Silence ruled the Wood Between;
Nothing living stirred nor spoke.
But at the Haven of the Prince
The quiet swiftly broke.
“Eanrin?” called a lovely maid,
Fair of face and pure of heart.
“Where are you now, you dratted cat,
Don’t make me tear you ‘part!”
“My dear, my dear,” purred a new voice;
It was a cat, though with no eyes.
“No need to be so vicious now,
As your rough tone implies.
“For am I not a knight, a bard?
Why must you be so cruel?
You know I won’t abandon you,
Though some call me a fool.”
“You are a fool,” she crossly said,
“There’s no need to deny it.
Your courage lacks, so go chase rats;
I’ll sit here and enjoy it.”
The cat looked down; his whiskers drooped.
And when he rose, his gaze was wet.
“Imraldera, what have I done
To make you so upset?”
“You’ve done nothing, save been yourself,”
The maid replied with sadness.
“I thought you’d gone, to chase and wish
After your silly madness.”
“My madness?” cried the cat with rage.
“Do you insult that lovely day,
That sweetest vision which I praise?
Do you insult Gleamdrené?”
“I do indeed,” responded she,
“I’m really rather tired,
You chasing her when she cares not,
While I wait, unadmired.”
“I’m sorry, dear, I really am,
But I can’t change my nature.
I am a cat, we’re selfish things,
I don’t think I can be cured.”
The maiden smiled at the cat’s
Downcast and drooping face.
“Eanrin, it’s all right,” she said,
“The Prince has saved you with his grace.”
“I know he has,” the cat replied,
“Ev’n though I am not worthy
Of him or you or anyone;
I only care about me.”
“Eanrin, that’s not true,” she soothed.
“Remember when you found me?
‘Twas bravery, and yet—and yet…
You still prefer a Faerie.”
Her voice dropped down to lowest lows
And then her face was in her hands.
The cat turned tail and suddenly,
He was no cat but a tall man.
“Imraldera, my dear, my sweet,”
He said, patting her long, black hair.
“I really wish you’d stop trying
To compare fair to fair.”
“Fair?” she asked, lifting her head.
“I don’t think I recall
The last time you appraised me thus—
Or if you did at all.”
Eanrin, at a loss for words
(Which does not suit a poet,)
Stammered a quick “What do you mean?”
But muttered, “Don’t I know it.”
“I know you know it,” she replied.
“I’ve watched you for so long;
Chasing after fantasies,
Beguiling them with song.”
“I beg your pardon!” said the cat,
Indignation in his eyes.
“My songs do not beguile nor chase
But woo and mesmerize.”
“So woo and mesmerize me, then,”
Imraldera said fiercely.
“Or do you not believe yourself
Able to write so quickly?”
“I—oh, fine then,” Eanrin sighed,
“Since you made such a squabble;
I’ll sing to you, I’ll make it nice—
And then you’ll make no trouble.”
So saying this, he strummed a chord
And began a lovely tune.
Imraldera’s eyes shone with light
As he started to croon.
“Oh, dearest one, you shine as bright
As Lumé in the sky.
All night must flee before your light,
And so indeed, must I.
“I cannot stay beneath your gaze;
It hurts me, yet I yearn
To spend the rest—no, all my days
Beneath your lovely burn.
“Oh, sunshine of my eyes and heart,
Never abandon me!
Stay with me, dear, do not depart,
Though I may wish to flee.”
With this, Eanrin bowed his head,
And played one last mournful note.
“Imraldera, was that enough?
You’ve earned the right to gloat.”
“Indeed it was,” she told him then,
“Though I’ll not jest with you.
You’ve played me this; I am content;
I no longer feel blue.”
Eanrin bowed, he swept his cap
Off from his golden hair.
“May I have leave to leave you now,
O lady dear? O lady fair?”
The lady laughed at this and said,
With serious face sincere,
“Of course, dear cat, you may go now;
Since I have kept you here.”
“Then go I must!” the cat proclaimed,
Giving her hand a kiss.
“To the bright Hall of Red and Green;
To fair Rudiobus!”
A sigh escaped the maiden’s lips;
She turned her gaze elsewhere.
The cat, noting her sudden chill,
Prepared to leave her there.
“Eanrin, wait!” she said just then.
“I’m sorry if I upset you.
Go with my blessing; walk straight Paths.
I will always be with you.”
He smiled brightly and leaned in
As if to whisper in her ear,
But caught himself and merely said:
“I’m glad you will be near.”
He turned around and made the change
From golden man to golden cat.
He seemed to smile, then stalked away,
As if to say: “That’s that!”
The lady watched his shrinking form,
Until it vanished from her sight.
She straightened up with a slight smile,
The picture of a graceful knight.
Though each went on a diff’rent way,
Their thoughts were always straying,
Back to that moment in the Wood,
With Eanrin softly playing.