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Aggie-Daggie/Ack-o-Lumpy

Popular with: Akathians, Tarsikkans
Unpopular with: NA
Less known by: Anyone else
Archtypes, if any: None
Variations, if any: See below

This tale is based on a Tarsikkan/Akathian nursery rhyme about a (often egg-shaped) homunculus who sits on a wall over the tomb of his master. The homunculus is called Ack-o-Lumpy in Tarsikka, and Aggie-Daggie in Akathia.

The Tarsikkan rhyme is as follows:

Ack-o-Lumpy sat on the wall,
Ack-o-Lumpy had a great fall,
All of the Wizards and all of the Knights,
Could not set Ack-o-Lumpy to rights.

(Some Tarsikkan folklorists have speculated that this rhyme is actually about the Kingship in Tarsikka, but the rhyme seems to pre-date the rise of the Council of Silver)

The Akathian version is like this:

Aggie-Daggie sat on the wall,
Aggie-Daggie had a great fall,
All the three princes and all of their tribes,
Could not bring Aggie-Daggie to life.

This is a fragment from a longer story about Aggie/Ack-o-Lumpy:

HOWEVER, the shape only got larger and larger, and more and more human: when she had come within a few yards of it, she saw that it had eyes and a nose and mouth; and, when she had come close to it, she saw clearly that it was Aggie-Daggie himself. 'It can't be anybody else!' she said to herself. 'I'm as certain of it, as if his name were written all over his face!'

It might have been written a hundred times, easily, on that enormous, stitched face. Aggie-Daggie was sitting, with his legs crossed like a Dervish, on the top of a high wall — such a narrow one that Alsya quite wondered how he could keep his balance — and, as his eyes were steadily fixed in the opposite direction, and he didn't take the least notice of her, she thought he must be a stuffed figure, after all.

'And how exactly like an egg he is!' she said aloud, standing with her hands ready to catch him, for she was every moment expecting him to fall.

'It's very provoking,' Aggie-Daggie said after a long silence, looking away from Alsya as he spoke, 'to be called an egg — very!'

'I said you looked like an egg, Sir,' Alsya gently explained. 'And some eggs are very pretty, you know,' she added, hoping to turn her remark into a sort of compliment.

'Some people,' said Aggie-Daggie, looking away from her as usual, 'have no more sense than a baby!'

Alsya didn't know what to say to this: it wasn't at all like conversation, she thought, as he never said anything to her; in fact, his last remark was evidently addressed to a tree — so she stood and softly repeated to herself:

Aggie-Daggie sat on the wall,
Aggie-Daggie had a great fall,
All the three princes and all of their tribes,
Could not bring Aggie-Daggie to life.

'That last line is much too long for the poetry,' she added, almost out loud, forgetting that Aggie-Daggie would hear her.

'Don't stand chattering to yourself like that,' Aggie-Daggie said, looking at her for the first time, 'but tell me your name and your business.'

'My name is Alsya, but —'

'It's a stupid name enough!' Aggie-Daggie interrupted impatiently. 'What does it mean?' 'Must a name mean something?' Alsya asked doubtfully.

'Of course it must,' Aggie-Daggie said with a short laugh: 'my name means the shape I am — and a good handsome shape it is, too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.'

'Why do you sit out here all alone?' said Alsya, not wishing to begin an argument.

'Why, because there's nobody with me!' cried Aggie-Daggie. 'Did you think I didn't know the answer to that? Ask another.'

'Don't you think you'd be safer down on the ground?' Alsya went on, not with any idea of making another riddle, but simply in her good-natured anxiety for the queer creature.

'That wall is so very narrow!'

'What tremendously easy riddles you ask!' Aggie-Daggie growled out. 'Of course I don't think so! Why, if ever I did fall off — which there's no chance of — but if I did —'

Here he pursed up his lips, and looked so solemn and grand that Alsya could hardly help laughing. 'If I did fall,' he went on, 'the Caliph, the Emir, and the Sultan have promised me — ah, you may turn pale, if you like! You didn't think I was going to say that, did you? The Princes of Akathia have promised me — each with his very own mouth — to — to —'

'To send all of their tribesfolk!' Alsya interrupted, rather unwisely.

'Now I declare that's too bad!' Aggie-Daggie cried, breaking into a sudden passion.'You've been listening at doors — and behind trees — and down chimneys — or you couldn't have known it!'

'I haven't indeed!' Alsya said very gently. 'It's in a book.'

'Ah, well! They may write such things in a book,' Aggie-Daggie said in a calmer tone. 'That's what you call a History of Akathia, that is. Now, take a good look at me! I'm one that has spoken to an Emir, a Caliph, and a Sultan, I am: mayhap you'll never see such another: and, to show you I'm not proud, you may shake hands with me!' And he grinned almost from ear to ear, as he leant forwards (and as nearly as possible fell off the wall in doing so) and offered Alsya his hand. She watched him a little anxiously as she took it. 'If he smiled much more the ends of his mouth might meet behind,' she thought: 'And then I don't know what would happen to his head! I'm afraid it would come off!'

'Yes, all of the people of all of the tribes,' Aggie-Daggie went on. 'They'd pick me up again in a minute, they would! However, this conversation is going on a little too fast: let's go back to the last remark but one.'

'I'm afraid I can't quite remember it,' Alsya said, very politely.

'In that case we start afresh,' said Aggie-Daggie, 'and it's my turn to choose a subject —' ('He talks about it just as if it was a game!' thought Alsya.) 'So here's a question for you... How old did you say you were?'

Alsya made a short calculation, and said 'Seven years and six months.'

'Wrong!' Aggie-Daggie exclaimed triumphantly. 'You never said a word like it!'

'I thought you meant "How old are you?"' Alsya explained.

'If I'd meant that, I'd have said it,' said Aggie-Daggie.

Alsya didn't want to begin another argument, so she said nothing.

'Seven years and six months!' Aggie-Daggie repeated thoughtfully. 'An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you'd asked my advice, I'd have said "Leave off at seven" — but it's too late now.'

'I never ask advice about growing,' Alsya said indignantly.

'Too proud?' the other enquired.

Alsya felt even more indignant at this suggestion. 'I mean,' she said, 'that one can't help growing older.'

'One can't, perhaps,' said Aggie-Daggie; 'but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.'

'Well, how old are you?' Alsya asked, thinking that he must be terribly, terribly old indeed, considering that her mother and grandmother and father and grandfather all would have known immediately who Aggie-Daggie was upon spying him.

Immediately, Aggie-Daggie drew himself up and recited,

"Older than white walls, but certainly not green,
Older than kings, but not their tombs,
Older than my stitches, but younger than my spleen,
Younger than ravens, but not sitting rooms."

And then he crossed his arms, looking very clever and pleased with himself. Alsya wondered it was a riddle she was supposed to answer, but could not figure out any numbers from it so to do the proper sum.

'What a clever wizard your master must have been!' Alsya suddenly remarked. (They had had quite enough of the subject of age, she thought: and, if they really were to take turns in choosing subjects, it was her turn now.) Aggie-Daggie looked thoroughly offended, and she began to wish she hadn't chosen that subject.

Evidently Aggie-Daggie was very angry, though he said nothing for a minute or two. When he did speak again, it was in a deep growl.

'It is a — most — provoking — thing,' he said at last, 'when a person doesn't know their proper history!'

'I know it's very ignorant of me,' Alsya said, in so humble a tone that Aggie-Daggie relented.

'He was the most clever of all wizards, child, and a beautiful one. And wise and terrible. There now!'

'Was he really?' said Alsya, quite pleased to find that she had chosen a good subject after all, "what ever happened to him? Is he here at home?"

'Oh no. He's dead now.' Aggie-Daggie continued thoughtfully as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, as though he were lost in memories both awful and sweet.

'Oh.' Alsya said, and wondered if she had stumbled yet again.

'I'm not offended,' said Aggie-Daggie.

'Oh thank goodness,' said Alsya.

'It all comes, when young children are not brought up to know their history and poetry, you know. There's glory for you!'

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alsya said.

Aggie-Daggie smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alsya objected.

'When I use a word,' Aggie-Daggie said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alsya, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Aggie-Daggie, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

There was a long pause.

'Is that all?' Alsya timidly asked.

'That's all,' said Aggie-Daggie. 'Good-bye.'

This was rather sudden, Alsya thought: but, after such a very strong hint that she ought to be going, she felt that it would hardly be civil to stay. So she got up, and held out her hand. 'Good-bye, till we meet again!' she said as cheerfully as she could.

'I shouldn't know you again if we did meet,' Aggie-Daggie replied in a discontented tone, giving her one of his fingers to shake: 'you're so exactly like other people.'

'The face is what one goes by, generally,' Alsya remarked in a thoughtful tone.

'That's just what I complain of,' said Aggie-Daggie. 'Your face is the same as everybody has — the two eyes, so —' (marking their places in the air with his thumb) 'nose in the middle, mouth under. It's always the same. Now if you had the two eyes on the same side of the nose, for instance — or the mouth at the top — that would be some help.'

'It wouldn't look nice,' Alsya objected. But Aggie-Daggie only shut his eyes, and said 'Wait till you've tried.'

Alsya waited a minute to see if he would speak again, but, as he never opened his eyes or took any further notice of her, she said 'Good-bye!' once more, and, getting no answer to this, she quietly walked away: but she couldn't help saying to herself, as she went, 'of all the unsatisfactory —' (she repeated this aloud, as it was a great comfort to have such a long word to say) 'of all the unsatisfactory people I ever met —' She never finished the sentence, for at this moment a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end.

When she looked back, the white wall gleamed, vacant, and Aggie-Daggie was nowhere to be seen. Not wanting to discover any stray pieces, Alsya hurried onward.