1.17.2009 | By: Alisa Callos

An Investigative Pilgrimage or A Story in Comments

This story started at my friend Sunshine’s blog Word of the Day where every day she posts a new vocabulary word for readers to use in a sentence. Somehow, in the course of growing our vocabulary, Sunshine, BJ and I developed some characters and a story grew organically from the comments. I see this as a pilgrimage of sorts—the writing—how a story comes to be with characters created and set in a world to begin their own journey.

I bring you into this story as the King of England has sent our heroine, Princess Amelia, to a kibbutz in Palestine. She is looking for a missing ambassador. Word of the Day words are underlined and due to the nature of ‘commenting’, each sentence, while advancing the story line, has it’s character names spelled out in full. A few minor changes were made for story consistency. All historical misrepresentations are solely the fault of this author.

While at the kibbutz, Princess Amelia met with General Akim Baeder. Dressed in a bright red military uniform and seemingly oblivious to the squalor around him, he was the most narcissistic person she had ever met.

When questioning General Baeder about his knowledge of the missing ambassador, Princess Amelia made an oblique reference to her ongoing investigation of a certain blackmailer.

General Baeder’s information about the missing ambassador had thus far proved useless. Not wanting to let down the King, Princess Amelia arranged a ride to Jerusalem with a passing caravan of Bedouin tribesman. They would escort her to the English embassy for the paltry sum of 6 shillings.

Riding on a camel with a band of Bedouin tribesman didn’t exactly qualify as high class travel, but to Princess Amelia it was high adventure indeed.

As they rambled through the Judean countryside, Princess Amelia reflected that life on the back of a camel had certain disadvantages—getting down for bathroom breaks for example.

Arriving in Jerusalem by way of the Zion Gate, Princess Amelia wondered if the Jews thought it sacrilegious that Muslims had built the al-Aqsa Mosque upon Temple Mount.

Jerusalem was crowded and dirty. Princess Amelia knew she needed to find a clean place to stay so she headed for the embassy to get a recommendation. She knew she had the tacit approval of the king for her investigation but she was concerned that embassy personal would look askance at the fact that she was an unescorted woman.

Her fears unfounded, Princess Amelia heaved a sigh of relief. She had been met at the embassy by a jovial junior staff member with the unbefitting name of Regulus Campbell. Reggie—to his friends—directed her to a lovely hotel where she now found herself ensconced in the ultimate comfort—a bath.

Arising the next morning, Princess Amelia found herself possessed by the most curious sense of wanderlust. Jerusalem spread before her like a jewel in the desert and she longed to explore every nook and cranny. Unfortunately, there was the missing ambassador to find. Slowly she turned from her balcony and went to call her maid.

Just as she was about to ring for her maid, Princess Amelia heard a knock on her door. Clutching her wrap close she went to see who could be calling at this time of day. Upon opening the door, she was astonished and befuddled as a tall stranger stumbled into her room and collapsed upon her unmade bed. He looked deathly ill, his skin an alarming xanthous color, and he moaned piteously as he clutched his abdomen.

For a moment, Princess Amelia stood in shock looking at the stranger on her bed. “Good sir,” she said. “You are obviously very ill. Allow me to call a physician who can help you to your room.”
“No!” He groaned, clutching his belly. “You must help me. I’ve heard of your investigative skills and I need your help to catch the yegg whom I have been chasing for three months.”

Princess Amelia always pursued her investigations with zealous enthusiasm and the thought of a new challenge filled her with giddy delight.

Princess Amelia quickly rang for her maid who summoned a physician for the ill man whose name was Paulus Akbar. Between moans, Father Paulus told of his work as a monk searching for stolen objects and explained how abstinence, fasting, and prayer had let him to her door.

A beleaguered looking doctor dressed in a shabby waistcoat and jacket arrived just as Father Paulus was telling Princess Amelia of the theft of his monasteries sacred reliquary. It was a devastating loss for his order as it contained a fragment of the true cross of Christ.

Despite her enthusiasm for a new investigation, and after assessing the situation, Princess Amelia spoke with candor to Father Paulus. She told him that no investigation could take place until he was well and that in the meantime, she still had a missing ambassador to find.

The task of finding a missing ambassador would daunt even the stoutest of hearts but Princess Amelia felt only excitement as she left the hotel for the embassy that morning.

Walking through the markets of Jerusalem, Princess Amelia was amazed at the variety of goods offered for sale. The smell of freshly baked bread enticed her to the stall of a man dressed in an eclectic array of clothes. He wore powder blue breeches with a bright purple waistcoat. A Bedouin style overcoat, sandals, and turban completed his ensemble.

Her first meeting at the embassy was with Regulus Campbell. Unlike the man in the market, Princess Amelia could see that Reggie was a fastidious stylist. Dressed impeccably in breeches, waistcoat, and jacket, he was the very vision of fashion.

Walking towards the embassy drawing room, Princess Amelia delightedly accepted Reggie’s invitation to luncheon. Missing breakfast that morning due to Father Paulus’ precipitous arrival, and a brisk walk through the market had served to give her a gargantuan appetite.

Over Lunch, Princess Amelia told Reggie of her hapless investigation into the disappearance of Ambassador Hastings.

Princess Amelia also told Reggie of Father Paulus and his fear that the thief he was chasing was an iconoclast intent upon destroying priceless relics and works of art.

After a satisfying luncheon, Princess Amelia and Reggie wandered into the salon. Deep into a discussion of possible leads, Amelia confided her desire to jettison the many clues she was pursuing and start the investigation anew.

By now Princess Amelia was desperate for a break in her investigation. She missed her home in England and while Jerusalem held the promise of many adventures, she was anxious to return to the problem of Lady Chadwick and her blackmailing husband. She queried Reggie as to possible actions she could take that would provide the kinetic event needed to break open the case and lead to the discovery of Ambassador Hastings.

Regulus Campbell, while interested in her investigation, had a rather laissez-faire attitude and Princess Amelia realized that he was not going to be as much help as she had hoped. Beginning to despair she would ever find Ambassador Hastings she left the embassy to return to her hotel. As she walked down the wide stone steps to the street, a group of ragged urchins hollering and shouting in Arabic encircled her. The leader, a lad of about eight years with bright black eyes, surreptitiously pressed a scrap of paper into her hand before he and his gang ran down the street and were lost in the crowd.

Puzzled, Princess Amelia reflexively clutched the note tight in her hand as she gazed down the street after the urchins. Glancing down, she slowly unfolded the dirty paper and brought it close beneath her glasses squinting at the tiny print. “If you wish to find your ambassador,” the note said, “see Father Mark at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre after mass tomorrow.” Ecstatic and hoping this would prove the break she needed; Princess Amelia silently sent a prayer of thanks to the magnanimous soul who had sent her the note.

To be continued at Word of the Day

8 comments:

Rinkly Rimes said...

It's fun to cooperate, isn't it! I once carried on a correspondence in verse with a friend for years. (But she's since taken up lawn bowls!!!)

Tumblewords: said...

The collaboration works well! Good job.

"Sunshine" said...

Alisa, I think this is a terrific idea for your Sunday Scribblings! You're such a talented and creative person! I love how this story has taken on a life of its own, and I always look forward to reading each new installment :) And thanks for the plug, by the way :)

Granny Smith said...

This is such fun! I wonder where it will lead you and your fellow players in this ultimate of word games!

Deeptesh said...

I chanced upon ur blog and I must say I really Liked it.I am a poet all the way from India.Do visit my blog at www.deepteshpoetry.blogspot.com

Deeptesh said...

Oops 4got 2 say...do chk ur email now.I've mailed u and it will be terrific 2 have a response.Do comment on the surreal aspect on my poem.It'll be great 2 have u visiting my blog.

floreta said...

what a neat collaboration and the story speaks very much of a pilgrimage!

BJ Roan said...

I'm in the middle of moving, so haven't been as attentive to the blogs as I should be. I was thrilled to find this jewel while catching up. You've written Princess Amelia's story well! Oh, and thanks for the plug!

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