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Of Muses and Men

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Simon Harley-Dickinson was, by all accounts, a perfectly nice young man. He was also -- as one Miss Penelope Lumley, governess to the three rather remarkable Incorrigible children of Ashton Place, would describe -- "tall, but too not tall, with finely shaped features, gentle waves of brown hair, and a gleam of genius in his eyes." Now, most perfectly nice young men with such good fortune would be quite content with their lot in life, but Simon Harley-Dickinson, well, he strove for so much more.

As Agatha Swanburne would say, "No one knows what you can offer the world but you."

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Simon had, as was common in his family, a veritable knack for navigation. Armed with the sky, a map, and a few instruments, he could inevitably find his way (or, at the very least, right it). And so it was through this very innate sense of direction that he came to live in a modest but eccentric neighborhood in the corner of London -- with musicians and actors and clairvoyants and all -- in search of a muse.

But Simon, try as he might, found that inspiration simply did not strike. (In this instance, we mean that the bard had difficulty writing compelling tales, and not that a person bearing the name of "Inspiration" decided against giving this perfectly nice young man a resounding -- but undeserved -- wallop.) On such nights, with the lights burning dim and the floor covered with crumbled sheets (and here we could use a metaphor to compare those many, many drafts to his crushed hopes and dreams, but let us not be so cruel), Simon Harley-Dickinson felt as though he was bobbing aimlessly afloat in an ever widening ocean, no North Star in sight.

It was a rather frustrating and disheartening time indeed.

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If Simon were a lesser man, he would have ignored the sudden commotion and sound of howling dogs below his window, would have let the ruffians do what they pleased in the pursuit of greed.

But Simon was not a lesser man, and so he flew down the steps, two at a time, with nothing but courage and character and some pencils and paper at his side. Simon was not a Poor Bright Female, and thus could never have been a Swanburne girl, but the academy's founder would have remarked that being stalwart was already quite enough.

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Simon Harley-Dickinson left Miss Lumley and her three charges at the foreboding gates of Number Twelve Muffinshire Lane with a spring in his step, buying the reddest apples he could find and whistling his favorite sea chantey all the way home. He dreamed that night, of forests and pirates and moons, and wrote and wrote upon waking.

But there was one story that he committed only to his heart. The principals? A mysterious princess and the three true heirs, faces all framed with rich auburn locks, of course. And the fifth, a mere secondary rising from the shadows of the chorus to join them in the Second Act, was a regular pauper turned prince. You could say that this dashing character was all in all, a perfectly nice young man. And you would be right.