A History of the Period (Part III of IV)
Day and night, the Khan battled wits with our poet hero, trying to understand his secrets. But how clever was that poet, how carefully did he hide the truth, even when the Khan raged against the heavens with sword in hand! And yet every night, bested by the miscreant, the Khan went forlorn to his bed, there to dream in a haze of wine and opium of the words and how they might be spun to intoxicate the ear, and most importantly, to bring love upon their bearer – love such as even the conqueror of half the world desired more than anything.
One particular night, the Khan was defeated yet again by the poet, and raced through the gardens of his pleasure dome in anger, until he found himself spent under the stars. Agitated, he went to the chambers of his wife Borte, who he had seen but little since his pursuit of the poet’s secret. He threw open the doors, and there saw a sight of utter treachery – his wife was naked, and engaged in a pursuit that should properly have been reserved for the Khan alone. There she bobbed about, heartily and joyously, upon the fertile majesty of our friend the period, whose lips lay wet with her kisses.
“A hanging!” cried the Khan, as he stormed his palace in rage. But a week after, people came from the farthest reaches of the lands to see the period ended. Yet before the deed could be done, our hero poet returned to the scene with a squad of mercenary poets, all dressed in wild attire, and a full half in the garb of women. They freed the period and fled the country to the mountains of the west, the Khan in pursuit with twelve thousand elephants, a fresh harem, and a wife who was suddenly and inexplicably large with child. The Khan burned down everything in his path, and might have had the poet had he not escaped upon a ship headed for the west.
It was on the voyage across the waves that the poet finally succumbed to the feelings that had been growing within him since that day he had come upon a pile of bear shit in the mountains. On the deck under the moonlight, he professed his love for the period, murmuring such sweetness as only he could create. Later in the cabin, the poet wondered what he had done, what sweet misery he had brought about by seducing his muse; after all, this beauty beside him was not some tawdry comma or slattern semi-colon – this was a creature whom none could follow, or ever would. The poet’s great misery began there, and was doubled again by a storm that ripped the ship to timbers; poet and period reached for each other over the cackling wind and the snapping of the spars, but it was not meant to be. They were parted forever.
Of course, the period survived. He floated to the mainland and was dragged from the water by a fisherman. Cold, shivering, injured nearly beyond repair, the period was nursed back to health by the fisherman and his wife, who treated the poor amnesiac dot as their own, until finally the period chanced to come upon a recital in the town square. Here was a skinny lady in tights orating her poetry in such a headlong progression of continuous and unimpeded glee that the period’s mind recalled itself at last, and he railed loudest against this unfortunate woman’s performance. In the ensuing stampede of maddened townsfolk, she was run on by many booted feet; the period, meanwhile, realized that his true calling was to be found elsewhere, and he trained his eyes on the last and most important leg of his journey: the trip to Greece, and the island of Rhodes.