I do not guard the gate.
But we like visitors, said the hatter, the tea and the cake are here for visitors. Especially if they do not bring their horses to the table, horses have no manners regarding their toilet.
The rabbit and the mouse quickly looked behind themselves.
If I do not guard your garden then the enemy will not only drink your tea he will take over your table, said the tin soldier.
So are we to have no visitors, said the hatter.
Those who share our ethics and values will be allowed through the gate, said the tin soldier.
The tin soldier walked to the gate.
What are our ethics and values, asked the rabbit.
Do you think he has noticed that you do not have a fence, said the mouse to the hatter.
I think it best to let him be, said the hatter.
The two urchins pulled their kites from the fallen chimney and ran off across the garden.
And without a word to us, said the hatter. They are worse than horses. Leaving a mess for others to clean up.
A second letter.
Where do these letters come from, said the hatter. It's Sam again, he is sending more soldiers.
May be the one at the gate is lonely, said the rabbit.
A group of tin soldiers approached the table. Who is in charge here, said their leader. Everyone looked to the hatter.
But I am not in charge, said the hatter, it is just that it is my table.
We have come to guard the fence, said the tin soldier.
But I do not have a fence, said the hatter.
All the more need for us to guard you, said the tin soldier. And do not worry, we will build a fence.
Have you noticed we have had no visitors except tin soldiers since we have had a guard, said the mouse.
The leader of the tin soldiers asked, why does that teapot have opinions, why is it allowed to speak about matters of such grave importance.
It is not the teapot, it is the mouse inside the teapot who is speaking, said the rabbit.
Yes but I agree with the mouse, said the teapot. There was a nod of agreement from all the other teapots because guests were important to the ethos of being a teapot.
These matters are of too much importance to be discussed by inanimate objects, said the tin soldier.
But are you not also an inanimate object, asked the hatter.
Yes, said the tin soldier, but I do not discuss these matters. And that seemed reasonable to everyone.
We will need this table, said the tin soldier, you will have to go inside for your own safety.
But I am inside, said the hatter.
Do not mind him, he is mad, said the owl.
The mouse pushed his head out the spout and said, I thought you were guarding us, to save this table for us.
In that moment of inattention the owl caught him by the tail. No one had anything more to say at that time.
The hatters party broke up and they went their separate ways. All except the owl who could not get his head out of the teapot and the teapot was not giving the least of help. He was after all a vegetarian and most upset about the mouse.
The tin soldiers sat down at the table.
The only hope for a return to the party now depended entirely on the teapots.