A Couple o’ Coppers and a Lute

A few coppers.

Reckon can’t do much worse than waking up in the morning with naught but two coppers in a pocket and a lute to yer name. The coin is good enough to buy a small apple, at best. Sure won’t buy respite from me stomach for too long.

And the lute? ‘Tis only of use if I can strum it. Won’t be happening unless I keep the shakes out of me fingers. Not much melody to coax from me now, other than the one coming out of me belly. Besides, the crowds are sort of thin this early. Most people are still busy being hung over. Or out plowing the fields already.

“Why so glum, lass? Did an ant crawl up yer pants, bit ye in the buttocks?”

That was Mire for ye. A bloody ray of sunshine. A dwarf of the gregarious sort, a ne’er-do-well with a kind heart, fast to laugh yet quickly pissed off, when in his cups. Came complete with a bushy black, plaited beard and all. Had rings of solid gold binding the plaits. Not that he’d ever sell one for a hot meal and a decent bed to sleep in for a night, no. Was no touching a dwarf’s beard, apparently.

A raconteur, is what Mire professed to be. Too bad his stories didn’t earn their weight in gold. She was the one doing the heavy lifting, to keep ’em fed. Playing songs, singing and some dancing too. Still, Mire was a decent fellow, when sober. A friend.

“Sod off, Mire. Unless you’ve a brilliant idea which’ll fill our bellies, that is. And before ye say anything, no, I won’t go berry-picking in the woods,” I growled.

“Cheer the feck up, lass. We’ve a bright new day ahead of us. Can’t ye feel the breeze toying with yer locks? The sunshine grazing yer cheek?”

He got to his feet whistling a tune, then suddenly started doing jumping jacks. Looked all sorts of comical, what with his short, stocky legs and arms waving this way and that. Soon he was huffing and puffing, sending beads of sweat flying in every direction.

“Stop it ye daft dwarf, ‘fore ye burst a vein!” I yelled at him, unable to hold off the smile gnawing at me lips. Quite expectedly, he crumpled to the ground like a sorry sack of fat.

Aye, Mire was crap-proof in the morning indeed. He could make bricks cry with laughter, busting out his morning routine.

“No such thing like a wee bit o’ exercise to get yer blood pumpin’,” he panted. Spat a juicy glob of phlegm to the side. “Boy, could use a drink. Thirsty work, this.”

I threw him the wineskin. He was quite welcome to whatever dregs at its bottom. Way too early in the day for me. Not so for Mire. He perked up, rejuvenated by the gulp o’ red, and leaned on an elbow.

“Y’know lass…I’ve gone hungry more days than I can count. I begged. Borrowed money and then couldn’t keep up payin’ it back. Got kicked around and beaten sixteen shades of shite. And not once. All memories I’m not too fond of, aye. But y’know what?”

I rolled my eyes. “What, Mire?”

“I never stopped dragging me sorry arse outa bed. Every day, for one hundred and twenty-four years and counting now. I’ve no excuse. You sure as hell don’t either. Besides. You’re pretty as a picture and sing better than play,” he winked at me.

I nearly smacked him over the head with me lute, there and then. “Better than you, at any rate,” I said, smiling back at him.

“Right y’are lass. So, how’s that to jump-start a day full o’ opportunities?”

Mire was right, of course. Again. Really, a couple o’ coppers and a lute is just about all I needed. There’s a lot can be done with not much at all, I guess. Like, everything’s possible.


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