At the words of the beggarman the whole party paused. Rowena blushed as
the eyes of all moved upon her. It was the Chanticleer who spoke first.
"Well well, oure Lady be indeed a star this sister of Rigo has verily come far. Yet what a humble—"
"Shut up!" grumbled Garrek. "Be this true, that yer name be D'Honaire?"
Konrad pulled his steed closer to the commotion while Fred pulled his between Rowena and the others. "Is it a crime to hail from Suffex?" he asked.
"Indeed it be not, goodly man-at-arms," answered Konrad. "Yet this revelation bespeaks of unsaid truths and in these dayes what nae be known can cause a premature death."
"It doesn't matter who she is," said Timon. "The sun flies and the next keep still be a day's ride off."
At that the beggar man interrupted, "If you'd let me—"
"Shut up, you," said Timon. "Talk when you're talked to."
"NO!" shouted the beggar. "Fear is a useless stone in a man's pocket! Why fear you this woman's name?"
"We nae fear it, stranger," said Garrek. "It be lies that make us wary."
Rowena blushed again, but this time at the condemnation thrown her way. The beggar, however, seemed less than moved and retorted: "Lies and unsaid truths like straws upon a sea's surface flow; he who wouldst search for pearls must dive below. You yourself carry many straws in your pack."
Then, without waiting for any reply from Garrek, he turned to Konrad saying: "A noiseless patient spider, I mark'd, stood on a little promontory isolated. It began in ernest to explore the vast vacant surrounding, launching forth filament aft filament, out of itself ever unreeling then in search for a mark of nature unknown."
"Madness!" sounded Mokad.
The Captain's man gazed at the beggar while the merchants fumed at the indignation of having a commoner lower than a serf speak so.
"Quit yer yapping beggar," said Garrek. "Talk when yer spoken to."
"Oh merchant, when every one is in the wrong, nae a one is in the right."
"What?!?" yelled Garrek. "How dare ye speak thus to me?!!?"
"I speak as was I bidden, and not a word less." Turning to Rowena he said, "The bee, m'Lady, be more honored than other animals nae for her labors, but because she labors for others."
"What do you mean by this?" asked Rowena, struck by the raw sincerity of the beggar.
"And who bid you say it?" asked Fred who wondered at the audacity of the wretch and the ring of each token word.
"He be mad and rude!" yelled Garrek. "String him up and flog him!"
"I am only a messenger and one more message do I carry."
"Shut him up!" grumbled Timon. "We've a long ride ahead and this fool be wasting the sun away."
"Let him speak," commanded Konrad.
"This be the last," said the beggar. "This also be the first; and they be words I still find curious. Even bees – the little alms-men of spring bowers – know there is richest juice in poison-flowers."
"He be mad I say," objected Garrek. "Bees and straw and spider's webs...Why waste oure tyme?"
"I ask again," interjected Fred. "Who bid you tell us this?"
"Why..." said the beggar. "No one less than Rham and Rhom."
At the names Rowena gasped and Fred held his breath.
"Bah!" jeered Timon. "Now I know ye be fooled. The gods speak to few enough men and nae turn their lips to beggars."
There followed then much grumbling and discourse and guffawing. For the next quarter of an hour it followed. The southerners were taken aback by the rudeness and the oddness of the stranger while the northerners were amazed at his claim. He claimed to have had a dream in which the Siblings -Rham and her brother Rhom- came to him and told him to leave Allaria for darker lands. He claimed that he was told by them that he would meet with a Lady in the midst of midclassmen and soldiers, and was to speak certain words to certain members of that party. He claimed that they promised him that he would not know when to speak until the proper time, and he said that upon seeing the Lady Rowena with the merchants his tongue was freed and he knew the moment had arrived.
"And so ye claim overly much," grumbled Garrek. "Words are easy to catch and proverbs to form; and minds are easy to trick. Whatever game yer playing nae shall it work on me."
"No game, merchant," said the beggar. "I am done, it is finished. I shall go on to Califie towns and seek a copper or two. A field becomes exhausted by constant tilling, so to new fields roam I."
So he left them there, on the Tumbar Road, in the late early morning. Each shifted their packs, each turned their horses towards the north. With few words and many an unsaid thought, they again began the trot towards the next fortress – hoping they'd get there by nightfall and wondering about bees, spiders, and straw strewn out.
4/26/2000 9:58:12 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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