It was hard to tell how old the beggar might be, since most of his face
by his unkempt greying beard and hair.
He was dressed in filthy rags, and had a tattered bag slung over his
presumably carried whatever meagre possessions he might have. He favoured
one leg over
the other, which had probably suffered a break at some time in the past,
explaining his shambling
gait. His eyes were bright and shrewd, though. This man did not appear to
be the halfwit that
many beggars were.
"Hello, my good fellow," called Konrad, who as the only soldier in the party viewed himself as its escort and spokesman. "I didn't expect to see a beggar out here in the middle of nowhere. I would have thought you would get far more alms in any town than on the Tumbar Road." "Times are hard for a beggar in Allaria, and in the Dukedom of Suffex they are hardest of all, so I thought I would try my luck in the southlands."
At that, Fred and Rowena exchanged anxious glances. Might this beggar recognise them? Even if he had never set eyes on them, if he was told Rowena's name he might guess that she was the daughter of the Duke D'Honaire, for Rowena was not a common name amongst the nobility. Fred himself was now so famous a figure that they had thought it wise that he should adopt an alias, but it had not occurred to them to do the same for Rowena, for Suffex was still far away and the Duke's daughter was not well-known outside the duchy itself. If her true identity should be revealed, it did not necessarily follow that anyone would realise that Fred was other than the trusted servant that he was posing as, but if their luck was out then someone might start to speculate about this uncommonly well-spoken man-at-arms.
"You saw nothing to alarm you on the road?" asked Konrad of the beggar. "For though I don't set too much store by the rumours, folk say that there are evil things abroad." "No, I saw nothing amiss, though I too have heard the tales. I didn't let them put me off, for it seems to me that there are always such stories flying around." "You seem like a stout fellow," said Konrad. "Here," and he tossed the man a coin. The precedent having been set, all the others felt constrained to be equally generous as their horse or wagon passed the beggar - even Garrek, though he did so with an ill grace.
4/14/2000 12:02:26 PM
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