Object Post 127
Aelfthryth’s Popinjay Plumage (From Replay)
Source? The Replay mechanism triggered them
Significance? Parrot plumage was an excellent disguise for Aelfthryth
Fate? Left behind when she moved on
Author’s inspiration? I was exploring some possibilities. Since Harry was a dog in the late 20th C, why should not Aelfthryth spend some time in feathers?
By the end of my time in feathers, I was quite a pretty performer, but good things come to an end, and so they did for us.
Aelfthryth and Hereward were married in the eleventh century, but a twist of fate, along with some help from Aelfthryth’s old nursemaid Nan Poole, sent them tumbling through time, living in different centuries and remembering their identities only when they had met in each new guise. In their fifth replay, as they called their cycles, Hereward was a young scholar named Harry Harrison and Aelfthryth was a popinjay; a green parrot. Until then, they’d both been human, so Harry was a little disconcerted.
I think I have mentioned before that takes him just a while to process unexpected new ideas. And you can't get much more unexpected than a wife who is also a parrot.
Their meeting was joyous…
"Harry!" I squawked (and I do mean 'squawked'). I nearly deafened myself.
Harry turned round and spotted me. He ran towards me and I flew straight into his arms. And I do mean 'flew'. With wings and feathers and frantic clicks of my beak. I was so excited to see him, that I reached up and pecked his nose.
"Aelfthryth!" exclaimed Harry. "Ouch! This is worse than ever!"
I didn't think so, but it was a bit of a shock to realise there wasn't a Replay Rule that said I had to be human.
…but Diccon, the sailor who had current possession of the green popinjay, refused to sell for the groat that was all Harry had to offer. Harry and Aelfthryth had to think fast! First, why did Diccon want a popinjay?
“I have it in mind to be a strolling player, and Poll to be my dancing bear. He jigs right merrily to my pipe. So hand him over, do."
I didn't want to be handed over, so I clung to Harry's doublet with both my claws. Diccon's hand came closer, and I pecked his thumb as wickedly as I had bitten Godwin's hand in Nan Poole's hovel. Diccon drew back with a curse, but did not cuff me.
"Would you then!" He dragged a kerchief from his doublet and wrapped it around his hand.
"I would stay with Harry!" I squawked, and flapped my wings.
Diccon stared. "Well, I'll be! Mary and Joseph, Poll, where did you learn to prate like that?"
Aelfthryth, hush! said Harry, and of course I did.
Diccon turned his attention from me to Harry. "So there's more to you than a gabble of Latin grammar, Master Scholar," he said slowly. "How did you learn to throw your voice so well?
Their efforts worked, and Harry and Aelfthryth spent an entertaining time working the fairs and taverns with Diccon. But, as Aelfthryth said, all good things come to an end…
First Harry went into replay…
The end of the Replay came first for Harry, and very odd it was for me to see 'Master Scholar' and hear him speak and yet know it wasn't my Harry. The boy was a nice enough lad, but he didn't care much for Diccon or me, and he said he wanted to go home. I suppose he went back to the grammar school to be birched by Master Cruickshanks, or else he was too old for that, and took up some profession.
I really hope he didn't get into too much trouble on our account. And yet - he must have played truant when he went to the docks, so maybe he deserved a little trouble.
Then it was Aelfthryth’s turn to leave the 16th Century behind.
In 1655 I was a Puritan girl called Amabel Arbour, but the main thing I remember about that episode was my surprise to find myself in grey and white after so long in popinjay green.
And that was the end of Aelfthryth’s time in popinjay plumage.