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LESSON #11 IN REVISION

Now, for a place where I cut. In the 2005 version of THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND, I wanted to make sure that the reader understood who the bear was and why he was important to the story, so when George shares dreams with the bear, he sees the whole story of the prologue from the bearís point of view:


George wondered if there was some way for the bear to stop the dreams. He went back to the forest now and again in search of the bear, half fearing he would actually find it. But he never did. And the bear, in its dreams, did not seem to think of George at all, or even remember him as the little boy whom he had begged forósomething.

But the dreams went on.

And they were not only of the bearís current life. There were also dreams of a manís world. A wealthy, old man who regretted his own youth and the way he had spent. A man who missed running in bare feet through grass, and laughing out loud at his own foolish attempt to juggle.

More than once, George saw bits and pieces of the legend of what seemed to be King Richon and the Wild Man, as well. But they were not quite as he had heard them. Was that because the legend was wrong? Or because even the bear could no longer remember what was real and what was not?

For one thing, the picture of the wild man was not as it was told in the stories. He was not disheveled or red-eyed. Rather, he worse comfortable farmerís clothes, thick breeches and a short, loose tunic that could be rolled up for any necessity. His hair was golden-colored, and his cheeks were tanned, but not burnt. His face looked kindly. Such a man could not be kindly, not if he had done what he had. Surely not.

But the bearís dreams were never angry with the wild man. And the bear did not think evil of the animal magic. It seemed to think that what had been done was just and right, and that would simply have to be the way of it. But it did long still for human things, for the small memories of his own childhood as a prince. And George could understand that very well.

My editor suggested that I cut this. Itís another case where I think I was beating the reader a bit over the head and not allowing the reader to come to her own conclusions about what was unfolding in the story. Part of the joy (I hope) in THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND is the mystery of the story. George and the reader are truly surprised by what happens because they understand so little of the forbidden magic. To make it so clear who the bear is takes away from that.

Instead:


George wondered if there was some way for the bear to stop the dreams. He went back to the woods now and again, half fearing he would actually find the creature. But he never did. And the bear, in its dreams, did not seem to think of George at all, or even remember him as the little boy whom he had begged forósomething.

In time, the dreams changed. Or became something else altogether. It was all so confusing to George. He had only had dreams of the bear before, but then there were bits and pieces of a manís world mixed in with them. A wealthy man, well-dressed, who rode the best horses.

Sometimes George thought the horse rides were hunts, but he never caught a glimpse of any creature that was being hunted, or the end of the hunt, either. The man mixed in with the bear was a man who loved the feel of his bare feet on wet grass, a man who had tried and tried again to learn to juggle and never learned how.

George saw him meeting young ladies at this ball or another one, and how they tittered and made eyes at him. The man was embarrassed and determined never to marry, not one of them. But then he was so lonely, and had to pretend that he was not. He watched his friends with their children and envied them that pleasure that could not be his.

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Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2011 all rights reserved.
Last revised August 10, 2011.