Lessons learned while reading the ballad collection of Francis James Child.
by David Kessler
They say "desperate times demand desperate measures", and I... well, here's my story:
My love gave me a magical ring which would only lose its luster if she lost her love for me, and recently it lost
its luster! I had been away at sea for 7 years, but I wasted no time in getting home, where I found her just married!!
Castle rumor tells me that the union has not been consummated, so I know she must still be mine. I plan
to capture her and take her away from this unjust and loveless fate that has obviously been forced upon her.
I know I might be accused of adultery, and she of polyandry, so I'm writing you for advice
on the proper way to carry her off.
Hoping it's not a sin
Dear Hoping it's not a sin,
As marriage is the very bedrock upon which our society is based, adultery and polyandry are
indeed serious questions; You are right to be anxious about how to properly carry a married woman off to your
bed. Frankly, I am heartened to finally hear from a youth who, having returned from sea too late to stop his
true love's wedding, has found a non-suicide option.
The crux here seems to be the
relationship the two of you had 7 years ago. You might be able to carry her off without violating this
recent marriage if she is bound to you by a previous arrangement of equal degree. Your claim is obviously
the previous one, but you must still examine its seriousness as compared to matrimony. The exchange of
enchanted gifts speaks highly in your favor, but the nature of that gift might also work against you: Your
lady claims access to magical powers, yet to believe her spell, her love for you should be as faded as the ring
now is. If she does still love you (and certainly it is not worth breaking up this marriage if she does
not) then why did the ring lose its luster? Might she have lied to you about the spell those 7 years ago?
In all those years did you ever have the ring properly cleaned by a licensed jeweler? Establishing
whether it's the spell or the dullness of the ring that is the sham could deprive your nay-sayers of one of their
Once you have eliminated the possibility that simple tarnish has come
between you and your love, you will have a strong retort to the charges of adultery, kidnapping, rape, etc.
Meanwhile, if her latest wedding is truly unconsummated, then once you have spirited her away you may
lay a more current claim on her - few ceremonies have ever been developed that are quite so binding as consensual sex.
A good disguise should see you through much castle security. When you are finally face
to face, I suggest you pause to speak with your lady before kidnapping her. Taking even a few moments
to reveal your identity should allow you to carry off your plan without her kicking and screaming.
Francis J. Child