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Stories from the Verse
In Verse Proportion
Chapter 92: Kondor 205
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Brown 223
As Kondor and Leah entered the dining hall, most of the diners rose to their feet and bowed slightly. Kondor bowed back.
This formality having been completed, abruptly many of those present--mostly the girls and women--started converging on them, all talking at once in Arabic or Farsi, obviously greeting the girl who had left and returned. She kept saying “Joseph Kondor”, and extending an upraised palm in his direction, so she was obviously introducing him; this was usually followed by the person facing him and spewing a friendly-sounding string of foreign speech, at which he nodded until about the fifth time when he began responding, “A pleasure to meet you,” which tended to silence them. Finally he decided he could extract himself, and said, “I’ll get you a plate; anything in particular?”
“Um--no, you know what I usually eat. Anything is fine.”
Although there were many eyes on him, and many conversations with people pointing his direction, he was able to move unmolested to the serving tables, fill two plates including a good helping of grapes, and locate Zeke on the dais. Setting down the plates, he said, “I’m going to need a cup of wine for Leah, be right back,” and made his second trip.
As he reached the table, an elderly man appeared beside him, and spoke with a bit of an accent. “So, you are the new brother-in-law, yes?”
“I hadn’t thought of myself so, but yes, I guess I am.”
“And they say you are a twice-honored hero of the realm?”
“Thrice, actually. But I was just doing what I could.”
“Interesting. The stories about the abduction of Calipha Rathi are not entirely clear; perhaps you could cast some light on these?”
“I think the Caliph wishes to keep the details secret for the present. I would suggest you ask him; he prefers I not talk about it. If you will excuse me,” he concluded, and returned toward Zeke.
“What was that about?” Zeke asked as Kondor sat.
“Someone looking for palace gossip. I figure if it isn’t common knowledge it isn’t supposed to be, and it’s not our place to betray palace secrets.”
“Right. I’ll be careful.”
Leah had made it to the edge of the dais and was climbing the steps slowly, backwards, as she managed to separate herself from a particularly loquacious woman. She joined them, and Kondor handed her her drink.
“Thank you,” she said. “Whew. I had no idea getting across the dining room would be such an event.”
“They haven’t seen you since before you were married,” Kondor answered. “That’s like a new decade has begun, and they want all the details. It seems that palace gossip is the major pastime here--already someone was asking me about the abduction of the Calipha.”
“You didn’t tell them anything, did you?”
“I told him to ask the Caliph.”
Leah almost choked on her wine. “That’s good,” she said when she was breathing again. “I wish I’d thought of it.”
“Well, as I expected, this is going to be an eat and greet gathering. Do any of these people speak English?”
“Oh, yes, most of them do--just not so well, and they prefer not to.”
“Well, I’ll have to get used to that feeling of people talking behind my back. At least Zeke and I can use telepathy.”
“Yes,” Zeke said, “and we’ll probably be doing more of it. I’m planning on attempting to get to the Southern River Bend after dinner this afternoon. I should get back to work.”
“We’ll miss you,” Leah offered.
“And I’ll miss you guys,” he said, “but I think you’ll be able to keep each other company without me. Anyway, if you want a lift back to the Bend, give me a call.”
“I’ll do that,” Kondor said. “But we’ll be here at least a few more days. I expect that there’s a lot of family for me to meet. I’d say you’re welcome to stay, but I don’t expect you want to meet all that family, and of course they’re not half so interested in you as they are in me.”
“Right. No offense taken. So, what have you got to do around here, besides the same stuff they do at the other palaces?”
Leah laughed. Kondor liked her laugh. “I’ll give you the tour after breakfast,” she said, and turned her attention to eating.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with twenty other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #448: Inventive Versers. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: