posted March 9, 1997

The Tale Of A Dream

Chapter Three - True Image

And so it went on every morning for several days. Clopin and Samira learned a little more about each other each time they talked; very little, on SamiraĖs behalf, but Clopin had a wealth of tales about his more proper friends that he didnĖt mind telling to a lady. Samira would often come when the stars began to dot the sky, and then he would tell stories of more fictitious origins.
It was about a fortnight from when he had first fallen into SamiraĖs care when, after a particularly flitting tale, and while Samira was gazing dreamily out the window reminiscing of the storyĖs heroine, described much like herself, that Clopin suddenly announced, "I am going to earn my keep. Tomorrow, will you show me what work I can do here?"
Samira turned to him, startled. Her eyes softened in concern as she reached out to gently place her hands over the cloth-bandages that were wrapped around Clopin's torn hands. She did not say a word, only looked at him sympathetically.
Clopin shook his head. "It does not matter. I have taken advantage of your hospitality for too long. It is time for me to earn my room and meals."
Samira sighed and slowly began to unravel the bandages from around one of his hands. Clopin's eyes narrowed. He never thought simple thorns could do so much damage. He uttered a sigh of frustration. No longer was there pain, but the wounds were not healing cleanly; he realized that he would be scarred for life. A frown passed over his face.
Samira gently patted his exposed hand. The cool touch of her smaller hand was soothing. Clopin shook his head again. "It does not matter," he repeated. He took the bandages from her and quickly re-wrapped his hand.
Samira looked at him for a long moment, an unreadable expression on her face. Clopin chose to ignore her in a fleeting emotion, turning his gaze to the window. He studied the sky for a while, the stars winking at him from their bright places in the dark heavens. He did not even notice the soft sound of the door being quietly closed behind Samira as she left. Once he did realize she was gone, he thought of how quiet she had been after he had finished his story for the evening. He wondered if he had made the princess and prince who lived happily ever after seem too much like Samira and himself.

* * * * *

Clopin was up before the sun rose, though he stayed in his room, silently watching the sky lightening to herald the dawn. He sat on the side of the bed with his knees drawn up, his arms wrapped around his knees, and his head tilted against his shoulder. Throughout the changing colors of the sky, from deep blue through a rainbow of subtle shades to a clear, cloudless blue, he remained still, thoughtful, brooding.
At last the door quietly opened. Samira cautiously poked her head in. She was not surprised to see that he was awake. She called out softly, "Good morning, Clopin."
" 'Morning," he mumbled in return. His eyes were fixed on the sky outside. Suddenly he brightened. "Ah, good morning, Samira! I wasn't quite awake yet..." He smiled wryly.
"So I saw," she replied quietly. She paused a moment, then said, "I have something for you..."
"Oh?" Clopin looked at her with interest. Samira took a small rectangular box from a pocket of her dress and handed it to him. Clopin gave her a curious look, then opened the box. Folded neatly in half inside the box was a pair of nearly elbow-length black gloves. Now Clopin's countenance took on a look of surprise. "Where did you get these?"
Samira blushed slightly. "I -- I made them."
"You..." ClopinĖs face lit up. "These are excellent! Such skill!"
Samira blushed again. "Well, if you really do insist on working here, then your hands will need protection..." Clopin smiled adoringly at her. She was so concerned for his welfare. Then she stammered, "Are you sure you are up to this? Tending to a farm is hard work."
"Hard work is good!" Clopin proclaimed stoutly. Then he grinned. "I am getting tired of being useless, anyway."
Samira smiled, knowing she could not dissuade him. "If you insist, then..."

* * * * *

He insisted, of course. Clopin had decided this was where he would stay, and he knew he had to prove his worth if his plan was actually going to work.

About mid-morning Samira went out to the well behind the house. She heard the sound of an axe cleanly slicing through a wooden log. A minute later the sound repeated. Less than a minute, and it came again. Samira left the pail at the base of the well and slowly followed the sound toward the shed that sat on the other side of the smallest field from the house.
Samira came around the side of the shed just as Clopin was raising the axe. Quickly she ducked back out of sight, and tried not to look obvious as she watched him. He had borrowed a set of Jarek's work clothes, which hung loosely on his thin frame; not that Jarek was a very large man, but he was more broad-shouldered than Clopin. However, Samira was surprised by the strength in his wiry form. She watched for a while longer, able to see the determination in ClopinĖs face for want of doing a good job. She had to admit that he was the hardest worker that had ever been a hired hand on the farm.

* * * * * *

Clopin found that he was well accepted by this small family; they never cared that he was a gypsy. Clopin learned all about farming and toil under a hot sun. And he did work hard, stemming from how he knew that one must work to earn one's keep. He began to forget his old life, finding that he liked the hard-working farm life. Time passed, a year, two years, and he grew more dedicated to this work.
But he still had gypsy blood in him. More than once he paused, a pang of longing to perform some acrobatics coming to him. One day this longing finally came to action. Clopin was observing a field one afternoon, as he had paused on his way to the shed to return the rope he had coiled on his arm. In his meandering attention, his gaze settled on two trees a good length apart -- a good length for a tight-rope, he found himself thinking.
Without any consideration for anyone who might be watching, he strung the rope from one tree to the other, and, as soon as he climbed up onto the rope, all of his old talents came rushing back to him. He smiled as he went through a precarious balancing routine, with a difficult maneuver concerning leaping up, turning a somersault, and landing on the rope without falling.
He executed it perfectly; along with other acts he remembered. Somehow he was able to recall his routines without thinking of the other memories that surrounded them.
Clopin laughed out loud, rejoicing in the fact that he had not lost his touch. He gave a start, though, as he heard someone clapping below. He glanced toward the ground and nearly fell off the rope when he saw who.
Samira stood beaming up at him. "Clopin!" she exclaimed brightly, "You never told me you were such a wonderful performer!"
Clopin wanted to grin arrogantly, but the realization that he had not been doing his work stifled the urge for an encore. However, when he saw the look on SamiraĖs face, he only wanted to continue his performance, just for her.
Samira's eyes held a gleam of child-like glee. She could not hold back a grin. "That was wonderful! Why did you not tell me? You could perform in the Winter fair in the city!"
Clopin could only smile meekly at the enthusiastic thoughts he saw running across her face. Then he began to chuckle, and, out of reflex, he leapt up, did a flip in the air, and landed square on his feet in front of her, ending in a deep bow with a flourish of his arm.
Samira smiled in delight. "Would you, Clopin?" she asked anxiously. "Would you like to perform at the fair? Papa always goes every year, and he would be happy to make an extra profit -- Clopin, you are a born performer!"
Now Clopin grinned proudly. If Samira thought he should perform at the fair, then he would! He still had a flair for acrobatics, and a little practice would have him at perfection once again!
Samira was gazing at him thoughtfully. "You need a costume, Clopin...a very festive outfit with bright colors - plain clothes are not fit for such talent!" She smiled coyly. "I can make such an outfit for you. Yes, I could!" She smiled happily, seemingly lost within her own thoughts as she went silent.
Why not, Clopin said to himself. It will be fun to get back to my first work...

Samira showed him the extent of her talent: she worked eagerly to make several colorful outfits for him to perform in. His favorite was a set consisting of a tunic of alternating halves of bright blue and magenta above a dark blue belt, with alternating blue and yellow on the bottom; and leggings with one side purple, the other yellow-and-purple striped.
The accessories for this outfit, but went with all the others, were a magenta mask with yellow trim on the top edge, and a pair of floppy, two-colored curled-toe shoes, blue with the top edge folded down to show magenta in contrast. Topping off the tunic was a yellow shawl-like piece, cleverly adorned with round bells; the shoes also had bells on them. On the first trip into town, Clopin bought another accessory to match his performing clothes -- a large blue hat with a long yellow feather streaming from the top.
Clopin was a success. When the time of the fair came near, he always felt anxious to perform. He kept up with his chores on the farm, and still found time to work on his routines. He was happy.
His past was always there, though, in the form of the black gloves. The years passed; either time or the caring he felt for Samira, and the fondness she returned, helped to heal the wounds. Whichever it was, the scars healed so as not to be so obvious; but the wounds would always be there.

Coming next: 4th chapter of the Tale of a Dream: One Heart For Another

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(c) 1996-2004 Autumn Loweck. This work may not be copied, distributed, or reprinted without the author's permission. All characters are property of Autumn Loweck (aka Shiri), unless specified otherwise, and may not be "borrowed" or mentioned in other works without notifying the author first