Chapter 4        

            Several weeks later, Unless was in the front yard, close to regretting the effectiveness of his efforts against the vines. A deliveryman came up to the gate, pulling a heavily laden cart. Unless pricked his ears and asked, “Is all of that for us?”
            The deliveryman laughed. “I wish it were, because then I would be done hauling it. For this stop, just this suitcase.” He rummaged in the back of the cart and carefully pulled out a large and rather battered-looking leather suitcase. He was careful to hold it in his arms rather than trusting the handle. There were colorful stickers on the suitcase, and some leather straps dangled from the hinged end. As Unless took the suitcase from the deliveryman, one of the straps fell off completely.
            Without any further word, the deliveryman pushed his cart back to the road and continued on his rounds. Unless carried the suitcase into the front room, calling, “Until! Until! See what’s come! Another trunk from our travels! A suitcase, rather, but still!”
            Until tightened the lid on a last jar of pickled cucumbers and hurried to the front room. They stood looking in wonder at the large suitcase, not even noticing that Unless had gone right back out to the front yard. They returned shortly, carrying the strap that had fallen off the suitcase. “This fell off the poor suitcase, but it will be good for replacing one of the straps on my hunting gear, so that’s all right.”
            “Well,” said Until, “shall we see what’s inside?”
            “Yes,” said Unless eagerly, looping the strap over one shoulder to get it out of the way. They unlatched the closures on the suitcase and swung the lid up. The first thing they found inside was a smooth and shapely piece of driftwood, about the length of Until’s forelimb. Below that was a length of shimmering purple cloth embroidered with tear-shaped mirrors. Under the cloth, and resting on top of some paintings, was an ornate key.
            Both Unless and Until were anxious to see how many paintings were in the suitcase. Unless set the driftwood aside for later consideration. Until took charge of the purple cloth, stroking it appreciatively as they carried it off to put away with their sewing things. Unless attached the ornate key to the keychain Perdita had given them, not having any other idea what to do with it.
            There were three paintings in the suitcase. Together, Unless and Until lifted the paintings as one and placed them on the easel. When the top painting was clearly in view, both exclaimed joyfully at what they saw.
            “It is the night we went on a visit to shore from the Mirror!” said Until.
            “The lost shoreline!” said Unless.
            Both remembered one of the few towns regularly visited by the Mirror. This town had built a great pier some long years before, only to be struck by an enormous storm that washed away the beach and most of the pier, pushing the town almost a mile to what had been inland. At the time of Unless and Until’s visit, it was the habit of the townspeople to row out in shallow barges to the remains of the pier to exchange goods and gossip with the sailors. As the Mirror was anchoring for a few days there, Unless and Until had visited shore.
            Ashore they found a town like most others they had visited, and they soon wandered back to the newer docks to catch the last barge back to the Mirror. On the slow trip back, however, they learned a new song from the bargemen that spent all their time on the water.
            “That wonderful song,” said Unless.
            “Yes,” said Until, “but how did it go? Something about stars?”
            Unless thought for a few minutes, and then began tapping a rhythm. A few minutes later, Until had caught the rhythm, and both remembered, and they sang.

            Some stars fly and some stars sing
            You have to make arrangements
            It’s not that they’ll do anything
            They have their own engagements

            The lights of town aren’t half as bright
            although they seem so shiny
            Get up close to stars at night
            and they won’t seem so tiny

            The stars that fly are like the birds
            but never come no nearer
            they wander like the roving herds
            and shine then all the clearer

            *** click here for Some Stars Fly ***  



           In their excitement at remembering the bargemen’s song, they had both begun to dance as they sang, and they both cheered at the close of the song. They spent the afternoon admiring the painting, and sang the song again after dinner as a toast to the arrival of another shipment home from their travels. It was difficult fitting this new picture in along the back hallway with the other pictures from their time on the Mirror, but both agreed it was the only place.

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Image: Julie Püttgen, Cloudmapping: Cygnus Night. Gouache, watercolor, and pencil, 12x16", 2008.
Text & Lyrics: JS van Bus
Music: James R. Carlson
Violin: Lucie Novoveska

Animation: Matt Gilbert