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Author Topic: Nine Ladies Dancing  (Read 3034 times)

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Offline revanne

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Nine Ladies Dancing
« on: January 03, 2016, 03:25:18 pm »
Early September, 1128

The ship's boat edged nearer to the sheltered cove at the end of the bay. Dawn was not far from breaking and on the eastern horizon the indistinct line between sea and sky shone with a pearly luminescence. A pre-dawn mist was beginning to rise which in half-an-hour would shroud visibility on both sea and shore; half-an hour, though, was all that was needed.

The cottages of the fishing village huddled together for shelter in the lee of the gently sloping coastline, well inshore of the highest of high water marks. On the beach itself the fishing boats were freshly drawn up after the labours of the night at sea, but there was as yet no rest for the fisherfolk. Even at this early hour all but the very oldest and youngest were hard at work; the men mending the nets, the children sorting the catch and the women heading and gutting the fish before packing them into salt laden barrels against the winter to come.

The task was arduous and cold, the stench indescribable and it was simple sense to have a driftwood fire both against the chill and to burn what little could not be preserved or made into the fish broth for which the area was renowned. There was another darker purpose served by the flames however; or at least one more hidden and illicit, although it too was part of a long tradition of these parts.

As the fire flared the rowing boat turned and came to the cluster of rocks which, jutting out into the sea, created the shelter of the cove. A dark clad figure on the rocks deftly caught the rope thrown to him and made it fast through the metal ring driven into the rock. Then just as deftly he caught the leather bag tossed to him, its drawstring mouth firmly tied, the contents padded in raw fleece to stop the tell-tale chink of coin. No words had been spoken, neither did the four men in the boat make any move to clamber out; rather their eyes were fixed on the water where on the ebbing tide barrels came bobbing out towards them. Nine of them, nine beautiful ladies, dancing on the waves, full of the finest Fianna vintage, everyone of them. And their beauty was unsullied, pure virgins they were and would remain, untouched by the lustful grasp of excise men on either side of the Southern Sea. No wonder it was they danced.

                                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Henry Kirby had known and loved his ducal master since his first encounter with the young heir to Corwyn; he had grown to honour and admire the man the Deryni had become. But there were some things that were better not shared between lord and subject; things that it were better that a noble Duke should not have on his conscience. As master of Morgan's flagship, Rhafalia, Kirby's journeys were as pure and innocent as the ducal children whose safe transport from Coroth to Desse it was his honour and privilege to achieve. But there were other journeys in other boats in which he had an interest although the sailings themselves were a young man's game.

                                                                                               ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The ninth day of Christmas

Alaric Morgan took the opportunity of a clear dry day to ride out from Rhemuth to Desse, to where Rhafalia lay at anchor, ready to transport the ducal family and entourage back to Coroth after Christmas Court. The wind blew in gusts that could cut like a knife but he was glad to be out from the formalities of the royal court for a spell; in truth he wanted this time alone- save for the lancers at a respectful distance at his back- to savour in imagination Sean's reaction to his Christmas gift. But neither the warmth of imagination, nor his fur lined cloak were quite enough to keep out the bite of the wind and he was glad to see the furled masts of Rhafalia and the welcoming smile of his Captain. Knowing Morgan too well to expect to stand on ceremony, Kirby welcomed him into his own quarters where the Duke stood warming his hands at the brazier before cajoling "A flagon of your finest, Henry, to thaw me out, before we turn to business!"

"Aye, my Lord. A real beauty this one, you might say she dances her way out of the barrel."




"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline NavaWazr

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2016, 03:58:20 pm »
What a lovely twist on the phrase! Unexpected, made me smile and I'm now looking for my own flagon of wine for tonight. Thank you!
I realized that I wanted to be Deryni, would have loved to be another niece of Uncle Azim, perhaps living on a Fianna vineyard.... but I'm a never wazzer

Offline Demercia

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2016, 04:28:33 pm »
Lovely.  For some reason I am reminded of "five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark. Brandy for the parson...."
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2016, 06:37:13 pm »
Lovely.  For some reason I am reminded of "five and twenty ponies trotting through the dark. Brandy for the parson...."

"Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by.

Offline DesertRose

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2016, 06:50:01 pm »
My mother has a book called Watch the Wall, My Darling (a Regency romance published years ago).

I have a recording of that song by a now-disbanded folk group who did an outstanding job of the song.  :)
"If having a soul means being able to feel love, loyalty, and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans."

James Herriot (James Alfred "Alfie" Wight), when a human client asked him if animals have souls.  (I don't remember in which book the story originally appeared.)

Offline Evie

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2016, 06:56:08 pm »
My favorite filksong recording of that Rudyard Kipling poem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzT8c9gD35Q
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2016, 09:07:19 pm »
revanne, you continue to amaze - what an unexpected (or at least to me) twist on the ladies.  Loved it!

And thank you, Evie for the link to the song.

I wonder if Morgan has an inkling of the origins of his drink, or is wise enough to leave well enough alone.  I vote for wise. :)
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline revanne

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2016, 02:05:54 am »
I vote for wise too.

"Them as ask no questions, don't get told no lies! "

I think the term  "excise men" is anachronistic -however I cannot imagine that a luxury product such as Fianna wine would not have attracted tolls on both sides of the sea.In the case of  Dhassa wine, on the other hand,  the merchants would probably have been paid a premium by the city authorities to take it away!

Love the link,  Evie. I didn't consciously think of the poem but I imagine it was a subconscious influence.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Evie

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2016, 01:10:35 pm »
I've long since had a crush on Michael Longcor's music. Not him, just his music. ;D
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Laurna

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2016, 02:27:25 pm »
The song made me smile, thank you.
As to Captain Kirby's trading arrangements? I have long suspected that Coroth has a history of above board trading and underhanded trading as well. It is the wealthiest duchy in Gwynedd is it not?
Love the nine dancing ladies, Revanne, thank you.

Offline revanne

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2016, 02:41:59 pm »
Clearly either Morgan pays his captain extraordinarily well or else he has other business interests both legit and otherwise. I agree with you about Coroth Laurna,  I also have my suspicions about the Orsal.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

Offline Demercia

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2016, 05:45:57 pm »
Loved the link to the song, I need to explore some more of his songs.   I had forgotten the difference between the US and UK pronunciation of clerk.   It did rhyme for Kipling!
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.

Offline revanne

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Re: Nine Ladies Dancing
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2016, 11:17:20 am »
When I wrote this I couldn't find my copy of TKD to check out the details of Alaric's first meeting with Henry Kirby (although I could remember it was on the trip from Coroth to Desse which included a very nasty encounter with Bishop De Nore at Nyford). It has since come to light and I am re-reading. Interestingly, the boat on which Kirby was mate, and the young Alaric a passenger, was called the Gryphon and she was on her way back to Desse laden with Fianna wines. No suggestion there was anything illicit about the transaction but something must have gone into my subconscious.
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."
As You Like It.

 

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