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Inside The Fortune Teller's Tent | Wednesday all day


Aria
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The tent was well-lit inside, which was fortunate because there were yet more cats roaming around and visitors had to be careful not to step on one. Dominating the area was a large wooden table carved with mysterious shapes. A tall, chubby middle-aged Romani woman sat behind it in a large chair. She was dressed in a long glittering dark blue robe and her ebony hair had been put up and fastened with sparkling pins in the shape of stars and moons. On the table beside her sat a deck of cards.

 

The fortune teller greeted her guests politely and asked them to sit in the sturdy chair in front of the table. Though couples were allowed to enter together, only one fortune could be told at a time.

 

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  • Aria changed the title to Inside The Fortune Teller's Tent | Wednesday all day

(Contd. from here)

Well, she was polite at least, Charles thought, inclining his head to return the greeting and dodging a pair of cats before pouring himself into the indicated chair. She was striking too, tall and well-fleshed, and with those ornaments in her dark hair. A showman himself, Charles could appreciate the effort and skill with which the image of a mystic had been created and maintained.

"The cards rather than palmistry, I take it?" he asked, nodding at the deck beside the fortune-teller. "At least it's not haruspicy. Imagine the stains."

He laughed.

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The young woman blushed when Charles smiled at her. She was accustomed to men flirting with her, but most nobles didn't speak to her at all.  This one paid for the people behind him. They all thanked him, as did she when he flicked a coin over to her.

 

Inside the tent, the fortune teller watched him walk in. Another noble. At least this one had a sense of humor. “I doubt the local farmers would be happy if I disemboweled their livestock,” she chuckled. “And the cards are much more accurate.

 

“I am Madame Soraya, my lord. Is there anything in particular you wish to know?”

 

A voice from outside shouted:  “A tiger is attacking a child in the arena!”

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"My curiosity is more general than specific," Charles said, smiling. In truth, his curiosity was for amusement rather than answers but it would be impolite to say so.

"But if you need specific questions to answer, then I suppose — "

He was interrupted by the shouting outside, and was on his feet and at the tent flaps before his conscious mind had processed what had been said.

"Excuse me, I shall be back presently," he called over his shoulder, already moving rapidly towards the arena.

(Contd. here)

Edited by Charles Audley
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  • 3 weeks later...

It was later that afternoon, later than a certain amount of excitement around the Arena, involving a large cat and a little girl, that a rangy Life Guard who'd been somewhat involved in that excitement approached the fortune seller's tent. Some might scoff at such performances as simply a way to separate people from their money, but the Highlands were still thick with old folklore and even a few who quietly practiced some of the old ways, and Douglas certainly did not discredit such abilities. One did so at one's peril. 

The cats were different though. He wondered vaguely whether owning a witch's cat would bring good or bad luck. Opinions were divided, especially on black cats. Sailors and fishermen's wives held that black cats were good luck, but in much of the Highlands, a black cat with a white spot on it's chest was suspected of being the cat-sidh, a fairy or witch which could transform into a cat and which stole the souls of the dead if they crossed the corpse before burial. But a bowl of milk left out for her on All Saints Day would bring good luck. 

"Er the cats really fer sale?"* He asked curiously. 

Subtitles
*"Are the cats really for sale?"

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Langdon and the Herberts

The main event was over and it was time to visit the fortune teller.  He had visited the mystic the day before to chum the waters for a favorable fortune for Susan.  Now was the time to score his points before bidding au revoir to Susan and her mother.  The trio patiently awaited their audience.

 

OOC~  I was informed that I had posted to the wrong thread for the fortune teller after the main event on Wednesday, so corrected it to here.

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Douglas

 

The gentleman who entered Madame Soraya’s tent wore the same kind of uniform as the one who had visited her yesterday to ask for specific predictions for his sweetheart. This man was much taller and clearly Scottish by his speech.

 

A brow quirked upward at his question. “Yes, they are all for sale. Most of them join us when we’re traveling from one place to another ... thin, hungry creatures who are drawn by the smell of our cooking. I take them in and sell them when they are comfortable around people. They survived in the wild by hunting and they are very good at catching rodents. If you prefer a pampered pet, it is best to buy one of the kittens. They are better able to adjust to a different lifestyle.”

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Langdon and the Herberts

 

Susan had never been superstitious, but the knowledge that ghosts were real had turned her doubt of the supernatural upside down. Maybe it really was possible to know the future. Whatever the case, she planned to take the fortune teller’s predictions with a grain of salt.

 

The only downside was that her mother had forbidden her to go into the tent with Charles. They would have to take turns and Lady Pembroke would accompany Susan. They didn’t have to wait in line long and when it was their turn, she asked: “Do you want to go first or shall I?”

 

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Charles was unaware of Lady Pembroke's prohibition.  How could she object to him witnessing the fortune telling?

"I do not plan to ask her anything," he replied.  "Life should be a mystery."  He did not quite believe that, but it sounded good.  "Though maybe you could find out something about the golden dagger or the Swan and Lion and use it as a test to see if the woman is a fake," he suggested.  Of course, he had already suggested that the Mystic exaggerate a wonderful life and marriage for Susan.  He expected she would deliver, and that would even strengthen further his chances to marry Susan.

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Douglas took Madame Soraya's information regarding the cats with a thoughtful air. "I've nae need fer a pet, but I do hae a barn on my lands in Scotland that cuid do wi' a rat catcher er twa; if ye hae ony that er large an' thick o' coat, and ken thair trade."* He said, thinking of the large barn they put the cattle into through the snows. Highland cattle were tough against cold weather, with their own shaggy coats, but they still fared best when brought inside during the worst weather. And Scotland specialised in bad weather. How much protection might a witch's cat give, if given a good home?

Not that the woman before him was likely focused on the cats, and Douglas regarded Madame Soraya with interest. The travelling folk were often viewed as vagabonds at best and itinerants at worst, but the big Scotsman knew well what it was to be judged by one's origins and approached the encounter with a rather more open mind. This woman was making a living with the circus, perhaps one of the few ways that she could. He wondered whether the girl collecting the fees was her daughter. 

Subtitles
* "I've no need for a pet, but I do have a barn on my lands in Scotland that could do with a rat catcher or two; if you have any that are large and thick of coat, and know their trade."

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Douglas

 

Madame Soraya smiled. “I think I know exactly what you need. Some of my cats are larger than the others and have very thick fur. They aren’t very friendly. Not even the lion and tiger trainers have had any luck in taming them. They tolerate me because I am kind to them and take care of their needs, of which they have few. Like my people, they are wild and free and self-sufficient. I think they would do well in Scotland. I would not be surprised if they were descended from the wild cats that roam there.

 

“When we stop to perform, they are content to sleep in their cages during the day and hunt at night.  I think they see their cages as a refuge from the rain.  The three I have are kept in the back.  I can have them brought out if you’re interested in them.”

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Douglas liked the sound of the cats that Madame Soraya described. Independent souls who did what they had to. He could relate to that. "Friendly I dinnae need, sae lang as they weel nae run off an' nae return." He said honestly. "The barn is warm an' dry, thairs plenty o' mice in the hay loft, an' they weel hae food an' water."* Surely that would be enough to keep a cat who had faced dire straits hanging around?

Scottish wildcats were a breed of their own, different from house cats and nigh impossible to tame. The MacBain arms featured one. "I wuid verra much like tae see thaim, if tis nae interruption o' yer main business."** Which was telling fortunes, not selling cats. 

Subtitles
* "Friendly I don't need, so long as they will not run off and not return. The barn is warm and dry, there's plenty of mice in the hay loft, and they will have food and water."
** "I would very much like to see them, if it's no interruption of your main business."

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Langdon and the Herberts

 

Lady Pembroke relented and agreed that they could all visit the fortune teller together. Susan wasn’t sure why she changed her mind. Maybe it had something to do with Charles killing the frenzied tiger. If he and the other men had failed, it might have launched itself straight at them and mauled them to death.

 

She thanked her mother and, after their fees were paid, they stepped into the tent. The fortune teller wasn’t a wizened old woman like Susan had imagined, but middle-aged, tall, and plump. There were cats inside too.  One of them rubbed its furry head against her skirts.

 

Madame Soraya recognized Charles from their encounter the previous day. So this young lady was the one he wanted to impress. She introduced herself and indicated that one of them should sit down.

 

"You should have your fortune told too," Susan whispered to Charles.  "Just for fun."

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Charles welcomed Lady Pembroke's indulgence and he gave her a deferential nod.  After the event with the tiger, Charles preferred the calm company of Susan and her mother.

"Ladies first," he replied to the mystic.  As Susan whispered to him, he whispered back "but what if she were to tell me that my future was with a dark-hared lady stranger," he teased.  That might get her to rethink having him sit for a read.  Perhaps he would change his mind when he heard how Susan's fortune went.

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