Reality or Dreams
BFF # 246
Gerome didn’t think the day would ever end. Sitting on a log just in the woods, head held in his hands, elbows resting on his knees, he was the picture of agony. “Is this really happening or am I just dreaming?!” He demanded aloud.
Looking up at the squirrels in the tree who had stopped their chattering to pay attention to the hunchbacked human. “Why did I barter with them? Why didn’t I just make demands and let them wreck their havoc on me? They could have drown me, or changed me into a fish or maybe a frog. They could have pulled me under and given me to their cousins the Sirens. Oh, will this day never end?” His lamenting had even stopped the singing from the birds in the trees.
“I have never seen anyone so, so, clumsy!” Looking around him, he knew he had been gone from the camp site far too long. Chairs needed repair after she sat down, tables toppled as she walked past, the tie-back for the tent door became tangled keeping her inside her tent until a knife could be found to cut the ties. This woman seemed to be trouble.
Gerome slowly made his way to the cook’s tent. “Is the makeshift kitchen to your liking, Cook?” He asked the round woman who was stirring a pot hanging over a fire. “You look like a witch from one of your tales, stirring that pot. Next thing you know, you’ll be casting spells.”
A round smiling face turned to him. “Gerome, all will be well. That pinched look you carry is not going to change anything, but it will give you a headache. If we were at home, with my own kitchen, this task would be complete! I’m not cooking anything in this pot…I am cleaning some of Lady Anita’s clothing. That girl has…”
Gerome held up his hand, “Cook, you have always had a level head on your shoulders. You have usually had a smile and a kind word for everyone. I beg you, give some thought before you say anything. This one may need more kindness than I have to give and I shall be leaning on you for that very specialty.”
Cook smiled even more widely nodding her head knowingly. “I’ll do what I can. Meanwhile, keep those boys you call “men” away from Her Ladyship’s clothes. We don’t need them pawing all over ‘em, or worse yet, making off with one of her fancy under slips. We’d never hear the end of it.”
They laughed together, “Cook, like all children, I’ve heard the tale of the Princess and the Pea. I had always understood it to be just that, at tale. Turns out Ladies really are Persnickety Persimmons!” Gerome reached for a biscuit from the platter on the table, just as a another’s small hand reached from under the table to grab a biscuit also. “Nymph, you wouldn’t know anything about the mishaps Lady Anita is experiencing, would you?” A stern look crossed Gerome’s face. His bright blue eyes darkened with anger. Grabbing Aquina’s hand, he wrenched her out from under the table.
“Child!” Cook looked aghast. “Child, where are your clothes? How are you traipsing around half naked? Gerome, where did she come from?” The robust woman’s step faltered, she clasped her hands to her chest and gasped. “Gerome, what have you done?” Standing, in all her glory, was the most beautiful young woman Cook had ever seen, and she was as naked as the day she was born. This would never do.
Hustling Gerome from her makeshift kitchen, Cook addressed Aquina’s nakedness.
Cook had given him the “bums rush” from the enclosure, Gerome half fell half staggered into the middle of another crisis. Lord Gorgan and his had ridden his fighting steed into the middle of campsite. His hounds were growling and snapping towards the tent Gerome had just been tossed out of. “By the Gods, there is magic!” He roared as his horse pranced around in a circle kicking up unwarranted dust and dirt across the campsite. “You, cripple, you dare to dabble in the dark arts?!” Swinging his horses head around to face Gerome, Gorgan began to unsheathe his sword.
“Cousin!” Lord Alfred stepped off the river path and into the circle. Handing his string of brook trout to his aide, Lord Alfred lay his fishing pole against a nearby tent. “Now, what is this about magic? Is Merlin come to visit? I think not. Such a magician would not be bothered with a small estate as this. There is no magic, your hounds are simply overwrought from such a long journey. Come, come down and allow my men to tend to your hounds and horse. We are just about to have tea, but I think your presence warrants a flagon of ale.” Gesturing for his cousin to follow.
Nostrils on the giant black horse flared. Stomping his front hooves, the great beast fixed his eyes on Gerome. Hate exuded from both rider and steed. Gerome thought it uncanny that the very man accusing him of wielding magic rode a horse who appeared to comprehend it’s master’s intent. Thankfully, the three great wolf hounds grumbled but stayed close to their master’s heel, eyes never straying from Cook’s area.