Category Archives: The Fool’s Tent

The Fool’s Tent

 

Yet I glimpsed a patch of bright color on the exposed cliff above the beach. Even as I stared at it, trying to resolve what it was, a figure emerged from it. I decided it was a tent or some sort of shelter. A man came to stand on the tip of the cliff. His black-and-white hooded cloak struggled and flapped around him. The Fool awaited me.

The tent was made from a fabric I didn’t know, some sort of silk perhaps, but so tightly woven that no breath of air stirred inside it. The glow had come from a tiny brazier, set in a small pit dug in the floor of the chamber. The silk walls caught the heat it generated and held it well, while the light seemed multiplied by the sheen of the fabric. Even so, it was not bright inside the tent: rather it was lit warmly and intimately. A thin rug covered the rest of the floor, and a simple sleeping pallet of wool blankets was in one corner. To my wolf’s nose, it smelled of the Fool’s perfumes. In another corner was a small kit of clothing and a few significant items. I saw that he had brought the featherless Rooster Crown. Somehow it did not surprise me. The feathers from Others Island, the ones I had thought would fit in the crown, were in my sea chest. Some things are too significant to leave unattended.

He had a meager supply of foodstuffs and a single cooking pot; obviously he had relied on our arrival for his long-term survival. I saw no sort of weapon amongst his things; the only knives were ones suitable for cooking. I wondered what ship he had found that had dropped him off here, and why he had not supplied himself better. Among his victuals I found a small pot of honey. I took it.

In the dimming light, the Fool’s colorful one was like a blossom cast on the snow. Illuminated from within, the bright panels gleamed like stained-glass windows. What had seemed random designs suddenly resolved into dragons and serpents cavorting.

The Fool had always had the unique talent of creating a small world for himself when he wished to retreat. The tent was no exception. When I had visited it before, it had been charming, but empty. Now he occupied it and filled it with his presence. A small metal firepot in the center of the floor burned near smokelessly. A smell of cooking, something spicy, lingered in the air. Swift sat cross-legged on a tasseled cushion while the Fool was half-reclined on his pallet. Two arrows, one a dull gray, the other brightly painted and obviously the Fool’s work, rested across Swift’s knees. “Did you require me, sir?” Swift asked quickly. I could hear his reluctance to leave in his voice. I shook my head. “I didn’t even know you were here,” I replied.

As the Fool sat up, I saw what had made Swift laugh. A tiny marionette dangled from his hand, with five fine black threads going to each of the Fool’s fingertips. I had to smile. He had carved a tiny jester, done in black-and-white.The pallid face was his own, as it had been when he was a boy. White down hair floated around the little face. A twitch of one long finger set the creature’s head to nodding at me.

One-handed, he opened a small wooden box at the end of his pallet, and took out a cup and a bowl that nested together. From beneath them, he took a small cloth bag and shook herbs from it into the cup and bowl.

He reached for a bright yellow coverlet that looked as insubstantial as the stuff of his tent walls and draped it around his shoulders.

The Fool’s [tent] was a gorgeous, beckoning blossom in the night, and I longed simply to go there.

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