Laetitia and her group visited Old Davidson State Park. Settled in 1815 while Arkansas was still a territory, it was the home of the Arkansas Territory’s first post office, land office, and courthouse. After it was bypassed by the Southwest Trail, an overland route from St. Louis to the border with Mexico, the town withered. In addition to viewing the site of the old town, the group hiked several of the trails in the park along the Black River and around Trappers’ Lake. Late that afternoon, they headed for their destination for the evening. Hoxie is a town of about 3,000 in northwest Arkansas. It was a leader in integrating its schools in the 1950s.
At happy hour, Laetitia sipped her drink at the bar, listening to snippets of gossip from several women at a nearby table. The gist of the gossip was this: Clarissa was a local fifty-something housewife whose husband was an over-the-road-trucker and usually gone. She found evenings lonely and boring. She had exhausted all of the romance novels in the local library and found her life dreary, indeed, until she took some adult education courses and learned how to set up a blog on the Internet. She made up an imaginative new persona for herself, and with the aid of some twenty-five-year-old pictures of her face, some downloaded pictures of a model whose body she wished she had, and PhotoShop, created a new image.
Response to her website was slow initially, until she assumed the name of “The Lady of Shallot” and implied that she was a wealthy heiress. Soon she had relationships with men from all over the world, many of them intimate, though only in the verbal sense. She viewed it as something like courtly love, where young knights, who were often landless and, thus, not marriageable, engaged in impassioned idolizing courtships of older noble women who were already married. Though many a chivalrous admirer no doubt committed adultery with his lady “in his heart,” such relationships were allegedly rarely consummated, with the notable exception of Lancelot and Guinevere.
Clarissa’s newfound hobby came to a crashing halt when several local teenagers who delighted in surfing forbidden websites were giggling over the florid prose on her blog and were caught by one of their mothers. The mother was old enough to recognize Clarissa’s twenty-five-25 year-old pictures and couldn’t wait to “spill the beans” at bridge club. Laetitia finished her drink and wrote the limerick of the day.
A canny web mistress from Hoxie
Was viewed by the town as a doxy
With johns from all over
From Melbourne to Dover
Though she only slept with them by proxy.