A loud whistle shattered Gitanos concentration as he wound ropes into tight circles for storage. Shouts to children running wild amongst the tents in various stages of disarray of packing up, horses snorting, impatient to get going, laughter as old friends shared their last foamy brew filled his ears; threatening to push the consuming loneliness out of his soul. Amongst the thronging, colourful community, tearfully hugging one another as they bid their farewells till the next tribal gathering, he felt the cold chill of isolation. Gitano scanned the field and was surprised to see Margarinas tent still erect, its colourful flags fluttering in the afternoon breeze. He inwardly shrugged and continued packing the heavy tent materials onto the cart. Always independent, she would normally pull the tent down herself, partially as she didn’t trust others to take care of her sacred space, and partially, as was her right as the drabardi, the seer of the tribe, that she alone amongst women could refuse to bend to the decisions and will of men and could come and go as she pleased. Perhaps, mused Gitano, she has decided to stay on within the monastery walls and had come to some strange agreement with the Doge. Raimondo of Pisa was amongst the Rromanis only sympathizers, allowing their ritual gatherings to take place within church walls and providing what patronage and protection he could afford through the year.
The entire field was a mass of activity and the mounting cacophony of noise urged Gitano on to make short work of packing; in order for him to escape into he relative calm stillness of the dusty roads. As exciting as the gathering had been with the fireside languid secretive eyes of the unmatched girls watching his every move to the games finale and choosing of troopes to perform at the midwinter celebrations in La Spezia, Gitano longed for the solitude of the road. He tied the ropes he had rolled up neatly and heaved the bundle onto the floor of the cart. A sudden slap on the back altered his catlike reflexes and he spring around in a defensive guard.
“Steady there lad, just me” laughed Victor and he drew his arm backward and out of the way. “Just about ready to follow us to that fancy ball then Gitano? We’ll show these nobles what real entertainment is.”
Gitano grinned. “Just need to pack these last bundles on and tied them down.”
Victor motioned with his chin towards the solitary tent in the foreground. “I see Margarina is still busy with her readings. Why don’t you wait for her customer to leave and offer to help her pack up?”
Gitano frowned, the intensity of it wrinkling his young forehead.
Victor shrugged “She likes you and is less likely to send you with your tail between your legs. I’m not ashamed to admit she frightens me when shes in one of her…... moods.”
“She frightens you all the time.”
Victor cleared his throat and grapped with the tent material bundle. “Drabardi are a folk to themselves. It does you well to be wary of them, especially us menfolk”
The cool sharp breeze tussled Gitanos hair.
“There’s snow in that wind. The first fall in these parts in a lifetime. I guarantee it.”
Gitano nodded silently and continued to load the last items on the cart.
“Well lad, I’ll tidy up here - go and help Margarina. She’s to come with us. The Lord from the estates gave her travelling papers as well. Given these strange times, she might be best to …... well come with us. Not that I want you telling her she has to. Maybe just suggest it.”
Gitano saw that there was little use in arguing further and strode over to her tent. He listened at the fluttering doorway for her lilting voice foretelling someones future. A muffled sob jolted him. Well used to seeing teary customers exit her tent, he waited for them to leave; uncomfortable with the feeling that the cry sounded familiar.
“I can’t, I can’t….”
Gitano flung the thick material door open and bounded in.
“I can’t see anything,” sobbed the figure on the floor.
“Margarina. have you been hurt? whats the matter?”
Her dark curly hair stood at ends frizzed and matted, her face streamed with tears, eyes red not with fear but anger and confusion.
A slender arm reached out toward Gitano and grasped his leg as she pulled herself to a sitting position.
“I started to pack and picked up my divining water bowl without emptying it first like I normally do. For some reason, I dipped my hand into it and looked inside.” Margarinas breath grew ragged as she clutched her chest and began shaking her head. “ A woman; no a girl, beautiful, crying. Reaching her hand out. She needed…..to be seen. To be helped. Terrible, her eyes, so young , so lost, so lonely. I reached to her and then it went black.”
Gitano crouched and tentatively put his hand on her shoulder and clumsily patted it. Women were a mystery to him, but coupled with the powers bestowed upon a drabardi, he wasn’t sure what the appropriate response to the sene unfolding in front of him would be. Margarina, the sassy , irrefutable seer of the tribe, an independent warrior woman lay heaving and sobbing on the ground and it was all he could do to stop himself from pressing her for more details on the girl. Perhaps it was the smoldering incense or the latent energetics swirling about the space Maragarina had set, but even those few words she had used to describe the other lost soul had shot hooks into his being and was now slowly drawing him in. Margarina pushed herself further up and grabbed his hand which had gone into an automatic overload and threatened to pound her tiny shoulder to the ground.
‘Gitanto, The whole tent, There was nothing. The water went fetid. I tried to vision. Nothing, my cards useless. I didn’t feel you come in. Nothing - I can see nothing.” her dark eyes bore uncomfortably into his. “Have you any idea what this means to me, to the tribe?”
Margarina threw herself back to the floor and wept; curled up as a strewn bundle of coloured rags on the rushes matting floor. Gitano stood up and remained motionless, as an icy finger of fate stroked his spine.