On the morning of the solar eclipse

This morning at breakfast the village shaman looked distraught, so I brought him the tobacco pouch early and sat with him by the fire. As always, he answered the question before I could ask it.

“The Sun is angry,” he said, packing his pipe and lighting it with a half-burned stick. “The giver of Life and Light expects from us a shimmer of reverence. And yet for years no one would even look at Him.”

I watched him draw a long breath from the pipe and hold it, the smoke seeping from his half-open mouth. “What will happen to us?” I asked. Finally he exhaled into the fire.

“I do not know,” he said. “But today the Sun is throwing mad shade.”

The hotel cicerone

When I asked him where a man of letters might find a stimulating evening in Brussels, the hotel cicerone promptly recommended a secluded house with exquisite flower beds: wherein, he said, he had learned a great deal himself.

I went and passed several hours there; but it was not until afterward, when I was certain I had experienced all that the famed Rose Bush had to offer, that the madam procured me a Hoegaarden, and I had my first taste of Belgian wit.

I wanted a secretary I could mold like clay.  In the end I had to fire her.