Dollmaker learns Swordplay



A Scarborough-Faire-the-Renaissance-Festival Story finally told...


Dollmaker Learns Swordplay


I have a shoppe... At Scarborough Faire. The Renaissance Festival.  

(you know, in England, Texas)

Yes, I am a shopkeeper. Just shopkeeping away each morning, shuffling objects

on my desk, you know- the shopkeeper shuffle...

but then, Hark! One fine Spring morning I was given reason for Pause!

For one moment I found cause to pause in my shuffling shopkeeping,

as I thought I heard-

-a bell, not so distant- in fact, right in front of my shoppe-

a loud clanging BELL. What?

Ok, so it's a bell- a BELL- and all this clanging- has my attention,

so then I hear a deep voice- the Voice which accompanies the clanging BELL,

and it's shouting:

"Hasselhoff's School of Swords!      Bring your bloodthirsty children!"


What?                What... did he say?

What on the Green Earth was going on?! It was time to stop shuffling

and rush forward to observe whatever chaos I would need to steel myself against!

Whatever sordid horror was about to unfold upon the grass

right in front of my own Dollmaking Shoppe, I rushed to be a witness to it!

 Taking a quick check on the Ordinary Lawn out front,

I saw that now Tall Ornate Stakes had been plunged into the ground,

supporting a goodly length of rope, creating boundaries for a little temporary-

well, School-Yard.. a nice neat little Arena for Swordfighting Children.

 The Man with the Voice strode around the inside perimeter of the Arena

like a cocky little rooster. Presumably the Sword-Master, he was the one

ringing the BELL. And waving a sword around in the air. And shouting!

He shouted it again... Parents! Bring your Bloodthirsty Children!

hA hA  I chuckled. Hey, that's a cute one- bloodthirsty children!


So it was . Here was a jolly Entertainer.  A show right out front

here on our own stretch of Lawn- How droll!- should draw customers -

(the mind of a shopkeeper- always calculating...)

So it was three shows a day, six shows a weekend, times eight weekends-

By the end of Scarborough Faire the Renaissance Festival, I had heard

his whole show (and the BELL!) around 48- (feels like: 88) times,

and I could pretty much recite his every line.

Renaissance Festivals attract all kinds of people, you know... LOL (understatement)...

 a lot of them in show biz on one level or another, and when the act is awful

this kind of repetition is like a drill to the brain.

However- this guy neither bored nor offended.

The clanging BELL I could have possibly done without, but, in fact, I found myself

 enjoying his showmanship and chuckling to myself

as he balanced strict sword-fighting discipline with a jolly sense of humor;

and I liked the way he ended his show by instructing the children sternly

to follow their dreams and natural abilities

and pursue the thing they most wanted to do in life.

A shopkeeper would also need to heed those words, I reflected.

hmmm. I don't usually (like never) do this, but

I resolved to find a way

to be relieved of my shopkeeping duties for long enough to attend a class

at the "School of Swords". 


So... on the very last day of the festival... Memorial Day Monday, it was... 

we had a plan. It was decided- 

Kelaine took charge of the shoppe, Bill took charge of the camera, and off I went,

to the 12:00 Noon Sword-Fighting class....

at the... School of Swords!


    Ok, I do these things, you know, when I fancy that I have a certain aptitude

for them- I could kind of picture myself as- well- you know- Lady Zorro-

she of the quick side-step and lightning blade...

so I was unprepared for the sheer weight of the wooden sword

which was handed to me- hey I'm not Conan you know!

But then I realized that all the children- all the little boys and girls in the class-

 were using that same size sword,

and they weren't whining or asking for smaller swords...

It didn't help that nobody else got introduced to the audience

of what one must assume was mainly composed of parents whose offspring were

 bloodthirsty children-

Our impeccably genteel Instructor found it necessary to introduce me

as the Wee Peeple Doll Lady, a shoppe-keeper from "right over there",

and "the Oldest Child" in the class... oh brother. Xena would not put up with this!

Without delay, we marched in single file and the Sword-Master positioned us

in lines, one behind the other, while he took up his teaching position

actually outside the arena, to demonstrate.

Hey wait a minute. I was inside the arena.

Looking back at it now, how could I have not seen this scenario coming...

 what was I doing? How did I get inside an arena with 12 armed and dangerous

 KNOWN bloodthirsty children,

every one of them holding a heavy sword he or she absolutely did not know how to

 use. Hello! Anybody home in there...?!


We began learning immediately.

Firstly, the class of children -and I- learned to "thrust" and "retreat",

and I personally learned that these actions

taxed the fit of the garments I was wearing, in particular, my new bodice!

Did this ever happen to Xena- did She ever "thrust" herself right out of her clothes?


Aerial somersaults (Xena style) were definitely out of the question. 

We learned that the phrase "EN GUARDE" meant "get ready"- 

We should point our swords at our opponent's eye while taking a stance

with the feet firmly planted and knees slightly bent-

but the bloodthirsty child standing behind me, for lack of an eye to point at,

must have imagined that my head would do for a focal point.

He's lucky he missed it when it came time to "Thrust",

however I did feel the dull point of his little wooden blade in my back.

I turned around and glared at him.

He must have mistaken my glare for a friendly nod, for when it came time to "thrust"

 again, why there was his dull little point in my back again...

I am thinking- How about if I just wheel around and "block" this kid's skull..

I was pretty sure I could take him... if the sword didn't fall out of my hand

and my clothes didn't fall off...

when the instructor began explaining the importance of the

 "War Cry"- AAAAAARGH! a tactic of intimidation- 

so when he said "Now you try it." I wheeled around and AAAAARGH!

War Cried the little Bloodthirsty behind me. That time I startled him.

Of course he War Cried me back- AAARGH! the next time...

I am thinking, isn't anybody watching this-

and then I saw some adults (could this be the parents?) laughing and nodding

at the kid from the sidelines... hmmm I could see I was on my own here...

when the Sword-Meister called for "Bloodthirsty Children",

evidently he hit a home run with these parents...

Well, before the situation could escalate, it was over,

and we were lined up again and marching toward our own Graduation,

whereupon I received with diplomacy the special attention of our Instructor again

 while receiving my diploma.

Oh well, I thought, at least I will have some great pictures

of myself in swashbuckling poses... so I arrived home and opened the pictures

in my art program and for sure, there I was in all my Warrior Glory,

but there was a problem... the background.

Right behind me in each of the photographs stood a picnic table

lit upon by a multitude of fluttery touristy-looking people wearing tee shirts

and shorts smoking cigarettes and chowing down on turkey legs-

Romantic and Derring-Do this is not.


Dollmaker Forced to Learn "Cut and Paste"


So, the time had come for me to learn how to cut and paste (retreat and thrust)

an object (myself) from one photograph to another...

good thing I had lots of time because this took all day and still came out

looking like a kindergartener did it, but finally I was able to figure out

how to cut myself out in Warrior stance and paste myself into other photos

which leant more credibility to the action.

More accelerated learning experiences,

Scarborough Faire style,

(you might say it was- "a double-edged sword") 

So, anyway, after I left "The School", I went back to my ordinary life

following my dreams and fussily shop-keeping in my Doll Shoppe

at Scarborough Faire the Renaissance Festival,

but every time this story gets told, it grows...

and that little boy behind me becomes more and more treacherous...

At last telling, the small boy had transmutated into a horrible, rough, green-skinned,

 three-headed devil-cyclops from whom I (translate: Lady Zorro) courageously and

 skillfully saved the entire Swordfighting Class, even when the Sword-Meister was

 forced to cower, using my quick side-step and lightning blade

(and confusing him with my aerial acrobatics),

I sent the impudent pest fleeing across the bridge!


let's just end the story there.


(Images from the Internet)




Kandra Niagra, Dollmaker

PO Box 326

Smithville, Texas 78957

Phone: 512-332-6680