Now might be a good time to mention that while I purchased Hysteria, for thirteen crowns silver, as a warhorse, she has a number of deficiencies that make her inadequate to the task. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, she is a very fine animal, in good health, and she has almost never failed to carry anything that I asked of her. Warhorses though need to be of quite stern stuff. Hysteria was never comfortable with the sound of sword on sword, or sword on shield, or sword on body, or shield on body, or shield on shield. In fact, she’s not too fond of the shhtink sound that a sword makes as it comes out of a scabbard. It was just this sound which accompanied the shout of “stop knave, and prepare to meet your maker,” and it was no doubt this sound that caused her to rear up and toss Megara and myself to the ground. I was not unduly bothered by this, not only because I had been thrown by Hysteria on a number of occasions, but also because I landed on Megara and she was quite nicely padded. She on the other hand had more than a lung-full of air knocked from her by my weight suddenly landing on her. I jumped to my feet and drew my own sword.
“Identify yourself or die,” said I, striking an intimidating pose.
“I am Cleveland Normandy and I am here to put an end to your days of steeling young women.”
“-‘s hearts,” said I.
“-‘s hearts. You are going to put an end to my days of steeling young women’s hearts. That’s what you meant to say.”
“No it isn’t,” said he. “I am here to put an end to your days of steeling young women’s bodies.”
“I’ve never… almost never stolen a body in my entire life. Seven, eight times at the most. And why would you care anyway?”
“I care because I am Cleveland Normandy, and I am Megara Capillarie’s true love.”
“No you aren’t,” said Megara, having successfully refilled her lungs with air and climbed back to her feet. She tossed back her hair and struck a pose. “You are my father’s one true love.”
“What?” Cleveland and I both said at the same time.
“He is the one my father has betrothed me to, but I don’t love him, don’t want him, can’t stand him, and don’t want to look at him.”
“She sounds pretty emphatic,” said I.
“I don’t know what that means,” said he.
“It means that she has strongly expressed her desire with great emphasis or…”
“I don’t care what it means.” He jumped to within sword-reach of me. “You are standing in the way of true love.”
“I don’t think we have the same definition of ‘love’, or of ‘true’, and probably not of ‘way’,” said I. “I guess we’re okay with ‘standing’. I guess it all really hinges on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”
My clever wordplay was apparently too much for Cleveland Normandy, for rather than replying with rhetoric, he replied with his sword, thrusting directly at me. Fortunately I am even quicker with my sword than I am with my tongue. Of course with a tongue, speed is not so important as wit. And now that I think about it, with a sword, speed is not so important as swordsmanship. So tongues and swords are quite a bit alike. I parried his blow and swung my sword up, intending to take of his head, but I was wide of the mark and took off only part of his right ear. He squealed like a little girl and turning, ran away.