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Primitive Evil Cursed Jester Doll!
Once upon a time there existed a beautiful kingdom. It was sprawled upon rolling hills and lush green meadows. It was a relatively happy kingdom, with it's proverbial castle, complete with a King and Queen, and peasants who lived in the village.
In those days, if a child was born handicapped, especially if he was 'vertically challenged', it was not uncommon for the parents of said child to go around to the 'well to do' folks and 'beg him a fool'.
To keep a fool was not confined to just the Kings and Queens. Anyone who could afford one, could have one. This also eased the burden of his parents, as well as provide entertainment for the ones who would raise him.
This was not always a fair way of life for a 'fool', but it would be a better life then what the parents could provide for him.
And that brings our story to Harlan. He was born 'vertically challenged' and his parents already had 14 children to raise.
(I know, I'm thinking the same thing)
So, rather than take Harlan around to the villagers, they decided to take him to the huge castle on the hill and 'beg him a fool' in hopes that the King and Queen would care for him. Harlan's parents would find such pleasure in knowing that 'one of their own' could find residence in the castle.
It would also give them bragging rights that THEIR child worked for royalty.
The King and Queen readily accepted Harlan. He was a handsome child and quick-witted. And as the years went by, the King grew more and more attached to the little fool.........placing him above all other fools in the castle. The King had no sons and Harlan was almost like a son to him.
Harlan's popularity grew, and as with most people who gain fame, it went straight to his head. He started to become more arrogant and self-important.......unwilling to do the usual fool's tricks and tumbles. He began to feel above all of that nonsense.
He wanted to turn his folly towards more serious matters........pushing the envelope.....testing his limits. He left all of the total silliness to the other fools, who only knew slap-stick humor and sight-gags. Harlan felt so 'above' all of that.
In those days, it was common practice for a fool to actually 'mock' the fashions of the day.
For example.....there was a time when the length of the point of your shoes told of your 'station' in life. The longer your shoe point, the more prestigious you were said to be.....it was a huge status symbol.
So, Harlan, in his attempt to mock the fashions of the day, wore his pointed shoes so long and exaggerated that he had to tack the points up onto his leg-garters just so he could walk.
This antic brought the house down. People guffawed at Harlan on sight. It was hilarious. This was also very accepted humor and was reserved for the more intellectually-gifted fools of the castle.
Another favorite 'trick' of a fool was to use a 'Jester's stick' as a way to mock the clergy or the King and Queen themselves. It was in this way that a fool could get away with saying almost anything of disrespect because, after all, it was his 'stick' that said the slur.
The Jester's sticks were used much like a ventriloquist uses a dummy.
But Harlan was beginning to abuse this privilege. His popularity was starting to wane. People were growing more insulted than entertained by his 'tricks'. He would sneak around the castle and listen in on private conversations and use this information to blackmail people. If they didn't do what he asked, he used that secret information in his performances, humiliating the people beyond belief. More and more people began to hate Harlan.
Before too long, Harlan grew bored with using a Jester's stick and he considered it 'beneath him' to use one. He tossed his stick aside and disrespected the other fools because they continued to use theirs.
Harlan was not content with popular Jester's entertainment....he wanted to do more controversial things......he wanted to get more political and challenge the kingdom rules. He thought of himself as an 'intellectual' and took great delight in engaging in conversations that confused people. This gave him a feeling of superiority.
But, rather than turn his bad personality around and gain the favor of the people again, he grew more evil.
Negative attention was better than no attention at all, right?
Harlan took to sleeping most of the day and lazing about the castle when he was awake.
He was useless to everyone.
And to make matters worse, the King turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to his antics. No one could convince the King of anything that Harlan was doing. The King merely viewed the actions of Harlan as small harmless pranks and clever tricks. But Harlan was aware that he was being 'told on'.
This made Harlan even more spiteful towards those who 'ratted' on him.
For starters, there were no virgins left in the castle. I don't believe that needs to be further explained. But the worst part was that even some of the 'royals' were 'with child'....and he was in full hope that they'd be 'vertically challenged', just as he was.
Harlan also planted the idea of a 'plot to poison' into the minds of the 'food testers'....saying that he had 'over-heard' plans to kill the King and Queen......soon, everyone was afraid to eat at the castle. He did everything he could to wreak havoc.
At night he slipped into all the ladies rooms and cut off their long hair. He fed the castle cats to the castle rats. He put Nair® in the shampoo bottles. Harlan even became a drunkard and began carrying around a small Terra Cotta jug of booze that is attached to his leather belt.
But then, one day, Harlan went too far. He was to make an appearance at a very special gathering......the yearly ball. When the time came to present him, the entire group of people gasped in unison. They couldn't believe their eyes! Mocking the fashions of the day was one thing.......but Harlan stepped over the line.
Everyone in the kingdom knew that NO ONE was permitted to wear the color purple.
The color purple was reserved for nobility......for royals.
But here was Harlan.....wearing the 'forbidden color'.
The King was mortified.....the Queen fainted. Still, the King felt affection for Harlan and couldn't bring himself to sentence him to death.
In those days, it was popular to kill a Jester by either burning at the stake or being drawn and quartered by a team of horses. They were NOT beheaded, as was believed by many.
Beheading was considered a merciful death and reserved for royals and nobility.
But, regardless of the utter disrespect for the royal family, the King showed a degree of mercy. He commissioned the castle wizard to punish him by casting a spell that wouldn't kill Harlan, but would stand to set an example to all the other fools. The message would be that those who wore purple, besides the King and Queen, would be severely punished.
The wizard thought long and hard on the situation, trying to come up with a suitable and 'just' punishment. Then he decided upon the perfect punishment.....to turn Harlan into what he hated most......to give him the lowest station of all the fools.
He would be turned into a Jester's doll.........a 'stick' of sorts.....used as a mere pawn to mock others and to be toyed with, possibly even abused and cast aside carelessly.
Harlan was not told of his 'punishment'.......he didn't realize what was happening, at first........he was still waiting for the punishment to be announced......but it wasn't announced, it was actually happening.
The first thing Harlan noticed was that he was beginning to feel 'stiff' all over his body and clothing, as if he had been sprayed with fabric stiffener, and indeed, he HAD been. His entire body took on the appearance of being heavily stained from a good soaking in a strong tea and coffee solution......seasoned with whole Cinnamon sticks and whole Cloves. It was an appealing aroma, but frightening, just the same.
And Harlan didn't even have the privilege of having any make-up to hide his stained face. You see, contrary to popular belief, Jesters NEVER wore make up. In our day, we see the wearing of make-up as a modern way to depict a Jester. But the Jesters of Harlan's day never wore make up of any kind.
Harlan began to shrink down in size.....becoming smaller and smaller with each morning that he awoke. He was now around 24 inches tall. His eyes turned into two brass buttons and his nose grew long and slightly crooked.
His 'goatee' and mustache and even the hair on his head turned into real goat hair from the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. And his hideous 'joker mouth' froze in a grotesque shape and became a piece of red potpourri flower.
His legs took on the appearance of having been painted black and sanded. His pointed shoes also took on the appearance of having been painted green, and sanded for an aged look. There were little rusty bells sewn onto the tips of his shoes and his shoe points had been tacked to little cloth 'garters' above his shoe tops.
Harlan remained in his infamous purple color.....the left side of his puffy pants were purple, and the other side was a stained pink color. The legs were tied with twine. The fabric seemed to be of rich Velour. His shirt was of 100% cotton that was heavily stained, as was his frilly collar, along with a 'sweater neck'. The vest was also made of Velour....in the colors of Burgundy and Hunter Green. The vest was laced straight up the front.
He found that his wrap-belt was made of black Suede leather that came from a place in South Carolina that makes the leather seat covers for the BMW cars. This was no 'run of the mill' Jester. No ma'am.....this Jester was made with fine materials. So, even though he was being punished, he was going about it in style!
And what a nicely equipped belt, indeed. Harlan had his Terra Cotta liquor bottle, also, some old wooden beads decorated the twine that served as support for his belt. He had a little stained cloth bag with brass do-dads hand-sewn onto the bottom.
He had another cloth bag that had a 'tapestry' look to it, with more brass do-dads and a button with a mirror in the background.
There was a brass chain that hung from the belt that he had once used for tricks. And then there was a small leather bag, made with more of that luxurious BMW leather.
Hanging from the top of his black leather belt were two keys.....they were symbolic of the King's love for Harlan when he was given the 'keys to the kingdom'.
They were a treasured keepsake.
And he was even more amazed to find that he could keep his beloved knife, which was tucked down into the twine on his belt......but the irony of that was that he wouldn't be able to move his own body enough to grasp the knife. He wouldn't be able to harm others, or even himself.
And hanging from his collar was a half moon with a face on it. It was the 'mark of the wizard' that showed he was being punished.
From beneath the collar were two strands of antique wooden beads and more rusty jingle bells. And all along the front of his collar were little hand-sewn brass stars.
Then there was the hat. Harlan found himself wearing the infamous three-pronged hat that was quite common for Jester's of his day to wear. There was a brass filigree ornament in the center of the front of the hat.
The original pronged hats were once made of Jackass ears, but Harlan's generation of Jesters were much more refined and they had turned their sewing talents to cloth hats, instead of animal parts.
The hat was made of stained ribbed sock parts and Velour was used in the making of the three prongs.....the colors were Gray, Burgundy, and Tan. A single rusty jingle bell was sewn onto the end of each prong of the hat.
And finally, the added insult to the dignity of Harlan......he was holding a small Jester's stick in his left hand.
It was made from an old yard stick with a big wooden bead on the end. The head of the Jester's stick was made of stained cloth with a two-pronged hat, made in much the same way as his own hat. It had one green Velour prong and one Tan Velour prong.
It had two miss-matched button eyes, a sculpted nose, and a small piece of red potpourri flower as a mouth. It was adorned with neck ruffles of Burgundy Velour and stained white cotton fabric, and a small sun brass charm was sewn onto his collar. It also had the familiar strands of wooden beads that hung from under the neck ruffles. And even the Jester stick's hair was made of Jute, Jute ringlets, to be exact.
And that brings us to today...........down through the centuries, many Jesters have entertained many people with poor Harlan.
His curse was to not die...but to live the life of a silent fool with no prominent station in life.
But I have grown tired of having Harlan, he bores me. He is available for you to take home and use to entertain your own household. He still looks the exact same way as when the wizard froze him and turned him into a doll.
However, on some quiet nights, if you listen very carefully, you can hear the slight tinkle of a jingle bell as Harlan attempts to move. Has he learned his lesson?
I suppose that if you were to ask Harlan, he'd tell you, "Some folks just shouldn't wear purple!"
Copyright © September 14, 2002 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.. I out-grew a lot of things a long time ago.