11921204 The True Art of Gardening
|The True Art of Gardening|
St Demetrius's Square is bustling with activity on this late morning, even in the heat of the sun that has almost reached its peak. Traders have erected their tiny and crammed stands and a throng of people is moving about between them. Somewhere near the impressive statue of Saint Demetrius sitting on his horse stands a man, outwardly studying what one of the traders has on sale, while his brown eyes keep scanning the crowd for a particular face now and then. His clothing marks him as man of nobility, his impressive mahogany locks - certainly not obscured by a turban or anything of the kind - and his proud bearing easily identify him as Geoffrey de Lusignan.
There's a small group in front of one of the stalls that has Raimon des Baux in the center of it and a young blonde lady who is blushing and giggling at something. Apparently they are trying out silken scarves for the girl and Raimon compliments her on the beautiful match of a sky-blue scarf and her eyes. Once the girl and her elderly companion (and chaperone) launch into the haggling process with the seller, Raimon steps aside and looks around the crowd, noticing the knight by the statue.
There is a little commotion near the stand where the Lusignan is standing. An elderly woman engages in a loud discussion with a trader, gesturing and raising her shrill voice as she tries to get her point through to him, alas, not in a tongue a civilized count is able to understand. Instinctively he backs a little away from the racket, one brow raised in slight irritation. Turning to one of his guards, Geoffrey's gaze comes to linger on the minstrel, and suddenly a little smile appears on his noble and proud features as he inclines his head in a greeting from afar.
Thus encouraged, Raimon bows towards the knight and weaves his way through the people until he's near enough to de Lusignan to actually greet the man. "Good day, Sir. Have you come to shop or merely enjoy the bustle of the market?", he asks politely.
"Enjoy the bustle? Not really, young Raimon. I abhor these crowds actually." Geoffrey replies, scanning the people around him with obvious distaste. "I'm not one who likes to mingle with the common of birth and Saracen in heritage. But... I was wondering if I could pick up any new gossip from the Palace?" The Lusignan's eyes return to the minstrel and he studies him with an encouraging smile. "You are a frequent visitor to the Palace, are you not?" And then he leans a little forward, to add in a lower tone that is almost a whisper: "Any luck in that particular... errand, young minstrel?" A little wink follows, before the Count of Ascalon straightens and turns to study what the trader has on sale, his gaze flitting for a short moment to Raimon as he is awaiting his reply.
"Oh, I skirt around the fringes of the palace, Sir.", Raimon replies in his usual understated way, "I have yet to be invited into the King's inner sanctum. And I am sure that female gossip about the latest fashions and hairstyles will not interest your lordship. However -" He smiles a little, "Your errand has been started upon and the seed has been planted."
While he listens to Raimon's words Geoffrey gestures to the trader, pointing to one of his wares in particular, an oil lamp of surprisingly exquisite design. It is the minstrel's last remark that makes him turn his head, raise his brow and look obviously impressed. "Has it indeed? I would have thought you competent, Raimon. But... so swiftly?" He eyes the young de Baux with curious admiration. The trader - not too overwhelmed by the high birth of his customer as to not engage in the usual haggling - showers the Lusignan with an avalanche of hardly intelligible bits of Langue d'oeuil, which forces the noble to turn his attention for a short moment back to the oil lamp, and more importantly, its price.
Raimon remains silent while the knight haggles about the oil lamp, his eyes drifting back to the blonde damsel, who's twirls around for him, showing off the blue silk scarf, before she is nudged onwards by her chaperone. Who glares at the minstrel, before she turns her back to him with determination. Sighing slightly, Raimon turns towards de Lusignan slowly. "Please do not expect too much too soon, Mylord. A seed has been planted, but flowers need their time to grow strongly. If it is plucked too early, it will wither away before its time."
The Lusignan's brown eyes brush the young blonde lady and her chaperone, before they return to the minstrel. "As long as it *will* be plucked eventually, I do not care, how long it takes, Raimon. Some flowers need the full attention of their gardener, though. See to it that you don't get distracted by other flowers... from the task that lies ahead of you."
Turning to the trader with a shake of his head in reply, Geoffrey offers a decidedly lower price for the lamp. "I recognize good quality when I see it, good man. This oil lamp might be of competent making, but the material certainly isn't gold. So don't try to charge me as if it were!"
Raimon listens to the admonishment in silence, the little smile never leaving his face. "Particular flowers are being carefully guarded, Sir. It is better to let them grow in piece. You know, where I come from, they have a saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. The dame in question will be thinking of me. To not see me for some days will make a reunion all the more joyful."
The trader curses, ruffles his beard, gestures towards the lamp and somewhere in the direction of Tancred's Way, while words keep spilling out of his mouth. His pronounciation it too slurred, the Langue d'Oeuil too foreign to his own language, that the Lusignan really could grasp any meaning. He waits patiently for the man to stop in his tirade and ignores him for a bit while he turns his full attention to Raimon. "I see your point. Quite an experienced gardener you are obviously, to know how to gain the attention and affection of your flowers." Geoffrey offers the minstrel an amused half-bow, while he studies him with a smirk. Folding his arms before him, he adds in a more thoughtful tone: "However, I am not sure that the flower would be pleased - should she hear about those others." A light chuckle follows. "Well, I am not the gardener here. You are. I will have to trust your experience in these things."
"A man in my line of business needs to know how to keep his audience captive, Sir.", Raimon replies, trying to look all humble, though there's a spark of mischief in his eyes, "Learning to tend to my... garden was part of learning how to be a minstrel, Sir. The true art lies in making each flower believe that she is the one truly special flower of the whole garden. But it takes time for her to realize that she wishes all the other flowers would fall prey to the scythe... so time, Mylord, is of the essence."
Geoffrey nods to that. "Time you shall have then. And keep on watering that seed. It really needs to get watered, I fear. Sour-looking and almost withered as it already is." Looking slightly patronizing in a mocking way for a moment, he clears his throat as he notices a change in the trader's bearing, the man hesitates before he names a slightly higher price than what the Lusignan had offered. "Done!" the Count of Ascalon exclaims and digs the required amount out of a small pouch. Leaning over to the minstrel, he murmurs: "Hah. Who would have thought a Lusignan would learn the haggling ways of a Saracen? A few years ago, and I would have paid what he was charging me in his first offer! And now I buy it for half the price?"
"I thought a de Lusignan would haggle with his sword in hand.", Raimon comments and smiles a little. "A decent price for a fine object though, Sir. Christ's blessing be with you, Mylord.", he greets politely as he gathers that the man is about to leave with his newly-bought loot and so he makes his own way out of the market as well.