When they depart San Francisco, it is the right moment for that.  They have lived through the Golden Era:  the sudden birth of Haight-Ashbury when Owsley’s Purple and Window Panes and Orange Sunshine awakened the spirits of the thousands living there, of the tens of thousands who would soon be living there; birthplace of the Psychedelic Shop, the Oracle, the Family Dog, the I and Thou Coffee Shop, the Diggers, the Dead and the Airplane playing free concerts in the Panhandle, the Summer of Love; where always and everywhere along the street you could smell the ganja.

            But that was five years ago, and everything has changed.  New, sinister drugs have come into vogue.  Violence and crime have come.  Love has become a four letter word.  It is time to move on.  Graduate school seems attractive again, as does a radical change in scenery:  big mountains, snowy winters, reading obscure English poets in a cozy chair in front of a fire.

            So as distinguished natives of that Golden Era, Jeremy and Miranda embark by train to begin an expatriate life.  She is pregnant.  Since that conception they have married, she for the first time, he for the second.   After turning on, tuning in and dropping out of both employment and college in San Francisco, he has been selling pot and has saved enough for them to live for several months in their new homeland without working.  Besides his English poets, he is also enthralled with the yoga of Vivekananda and the esoteric teaching of an eccentric Russian.  She is a native San Franciscan and dubious of living anywhere outside her city limits.  But she loves him, so far, and is willing to go along for the ride, for now.

            Soon after disembarking in Salt Lake City they settle into a pleasant room at a nice hotel downtown.  Immediately he begins looking through want-ads in the Tribune for a house.  He is smiling, at peace; he has been in this city before and to him it is quaint, even if it is not the San Francisco of golden eras.  To her all these wide, inter-locking, right angled streets are rigid, inhumane and ominous.  Their first day there is a Sunday and all life seems suspended, and perhaps even postponed.  It is late summer but the evening is cooler than it should be, not a good sign.  The gigantic, jagged Wasatch mountains loom over the city and its citizens and particularly over her, in a way that she can only feel is menacing.  It is explained to her that the only body of water nearby is a large lake so salty it must be considered completely inhospitable to humans.  No one swims in it or boats on it.  Almost nothing can live in it.  Mormon mentality controls and restricts everything.  She is immediately convinced she has made a terrible mistake.  

            But she still loves him.  And she is pregnant and she needs him.  She allows him to calm her doubts and fears.  He will find her a cute, warm house that will make her happy again.  

            Two days later he does just that.  It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining room, a fireplace and a back yard.  It is in a quiet neighborhood. It is only six blocks from the University campus. He tells her how lucky they are; for the same price they could only have afforded a studio in San Francisco with no yard.  She tells him that if you live in San Francisco you don’t need a yard; you have all of San Francisco to play in.  He ignores that.

            They do have a next door neighbor she likes, Bruce and Lisa, who’ve just been married.  

Several years ago Bruce spent a year at UC Berkeley so they have at least this much to talk about.  Lisa is a foot shorter than tall Bruce, naturally shy and willing to hide in the bright shadow of his more outgoing personality.  She obviously adores him and Miranda believes it is probably more extreme than that even.  No one will ever accuse Miranda of such folly.  

            Bruce and Lisa come for dinner often.  Jeremy likes to cook and he takes pride in serving  one of his many specialties.  He’s doing strictly vegetarian these days.  They eat organic brown rice mixed with tofu soaked in tamari and ginger, spinach mixed in, while Jeremy encourages Bruce to talk about his interest in Buddhism, particularly the book he’s currently reading by Suzuki.   Bruce is only half way through it, but he seems to have a good grasp of what he’s read.  When he pauses during his explanation, Miranda suggests to Lisa that they go into the living room and start up the gas-powered fireplace and look at Lisa’s pictures from the recent honeymoon trip to Yellowstone Park.

            Jeremy and Bruce hardly notice their departure.  As admirably as he’s explained Suzuki, Bruce is moved to make a confession.  “But the book is frustrating.  He talks and talks about Zen but I can’t figure out exactly how to make it a part of my life like I’d like to.  Basically it boils down to—OK, just go meditate.  But somehow, there’s got to be more than that to it.  And he just never gives you that more.”

            Jeremy smiles.  “I know just what you mean.  I’ve felt the same thing reading Vivekananda’s book, Raja Yoga.  Lots of it is stimulating as hell, and lots of times it seems like he’s trying to give you a practice—but he just never delivers.  I’m left with nothing much more than that—just go meditate.”

            Bruce considers this a moment and seems finally to agree, nodding a little yes, yes.  “So I’ve come to the conclusion that you just have to have a personal teacher.  A guru.”

            Jeremy hesitates a moment, allowing Bruce to develop that further.  When he sees his guest is not going to do that, he continues with his own interpretation.  “That’s what I like about the Fourth Way.  It’s basically the belief systems of Buddhism and yoga, with a practice developed by a westerner, to achieve the same ends.  It gives you the specifics of a practice.”  

            Bruce seems genuinely interested so Jeremy keeps talking for another fifteen minutes about his favorite subject.  Finally Bruce says, “Fascinating, really.  It sounds like you’ve been studying this for a long time.”   

            “Well, a few years.  But only by myself.  Oh, once a friend of mine and I for a few months read the Commentaries together and talked about them.  But I’ve never had a real teacher.  I wish I had.  Though just from these books you can get a lot of practical techniques and create somewhat of a practice.”

            “From what you’ve just told me I’d say you’re capable to teaching the fundamentals to a beginner.  Like me.”

            Jeremy thinks a moment about this flattering suggestion.  “I suppose.  If that ever came up.”

            “I know someone else who’d be interested too.  You say you still have a copy of these Commentaries?”    

            “Yes, I do.  Yes, that might be fun.  Say, you smoke pot?   I’ve got some super stuff.”

            “Pot?  Why yes.   I haven’t been high for months.   It’s hard to get around here.”

            Jeremy has the joint in his shirt pocket, and the lighter.  He fires it up and hands it to his new friend.  “It’s Thai stick.  The best.”


            A few days later Bruce brings over not only his friend, 18 year old Oscar, but also two others, Miriam and Lucas, friends of Oscar’s, who have heard about the new arrivals from San Francisco and are eager to meet them.  The evening begins sociably with introductions and brief personal histories.  Less brief when Jeremy and Miranda become the featured.

            23-year-old Lucas can’t get over their pedigree.  “You mean you were there in the Haight even before it all started?  In early ’64?”

            “Not me,” says Miranda.  “Only Jeremy.   With his first wife.”  Quietly, gracefully she slips away into the kitchen.

            “That’s right,” says Jeremy.  “We lived in upper Haight then, June, ’64.  Right before the Psychedelic Shop opened on Haight and started publishing the Oracle.  The Grateful Dead lived down the hill from us on Cole Street, but then they were called the Warlocks.”

            “So you mean you were one of the first hippies?” Oscar says, almost in disbelief.  “One of the originals?”

            Jeremy, suddenly a legend, laughs.  “Not exactly.  There were hundreds of other young people there smoking pot and dropping acid by then.”

            But that is enough amazement to keep the questions hurrying out of all these three, who have never been for long away from Salt Lake City, excepting Bruce and Lisa, who’d been sequestered most of their Bay Area years on the Berkeley campus and could not claim the pure authenticity of Haight-Ashbury.  Within another fifteen minutes of non-stop questioning and wide-eyed listening, Jeremy passes around Thai stick joints and that ratchets the questions and the amazement to yet another level of wonder.  At that point Jeremy can see that there will probably be no serious spiritual inquiry that evening and he asks Miranda to open two bottles of wine and bring enough glasses for everyone.  The rest of the evening is devoted to stories of those glory days, and when more bottles of wine are opened and more joints are passed around, they are playing the Jefferson Airplane and Highway 61 Revisited.  


            Next Monday night they all meet again and agree not to smoke joints until after they finish their meeting.  The first half hour Jeremy spends explaining to Bruce, Lisa, Oscar, Miriam and Lucas the basic ideas of the Fourth Way, and why the teaching is known by that name.   There is a lot of terminology and definitions and getting the feel of how one concept inevitably leads to another concept, how ultimately it all forms a single, unified structure.  They all sit on the living room floor in a semi-circle facing Jeremy, who sits on his zafu.  Jeremy is a good explainer and they all lean forward, listening intently and asking perceptive questions, most of which Jeremy answers to their satisfaction.

            Jeremy shows them a whiteboard and draws on it several large circles that he says represent the various centers that constitute the psyche of a human.   He further sub-divides them and labels various thinking, emotional and muscular activities that belong to the various compartments.  He is nearly an hour answering questions and explaining apparent contradictions and paradoxes, not always bringing the hoped-for clarity.  He admits it is complicated.

            “But how do we make use of all this?” Bruce asks finally.  “I mean—what’s the practical result of all this?   The practice.”

            “Good question,” answers Jeremy.  “That’s the next thing.  The core of the practice.    We’re going to create a special window into our own psyches, and we’re going to challenge ourselves to stay awake and alert during all the activities of our day and all the goings-on inside our psyches—to stay alert and observe everything that’s going on, outside us and inside us. We can call if self-observation.  And everything we observe we are going to take mental photographs of, as a way of capturing and recording what we’ve observed.   And we’ll keep all these photographs, that is we’ll remember them, even write them down in a notebook, and we’ll build up a catalog of our observations.  We’ll observe which centers are doing what.  We’ll observe all our negative reactions—thoughts and emotions.  We’ll observe when we’re identifying, when we’re justifying.  And as we do all this observing, we’ll be getting a better, clearer understanding of our different personalities—which ones dominate us, which ones cause us trouble, which ones are chattering in our heads all the time, and most importantly, which ones are helping us do this work and which ones don’t want us doing this work.  We can, if you all still want to, meet once a week and talk about our observations and give each other feedback and encouragement.”

             As they all talk about this afterward, it is obvious everyone is pleased with their meeting and energized by the ideas.  Writing down the details of their observations sounds exciting, productive.   Even Bruce thinks so.  They all want to meet again next week.

            After everyone has gone away, Jeremy would like to talk more about the meeting with Miranda, who has been raking leaves in the back yard and preparing their dinner during all that.  Weary as she seems to be, she listens for a few minutes but then tells him her back is bothering her more than usual; it isn’t the yard work either, it’s the baby, more active than usual today, and she needs to go lie down.  Will he please finish with the lentil loaf and mash the potatoes when they’re ready?  Of course he will.

            So even though Jeremy expects his new study group to be his major preoccupation in the weeks to come, he is wrong:  it will be the baby, apparently more and more eager to come join mom and dad in their world.  Miranda is halfway through her last trimester and she feels like she is becoming heavier than she could have imagined and that the baby may be a week or two earlier than expected, despite what her doctor says.

            Graduate school is also beginning classes and that further prevents Jeremy from reading some of Ouspensky’s books so he can put a little more zip into the meetings.  Oscar soon is showing an unexpected passion for the Work; he is doing a lot of reading on his own and asking more and more difficult questions, to some of which he has already found the answers and is asking merely to ambush the unsuspecting teacher.  

            Daughter Jesse does arrive early, the second week in October, beautiful as a Libra should be, and Ouspensky is put back on the shelf and remains there.   Even Milton and Browning can not be given as much time as needed before hurriedly writing the critical papers required by his literature classes.  B minuses would have to do.

            Nonetheless, meetings at Jeremy and Miranda’s continue, but often without the usual intensity and focus, since Jeremy can’t help giving at least a fragment of his attention to the bedroom for any sudden signal from there that Jesse needs something—now.   Even so, all the group insists they are excited with what they are learning, that they feel they are growing their self-awareness in leaps and bounds and that even Jesse’s presence adds to their sense of re-birth that the Work promises them           .

            It is that first week in November, when the pretty leaves are falling constantly from the trees and decorating all the lawns, and the evenings are so cold the furnace has to be fired up, that Gordon comes into their lives.

            Jeremy and Miranda have been living in their house more than two months and somehow have never noticed this unusual man who is living in the house across the street from them.  It is inexplicable.  They have seen odd assortments of males, always males, of all ages, coming and going to and from that house, all of them so non-descript as to be easily forgettable.   But Gordon is not like that.  He is conspicuously older than any of the others of that household, probably in his late fifties; he is balding, but still has wisps of gray hair turning white, an ill kept short beard the same color.   His usual outfit is a dark gray or a military green jumpsuit and black tennis shoes.  He is always smiling and he seems in fact perpetually jolly.

            Jeremy is raking leaves that early November afternoon when Gordon comes out his front door and hustles across the street, already waving a hello when Jeremy looks up and sees him.  He gives Jeremy no chance to be anything but neighborly, saying, “Afternoon, my friend.   I’ve been watching you out my window, seeing how hard you’re working here.  I thought I’d come over and watch”—he then laughs—“not do any of the work myself you understand, just offer a little moral support, you might say.”   He laughs again.  Jeremy can’t help but be amused and he laughs too.

            “Thanks,” he says, extending his hand, “my name’s Jeremy.  You live in that house?  I don’t think I remember ever seeing you before.”

            Warmly he accepts Jeremy’s hand.  “That’s because I come alive mostly at night.  And I spend most of my day time with my hobbies indoors.”

            “Well.  I suppose I don’t spend much time out here either, where I might meet my neighbors.   I go to my classes at the U.  And now I spend more and more time at home with the baby.  We have a new one.  Just a few weeks old.”

            Gordon is smiling even more brightly.  “Yes, I know.”

            This simple response slightly startles Jeremy and he hesitates to say more.   He’s thinking Gordon has probably spoken a thoughtless and meaningless remark; but as Jeremy studies the man’s face, he appears to be someone who very pointedly means what he says.  Jeremy is on the verge of asking him what he means—Yes, I know—when Miranda opens the front door and calls out the him:  “Jeremy, please come quick, Jesse’s puking and the cat just knocked my salad off the table and all over the floor.”

            “Nice to meet you, Gordon.  I’m sure we’ll have another chance to talk soon.  You can see my life’s not exactly in my control.”




They call me the Rimer, I’ve no other name,  

            and when it’s time I can rime:

But it’s only a clever hypnotist trick

 and I’ve vowed to stop using it,

Unless, perhaps, to make someone laugh,

            or to rime riddles for children, who love that.

Of course I’ve never lived in Nighttown—

            that’s only for the doomed and desperate.

My one-room cottage has an ocean view, 

            I live near the Bay.  But even so

I have a vast, primeval curiosity,

            and I return and return to Nighttown.

So that you may know me as I speak

            I leave these hints:  I’m still a young man,

Though I have witnessed many marvels;

            I love to laugh, to listen to a stranger’s story.

In the words I speak is the music I hear. 

            Everyone in Nighttown is my friend.

I am the Rimer, I can rime every time, 

            just like the best of the old ones,

But I would rather tell you a story

            of miracle, magic and mystery. 

I am the Rimer, far from home, strayed 

            alone late into Nighttown once again.

It is Dark Moon Carnival:  and I must

            forewarn all you of delicate dispositions:

Depraved souls and pagan rituals

          abound and flourish everywhere here,  

And this is not my story, but these others’.

          I enter this stage fully dressed:

I carry already the shining thorn

          given to me by my brothers of Nighttown.

I am crowned Emperor of Carnival,

          genii of transformation this one night.

And so my realm will come and go

          in fog, no breeze, a little damp.

The shining thorn, not I, will create all

the miracles you’ll witness tonight:  

The Sun-dried thistle-head spiked, purple-

tufted in the center, the shining long shaft

Finger-thin I carry in my hand.

          I am only a servant of the miraculous.

The Golden Eagle All-Night Cafeteria

          shines out in green neon in the fog, 

The citadel of Nighttown for this night.

          Here I am made Emperor, here 

I am given the spiked long-stemmed thistle,

          here the bright fool’s cap I wear,

Yellow, a long orange tassle 

          to mark me as a proper fool.

I have been celebrated here tonight, 

          to my surprise, the honor of Emperor

Thrust upon me, the fool’s cap,

          the long-stemmed shining thistle.

These friends have each blessed me, drunk to my joy,

          and have bid me on my way at last

To walk the midnight streets of my kingdom, 

            to listen to my hungry people.

But you remember Nighttown, you remember

            how even in that burned-out City 

Nighttown still smoldered hot like a red

            coal in ashes.  Yes, you remember—

In Nighttown only outcasts live, black and white 

            alike forgotten.  Here are the homeless, 

The City’s lost and forgotten, still living,

            in alleys and lonely rooms.  You remember.

But fog hides all this hopelessness tonight.   

            Tonight a different play is performed.

Garbage cans and parking meters are day-glo;

            brilliant neon blinks; loud horns and bells—

This one night only of a man’s life, an after-

life you might say.  Tonight anyone can have 

A second chance, even this man here, dead stopped 

in his prime, unsure why he’s suddenly here,

Looking both ways, then again behind him;

            Though he and I, in perpetual fog, are alone 

Just now.  Look—without my costume that man 

            and I could be brothers, by our looks.

It’s also that garish gold knapsack he carries

            that marks him twin to my gaudy costume.

And as I speak to him this play begins:

“Wait—I know you.  We lived together once 

in Haight-Ashbury.  Your name is Kidd,

Am I right?”  Drained of life he seems, 

            Kidd, at the corner, gaunt, pale, startled

By my voice, turns to me, looking hard,

            then accepting me.  “I like the get-up,” he says,

“But I’m not in a mood to remember.

            But I think I remember you.  The house 

On Haight had lots of people in and out.  

            It’s been twelve years.  And tonight’s just hell

For me.  No—I don’t remember your name.” 

And cares not I see, cares only what might be

Lurking deep within the fog settled everywhere

like night terrors along these Carnival streets. 

I say:  “Tonight you may call me the Rimer,

            but I see all those recollections are lost 

To you now.  What’s your story, Kidd, two A.M. 

            this minute, twelve years at least since I saw you last.

What’s happened that brought you to Carnival?

            Why so upset and restless?  Talk to me.”

Kidd, gold knapsack on his back, still stares 

            into fog and darkness: still seeing nothing

To comfort him.  “Don’t push.  Even you don’t impress me

            tonight.  Just say I had a little bad luck

Back there on Taylor Street.  I got away by a miracle, 

minutes ago, six blocks from here.  I don’t think 

The cops saw my face, but sure as hell

            they’re after me.  I can feel them coming.”

A dark painted woman walks by, smiles

            at Kidd.  Her blouse is low-cut, her skirt 

Mid-thigh and tight.  Kidd’s eyes follow her past, 

fixing on the gentle sway of her ass.

“Rimer, what is all this?  It’s after closing time.

            Nighttown should be quiet as a graveyard.

Not all this celebration, and not you

            all dressed up so fancy.  Though I dig the funny hat.”

As the Rimer I speak my truth: “I dress

            for the occasion.  Tonight I am Carnival

Emperor.  This joyless celebration comes 

once only in a man’s life.  Though this

Is not life, Kidd, it is Dark Moon Carnival. 

            You walk it like a dream tonight

If you walk with me.  Life, but another life.

            Only in Carnival, and only by this thorn

Can a man on such a night truly be

            transformed.  You are lucky to find me, 

Kidd.  I recognize you as a brother. 

            Are you ready for the miracle I offer?

Ask me anything, I am Emperor,

            I can transform you.  Ask me and I give it.”

Kidd hears me not however:  a dog howls,

            down an alley; Kidd whirls to confront it;

Yet nothing more is heard or revealed.

            The miracle that might have been will not be.

“I don’t need to be transformed, Rimer,

            That is not my kind of religion.

I need an escape, or a lady to hide me.

            I’m sure cops are still chasing me—

Transform me from that.  But no, I don’t believe

            in transforming.  Don’t waste that on me.

Still, let’s stay together, let’s you and I go

            inside the Golden Eagle for a break

From my intensity.  I’m going through hell

            tonight.  I feel like I’ve been shattered 

To a thousand pieces.  Death, but another death.

            What will happen to me, Rimer?”
 “Are you afraid?” I ask, hopeful as ever,

            always ready with my thorn.  But no—Kidd turns

Away again, staring into darkness and fog, 

            hearing distant sirens and whispering voices.

“No—I’ll never say I’m afraid to anyone.

            I never have.  But tonight’s all different.

I feel overwhelmed, like a stray dog too far

            from home, who can’t remember his way.”

With Kidd I go in fog down Eddy Street,

            the Golden Eagle our destination.

Kidd stops at a corner newspaper box,

            drops three quarters, but like a thief removes

A Berkeley Barb, folds it and taps his leg

            in quicktime, looking, and looking again

Into fog, hearing mysterious voices, as I do.

            I ask: “Kidd, what new thrills are you after?”
 “No—Rimer, I’m not after any thrills—

            Nighttown is life’s blood to me, mother’s milk,

A tonic that keeps me sane, always there

            for whatever extremes come my way.  But no—

                        I’m not ready to be hunted like a dog.”

Kidd turns, as I turn, as someone calls 

            out, someone limping forward slowly

Toward us, a broken shadow in the fog,

            by his cry an old black man.  We hear—

“The goddamn president has run away!—

            spread the word, pass the word.

The goddamn president is M.I.A.!—

            spread the word, pass the word—halleluiah!”

The jubilant black man grins as he limps past,

            hurrying on through the night with good news.

Police sirens scream out again suddenly

            and echo up and down these Carnival streets.

Kidd catches breath, says, “I told you they’re looking,”

and hurries inside the Golden Eagle, his shelter.

Many others in and out are there around us.

            To me alone Kidd pleads, “Stay near me, I need you.”

We enter:  bright lights inside orange lanterns 

become orange pumpkins shining from the ceiling.

We sit at a white linen-draped table.

            Kidd begins searching the pages of the Berkeley Barb.

“Rimer, you’re the only one who’ll understand me.   

I need to talk.  Those sirens could be for me.

I was in a dope raid.  I got away by luck

            only minutes ago, not far from here.

I’m still holding.  I need a place to hide, 

some whore to take me in would be ideal.

Who knew tonight was Carnival?  Not me.”

            “It’s not advertised,” I say.  “It just happens

When you least expect it.  Like it did to you.”

            I can see he hears nothing I say.

Instead he reads his newspaper and laughs:

            “Now this is something—ever read the Barb?

Listen:  Man forty seeks fat male lovers,

            nothing too much.  Body must be fully shaved.

Or, Intellectual couple wants young girl

for three way, films, dressup, light bondage.

Or this one—-Humiliated male slave begs master

            who’ll use spanking, bondage, enemas,

Watersports, petticoat discipline

            and public humiliation.  Write at once.

What freaks!  These make me feel like a regular guy.

So I am.  It’s something basic I need,

Rimer.  Like massage.   O—Relax in the nude 

with beautiful girls.  Please come when you please.

Yes, I know this place on Eddy Street, the Wayward.

            Walk with me that far.  I feel safer with you.”

So we rise and go, as he knows I would,

            folded Barb under arm:  Kidd first 

And I follow, a fool before and behind.

            Through fog and black night we go like blind men,

Though still I am ready with my thorn, still am I

Emperor this one night, worker of miracles.

An alley corner, under lamplight, reveals 

            the whore Kidd saw before.  Patiently she waits,

Watching us, smiling, then walks slowly away.

            “Damn!  If only there was time tonight,” says Kidd,

“I’d pay the price and have her.  But not tonight—

no, another time, when this nightmare ends.”
 So we go on, until I see another one I know, 

            blind pimp Bogart, who emerges from fog,

Clinking keys and coins in his pocket, pre-eminent

            citizen of Nighttown.  He’s dressed as always 

Elegantly, in silk, blue and black.  He needs no cane

to follow Nighttown streets, his domain for decades. 

Kidd too knows Bogart; Kidd bows to greet him, 

            knows his superior:  “Blood, you are the man.

I’m desperate tonight, you could take me in, 

            you could save me.  I need a little hideaway,

Friend.  I know you have a spare room somewhere.

            I’d make it ten times worth your while.”

Bogart knows the voice and knows his man.

            “Kidd, tonight is Carnival—don’t you know that?

This business bullshit means nothing to me

now.  Only one man out here tonight

Speaks the holy truth.  He’s right in front of you,

            even if you can’t see or hear him.”

Thus, blind pimp of Sutter Street, descending 

to the lower realm of Eddy Street to honor me.   

 “Knowing you hold the thorn, Rimer,

            I’m here confessing the fool I am.

Priscilla is the girl I love, she’s all I have.

            They say she’s old and ugly; but she does me

The best.  She feeds me and protects me.

            No backtalk, and I like that in a lady.

But I caught her with another man, Rimer,

            I heard them from behind the door

This morning, when I came back from walking,

            Priscilla and that nigger grocery boy.

I beat the boy, I beat Priscilla too.

            I couldn’t stop myself.  But what a fool

I was, thinking I deserve that angel.

            She ran away, she ain’t comin’ back.

All the money, all the girls mean nothin’

            to me now without my little baby girl.  

So my black ass is on fire now, Rimer,

something’s broken, twisted in my heart.

I’ve cursed myself for sure, forever,

cause Priscilla was the best—what is left

For me, a no-eyed jack of spades?”    

            Bogart stands close, his hand takes mine.

Within the fog that cloaks our Nighttown,

            the shining thorn vibrates warm in my hand:

Touches him:  unearthly power transmits:      

            his arms outstretch, uplift to the air;

And there we see, as seers are believers,

            Bogart’s black fingers become feathers,

Feathers, as we witness, in blue his silk shirt,

            his blue arms suddenly fluttering wings

That lift and feel the air.  His nose hardens

            black, a sharp beak; old, darkened eyes

Open, light flooding in, his cry piercing         

            the night with joy as he rises, strong wings

Climbing higher, great blue-winged and blue-           

            breasted blackbird rising and crying out

Again high over street lamps, disappearing

            into fog at last the black wingtips, he soars,

                        blind pimp of Sutter Street no more.

Kidd the unbeliever sees nothing of this miracle; 

sees only Bogart vanishing, a ghost into fog.




In a land that could be anywhere, in a time that could be anytime, a merchant lives in a country house with his three daughters.  Gloria and Sybil, the two eldest, are in their mid-twenties.  Belle has just turned twenty-one.  All three are unmarried.

Gloria, finely gowned, is primping in a mirror set up at the dining room table, checking hair and makeup from every angle.  Belle, plainly dressed, is in the window seat, quietly looking out, waiting.   It is twilight. Sybil enters from the hallway, elegantly dressed like her sister.

Sybil speaks exuberantly to Gloria.  “I’m ready!   How do I look?”  She twirls.

Gloria barely glances away from her mirror. “Wonderful!  But how do I look?”

Sybil is preoccupied fussing with her hair ribbon; she has no time to look.   “Wonderful!  Oh, but these ribbons are all wrong.  Yellow isn’t my color.  But the blue and red ones just don’t go with the dress.  Oh—it’s so dreadful being poor—always having to compromise.  I don’t know if Father appreciates how we make do.”

Gloria is also preoccupied. “Well I’m at wit’s end.  And tired of making do.  Look at this color in my hair—ugly, ugly!”  She studies this ugliness intently in the mirror.  “Oh!  I should have left it as it was.   But I was so bored with that color.” 

Sybil answers.  “Well I liked it with the red in it.”

Gloria turns to her abruptly.  “Red!   It’s not been red for months!  It was auburn.  If you ever noticed.”

Sybil is surprised at her bad memory.  She looks.   “Auburn?  Oh, yes—of course.  I remember.   Forgive me, dearest.  But I think the…blonde is very nice.”

“Not blonde.  Ash.   You’re looking but you’re not seeing.   And it’s not very nice—it’s ugly.   It’s what comes of having to depend on the druggist instead of Monsieur Boudreaux.  Oh—I hate being poor!”

“I too, dearest.  Pathetique.”  She pauses to glance at Belle, who is paying attention to none of this.  Sybil addresses Gloria.  “Why isn’t she getting ready for the party?”

Gloria is amused.  “She probably is ready.”  Both giggle.   Belle remains unaware of their conversation.  “Belle—aren’t you going to the party?”

Belle in the faraway hears her name, registers the question and slowly turns to answer.  “The party?   Yes, I’m going.”

Sybil says, “You should be getting ready.  We’ll be leaving as soon as Father’s home.”

Innocent Belle replies, “But I am ready.”  Gloria and Sybil smirk and nod to each other.

Sybil moves to Belle’s side.  “Deardeardear, listen to your sister—this is no dress to wear to this party.”

Belle smiles at her.  “No—it’s fine.  It’s Father’s favorite.  Why don’t you like it?  Aren’t these neck ruffles nice?”

Gloria is trying to show patience.  “Nice?   Yes, Belle, they are nice.  But nice is not the thing these days.  Decolleté, my dear.”  She slides a finger into her cleavage.

Sybil lays an arm around Belle’s shoulder.  “Belle, you are far too naïve.  Poor young women—however beautiful,”—indicating Gloria and herself—“must struggle to catch a good husband.  We must use every art to excite and entice.  You cannot be blasé about this.”

Gloria agrees.  “Unless you covet the blacksmith or the grocery clerk.”  She laughs heartily; Sybil joins in.

Sybil then moves away from Belle, adjusting hair ribbons again.  In good humor Belle goes to her and from behind begins to help straighten Sybil’s ribbons.  “Oh yes, thank you, dear.  I do hope the Franklin brothers will be there, Gloria.  Or do you think Mrs. Williams is only daydreaming?”

“They’ll be there.”

“Why are you so certain?”

“Because Father also told me.

“He did?   Well.”  Sybil pauses to think about this.  “And why are they still single if they have so much money?”

Gloria says, “Because they are both barely twenty.”

This startles Sybil.  She turns a quick, alarmed stare at Belle; then re-addresses Gloria.  “Mais non!  What if?”--indicating Belle with a glance.

Gloria is confidently amused.  “Dear sister, please!  Elegance, sophistication and allure will triumph, have no doubt.  If they are young, so much the easier they will be…ensnared.”  She then turns to Belle.  “Are you reciting another one of your clever little stories at the party tonight?”

“Yes.   If the flute player can also be there.   I’m still too embarrassed to perform alone.”

Gloria smiles knowingly to Sybil.  “Of course.   How quaint.  Simple.  Sweet.   Like the child you always were.   And still are.”

Belle speaks to Sybil.  “There.   Your ribbons are grand.”                              

“Thank you, child.”  She looks to Gloria for confirmation.  “What do you say?”

“Elegant.   Sophisticated.  You will be…irresistible.”

Belle moves back to the window and looks out.  “Oh—Father’s here!”

Gloria goes back to her mirror. “Finally.”

Sybil agrees.  “Yes, finally.  What was so urgent he had to run off to the lawyers this afternoon?  Not another debt collector, I hope.”

Gloria says, “I don’t think so.  I think they all understand by now that we’re the dead horse that can’t be beaten further.   Yet it can’t be good news either.”

Father enters, an old man in poor but dignified clothes.  He stands in the doorway beaming.  Belle goes to him; they embrace.  He addresses them all:  “Hello, my wonderful daughters.”

Gloria glances at him.  “Father, we’re nearly late.  And you must at least change your shirt, like it or not.  We can’t offend Mrs. Williams on her night of nights.”  Father continues beaming, Belle still hanging on him.

Sybil finally senses something’s unusual.  “Father—why are you grinning so?”  Gloria looks up, sees the big grin and goes to him.  “Something’s up.  Obviously.   What is it, Father?”

He stands apart from Belle, assumes a formal pose, allowing them all time to prepare themselves for this announcement, before speaking.   “Something wonderful has happened.”  He pauses and they all stare at him expectantly.

Gloria ventures a guess:  “Farmer Harris has given you a few days off from your awful drudgery?”

Father laughs.  “No—something much better.  And a goodbye to Farmer Harris.  No.   Girls…the Sand Dollar has been found.  She will be towed into port in four days.”

The daughters are stunned to silence.

Sybil is barely able to speak.  “Ah…ah…ah…ah…and. ..you mean…ow…ow…our wealth….”

The father is triumphant.  “Yes—the wealth has been recovered!”

Sybil’s knees weaken; she reaches for the sofa arm as she faints onto the sofa.   Belle sits beside her, fanning her face maternally.

Gloria must question:  “How do you know for certain?”

“Judkins received word this morning from a distant harbormaster.  The Sand Dollar had indeed been through a terrible storm but she was not destroyed—thank God.”

Gloria is dazed and mumbling.  “Wha…Wha?”

Father continues with the good news.  “But she was blown far off course and grounded in a desolate cove a hundred miles from where anyone would have thought to look.  She was found altogether by accident, cargo intact.  A miracle no pirates found her in that ten months.”  

Gloria still can hardly believe.  “Miracle?   Miracle?”  Suddenly she begins to spin joyously.  “YIHEE!  WOWEE!”   She goes to the sofa and begins shaking Sybil.  “Wake up, you fool!  We’re rich again!  Do you head?   We’re rich!  Rich!”

Sybil slowly comes to; she reaches out to Gloria, speaks feebly.  “Rich?”

Gloria’s ecstasy expands.  “RICH!”

Sybil’s head falls back, head lolling sideways, as if drugged.

Belle speaks affectionately to her father.  “And no more Farmer Harris?”

He speaks it proudly. “No more.  “

Belle bows her head as if in prayer; then looks to Sybil, still agog on the sofa.  She speaks to Gloria.  “We should help Sybil to her room, so she may rest a bit.  Or we will never make the party.”

Gloria is slowly remembering.  “The party?”   She laughs.  “Who cares about Mrs. Williams’ party?—we’re rich!”

Sybil suddenly regains her senses.  “No, no!”   She grabs Gloria’s arm, speaks urgently.   “The Franklin brothers!”

Gloria is recalled to this urgency.  “Oh God—yes!   The Franklin brothers!  How stupid of me.  Get up, Sybil.  Let’s get some cold water on your face—on both our faces.”  Gloria helps Sybil struggle up and both go off down the hallway.   Gloria is laughing wildly.

Sybil shouts.  “RICH!”

Father sits beside Belle on the sofa, arm around her shoulder; he speaks tentatively.   “Belle…when we have our money again…I hope you’ll allow me to find a good husband for you.”

Belle answers earnestly.  “But my life is full.  I’m quite happy here, you know that. I don’t need a husband.”

“So you wish to go through life an old maid?”

“Rather than marry Will Turner of Harry Owen?”

“They’re wonderful boys.  And they would take care of you well.”  She is obviously amused.  “What’s the laugh?”

She says, “You called them boys.”                                         

“You know what I mean.  They are handsome and well-mannered young men.”

“No—they’re boys.  Cute, charming and well-mannered.  But boys.   Forever.”

Father is frustrated.  “Dear, you can’t be so choosey—there are only so many eligible bachelors.”

She smiles.  “I’m not being choosey.  I’m not choosing.  I’m content as I am.”

“But Belle—“

“Father, I have no desire to spend my life with any of these eligible bachelors.”   She hugs him.  “You have spoiled me.  None of them will ever have your sensitivity or wisdom or courage.”

He is touched but still frustrated.  “Belle, you miss the point.  I am old.   I won’t always be here.  And I can’t bear the thought of you…living alone...and at this hard world’s mercy.”

“Father—there are worse things than living alone.  It would be worse to live with someone who did not understand how the spirit can enter a person and give him a beautiful song to sing.  Or how the spirit can enter a person and make that person something…bigger… something wonderful…at least for a while.”

He is exasperated.  “Belle, if you are waiting till you find a man to share those things with you, you may wait forever!”

She speaks quietly.  “Father, I’m not waiting.  Long ago I realized I’d probably never find such a man.  You are the only man I’ve ever known who understood such things.   As I said, you spoiled me.  And I’ll be forever grateful.”

His pride and frustration are conflicting.  “Oh precious child—“

She smiles.  “Please understand—I am at peace.  Your love and wisdom have made me strong.  I know the world is hard.  And cruel.   But it’s also wonderful.  And, I believe, it takes care of its children.”

He is out of arguments, shaking his head.  “What would your mother say?”

“She’d say you have taught me well and you should have faith in that.”  She pauses as he looks away, hiding tears, unsuccessfully.  “Father—“

He turns back, forcing a smile.  “It’s just that you look more like her every year.  Sometimes it’s shocking.”

She regards him deeply for a moment.  “That’s the other thing, Father.  The love you and Mama had for each other is something I’ll never forget.  How could I marry someone I could not love as much as she loved you?”  Father is without response; he hugs her close.  “Now, Father, enough of that—I’ve finished my newest story.”

His admiration shines in his face.  “Already!   And I’m sure it’s wonderful.  As always.”

“I hope so.  But I’ll only believe it’s wonderful if you say so.  I’m reciting it at the party tonight.”

“Fabulous.   But don’t tell me anymore—I want to be surprised.”

“Oh, you will be surprised.  The mermaid and the wizard come to a shocking conclusion.”

He laughs and stops his ears.  “No, no!   Enough!  I won’t listen!”

She squirms with delight and hugs him; then sits back seriously.  “Father, how soon will you be able to quit the work with Farmer Harris?”

“This week.  As soon as I return from the lawyers and have inventoried the cargo.  The creditors will be paid in full—at last, thank God—and the rest will be ours.” 

“Yes.   The creditors first.  You are the most heroic man I know, Papa.”

He scoffs.   “Heroic?”

“Yes!   Moreso than any hero I ever read about.   At your age you could have gone bankrupt and let the creditors hound their other debtors.”


“Yes—I know.  Hardly.   That’s you.  Instead you indenture yourself to Mr. Harris—oh!—to pay off those hard-hearts.”

“Belle, please.  They weren’t hard-hearts when they lent us money to buy all this land, and to buy the Sand Dollar.  Life is not so simple.  I owed them.   And still do.”

Gloria calls to them from down the hall.  “Father!  It’s time to leave.  Are you ready?”

Rising, he calls back.  “Yes, yes.   I’m ready.  Whenever you are.”  Gloria and Sybil bustle in, preoccupied with dress trim and hair.  He glows with admiration.  “How beautiful you both look!”  He goes to them, puts an arm around each one.  “My dears, Saturday I‘m off to inspect the Sand Dollar.  I want to bring each of you something special.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve been able to come home with presents.”

Gloria and Sybil light up, answer him in unison.  “Presents?”         

Sybil says, “Oh, Father—I want a necklace.  An elegant pearl one.”

Gloria hangs on his arm, speaking.  “Father!   The gown!  You know, the gorgeous one I’ve admired so much.  Ah—but it’s so expensive—“

He is enjoying this thoroughly.  “You’ll have it!  Nothing’s too expensive now.”

Sybil squeals.  “And earrings to match, Father!  Please!”

“Of course, of course.  Anything.”

Gloria pleads again.  “And a fur coat too, Father.  Please!”

“Of course, of course.”

And a last request from Sybil:  “And one bracelet too.  Just one.”

“Of course.  But how will I remember so much?  Make a list, my darlings.  You shall have it all.”  He then turns beaming on Belle.  “And what for you, my unusual child?”

Belle is obviously slightly uncomfortable in all this.  “I don’t know, Father.  I can’t think of anything right now.”

“Come, come, child.  I want to buy you something.”

“Anything, Father.  You choose.”

He stands back from her, looks at her sternly.  “You will make an old man sad, dear.  Come, we are celebrating.  Name a gift.”

After a brief, thoughtful pause she says, “Alright.  A rose.  One beautiful rose.”

Gloria and Sybil giggle to each other.

Father is dismayed.  “A rose?”

Belle affirms it proudly.  “Yes.   A rose.  That’s what I want.”

Gloria says, “Don’t deny her.  It’s what she wants.”

Sybil laughs. “Gold or roses, roses or gold—what’s the difference—eh, Belle?   Give it to her, Father.”  

Gloria joins in with her own laughter, until she realizes the primary, forgotten urgency.  “But enough.   We must be gone.  We’re already late.”

Sybil says, “Yes, the party!  Ah—life is wonderful!”

Father takes up his coat, takes Belle’s arm, as Gloria and Sybil hurry ahead to the front door.



The Beast’s grotto is dimly lit, vague shadows of rocks and trees only can be discerned.  On a central elevation there is in shadows, also barely discernible, an angular structure, a dwelling.  There is a brief howling in the distance.  Frustrated groans come from the left as Father struggles through the thick undergrowth.  Unseen by him, as he stumbles into the clearing, a fire among an altar-like arrangement of rock ignites, revealing a carefully constructed rock stairway leading to the upper level structure.

Father sees the fire.  “Oh thank God—a campfire.”  He calls out.   “Hello!  Who’s here?”  As he waits for an answer he peers into the darkness around him.  Still seeing no one, he goes to the fire and sits exhausted beside it, attempting to calm himself.  Finally he looks up and calls out again.  “Hello!”  Again there is no response. To himself he muses, “Must be deserted.”  He resumes resting, elbows on his knees, head in his hands, commiserating with himself.  His morbid thoughts evoke a forced, bitter laugh.  “Hah!  Good—then let me hide here.  And die in disgrace.”

Bitter laughter turns to sobbing, head bowed.  He hears another distant howl.  He raises his head, looks around, sees nothing and becomes introspective again.   He speaks as if his daughters were present.  “I’m so sorry, Gloria…Sybil….You understand—don’t you?  Yes, I know, I thought it was all there too.  I’m sorry.  But the furs and the silks were ruined—every crate of them.”  The thought of this disaster makes his head bow even further.  “Oh, God!   Kill me—crush the life from an old man—but don’t tear the hopes and dreams from my poor daughters!  Not again.  Not again!”  He looks up, as if addressing his daughter.  “Please, Sybil, don’t turn away—I didn’t know.  I’m as depressed as you are, darling.  Please don’t cry.  Please look at me.  And try to understand.  No—there’s nothing that can be done to save any of it.  Rotted…ruined…like the remains of my pathetic life.  Please look at me.”

He is silent for a further moment in this abject misery.  But then, with great effort, suddenly he stands and speaks with force. “No!  That’s not the end!  We may be without money—but so we were to begin with.  No—we still have each other…our love…our beautiful memories.”  He shakes his head again as the grim reality re-asserts itself.  “God—this agony has me close to losing my mind.  Yes, it’s like being lost in this infernal forest—lost in a thicket of darkness and despair, even though I’ve come this way so many times—yet suddenly here I am and I don’t recognize a thing, or a way out, or the way I entered.   Pull yourself together, old man!  You’re confused and probably half crazy with the guilt and shame—but you’re not giving up.  Steady, old man.”  He looks around, trying to gain his bearings.  “It’s the darkness that’s got me.  And the exhaustion.  Get a little sleep, old man.  Yes, lie down here a bit until it’s light, then you’ll find your way out of here easy enough.  Yes, that’s good reasoning.  You haven’t lost it yet, old man.”  

He settles down beside the fire to sleep.  “Yes, that’s better.  A little sleep.”                       

The fire gradually extinguishes.  All becomes black.  


Gradually dawn’s light comes up on the grotto.  He awakens and greets the morning.

“Oh—the blessed Sun!”  He looks around him, slowly remembering the previous night, the terrible news about the Sand Dollar.  He emits a mild groan.  “Ohhh…lost…lost…dreadful morning.”

In the morning light he notices a scattering of half-eaten meat-bones lying near him.  He is somewhat startled by this.  “What?”   He looks around more urgently.   “Hello!”  He then notices the exotic dwelling nearby:  an other-worldly structure of several rooms, but all constructed of what appears to be large quartz crystals. He calls out.  “Who’s here?  I come in peace.”  He takes a few tentative steps up the stone stairs leading to its entrance, then stops.   “How strange.  A house, but not like any other house I’ve ever seen.   Hello!”  He pauses.  “Stranger than a dream.  What man would live in a place like this?  Hello!”  He begins to feel uneasy.  “No…no, far enough, old man.  Something tells me I don’t want to go a step further.”  

He turns, looks back and sees the bones again.  “But food.  At least a little meat left on these bones.”  He goes to it, kneels beside it.  He lifts a rib, sniffs it, tastes; then eats a mouthful.  He stops, looks up.  “Hello!”  He eats more, hungrily, even while he keeps looking around him.  He finishes the last rib and sits back; remembering again his plight; he settles his head in his hands.  He makes small moans as he rocks.  Then wearily he rises and calls out.  “Thanks you for the food!  Whoever you are!  And for the rest!”  Then to himself to speaks.  “And for a moment of forgetfulness.  An old man thanks you.” 

It is only then, as he looks around for a way out, that he notices a bush of roses.   “Oh—Lord!—how beautiful!  Such roses!”  He goes to them and stands admiring.  “Yes, this one can be for you, my sweet Belle.”  He reaches down and picks one rose.  

Instantaneously, a cry of agony is heard from deep within the Beast’s palace.   Father is stunned and freezes; but slowly turns to look.  In another moment the enraged Beast appears on the crystal palace’s front steps, well above the position of Father beside the roses. 

Human-like, the Beast stands erect.  His head of hair is black, thick and coarse, growing down the nape of his neck.  His arms and legs have the same coarse, black hair.   Hair on his face and throat is much finer, silvery-gray and sparse, allowing his nose, cheek-bones and jaw-line to be prominently visible; these facial features have human shape.  His hands also have human shape and on the backside of them a light covering of the silvery-gray hair that’s on his face.  He wears a short-sleeved leathery black tunic that hangs to mid-thigh.  A blue-gray, unadorned cloak is attached around his throat, drapes his shoulders and hangs down his back.  He wears dark leather boots with silver clasps. His eyes are emerald green and piercing.

This wild creature screams out his rage.  “NOOOO!”  He sees Father and bounds down the stairs to him.  

Father falls in terror to his knees.  He speaks feebly.  “Please…no…I—”

The Beast yanks the rose from his hand, looks at it sorrowfully, then at Father, barely controlling his rage.  He puts the rose inside his cloak.  “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!”

“Nothing…only a rose—”

The creature screams again.  “FOOL!”   He raises a menacing fist, trembling, as Father holds up an arm to ward off a blow.  “HUMAN!  Old, weak, stupid human!”  He turns in his rage and clubs the tree trunk, but quickly whirls to menace again the still-cowering old man. “WHO ARE YOU?”

“Please don’t kill me.”

“HAH!   Fool!—you are already dead!   Answer me!  Who are you?”

“An old man.”                                     “

“Why are you here?”

“By accident.  By mistake.   Lost.”

“You killed my rose!”

“It was so beautiful—“

“HAH!   So you killed it!  Brutal human—like all your kind!”

“I meant no harm….Please….”  The Beast pauses as he turns, paces away, returns, completely disgusted, still near exploding.  Father struggles to move away, but suddenly can’t. “I…I…can’t move.”

“No—you can’t move!  Your life is over, murderer!”

Father vainly struggles to move; his terror deepens as he realizes he’s paralyzed.   “What is happening to me?”

The Beast leans close to him and sneers, enjoying Father’s helplessness. “Yes—struggle!   With all your might.   Struggle!”  He turns his back on his victim and stomps away, considering further punishment.  “How did you find your way here?”

“I…I don’t know.  My horse fell…crossing a stream.  He ran away.   I wandered in circles…an hour at least…near a huge white boulder.”

“A white boulder?”

“Yes.   I must have circled it many times.   Each time I thought I was on my path again…but I kept coming back to that white boulder every time.”

“Damn that rock!  And damn your luck!”  He sneers at his terrified victim.  “Your foul luck!”

“Please…let me go.  Forgive me—“

“NEVER!”   The Beast whirls away, speaking to himself, bubbling over with rage.  “Murder roses…murder me…murder life.  Rrrrrr.  Forgive?   FORGIVE?”  He whirls back on him.  “NEVER!”  He stomps away again, considering his captive’s fate.  Father is bowed to earth.  “You pay for this.  I could kill you with a word.  But I want you to tremble and suffer in fear to your shallow core.  You’re not worth killing.  If you were man enough I might keep you and have a use for you.  But I see already you are not worthy of that.   STAND!”  

Father struggles to his feet, awed.  “I didn’t mean….  I am sorry….”

“SORRY?   HAH!  A pathetic speech.”

Father struggles to assert a fragment of his shattered dignity; he stands straight and speaks proudly to the Beast.  “The rose was for my daughter.  A gift of love.”

The Beast is prepared to be scornful; but he is stopped by this; becomes engaged.   “Daughter?”

Father stands taller, as if defending her.  “Yes.  My daughter.”

“Well….   One only?”

Father speaks proudly.  “Three.”

“Three!   How virile.  Sons?”


The Beast smirks.  “No—of course not.”  He pauses; he paces, thinking.  “Yes.   But daughters might do.”

Hearing this, Father becomes leary.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean that you may yet have a way to save your life.”

“Not if it means you come near my daughters!”

The Beast laughs arrogantly.  “Brave man!   Speak no more, but only to answer me.   First, do these daughters love fine things, beautiful clothes, jewelry?”

“Two of them, yes, the oldest two.”

“And are these daughters pursued by young men?  Have suitors?”

“Yes.   The two oldest.  The youngest has no interest in men.  But why are you asking me these questions?”

“Quiet, old man!  I only ask questions.  So is this youngest one not attractive?   Too young?   Has no talents?  Is disagreeable to everyone?”

“No, no.   She’s beautiful, she sings and makes stories.  She’s twenty-one.  Everyone loves her.  But why—“

            “Stop your speech, old man!” The Beast stares coldly at him.  “I give you a chance.  And your family a chance.  If…old man…one—only one—of your daughters will come here in your place and prove herself to be more of a man than you are.”  Father starts to protest, but is stopped by a handsign.  “SILENCE!  Speak when I allow you!  When I am finished!”  

His voice now moderates.  “If, as I say, one of your daughters will come in your place—of her own free will—I will let you go. You will then be allowed to spend your remaining days with two daughters.  And I will give you this consolation—believe it or not as you wish:  no harm of any kind will come to your daughter.  In fact, I will likely find that she is not worthy to remain here and I will send her back to you.  Unharmed.  I will even then absolve you of your crime.”  The Beast pauses, makes a handsign to free Father‘s speech.

The old man remains defiant.  “NEVER!”

The Beast jerks his hand violently, halting Father’s words.  He glowers at him; speaks slowly and quietly, but with passion.  “No more words then from you, old man.  Hear this and remember it.  I give you ten days freedom.  It is more mercy than you deserve.  You may return home.  You will explain your dilemma to your daughters.  You will explain  the proposition I have offered you.  If one of them agrees to come, you will bring her to me.  You will remember about the white boulder and how you found your way here.   Then you will forget that secret forever.  If one daughter comes to me, you are unbound.  If not, in ten days you are to return here as commanded, exactly as you came last night, and I will make a slave of you until I decide you’ve paid in full for your transgression.  Now go.   You are free—but doubt it not—you are wholly in my power.  GO!” 

The Beast whirls and bounds up the stairs and disappears.  Father slowly turns as if in a trance and walks away into the woods that surrounds the Beast’s kingdom.