The fragile twig cracks
And the deer’s pure face raises;
All becomes quiet
After the Rain
Rain, rain, rain, beating on the house.
Showering the roof, streaming down the windows.
Patter patter on the roof, splish splash on the sidewalk.
On and on it pours, never stopping through the night.
But then the morning comes and the sun peeks over the hill
To see her precious earth and shower it with light.
Shining brightly, radiant beams sweep over the golden fields.
Every blade of green grass shines and sparkles in the sunlight.
Every puddle reflects her rays of golden light, peering up into her face.
Every rock is slowly warmed and the coolness fades away.
The flowers try to kiss her face, but cannot reach that high.
And the heavenly clouds, so high and free, dance around for joy.
Written by: Alfred Noyes (best poet ever)
Sung by: Loreena McKennitt
Dissatisfied with her new husband and dull life at the palace in France, Eleanor of Aquitaine is determined to find adventure by going with her husband on the Second Crusade.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
The bumpy carriage rocked her back and forth, just as it had done for the past few days. Louis, her new husband, sat across from her, staring blankly out the window. How quiet he is…never speaking two words together. Rearranging her skirts for the sixth time, Eleanor peered out the window, observing Paris with a critical eye. The contrast between her expectations and reality proved extremely disappointing. The dull gray road leading up to the bleak palace sent shivers up her spine. No doubt the rooms would end up the same – cold and colorless. Raindrops fell, only adding to the dullness of her future. If she was in Aquitaine and it was raining, she would watch the little raindrops chase each other from a tower window. Each one would splash into small puddles either in the fields or cobblestone walkways and the forest background made the rain look fresh and cool. Sighing, her heart yearned for Aquitaine. Oh, my beautiful Aquitaine. Eleanor had abandoned the green forests, hidden valleys, and golden fields when she agreed to marry Louis, the son of Louis the Fat, King of Paris. Distracted by her husband’s dead father’s name, Eleanor chuckled. How horrible. Once again recalling fond memories of her old home, she thought of her father. Remembering his bellowing laughter at a banquet one evening, she smiled. How I miss him. “What is it?” Louis meekly asked.
“I was thinking of my father,” Eleanor replied, smiling simply, but brushing the topic off. With an awkward smile, Louis turned his face back to the window while Eleanor evaluated her new husband. His dark brown, straggly hair lay across the dotted gray cape on his bony shoulders. No muscle seemed present on his thin arms and legs, reminding Eleanor of a small paper doll. Her assessment ceased, however, when distracted by a red shirted farmer in the distance, shouting wildly and flailing his arms at his sheep.
At last, the carriage came to a stop. Eleanor opened the small door and gracefully stepped out, taking in a deep breath of the air. Her skillfully braided hair fell below her waist and dark eyes sparkled as she peered up at the great castle. Eleanor sighed with determination. I can always visit Aquitaine – it’s not going anywhere. She reasoned with herself. This has to work. Louis slowly and sheepishly stepped out behind her and escorted her inside. As her limp arm lay on his scrawny one, he led the way. Just as she predicted, the chilled rooms proved that the servants had not bothered to light a fire. The servants in Aquitaine would never do such a thing. As her own servants hauled her trunks up the several flights of stairs to her bedroom, Eleanor walked along the quiet corridors and long halls in search of other servants. After finding them all at rest in the servants’ quarters, Eleanor’s annoyance at their apparent laziness increased as she instructed each to light a fire in the rooms. After a light supper, she retired. As her maid blew out the candle and bid her goodnight, Eleanor stared into the darkness. Could a palace have less color? Every room was gray. No colorful tapestries. No stained glass windows. No paintings. Nothing. It’s really quite disappointing. The only things Eleanor noticed were the statues – great, solid statues that were situated in practically every corner. How dull. Sighing, she made a decision. It will all change, in time. I will change it. And I’m quite sure the whole of France will be grateful to me. Smiling contentedly, Eleanor rolled over and pulled the blankets up past her shoulders.
Throughout the next week, Eleanor was in a flurry of excitement as she organized the servants according to their tasks. “Yes, hang that in my bedroom…and the tapestries go in the ballroom!” Eleanor shouted, hurrying throughout the castle. Redecorating the castle of Paris after her own tastes pleased Eleanor beyond expectation. With her long, light brown hair done up, purple dress swishing at every step, and slender fingers directing each servant, Eleanor smiled joyously. Louis’ irritated mood affirmed Eleanor’s suspicion that he mentally criticized her actions, but she argued, “I cannot bear to live here if we must endure life in bleak colors.” Soon, Eleanor filled the castle with everything present in Aquitaine. However, though she became contented with her now lovely palace, Eleanor’s annoyance and unsatisfied feelings concerning Louis escalated to grow.
He barely ever spoke to her, except on absolutely necessary occasions. Though Louis often gazed at her with an admiration for her beauty, he did not favor her personality. Eleanor’s lively, talented, and willful personality shone brightly in the courts of Paris. She had a love for fashion and sophistication, and her wisdom concerning battle and politics proved especially helpful until the court informed her she was not permitted to advise the king on such matters. Although these rules displeased Eleanor, nothing upset her more than the fact that women were prohibited from participating in the debates and lectures. Until then, she attended every one and often joined in, despite the disapproving glares. However, Eleanor’s unspoken anger left a heavy tension in the courtroom as she stormed out that afternoon, infuriated about the regulation. What a ridiculous rule! And why should women not participate? Despite her beliefs, Louis loved Eleanor, and though he internally criticized her actions, he constantly tried to please her. The next afternoon, as they sat across from each other at the breakfast table, Louis smiled slightly. Clearing his throat, he stated, “My dear, I have arranged a trip to the lower parts of Paris this evening.”
“Today?” Eleanor questioned, setting down her butter knife and fork. “Oh no, quite definitely not. I much rather stay here. I have a book that I’m nearly finished with and I much prefer to read the rest of it.”
Louis’ faint smile faded and he nodded his head in agreement. “Of course…” He was determined to prove himself to her. And he would – someday.
The Second Crusade. Louis fiddled with the feather pen on his desk. Should he take the chance? Eleanor adored knights and chivalry and all that. This would prove his courage. Accepting the position of leading the Second Crusade, Louis prepared his knights. He informed Eleanor at their next meal. “Oh! Louis! Louis this will be such an adventure. I must pack immediately!” Abruptly leaving the table, Eleanor rushed out of the room, leaving Louis in confusion. She plans on going? Alarmed, he began to object, but she turned the corner before he could get two words out. She would know by the end of the night. She had to.
Eleanor packed her belongings in one of her many suitcases that evening. “Jetta, are your things packed? Louis leaves in less than a fortnight, you know,” she asked her handmaid. Continuing the conversation with herself, Eleanor went on, “Oh, what adventure we will experience. So much better than being confined this palace. And imagine! We will be helping the soldiers with battle wounds and scars. I’m sure they will appreciate our help, don’t you think?” Turning to face Jetta, Eleanor spotted Louis, who had just entered the room and awkwardly waited for Eleanor to excuse her servant. “Yes?” Eleanor questioned. After a moment of unpleasant silence, Eleanor let out a dramatic sigh and finally sent her maid away. “You wanted something?” she inquired, exasperated.
“Eleanor, I cannot allow you to accompany me on the crusade,” Louis plainly stated.
Indignant and agitated, Eleanor responded “Why ever not? I won’t cause any problems, and my maids can help attend to the injured. I am going.”
“No, you won’t convince me. I’m going and you can’t stop me,” Eleanor stated. To prevent Louis from continuing with his objections, Eleanor called Jetta back into the room to continue with their packing.
“Man, I knew that would happen,” Rachel sighed as she looked at the mess on the floor (GAINES). “Derek always stacks the milk jar on top of the most fragile, most imbalanced container in the fridge! Ugh. And now I have to clean it up–joy” (GRACE).
Suddenly, a huge Saint Bernard lumbered into the room and started licking up the milk. “Augh!!!! Stop it, you dog!” she screeched (VALARI). Dragging the drooling dog away from the spilled beverage, she threw up her hands in despair (OLIVIA) “Why did Mom have to be out today! Everything’s going wrong!” (GRACE). And why was there a Saint Bernard in the room? (KARL)
“Can anyone explain what’s going on?” screeched her sister, Raena, as she dashed into the room, eyes glazed with questioning horror (KAELA).
“Well, Mom took Derek to summer camp today, and then the milk fell down when I opened the fridge, and now this strange dog came in!” The sixteen-year-old brunette swiped frustrated tears from her blue eyes and said, “Well, no use crying over spilled milk. Raena, you start cleaning up, and I’ll call Animal Control” (GRACE).
“Wow, what is a dog doing in our house? Can we keep it? This is awsome! Let’s get a climate controled cage for it,” screamed Derek as he rushed into the room (DANIEL).
“What! There is a Saint Bernard in our in our house! I heard on the radio that there is a rabid Saint Bernard on the loose!” their mother exclaimed (ISAAC).
“Mom! What are you and Derek doing here? I thought you were on the road!” Rachel exclaimed in confusion (GRACE).
“If we’re going to keep this monstrosity of a dog,” Raena suggested, “can I put it in the giant hole Derek dug in your garden yesterday? We can put a tarp over the top so the beast won’t get wet” (KAELA).
“Well, the mop snapped in half earlier, so if it cleans up spills as well as you say, I don’t see why not, as long as it is a dog,” answered their mother (ISAAC).
Rachel thought for a minute about the situation, then realized how bad it really was. “This is a rabid Saint Bernard. We need to lock it in a room somewhere and call Animal Control. Right now!” (KARL).
“I’m on it.” Their mother was talking to them and looking up the Animal Control number at the same time. “Rachel, get him into the laundry room” (JUDAH).
But as Rachel was trying to push the unwilling dog into the laundry room, it bit her–hard (KARL).
Raena screamed (she had been doing a lot of that recently) and ran for the phone to call 911. She collided with her mom, who had the same idea, and both fell into what was left of the milk. Rachel stared in shock, first at her bitten arm and then at her mom and younger sister. This has to be a nightmare nothing else could be this awful. (GRACE)
But at that moment Rachel noticed that Derek was talking on his cell phone to the 911 operator. “She says that there will be an ambulance coming right away.”
Rachel breathed a sigh of relief. This day has gone so wrong. But at least I probably won’t die (KARL).
Probably. You could never be entirely sure about the future when a giant, rabid beast was involved, especially when he still refused to go into a nice, confined space. As if to prove her point, the dog suddenly flopped down in the doorway right next to Rachel, tongue lolling calmly out of his mouth (HANNAH).
“Ugh, you dog! Get out of here!” Rachel turned her face away in disgust and attempted to hoist herself off of the floor in order to sit comfortably on the kitchen chair until assistance arrived. Suddenly, she heard Raena’s frantic scream coming from the family room, “Mom! Come quick! Ah! Hurry!” (ELAINA).
As Raena continued screaming, the rest of the family hurried into the living room. There they found Raena huddled in a corner, eyes wide with apprehension as she stared at a huge mammal. A hippo–for it really was there–stood calmly in the middle of the family room munching on their mother’s prized daisies. Abruptly, something roared in the backyard (KAELA).
At first, ten-year-old Derek just stared, but soon enough a grin spread across his impish face. “Wow, mom!” he laughed. “You weren’t kidding when you said our house is a zoo!” (HANNAH).
Just then, a frantic pounding at the door made everyone jump. Mom hurried to open it, and then let out a shriek (KELLYANNE).
As a human-sized mouse with giant ears ran through the door, knocking over a paralyzed Mom, a siren’s wailing announced the arrival of the ambulance. EMTs hurried in and carried Rachel to the ambulance, and then a van with Fox News emblazoned on it pulled up to the curb, carefully leaving room for the ambulance to get out. (GRACE)
A scream of delight resonated through the house as Annie–the 5 year old–woke up from her nap and spotted the mouse. “Mickey!! You came to see me!” She flung herself towards him, knocking down the antique vase in her path with a crash (KELLYANNE).
With another thunderous roar, the creature from the backyard stalked up front, right past the startled news crew. As soon as the lioness caught scent of the ginormous mouse, she eagerly flicked her tail. The world’s largest game of Cat & Mouse was about to begin (HANNAH).
As the mouse squeaked in terror, the lioness raced towards it, pounced, and knocked Mickey to the ground. Suddenly, she began to lick the mouse’s face, and everyone sighed but Annie. “She’s gonna eat Mickey Mouse!” the little girl screamed. The lioness obliged Annie’s fearful screech, and bit off Mickey Mouse’s head (hahah! KAELA).
The lioness began to choke, though, and large pieces of stuffing floated from her mouth. The headless Mickey got up, and a person’s head poked through the neck hole! It was just a costume! Everyone sighed in relief (You are sadistic, Kaela.)(KELLYANNE).
But what to do about the lioness, hippo, and rabid St. Bernard? Raena had never in all her thirteen years had such a day. The Fox News people ran up suddenly and started peppering her mom with questions like, “Are these your animals?” and “Are these lovely children all yours? Really?” (I agree with you, Kellyanne) (GRACE).
“Are you kidding me?” her mother exclaimed. “Quick, call the SPCA or something! There are still a rabid St. Bernard and a lioness on the loose!” (SOPHIA).
Seeing the big, fluffy dog, Annie raced over to it, feet pounding on the hard wood floors. Arms open wide, she screamed in excitement, “Puppy!” Wrapping her small arms around the large furry neck, the dog began panting, it’s slimy tongue hanging crookedly out of a drooling mouth (ABBY).
Meanwhile Derek was caught in awe between the lioness and the hippo. “Wicked cool,” he declared, grinning as he mused over some devious plot to hitch a ride on the latter of the two. This was so much better than summer camp (HANNAH)!
Soon, the zoo had been depopulated by the massive animal control truck that arrived near the front, and Rachel’s cuts and bruises from the giant Saint Bernard proved to be nothing that 37 bandages could not fix. As for Annie and Derek, tears dropped from their eyes when all the animals departed, though they tried to conceal it as best they could. They all missed the pets–except for mom, who gloried in having a home full of humans, and humans alone. (JESSE)
“Mommy!” Little Annie, with her mob of brown curls bobbing up and down on her head, ran up to her mother and tugged on her shirt. “Can I go home with the doggie?” (ELAINA).
“No, young lady! You may not!” their mother cried. “This has been the weirdest day of my life, and I just want to go lie down…right now!” The children stood, dumbfounded, while their mother made her way into the living room. Seconds later, they heard a shriek, “Where did this giraffe come from!”(I’m not sadistic KA, I just wanted to know what my fellow classmates would do with that!) (KAELA).
All rushed into the bedroom.The creature stood seven feet tall, bending down to nibble on a house plant (ALINA). “That is the hugest…” Derek began to say. But his mother interrupted, “Where’s the phone! I want this creature out of my house!” (VALARI).
“Wait, Mom!” Derek snatched the phone from his mother’s hands. “Let’s be reasonable here! I mean, I’ve always wanted a giraffe…” (CLAUDIA).
“Reasonable! How would you ever take care of such an animal or pay for its food?” (GAINES).
Derek’s brow furrowed as he desperately racked his brains for an answer to the question. Then, looking up at his mother, he took a breath to answer. However, his gaze traveled upward and he starred. Suddenly pointing, he yelled, “Mom, turn around!” (ABBY).
Everybody whirled around to see a huge vulture with a bloody beak perched on the curtain rod. “Ahh!” the mother and the girls screamed. “That thing is so ugly!” Annie shouted (SOPHIA).
“Bummer,” stated Reana, as if vultures came and sat on curtain rods in their house every day. “Why couldn’t it be a hawk?” She sat down on the couch angrily, glancing upward, but abruptly jumped from its cushions shrieking, “Eeek! There’s a snake hanging from the ceiling fan!” (Kaela).
“BRRRING, BRRRING!” Raena snapped awake to the ringing of her alarm clock. “WHEW, it was just a hooooorrible nightmare” (GRACE).
Raena rubbed her sleepy eyes with her fists and slowly yawned. As she pulled off the covers, her eyes suddenly caught sight of something huge and orange camouflaged against her leopard print curtain. A scream tore through the peaceful house. “Ah!! There’s a tiger in my room!” Raena screamed, grabbing her teddy bear (SOPHIA).
This can’t be happening… She slapped her face to make sure she had really awoken, creeping softly toward the door and reaching for the handle. Flinging open the door and bolting out of the room, she flew into her mother’s room and leapt onto her bed. “Mom!” (ELAINA)