Badar Basim

"It's like that name...the name with two D's or two B's. When you forget a name like that you don't really forget it, because when you hear it again you know it instantly." - Shahrazad
 (as portrayed in Shadow Spinner, by Susan Fletcher)

Some stories are like that too.

The Iron Peacock, by Mary Stetson Clarke, is one of them.

I first read it years ago when I lived in this tiny little town that quite literally had more cows than people. A little town with lots of cows, friendly down-to-earth farming folks, and a quaint old library. And in this library was this book. I read it. I loved it. And then I forgot about it.

For years, I never thought of it, not even in passing when talking about favorite books. At some point, and I don't remember what prompted it, my sister and I both remembered this great book we had read when we lived in Lisbon. About a girl...and a guy...and an iron thing for a fireplace. That's all we could remember - not the title, not the author, not the characters' names. Nothing.

It was the tiniest smidgen of a memory, the kind that normally fade from mind as quickly as they arrive, but it stayed with me. It kept popping up every time I was looking at my Wish-To-Read and Wish-To-Buy list. What was that story? I don't know how but I finally recalled the title one day. I immediately typed it into Amazon, really hoping that I had remembered rightly, and there it was. There were only two left in stock. I bought both. They arrived, I ripped open the box, picked one up, and just held it thinking, Oh, no.

I didn't recognize the cover. I didn't recognize the blurb on the back. Absolutely nothing about it seemed familiar. So I start leafing through it thinking, Please, please be the right story. There was one scene I remembered vaguely - it involved dancing and a red petticoat. I couldn't find it. I started skimming over the dialogue, trying to find the main male character somewhere so I could find his name. It wasn't working. So I flipped to the last page (even though I never do that), hoping for something, anything familiar. And that's where I found these lines:

"'Tis the way I first saw ye, as pretty as a peacock in your velvet cloak, with your head held high. I thought then ye were as proud as one, but I've learned different since. 'Tis not pride, but courage ye have, lass. Ye've the strength of iron."

Oh, yes. Yes, this is it. Ross, that was his name! The moment I knew I had the right story, I flipped back to page one and started reading. And with every page turn, I remembered more and more - what happened next, the supporting characters, the way it all worked out. I was so happy. This was the story, the characters, I had loved and forgotten. 

Re-reading it, and seeing it now on my bookshelf, it's like having a childhood friend back. A friend you liked so well that you can't imagine how you ever managed to forget them. A friend who you know instantly when you see them again. 
Because, sometimes, it's like the name with two D's or two B's. You never really forget it. It just gets covered with the dust of days gone by.


  1. I love re-reading books I love as a child. At the moment I have a pang to reread A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I love that book.

    Just curious though, why did you buy two copies?

  2. I went through a similar type of search several years ago about a picture book my mom used to read to me about a bunch of kids who run away and build a little village of treehouses, each that were unique to the child who owned them. I googled and searched and couldn't find it. I don't know why I didn't think to ask my mom about it. When I finally did, she pulled it out from her library and said if it meant that much to me, then I could have it. I've LOVED reading "Andrew Henry's Meadow" to my daughter. I hope someday she'll love it as much as I did.

    BTW, now I'm intrigued and will be putting The Iron Peacock on my to-read list.

  3. Christine - A Little Princess is a wonderful book. You just made me want to read it again :) I bought two copies because my sister (who read it first and had been trying to remember it as well) could have a copy too when she comes back from Kuwait.

    Jeana - I've never heard of Andrew Henry's Meadow, but I'm going to see if our library has it. I love treehouses so a picture book of a treehouse village sounds delightful :) I'm glad you're intrigued - it's one of my favorite books. It probably has a lot to do with Ross being Scottish and have his accent come through in the dialogue (I have a thing for accents).


Do share your thoughts - I enjoy reading them :)