Monday, November 21, 2011

588 - Mind the Trug

The traditional Arkan carry chair… one carried by bearers on foot as opposed to this wildly modern idea of an express chair… was trotted up and set down carefully in front of the Itrean house.  

The Itreans had not moved from the familial home, though the miniature and the plinth before the house had been replaced by a sculpture of a winged horse poised with only one hind foot upon the ground.

A servant set a small carpet for the passenger to alight from under the sunshade but instead was handed a traditional, calling kerchief.  The servant disappeared into the house and shortly returned to re-dust the landing carpet and hold the ceremonial umbrella that was a miniature of the grand sun-shades of the Marble Palace.  Miniature and very old fashioned now.  A number of copper chains were carefully placed in the chair’s payment box so delicate female gloves need never come near the bare hands of the bearers, while the Sera in question waited.

“The Mother of the Mother of the Regent Imperator invites the honourable Grandmother of the Betrothed to the Regent Sun…”

“Excuse me, young man.”  The elderly woman gently interrupted.  “Thank you for being so polite.  But might my honourable friend be in the back garden?”

“Why… yes… the Sera asked this one to escort…”

The elderly woman stepped out.  “I’m too old to stand on ceremony, young man.  I’ve been close friends with Damiana Itrean for more than thirty years.  You’ve done your best.  I know my way.”  Askala Si Rusa brushed her gloves over her good Temple dress and stepped smartly up the front steps, her closed lace parasol acting as her cane.

The grandly named back garden was still the kitchen garden, though an elegant little table and chairs had been set under the old pergola under the feather lindens.  “Dami… this ‘un should speak up now –“

“—oh hush ‘Skala-mi.  There’s no one but us here to be offended.”  Damiana had changed her gloves and managed to mostly tuck her dirty gardening things in the trug thrust under the steps.

“I brought my gardening gloves in case you had another case of blond mint taking over again.”

“After we have kaf.  Ska… let’s sit… my new servant that my boy hired gets so upset if I don’t let her do everything for me.  I’ve been sending her out to buy me certain hard to find things.  It gives her a sense of pride when she finds the thing I’ve asked for, and gives me some time to do for myself without giving her conniption fits.”

“Good of you, Dami.  The whole Marble Palace staff is going be trying to take this wedding over, hmmm?”

“Nice of the young people to do the heavy work.”  Damiana poured kaf for them both and expertly added her friend’s sugar and spicing before offering it to her.  “Can you just imagine, Ska?  We would never have thought that we’d become related so late, hmmm?”

“Well, we’ll just have to let the youngsters know what’s what.”

“Your son will huff quite a bit Dami.”

“Yes.  But he’s always been like that… even when he was in his toilet clout.  Once he calmed down he’s always a good boy.”

“I never ever thought… not even when I lost my first husband… remember?  You told me to cry and then get on with it.”

“I was less strong, and more foolish in those days, Ska.”

“Well, you were the one who smuggled me out to the woods when my father was too heavy handed with his stick.”

“Ah, well.  Long time ago.”

“So, Dami… is it harder than you thought, getting the aitzas back?”

The elegant little kaf cup was set down a trifle too firmly.  “The honour, never.  The nonsense, all the time.”

Ska sighed.  “My Laisa is going to be so happy in that wild wilderness with all those wool-haired folk.  At least she’ll have your Kallijas to lean on.”

“Lai has a sensible head on her shoulders.”

“As does Kall.  Dami, shall we go do some weeding before your girl comes back and fusses about us getting our gloves dirty?”

“Let’s.  I have a dozen cuttings to bring around to you tomorrow if you like.”

“Oh, yes.  I’ll get the house welcomist to start making up our lists for the wedding.”

“Dimae and Selinae bless, my bones hurt.”

“That’s what younger knees are for… to run up and down all these stairs.  Mind the trug.”

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