Further Tavern Talk

Having received no response to the first two portions of chapter one from my so-called “infamous Sepharad” story, Iʼll give you a little more.

The previous two pieces were here and here.

and yet more from the infamous Sepharad story

This is a famous medieval tavern (from Prague coincidentally), but it looks appropriate.

Søren was troubled by some of the dark fellowʼs flow of words but felt he understood the gist.

“Roman?” he wondered aloud.

“The folk who ruled these lands, all Christendom and Islam as well, in the ancient days of yore.”

“Long ago? One people ruled the whole world?”

“Not the whole world, Søren, never your lands, I believe, but this whole world around the Inland Sea.”

“How wonderful to learn. You must be very wise indeed, Judah.” Either the wine was working its way with his wits already, or he felt easier with this southern tongue than he had thought.

“Educated perhaps. Nearly all question my wisdom, Søren. But if any of the morsels I have filched from the banquet of learning interest you, my friend, I am glad. It is still too little repayment for my life.”

Another pitcher of wine arrived. “Still on the tab, Jew?”

“Naturally.” Judah poured for them both again. “And bring another, right away!” he called at the surly waiter’s back.

Søren was finishing his cup once again (fifth? like the number of assailants?) and asked, “What was their grievance against you, friend Judah — those five men in the alley?”

Raising a warning finger, the Jew hushed him. “Not so loud. Some things are best discussed not at all.” His dark eyes flashed all ways about, then his dark visage reconsidered. “However, as you are, oh, intimately and mortally involved, you deserve some explanation. Those men evidently wished to prevent me from completing a certain exploit I had undertaken for tonight, I feel sure. Otherwise, they just don’t like Jews,” he finished wryly.

“Exploit?” Søren hesitated over the word, not precisely familiar yet tantalizingly clear as the dark fellow used it. “Should you not be endeavoring to accomplish your project? Do you not waste time drinking with me?”

“Time drinking is never time wasted, my newfound friend,” Judah observed in mock sagacity, “as a by your accomplished guzzling you appear to understand.” They clinked cups sociably. “Besides, that unexpected obstruction you helped with may have changed my mind. I undertook this job more or less as a lark. I wasn’t expecting trouble — not that kind, not that determined.”

Søren examined his newfound companion appraisingly. “Could you use a partner in your caper?”

“If I should choose to complete it — ” Judah checked himself as Jaime delivered a third jug of wine.

“Ottocar says your tab grows uncomfortably large, Jew.”

“To be sure. But Ottocar also knows I am good for it.” The waiter huffed skeptically and stalked away. “Or I will be.” Judah considered a long moment as the Northman poured more wine in each mug. “Friend Søren, would you truly help me in my task?”

“I came to this city, Judah, with but a few coins in my purse. I spent those for meals and lodging, earned only a little more in your Dukeʼs employ before he sent me packing into these inhospitable streets.” The big man began to feel he might be exhausting his store of Aragon vocabulary, but he forged ahead. “For days and days I have searched for employment to secure food for my gut and a place to sleep indoors. I have found none. I last ate a day before I last slept.”

“You haven’t eaten since yesterday? No, the day before. Then we must dine as well as drink.” Judah rose from his seat and roared, “— Jaime! Let’s have two bowls of Ottocar’s fine stew. And bread.”

“And more wine,” Søren added. “—My thanks, indeed, Judah. Now you save my life, though I have endured days without food in my time. But again, what of your exploit?”

“My escapade was not to be, ah, exactly or even slightly within the confines of the law, Søren.” Lowering his voice and both their heads closer over the table, he added quietly, “Indeed I proposed to commit a burglary.”

“Truthfully, I surmised as much. You know your way too well through back streets and alleys. And no honest mission would have drawn a man into that vile turning where those foes had cornered you.”

“Cleverly reasoned, sir. And correct. I was en route to the scene of my robbery, when those five charged at me from the throughway where I was heading. I dodged into that space hoping to outrun them, only to find nowhere to run. Until your fortuitous arrival, I figured my greed and ambition had brought me to death.”

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

2 thoughts on “Further Tavern Talk

  1. So far so good. Tell us more. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about “Mantorville”. Still waiting.

    • Thanks, Dave. I haven forgotten, either, and actually wrote some (from far later into the book) recently. (I also havenʼt forgotten your play, which I hope to have time to read soon.)

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