River Mist Tales: The Fiddler

Come in, come in, the mist is rising from the river, but here you’ll find some warmth, some tales, so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.

The chairs by the window give the best view, allow the best hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.

I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.

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The Fiddler

He stood lean and tall, his well worn shirt and trousers hung loose, dripping softly from his twig like frame.

Arriving early, claiming one of the best locations on the green, Lindy stood quietly among the shadows of the marketplace, watching the fiddler’s preparations, taking a deep breath, a slow exhale, she dreamt of another life, hoping for a different tune, before setting up her father’s booth, knowing she would be ready long before the ringing of the opening bell.

Musicians were not an uncommon sight during the bustling autumn markets, minstrels, storytellers and other performers of curiosity often stopped, sharing their gifts, their craft, their mysteries in exchange for coin, for food, lodging and other needs not easily met upon the road.

Continuing with her tasks Lindy arranged piles of beets, carrots, onions and the last of the apples, turning the cut bunches of dill, winter savory, and thyme so their freshest stalks were showing forward, all the while watching, out of the corner of her eye, the young solitary fiddler.

He could not be much older than she, Lindy thought, yet here he was out in the world, traveling alone, earning his way with what talent had been his gift, seeing the world, choosing how he spent his days.

The fiddler, aware of being observed, not just by the lovely dark haired creature whose arrival had awakened his own desires, but by other merchants putting up canvas to shade their wares, keep their customers from the cool breezes, readying for the frenzy of the marketplace, hoping to entice with bold colors, bold tastes, and objects both familiar and unusual.

From her opportune position on the western side of the ancient oak which commanded the center of the village green, Lindy strained, listening for the soft tones as the fiddler plucked each string in turn.

Yet Lindy heard nothing, not a single note, nor any sound as she watched a rounded bow pull across the fiddle, even as she saw the fiddler, hearing every note he plucked, every chord he struck, return her observation with his own.

As Lindy wondered why she could not hear the music, the fiddler ceased all movement, the opening bell rang clear, and eager customers moved among the stalls and tents.

Throughout the day, when she stood without customers, Lindy listened for the music, the airs and jigs, the lullabies and laments which danced around the the oak tree, danced among the canvas stalls and she discovered sounds sweeter, more intoxicating than any other music she had ever heard.

At twilight, the unsold vegetables and herbs gathered onto the cart, the wood frame and canvas stowed away, Lindy looked across the green towards the fiddler who was still playing, playing a melody Lindy could not hear, but all around her she saw sleeping men, women and children, smiles upon their faces.

Abandoning the cart, Lindy walked towards the fiddler, walked through the growing silence, walked towards a future unknown, and at this moment, unheard.

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