Monday, 13 June 2011

The Ballad of Clare the Crafty

Niccolò Machiavelli - by Santi di Tito, 16th century - public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sort of a Kateverse folksong, though it bears all the hallmarks of politically-aware courtly origins. Princess Clare the Crafty is Luke's brilliant diplomatist sister from The Deed of Katy Elflocks - a witty machiavel so sharp that whole careers have been based on waiting for her to cut herself, though few of them very long ones. This tells of the events about twenty years before Killer-Kate and Luke Lackland, which led to our heroes' separate downfalls back when they were rather more villainous than they are now. It is a terse, formalized, and highly romantic account of the scamathon/quest which led to Clare's being styled The Rescuer of Realms in later literature, and which I have utterly failed to get into story form ever. Her whereabouts at the time of the current tale are not known.


The Ballad of Clare the Crafty

I am a princess swift and keen
And unto you apply.
My brother’s bride is cast from court,
Since he was done to die.
And if that you will lend your aid,
Your curse I'll soon decay.
"O I will ward your tender friend,
But you must ride away!"

I am a princess bold and wise
And do your grace beseech.
Your daughter's suitors waste your lands
And do your substance leech.
So if to them you'll set my quest,
Their passions soon I'll spend.
"O first you must the wildfire tame
Before we call you friend!"

I am a princess sere with care
And cindered to my soul.
The dragon flies before my host –
My love, he lies a coal.
And I have set three peoples free,
And all their might I bring
To scour the witch from out our land,
And crown your son our King!

"The grocer's daughter I was born:
The Green Rose I will be,
And crown the King beneath my heart
With deeds deserving thee!
O Clare, as clear as morning air,
What sister such has been?
So royally hast thou sacrificed,
That men should call me Queen!"

Aye, royally Clare hath spilled her cup,
For Caroline our Queen!

Neither Clare nor Caro talk or think like this, but that's politics and praise-songs for you. The real Clare's most salient characteristic is probably her ability to checkmate you at chess, while you still think you are playing poker.

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