Author Topic: Into the Wild  (Read 26594 times)

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Offline Bobbi

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #90 on: November 25, 2014, 08:31:44 PM »
I'm still reading, too. Look forward to each new installment.

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #91 on: November 26, 2014, 10:31:23 AM »
Will try to keep it on at least a PG13 level.  I am not into sordid details, however much prurient interest may be shown.  Stay tuned, later today.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #92 on: November 26, 2014, 11:56:12 AM »
Right after the harvest, I became a grandfather. Sean and Myrtle presented me with Susan, a grand daughter. Very beautiful, at least to my eyes.

On the last trading stop, John took his son, Liam, aboard as cabin boy. It was agreed that Susanna would stay ashore for now with Leon and Marilyn, learning piloting from Marilyn. It would be good training for Marilyn who was working with Julia running the school.

Winnifred (Winnie) handfasted James a few weeks ago. Eligible young men don't last long around here. Winnie is working in the cantina being generally helpful but mostly waiting tables. Morrie and Eliza tied the knot a week later in clebration of Morrie's achieving his journeyman status.

At the journeyman promotion ceremony, everyone noticed that Mabel was making moon-eyes at Fred when he received his certificate. Fred has started building a stone house, so it won't be long now.

Guy, Pru's son, has been working around the stables with Sean, and spending some serious time with James, learning as much as he can about horses. This lad could be our home-grown horse-whisperer. He has turned out some very nice tack for the horses, and is learning leather tooling. Wonder who he will give that new saddle to. Anyway, the council decided to make the relationship formal and awarded an apprenticeship to Guy that was signed by both James and Sean. Sean has been grandfathered as a journeyman ostler.

The council decided that we have enough horses for the time being. The stallions were kept from the mares causing some excitment when the mares went into heat, but all is well in the stable for now.

I have to leave off this writing. A messenger just came in and they want me at the pier. Seems Dawn Tripper is in sight, and I did leave a message that I wanted to see Dave.

I sent a message to Rudi to bring up his trading herd then headed down to the docks.

By the time I got to the pier, Dawn Tripper was tied up and the gang plank rigged. "Ahoy, Dawn Tripper", I called.

"Ahoy, Indio", came from David who walked down the plank grinning widely. "It is good to see you after a smooth trip upriver."

After suitable greeting, I said, "I hope you have lots of cargo space this year.

"Yes, I got your message. We have an empty hold."

Just then Rudi arrived driving a flock of sheep with Shep in attendance.

"Here is your new cargo, then", I said. "I hope you will be able to handle livestock".

"Oh, yes. But you'll have to put enough fodder aboard for them."

Rudi said, "It will all be along in a cart before you can get them all loaded."

Anastasia come up to Rudi and give him a peck. "Glad to see you in town. Trudi is with the school-marms but I'd like you to see her before you go. You hardly every get into town anymore."

Rudi said, "We are building a station in the pasure area,and I want both of you to come and stay there."

"Well, if it is better than that shack, we'll see, but I want my children raised less rough than you've been living."

Rudi turned to Dave. "Did you bring it?"

"Yes." said David, "I'll just go get it."

"Rudi, what are you up to now?" said Stasia"

"Wait", said Rudi.

Dave came down the gangplank with a basket in hand. "Here you are, Rudi"

"Happy anniversary, Stasia", said Rudi, handing over the basket

Opening the basket, Anastasia took out a fluffy little puppy that looked to be about 10 weeks old. "My goodness, how cute this little chap is."

"He is my housewarming present to you, the place is ready and I want you and Trudi to come home with me. He is a herding dog, and will make a great companion for Shep as well. You get to name him."

"I am overwhelmed. He is such an imperious looking little chap, how about King?"

"Funny name for a shepherd, but I'm sure it fits", said Rudi amid general agreement and laughter.

I said, "Get along, you two, we have trading to do."

Putting the new-crowned King back into his basket, Anastasia and Rudolf strolled off towards the schoolhouse.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #93 on: November 29, 2014, 11:50:50 AM »
After picking up Trudi at the school, the family headed out of town towards the sheep meadows. Rudi had asked the masons, Maurice and Fred, to keep an eye on the flock. The men were putting the finishing touches on the new sheep station and were finding some leisure time while various mortars dried to their satisfaction.

As they came to the clearing Rudi said, "There's the new house. I hope you like it."

"Oh, Rudi, it is lovely. How ever did we manage to afford it?"

"You know I've been sending sheep out with the traders. We've built up a lot of credit in the town and I used it to trade for the services of Maurie and Fred to help build the new place. This is probably the first solid stone house in the area."

"Wonderful. Let's go inside and you can show me what you've done."

They walked up onto the porch and through to front door. Anastasia said, "How nice. You can see all the way to the back. The place is completely open, but clearly divided into areas."

"It is a new idea that occurred to Dash. He calls it 'open area living'. You see here is a closet for outer wear and mud boots, then we are free to go anywhere in the main section. The stairs on that wall lead to the second floor where the private areas and bedrooms are. There is enough room down here to host a large group."

"Where is the jakes? I think Trudi needs a change."

"Go back to that door just before you come to the kitchen and you will find what you need. The men have put a water pump in there and there is a disposal system that leads outside."

'Stasia put down her basket, picked up Trudi and went. When she came back she said, "That is very convenient."

"I hope you are prepared for a few guests. I told Indio to bring the council for a meeting on the weekend so they can see a progressive house."

"I guess we had better get busy making ready for them, then."

"Yes, but first come upstairs. I want you to feel at home, and you need to know what lies in wait in the upper floors."

"Upper floors?"

"We have two. The second floor is the main family space, but there is also an attic that is finished as an office for each of us."

Rudi picked up Trudi and they ascended to the second floor. There was a small vestibule with doors leading off in several directions. A pair of doors faced them as they came up.

"This is our master suite", said Rudi. "It has a private jakes, and lots of closet space. I hope you won't object to this large bed, as I suborned Geoff and his crew of furniture crafters to make it for us."

"I've never slept in a canopied bed before." 'Stasia said. "Looks comfy."

"We'll find out later. I know you want more kids, and this looks like a good platform to start them."

Leaving the bedroom, they crossed to another room that contained a rather nice armoire and a single bed. It was decorated for a little girl.

"Trudi, this is your room. You're grown up enough to have your own room, so you will sleep here now.", said Rudi.

"You mean I don't have to sleep in that little crib anymore? Whee," said Trudi jumping on the bed. "Ooh! It is nice and soft and cozy. Thank you Daddy."

"Trudi, why don't you go down stairs and take King out in the yard. He's been stuck in that basket far too long and probably needs to do his business and then play".

Exit Trudi, shrieking with delight.

"Now the best feature of this floor, besides the extra jakes that is." said Rudi.

Taking Anastasia by the hand, Rudi led her into another room where there was a crib, a changing table and all the paraphenelia for a baby.

"Wow!" said 'Stasia. "I guess you've declared your intentions."

"You'll find out tonight", said a leering Rudi. "Come down stairs and I'll help you get dinner going,"
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Offline irrelevant

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #94 on: November 29, 2014, 01:18:58 PM »
A man after my own heart, that Rudi  ;D

Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #95 on: November 29, 2014, 01:50:44 PM »
Well, he's a shepherd.  They are supposed to be quite randy.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #96 on: November 29, 2014, 02:45:09 PM »
---

Meanwhile, back at the pier, Dave and Leon spent some time haggling over the trade, including the latest shipment of sheep from Rudi. One of the things that Dave raised was the scrip notes we have been issuing for use among ourselves. He said he had never seen a paper currency before and wondered about whether it could be used elsewhere. I said, "Fat chance that anyone else would honour it. It depends solely on man-hours with a service multiplier depending on the type and quality of the work produced. It is convenient for us to have some sort of equivalent to level the playing field trading among ourselves."

Dave said, "But can't you establish some sort of specie value for your piaster?"

"We've never tried. If you want to take some of your payment in them, we will honour them when presented in person by anyone holding them, but how we could equivalence them to any local currency or specie, I've no idea. You are welcome to set up an account with us, and operate it. Just have a chat with Marta."

"If I was going to settle here after I come ashore, I might well do that, but for now I think I'll stick to trade goods value for value."

"Just as well. I don't think that strangers would take such a thing under any circumstances. We are not an established government, and we have no specie reserve to back this stuff."

Leon and Dave concluded an equitable trade, and we all retired to the cantina for a meal.

At the cantina we found that rack of lamb was the feature for the day, and we all ordered a serving. The meal came with the chard that had been cultivated by Carmencita and wild rice from the nearby lake. A fine sauce was served with the meat. On the way in, I had caught Calvin and asked for a carafe of his new white vintage. It appeared on the table with the main course.

"You do yourselves very well, here", said Dave after the meal.

"Maybe you'd like to try our new sheep's milk cheese for dessert", I put in.

"I might find a crack to put something else in", said the grinning Dave. "I traded for some of that but only had a quick sample. It would be good to have some in such company."

I caught Winnie's eye and when she came over, I ordered the dessert with the new dessert wine that Cal had been making since the early freeze up caught his vines not all harvested last year.

"What is this stuff in the small cups?", Dave asked.

"Dessert wine. We had an accident with the vines last year, and froze some of them. They produced much more sweetness than we expected, so we made this from them. Cal is very bright when it comes to recovery from untoward events in his vinyards."

Dave put the small cup to his lips and sipped. "That is very good and refreshing. Do you always serve it iced like that?"

I beckoned Calvin over. "Cal, I think we owe Dave a little explanation."

"I'm sorry Dave, you are a bit of a guinea pig. We have never served this to outsiders before. It was an experiment, and we don't have very much or I would have offered you a keg in trade."

"Will you be able to make more of it?"

"I don't know. We'll try freezing some of the vines this year and see if the result is the same."

"If you can make this stuff in quantity, I think I know a certain table it could find its way to."

"We'll keep you informed", said Leon.

With that, we saw Dave back aboard, and retired for the night.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #97 on: November 29, 2014, 07:58:36 PM »
In the morning, I went down to the ice house and checked on the supply. It was dwindling as it was getting near the end of the summer. I made sure there was enough sawdust available to keep the ice insulated, then went up to the office. I found Marta hard at work over the scrip books. "How are things?", I asked.

"Rudi has exchanged nearly all his scrip to pay for the work he commissioned on his station with the masons and Geoff. I am making sure that this ledger is balanced now after all the transfers. Later on, I am going to lunch at Leaf's. We are going to surprise Finbar with an anniversary party. Don't tell him."

"Finbar has been with Consuela almost as long as we've been together."

"It is their twenty-fifth anniversary, and we are going to make a fuss over him."

"I'll have to think of a suitable gift, especially since his son is married to our daughter."

I leaned over and gave her a little buss on the cheek. "Did I tell you that Frederick and Mabel are going to handfast at the community meeting tonight?"

"No, you didn't. Can't say I am surprised, especially since Frederick finished building his own place last week."

"You knew that Mabel has been studying tailoring with Serpina and working with Vicki making some tailored wool jackets. I think she intends to set up a little shop in a bit."

"Good. We need someone with a good sense of style that is different from the ones we've been getting."

"Competition is always good. We'll see how prices go."

I went down to the stockroom and started putting things in order. It was time for a count to verify the tallies on the books. We had been used as an overflow site for the trading post, but with recent exports, things were pretty much gone now.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #98 on: December 03, 2014, 09:47:10 AM »
A few days later, Trader's Pride arrived with a general cargo and a group of hopeful settlers. John came ashore with Liam who was looking very much the tanned, tough sea-flea for all of his nine years. They were met on the pier by Leon, who hugged his grandson much to the boy's embarrassment. Because of the immigrants, Leon sent the boy up to the town hall looking for me.

"Liam! It is good to see you", I said. "What can Hereweare do for Trader's Pride?"

"Father has a group of immigrants with us, and wants you to come down to the post."

"Thank you, lad. Please tell your grandfather to bring them ashore to the warehouse, and I'll be down to meet them there in a few minutes."

Liam bounded enthusiastically away.

Taking the town register down from its shelf, I walked down to the trading post. "Leon, John, who have you got for us?"

"It is a fairly large group, this time", said Leon. "Come into the hall and meet them."

We went inside. There was a rather non-descript group of people, all trying to look their best. I went over to the desk and put down the ledger. "Hello folks. I am Indio the leader of this settlement. I am told you want to settle here. So, come up to the desk in families, we'll have a chat."

A couple came forward with three children.

"I am Abraham and this is my wife, Leonora. You can see we have three children, Timothy, Mary and Johnathan"

"Why do you want to start a new life with us?"

"I'm a physician and I heard that you needed medical services. I felt that I could fill that need for you."

"You must have more reason than that to uproot your family. Are you a fugitive?"

"No. I just tired of the dull practice in Kantorum. I think Leon will vouch for my bona fides."

"Just a moment, I'll ask him." I stepped out and went to Leon's office.

"What do you know of the physician Abraham?", I asked.

"Abe the physician? Is he here? What luck! I know him well, and he was fretting with the hum-drum at the clinic in Kantorum. He decided to pull up stakes after all?"

"I take that to be a recommendation, then?"

"Oh yes! His reputation in Kantorum was very good."

I returned to the desk. "Well, you have an ally there. Do you agree to live here and act as a member of the community?"

"Yes."

"Then welcome to Hereweare. If you'll take a seat, we'll get you settled when I've talked to the others."

I found myself looking into the startling blue eyes of two tall, blonde young men.

"I am Bartholomew of Strang and this is my brother Martin. We have no particular skills but have worked as farmhands. We want to start a new life away from the town where our parents were just killed in a barn fire."

I looked them over. Two strong young men who looked seriously back at me. "Do you agree to live here and act as members of the community?

Both agreed, so I welcomed them and sent them to sit with the successful applicants.

I recognized the next applicant as one of the men who had robbed us of our goods on the trip here. "You've got a lot of nerve coming here, fellow. Seize him!

Two of John's seamen who where standing by, confined this fellow and tied his hands.

"We'll decide what to do with you later, thief!"

There were no more applicants, so I gathered the successful group and arranged for them to be housed until accommodations could be built.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #99 on: December 05, 2014, 08:52:11 PM »
In the morning, we frog-marched our unacceptable miscreant back aboard Trader's Pride under guard. We had a chat with John about what he should look for in possible immigrants in future. I hope that's the last I ever see of those people. There is something to be said for having a long memory.

I was having a feeling of insecurity after this incident, so I coralled Martin and Bartholomew and asked them if they would consider becoming town police on a part time basis.

"What do you mean by part time?" asked Bart.

"When we have a ship in port and other times the council thinks it is necessary. We'll keep you in the loop", I replied. "You can continue working with Finbar or pick up some skills from others as you go."

The twins has made it quite clear that they would happily answer to Mart and Bart, and this was because their parents had left it to them by giving them dissimilar names that could be used this way.

Wilf came in with Abraham to talk about building a clinic. I looked over the specifications and agreed to put it on the council agenda for the weekly meeting in two days. It would be a stone building with an attached residence for Abe and his brood. They left promising to attend the meeting.

John dropped in to finalize his trade with Leon for the town books. It was about lunch time, so we adjourned to the cantina. We had a good lunch, then saw John shove off about mid-afternoon. Liam waved goodbye to his friends and his mother waving from the pier.

Susanna said, "That boy is really growing up. I hardly recognized my little boy. John is treating him very well, and has been a remarkable husband and father. I think the next trip, they will be ready for me to join them aboard."

"Don't be in a rush to go to sea", said Leon. "Have you had a long talk with Marilyn?"

"Yes. By the next time Trader's Pride puts in, I'll be ready to pilot the vessel."

"Well, that's then. We could use you on chart reading in the school this term" said Julia, who had come down to see the ship off.

"Fine. I'll come after lunch tomorrow."

Trader's Pride went out of sight around the headland, so the little party turned to their various tasks. I returned to the town hall with the final copy of John's manifest.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #100 on: December 08, 2014, 08:54:08 PM »
As the year turned into autumn, one day Jake and Max came into the town hall looking serious.

"What can we do for our mighty hunters?", I asked.

"We think we have a squatter somewhere in the forest", said Max.

"We found a deer carcase with an arrow through it, and the hind quarters missing", said Jake. "And we have found a few emptied traps."

"You wouldn't be here if you hadn't tried to track this character", I said. "Looking for help?"

"Yes", Jake said. "We heard you took on a couple of enforcers in that last bunch."

"I don't know what woods skill they have, but let's go ask them to help you out. Come down to the farm stead and we'll see where they are working today."

We three all trouped over to Finbar's. Finbar was out in the fields but Consuela was home.

"Consuela, do you know where Mart and Bart are today?", I asked.

"They are up at the corral with Sean learning to ride", she said.

Off we went to the stables and got there just in time to see Mart fall off Silver Blaze and land sprawled in a cloud of dust. The horse stood and looked at him.

"I hope you gentlemen are better woods runners than riders", I said. "The hunters have a problem they would like some help with."

Bart was grinning at his brother and said something I didn't catch. Mart looked embarrassed, but they both came over and joined our group. The hunters explained their problem and the twins looked rather happy to get out of horse training at the moment. It was agreed that they would go out with Jake and Max tomorrow to see who could be found.



And if it rains in B.C. tomorrow, I'll tell you what happened in the woods.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2014, 08:56:30 PM by A Nonny Moose »
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #101 on: December 12, 2014, 07:50:47 AM »
Early next morning, just as the sun was rising, the hunting party gathered. Mart and Bart went out with Max, while Jake went to check his trap lines. The larger party visited the site of the deer carcase the men had found on the previous trip. It was down to a few bones and some fur, and the tracks of many scavengers could be seen. The twins surveyed the scene and Bart found some traces that were not from animals.

"Look", he said, "A single person went this way, and was carrying a considerable burden. They were careful, but not careful enough. We are lucky it hasn't rained or we'd find nothing."

The party, with Bart in the lead, followed the trace. It eventually lead them to the canyon wall and a small cave high up the talus slope. The party approached with caution.

In the cave the party found a pack with some clothing, quite small, and a cache of food. No one was home, so they found a place in the woods to wait where they could observe the cave.

It was past midday when three figures approached the cave and entered carrying a game bag and armed with a short bow with a quiver of arrows. Mart stood up and hailed the cave.

"Hello, the cave!"

A dead silence followed the hail. A figure could be seen in the entrance.

"Show yourselves", called Mart.

A young woman and two children appeared at the mouth of the cave.

"What do you want?", called the woman.

"Probably to rescue you." said Mart scambling up the slope.

"We're all right."

"No, You've been poaching on our hunting area. If you like you can come to our town which is much safer than living wild like this."

By this time, the rest of the hunting party had scrambled up the slope, looking imposing.

The young woman said, "We are outcasts. Why should we join you?"

Max said, "We are all outcasts and have now made a town for ourselves called Hereweare. Unless you are criminals, you will be welcome there, and care can be given to the children. I am Max, and these big guys are Mart and Bart."

"I am Yolanda and these are my brother Joseph and sister Veronica. We fled out home when our father married our step mother who tried to turn us into slaves. I think she was getting ready to sell us."

"You were right to leave", said Max. "Come back to town with us, and we'll see about finding a spot for you."

Gathering up what little they had, the refugees returned with the hunting party to town.
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #102 on: December 14, 2014, 09:08:41 AM »
The hunting party brought the little group into my office when they got back. "Well, gents, whom have we here?"

Max said, "We found them hiding out in a cave on the east wall. This is Yolanda and her brother and sister."

Yolanda repeated her tale of woe. I asked, "What of your father?"

"Our step-mother put something in his food, and he has been kind of blank, ever since. When she started talking about selling us off, we left."

"Truly a sad tale. What age are you Yolanda?"

"I have eighteen summers.", she said drawing herself up.

"That is old enough for you to join our community. Do you agree to act as a member of the community?"

"Yes!"

"Then, welcome to Hereweare. Mart and Bart will take you over to Finbar, our farm master, to find you some accommodation. Do you have any special skills?"

"I was learning to sew leather".

"Then, after you are situated, you should have a talk with Julia and Serpina. They can determine and further your skills."

The party left. I noted a certain attraction between Mart and Yolanda.

+++
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #103 on: December 14, 2014, 09:50:17 AM »
The summer passed into harvest time.

Both Dawn Tripper and Trader's Pride were in port and Dave, John, and I were heading up to the cantina for lunch. I noticed a drift of music in the air.

Francesa gave us a good table by the windows, and Yolanda came over and recited the day's menu.

"Yolanda, what are you doing working here?", I said.

"Oh, I am only helping out with all the traffic we have in port at the moment. Serpina said it would be OK."

"Hmm. Well bring us a flagon of Calvin's best white, and I'll have the special."

The two captains agreed that the special would suit them as well. Looking around, I saw that Bart was sitting at a corner table with a cup and a plate of sandwiches, but was struming on a lute. While I waited for our service, I went over to Bart's table. Bart played a cadence, so I asked him "When did you learn to play?"

"When I was a child. This lute was my father's and I managed to keep it."

"It is good to have some music around. How are things?"

"I am building a new place for myself. Martin want's to expand the old cabin because he's thinking of getting a family."

"News to me. I don't get around enough anymore I guess. Who is the lucky girl?"

"Mart is planning to handfast Yolanda as soon as the harvest ends."

"What of the children?"

"Mart says he will foster them until they come of age."

Loaded with news, I returned to my table in time for Yolanda to return with a tray.

"I hear that congratulations are in order, Yo.", I said.

"Yes. Martin is going to be my love. We will be able to look after the kids."

"Good luck. Will you hold the handfasting at the harvest festival?"

"Uh-huh. Be careful of this iron pot, it is hot with your stew."

Yolanda served each of us, and left.

John said, "You old goat. I'll bet you weren't a bit surprised."

Dave grinned and nodded.

"Only to a certain extent. I could say I knew them when ...  So how is trading going with Leon?"

The conversation turned to technicalities and some badinage over nepotism. All in all, it was a good productive luncheon. Afterwards we went our separate ways.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2014, 03:20:28 PM by A Nonny Moose »
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Offline A Nonny Moose

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Re: Into the Wild
« Reply #104 on: December 16, 2014, 01:12:42 PM »
At the harvest festival conference, it was reported that all had gone well over the summer with the exception that some of the deer from the forest had been foraging in the fields nearest them. The smiths were asked to draw some wire for a fence, and to consider barbs if it was thought necessary.

Sean reported that the horses had produced a filly (Bella) and a colt (George II). He said he intended to geld the colt when he had matured enough.

The mining guild reported that with the help of the masons they have completed the shoring up of the old mine shafts into the cliffs on the west side. Exploration was under weigh, and the samples were looking very solid for iron. Some quartz veins had been noted and the possibility of producing grey iron was discussed. This will require hotter smelting temperatures and new refractories were being sought.

Our collection of seamstresses and tailors reported sufficient production to keep everyone clothed and a surplus for trade. Serpina mentioned that Yolanda was producing some very nice hide coats with fleece linings that traded very well.

The hunters announced that, because of their tracking skills, Mart and Bart had moved from the farmstead into the hunting compound which was at the sheep station. Mart is expanding their place and Bart has begun a new cabin. He will bunk with Max and Tinetta after this evening's ceremony until he finishes his new place.

Martin announced that after the meeting, but before supper, he and Sean would give a demonstration of equestrian dressage. All invited to the corral on the east side of the stable. There was a loud guffaw from Bart. Mart only smiled. James tried to hide his grin.

Everyone eventually reported their success or troubles for the summer and predictions for the winter, and the meeting broke up with several people walking towards the east corral.

At the corral, we found that the two oldest horses, Sweetie and Silver Blaze had been groomed and tacked to look their best. Martin mounted Silver Blaze while Sean took to Sweetie.

At first the men gave a demonstration of ordinary riding skill, and Mart gave Bart a rather nasty grin. But it was in their normal sibling rivalry mood.

Next, Mart put Silver Blaze through some fancy paces, trotting and pacing while Sean looked on.

While this was going on, James and a team were building some apparatus at the end of the corral.

Having put Silver Blaze though his paces, Mart set him at a series of jumps, followed by Sean and Sweetie. There was wild applause, and some of the youngster were quite excited.

By this time, the horses were some sweated, and the men dismounted and sent them to be cooled off and groomed.

The excited crowd cornered the two performers and were full of questions. They had pulled off a surprise. No one had seen them practising except James, who was their preceptor.

Bart grabbed Mart by the shoulders and said, "You never even let on you were doing this!"

Delicately detaching himself from his brother's grip, Mart said, "We wanted to surprise everyone. The only ones who knew what we were doing were James and Rudi. Oh, and 'Stasia of course. Everyone was sworn to secrecy."

I said, "That was quite interesting and entertaining, gentlemen. Does this mean you intend to open a dressage and horsemanship course for the school?"

James put in, "You know, we haven't thought of much past giving everyone a show. I suppose if the teachers could help us put something together, it could be done."

"Give it some serious thought", I said. Others were in agreement, and several of the youngsters crowed around the trio with considerable chatter.

Someone was clanging the dinner triangle outside the cantina, so we all adjourned to the feast.

The cantina, with help from pretty much everyone, had outdone itself. Not only was this a celebration of the harvest, but it was a prenuptial dinner for Mart and Yolanda. The happy couple got to sit with the council at the head table, and took a heavy kidding.

After the meal, a space was cleared and Martin and Yolanda pledged each other in the handfasting ceremony. Mart then took Yolanda down the path towards the sheep meadows, while we enjoyed the rest of the party.
Go not to the oracle, for it will say both yea and nay.