by Saoirse Redgrave copyright 2006
The carriage came into town too fast, a wheel clattering and moving more from side-to-side than round and round. The horses' sides heaved with exertion, their flanks foam-flecked, eyes wide and rolling. The bay limped the final few steps, stopping clumsily when the wild-eyed driver finally dared pull them to a sudden and near disastrous halt. Even inside the Roxborough Inn where Dezdemona Dillamond was doing her raucous rendition of "Roll Your Leg Over" people fell silent at the din in shocked speculation.
Judge McGregor (so-named by optimistic parents) was the first to the door. Reaching up, he offered a hand to the driver. The stranger grasped it, all but falling from the padded leather seat. He stood on wobbling legs, grasping McGregor’s meaty hand with knuckles long before turned white. The driver’s slack jaw moved under what appeared to the few bold onlookers to be strong concentration. "Where--?"
McGregor clapped him on the back--an unwise decision, he learned, as he had to then right the poor weak-kneed fellow once more. "You are in Roxborough, my friend. Whatever your trouble on your way, it is surely far behind you now."
The man nodded slowly, eyes just letting go of their haze.
McGregor sized up the situation as he stabilized the man on the Inn's threshold. He could feel a half-dozen pairs of eyes sorting things out for themselves from the open door. Opinions were being formed and he always liked his to be among the ones that shaped those of others, so he made his observations quickly, drawing conclusions as he watched.
The carriage was dovetailed and gilded with a well-trimmed door and elegant curtains edged with lace and beadwork. Red as a harlot's rouge, its wheels were black and iron-rimmed, except for the wobbling one which looked to have been fiercely chewed by some severe obstacles. All in all, a rich man's transportation.
A sniffle came from inside the carriage and then a high-pitched whine. Hunting dogs? McGregor wondered. "Your passengers?"
The driver released McGregor, biting the palm of his own hand, brow furrowed, eyes filling with tears. "Oh--the Master--"
"Got it," piped up Dezdemona. She slinked past and threw open the door with all the drama she could muster at that moment.
The Inn's crowd poured out onto the threshold, agog with the sight.
***I decided to pause here with you today, more will follow tomorrow, tra-la-la-la-la!