Calixia loved to blend herself into the piles of goods bound for the ferry deck. From her hidden perch, she watched the ebb and flow of people, like sailors watch the ebb and flow of the tides.
Wealthy, women dressed in fine linen gowns and over-tunics, embroidered with exotic images of flowers and animals. Their hair held in place by fine mesh nets spun of gold or silver. Circlets with gems holding the netting in place. With their phalanx of women – the ladies in waiting fussing over their mistress’ gown hems and headdress trains. Sweet smell of lavender and rose water engulfed the surrounding air as if making it magic replacement for stone walls cloaked in fine tapestries. Ladies laughing and gossiping without their Lords to quiet them with a glare or a clipped word. Accompanied by flint-eyed guards, wrapped in the crests of their masters. Sun glinting off sword hilts, and helmets – soldiers of the guard hand-picked by stony captains.
Merchants, rotund from their wealth, talking of trade and commerce. Self-importance, arrogance waifed from them, as the smell of their quail and truffles lunches. Merging with the fawning sweat of clerks and assistants, dressed in dreary garb with ink stains on their cuffs. Their hired workmen, in the garb of those who toil, cap in hand, restless muscles beneath long shirts and leggings. Waiting for their orders, as soldiers of the cloth and barrel.
Common folk, in dresses of homespun woolens, bright ribbons on caps of much-washed cotton splashes of colour in the browns and greys. Baskets on hips, full of goods for the Long Market – fresh eggs, muslin-wrapped cheeses and butter unearthed from spring houses and cheeseries, sweetmeats, and loaves of flour brushed bread, redolent with smells of yeast and ovens. Their men, leading sheep, goats, and hauling carts with wooden caged chickens. Children, cleaned up for the moment, hitching rides, or kicking up dust with their wooden clogged feet. Scolding mothers eyeing their flocks with equal vigilance.
Soon the ferry would come to dock, sails down, sailors weary and wary. Beaded and wild, clothes stained with salt and sea-tang. Thirsty for drink and women. Both awaiting in the dark ale houses and brothels leaning together as drunken men do to support each other.
Passengers with bundles and bags of mystery disembark; raven hair women with long plaits down their backs, compact men with blazing blue eyes, knives barely hidden in their waist wraps or in leather holders upon their thighs. Moving away from the Long Market, bound for the town or the roads leading beyond. Countrymen come to the docks looking for work lading the ferry low in the water. Last off the gentry, finery disarrayed by the wind and water motion. Some milk complexions tinged with green; stains soiling expensive dresses and surplices.
Horses and wagons waiting; drivers impatient of the half day wasted. Pages and emissaries for the occasional authority of church or state sent by King or Bishop to check on the locals. Almost blinding, resplendent in shades of purples and reds, a flash of gold and gems from chains hanging about their chests. A look of disgust or misgiving upon their rarified faces.
The reloading of personages, people and goods. Clashes of voices and classes; admixture for a moment in the chaos. As her perch lessened, before shoed away as a beggar or thief, she drifted into the shadows of the merchants’ sheds.
Crossings on such lively days were hours of entertainment for Calaxia. Some day, she would sneak upon the ferry to watch the dock world; the waterscape from the other side of the river. One turning of the tide, she too would go.
A piece of writing in the raw* for mlmm tale weaver: observations.
*writing in the raw is my way of circumventing my thinking about writing, creativity, polish, dazzling (?) finished products. It’s a phrase, a word, an image, a gut-response. Marginal manipulation, click publish with eyes closed. If I stop to think, to re-invent, revise, re-envision, overwhelmedness, anxiety and apprehension over ride my mouse and my mind. It’s a read at your own risk proposition. Expect nothing – maybe find something. Always raw, often crude, and sometimes rude.