COBBLESTONE'S Tell It Like Twain Contest
Congratulation to our winner, Anne Lester from Cibolo, Texas, who will receive a book of Mark Twain's short stories.
Here's Anne's winning story!
Artemis and the Gift
by Anne Lester
"Mmmroooowwwrrr," the little kitten whined, pawing its master's bare legs.
"Hush, Apollonia! I am getting your food!" Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and the frisky kitten's master, gently hit the kitten's ruffled collar. Artemis quickly snatched Apollonia's dishes, a blue jay she had caught just that morning, and a small blue glass bottle, which held water. The kitten watched her master run about, her bare feet gently hitting the floor and her long, blonde hair flying behind her. She filled the water dish from the blue bottle and set it on the floor. As the kitten lapped greedily, Artemis reached for her sharpened conch shell, which she used to skin and cut the bird. Then, after cooking it, she placed the blue jay on her pet's feeding dish and set that on the floor, too.
She looked down at the kitten with her silvery eyes. "Happy now?" she asked, her hands on her hips. Apollonia purred in reply and devoured her meal with complete satisfaction. Artemis chuckled, grabbed a golden vase, and made her way to the parlor. After filling the vase with flowers, she strode to the hearth and gazed at the items above it. One was a bronze plaque of a man not yet born, the other was a small harp. Both were gifts. The plaque had been from Momus, the god of writing, and he had told Artemis the man was to be born in the years to come (1835, to be exact) and would be a legend among writers. The man's name was Mark Twain. The harp was from Euterpe, the muse of music.
Artemis chuckled once more. "The muse of music," she said. She was thinking of the muses and of all her fellow gods and goddess when Ares, the god of war, came into the parlor.
"Artemis! Just the goddess I was looking for! And how are you today, goddess of the hunt?" her half-brother said as he smiled at her.
"I am fine, as I hope you are. But what brings you here?" Artemis asked, a bit suspicious of her war-loving visitor's cheerful mood.
"A gift," Ares smiled and pulled a painting out from behind his back. He handed it to Artemis, and she saw that it was a painting of a warrior.
"Oh, thank you, Ares!" exclaimed Artemis as she hugged the large man. "It will go right here," she said, setting the painting on the left side of Euterpe's gift. Soon after, Ares left and Artemis was alone with only the company of Apollonia. Artemis stroked the kitten and thought of her brother, Apollo. Artemis and Apollo were twins, and Apollo had given Artemis the kitten as a joke, for as a goddess of the hunt, Artemis most treasured hunting with dogs. As payback, Artemis named the kitten "Apollonia," which was the female version of Apollo's name. It had been a great joke at first, but now Apollonia was a great companion to Artemis.
At dinnertime, Apollo came. "Hello, sister!" he called before even entering the house. It seemed to Artemis that he simply wished to make himself known. When he came in, she addressed him.
"Apollo, how are you? It would seem I have not seen you in centuries!" she said slyly.
"Sister, I dine with you every eve! Do you really miss me so when I leave?" Her twin was just a, though occasionally less, cunning as herself.
"Oh, no," she laughed. "But the noise you make is enough to last for centuries, so why not the peace and quiet you leave?"
"Artemis, now what would Father say if he heard you?" Apollo gasped, referring to Zeus, their father and king of all the gods.
"Nothing. He would simply laugh and you know it! Artemis retorted. Apollo hung his head in playful defeat. Then, the sibling went to eat.
They ate off golden platters and drank from silver goblets. After dinner, the twins went into the parlor, where they talked about their lives and the lives of the mortals they observed. Apollo played with Apollonia for a bit, then left. After he had gone, Artemis filled yet another vase with flowers, for she loved wildflowers. Flowers complemented the parlor and made it smell wonderfully sweet! For whatever reason, though, today the flowers did not smell at all. Of course, Artemis, being as clever as she was, had a backup plan. She shuffled to the hearth and looked around for her incense pot, quickly finding it next to the fire pit. She took the lid off and the smell of pine and magnolia (samples she had collected from outside) filled the room. She walked around the room to make sure the scent was everywhere. While walking, she tripped over a rectangular object covered by a cloth. Uncovering the object, she saw a note. It was in Apollo's natural handwriting, so she translated it:
While dining with you yester eve, I noticed the plaque of Mark Twain (yes, Momus gave me one, too.) I asked Clio about him, and she said this painting will one day be his. Until then, I want you to keep and protect it. It is called "Emmeline."
Artemis marveled at the painting of the beautiful young mortal. She then chuckled at the lengths that Apollo had gone to to get her such a gift, even visiting Clio, the muse of history! Artemis placed the portrait next to the one Ares had given her. Apollonia sat by Artemis's feet and observed the painting. Artemis looked down at her.
"Do you like its position?" she asked the kitten.
"Puuurrrr," Apollonia rubbed against her master's leg in approval. Artemis picked her up and held her like a babe.
"Good," she replied. "Because it is going to stay there for a while."