An Autumn Night

It wasn’t often the old man had a chance to freely talk. So rare an occasion was it when someone wasn’t clattering noisily about the inn he had one day wandered into, or wreaking havoc through the kitchens. Now, he had the full attention of thirty six men and two young boys. Women didn’t usually come to the bar.

Slowly, as if some adventurer had discovered his mouth a tomb, and was taking great care not to disturb the dust as he lifted the lid, the old man parted his lips to speak. And with a great preceding breath of dust and age, the bent, white-haired, long-faced, time-harrowed soul relayed to them his tale.

The words flowed forth from his mouth in curling, breathy waves, little splashes of sound accenting his consonants and vowels here and there. His countenance seemed to lift as he spoke, hands clasped before him as he leaned forward with his elbows resting on his knees. The language was familiar to many of them, however none of them had commonly spoken in The Old Tongue in ages. The two young boys were oblivious to the meaning of the tale as it spun from his lips, as the language had been outlawed years before they’d been born, but they listened nonetheless intently, captivated and twined within his intricate web of poetry.

And I sat among them as a stranger, not understanding, but feeling as though I didn’t really need to. His gestures and expressions proved to be enough for him to make me feel what he wanted me to feel. And so i simply sat. And I listened. I let the words of this old Bard twist and weave into a stunning pattern before me. I saw it in the faces of every man in the place. Silently I thanked the gods, blessed to have found this delicate and lasting beauty among what is normally such clamor. And still, the old man spoke with fluidity until it was done. Some men wept, attempting to hide it in their shirtsleeves. The Bard simply stood and picked up his cane. The light emanating from the wall-candles flickered warmly against his heavily-lined face. Without another word, the old man left them in their silence.

His words lingered as a song in the ears of everyone in the room.

By one man, thirty eight found connection.

And I watched him go in peace, looking on as the Bard wandered on into the ringing quiet of the night.