Clothing the Ragged
Between Habali and Hokaji were a lot of smaller villages. And we took our time in every one; it will very likely be the only time Moyri and I will have this chance to meet the people in our barony! And it’s really beginning to feel like ours — perhaps more so because neither of us was born here, so we don’t belong to this or that set, group, village, town, people. We’re nothing but the baroness and the sheriff.
Except of course, that we’re also masters, teachers, doctor, lovers…
Here in the Ishey part of Idanyas, the latter is important. The Ishey women are really pleased that the big boss is a woman, not a man. And we got the rituals correct now; I will kiss the feet of the most important Ishey woman of a town, and she kisses Moyri’s feet.
Anyway, after a night of drinking and talking, we’ve got two friends in Habali now, Temne and Ashi.
So it took us a couple of days before we reached Hokaji.
The ladies in Hokaji, King Mazao’s mother Temeh and her friends, they were sharp, friendly and very welcoming. Actually, it felt a lot like Habali. We made our entrance, feet were kissed, tea and sweet stuff was served, then we were given a chance to take one of the ceiling rain baths, and a short nap, and then a full formal dinner.
And after dinner, we sat drinking all night with Temeh and Fasal, talking about us, them, Ishey, Valdyas, the Gods, men, women, sex and trade. And about law. When Moyri went really deep in with Temeh, Fasal and me, we talked about the law. I showed her my law book, and we discussed how differences in customs between Ishey and Valdyans (and Síthi and Iss-Peranians and people from Velihas and the East) made it impossible that we would have one law that would be exactly the same for everyone; cattle-rustling, for instance, is something that Valdyans call theft, but Ishey call growing up.
But about murder, rape and slavery, well, there we were in complete agreement.
And from there, Fasal asked me for her own copy of the Laws, which is exactly why I had packed a couple of spare ones, and then asked Temeh and Moyri whether she could be made Sheriff of the Mera Settlements — since I had suggested there was need for one.
We decided to make that official in the morning.
And then we got down to some serious drinking. Great Mizran, it’s a good thing I’ve grown up in a family that wanted to think of itself as Síthi Sagga, so I’ve been drinking wine all day since I was six until the time I went to school, where I learned about tea… Still, I’ve got a decently strong head, and could help Moyri to our bed, while the ladies decided to take a nap on the floor of the small receiving room.
Oh gosh! And it was already nearly dawn, but Moyri had promised to take part in the morning’s demonstration of stick fighting. I made myself a pot of tea — the easy way, boiling the water with semsin — and spent the night healing Moyri so she wouldn’t wake up with a head-ache or puking her guts out.
From sweaty and restless, she went to cool and calm, all in her sleep, and she’s so beautiful… Anshen agreed with me, he joined me when I said my prayers in the morning. At, least he nodded.
I fell asleep for an hour or so, then, and dreamed that Moyri and I were both making love to Anshen, at the same time. Not surprisingly, in my dream he turned out to be surpassingly gentle and satisfying… And when I woke up, I had made a huge wet spot on the reed mattress.
Moyri was surprised to wake up without even the slightest bit of a headache or tired feeling. Which meant she was frisky and noticed the wet spot immediately.
So I told her about my dream… “And don’t you agree it’s high time one of those children gives their parents grandchildren?” I added, which made Moyri sputter with laughter between my thighs. “I wouldn’t mind giving Anshen children!” I added, which made Moyri come up above belly level and sputter some more.
Anyway, she won the exhibition bout of stick fighting.
Then we went into town, for a noon meal and to see whether we could repeat our performance at Habali; talk to as many people as possible. Hokaji is a bigger town, with a real market, and I guess maybe a thousand or even two thousand people. Most are Ishey, but there are some Valdyans.
The houses are mostly built out of large timber frames filled up with clay bricks, plastered white, all the wood carved as if there were plenty of Ishey living here. Which there are, of course. It’s pretty interesting, and I could spend days just making rubbings of carved lintels and sills.
But we had a mission, and when we arrived at the market, the mission changed. I saw Rani (who by the way, I have been able to give a check up after she asked me after Jeran and my last lecture of keeping the fu in fucking stand for fun, and it turns out that she’s a bit uncommon, inside, her cunny is very shallow, and it feels as if there’s a sort of penis that’s not coming out inside, and with semsin I found that in her belly there were two things that cannot decide whether they are balls or bits of a womb, so I need to send out a letter to Turenay!) so, we, like I was saying, saw Rani, Roushan and one of the Ishey girls buying hair ribbons (we had given everyone four shillings to spend on having fun), and I noticed that all these girls, except for the Ishey girl, were wearing rags!
Of course… Some never had any good clothes, like Rani. She told me her dress was made out of a shirt worn by someone in her village who had died in it. Others never counted on travelling as far and as long, like Roushan, and had completely used up their clothes.
So we had to take Action, Moyri and me.
And we went to the cloth sellers, and got them to get us cloth for fifty pairs of trousers, fifty skirts, a hundred shirts — to be cut to measure, and the apprentices sewing them together themselves. So we called our complete band to the market, where the cloth sellers measured them, cut cloth and handed it over to them.
We’re going to stay an extra day or two here in Hokaji so everyone can sew up their new clothes, or help teach their mates how to sew.
The bill for the cloth and work going the Baroness, of course.
When we’d had everyone queued up for the measuring, Moyri and I went to an inn that had some tables and benches outside, and ordered wine, beer and food.
The inn-keeper had no notion of who we were, so we had a nice, long and very free chat with him where we learned a lot about the place. After a while, we had lots of other people join us, telling us things, drinking and eating with us, so that worked out.
It was only when a boy came along carrying a bag of letters that we were found out! He had a letter for us from Habali! From our own Halla, who had stayed behind to do the sums on the ditch project. I’m still not sure how it happened exactly, but the boy gave his bag of letters to his younger brother, and joined the queue to get new clothes and join us for the rest of the journey….