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Sunday, 08 March 2009
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Chapter 2: The Cart and the Coach
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The Cart and the Coach

It was two days before the wedding. An early morning in the late spring, somewhere on the southern slopes of the Miramar Hills amid the Marquess of Belmoz's vineyards. The sun was still weak, yet to unchill the air. One would have expected a slightly warmer atmosphere in this part of the year, at least Joáquin had. Nonetheless, it was quite a beautiful day. The dew on the endless ranks of vines glistened quite magically in the early light. Some birds, with richly coloured feathers, darted through the cool air and the ground under the wheels of Joáquin's laden cart 'crunched' in a very characteristic 'early morning' way, as his father used to say. Ah, the fantastic grapes in the back of his cart, dark as the sky on a summer night, rich as Eleanor's eyes under the willow tree at dusk. There was something, something vigorous in the colour of these dark-blue grapes. He found it hard to explain it to anyone without holding one of those grapes under their eyes.

He was coming at a turn in the road. Enrique, the old mare pulling Joáquin´s cart, neighed. Quite why Enrique had been given a male name he didn´t really know. He supposed his father, the old Afonso Silvas, had drunk more than a couple of "wines" when she had been born. Since then the name had probably stuck and so everybody called Enrique Enrique. But now she felt uneasy, that much was certain. She halted.

"What is it, Enrique?" Joáquin asked, quite surprised because he had travelled this road with her many times before, they both knew what was up ahead. "Come on, carry on. There's no one here to be afraid of." Which was true, because he couldn't see anyone at all. Still the old mare wouldn't continue, but anxiously stood still. Her chestnut fur was dusty from the journey over the sandy path, she looked worn down too.

Joáquin dismounted from the cart and walked up to the horse.

"There, there. What's the matter Enrique? What are you afraid of, huh?" He said as he patted her on her head. She neighed again.

"Haha, maybe she's afraid of me." Someone said behind him. There was a slight laugh in the voice and quite instantly his initial shock turned into a smile. He'd recognise her voice among thousands. He turned around. The pale morning colours in her eyes, twinkling as she looked at him, her dark hair, wild and lustrous.

"Eleanor, what are you doing here?" Joáquin asked. She blinked, and walked towards the cart.
"Is this load for Don João?" She asked.
"And you're heading for Belmoz?"
"I'm coming with you."

"Doesn't the Marquess need you?" He asked. The occassions were few when the Marquess didn't need his servants, especially his cook. She was a great cook, the best in the whole of Belmoz and the Don was a great eater, no doubt the greatest in the whole of Belmoz. He grinned faintly. Don João was known throughout Estalia for two things, his wines, and his appetite.

"No." She smiled and jumped on the seat of the cart. "Let's go, I want to go to town."

He opened his mouth to say something, but didn't. There wasn't a lot to say, not today, not tomorrow. Quietly, they rode down the long and winding road. There were few people on the road this spring morning. The peasants were in the fields, the rich in their beds. Joáquin and Eleanor, they would be in the fishing town of Belmoz before the sun was at its zenith.



Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )
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