Geshel tied the mooring ropes tight and sat cradling his tea. This mooring had never been free before. It was popular. A comfortable day’s journey from Cabrin, only a few hours from Bow market, two trees hugging the bank exactly the length of a barge, and a statue said to be magic.
Geshel peered into the river – his living, his home – enjoying the colours of the sunset in the reflection. The shadow of his barge was dark upon that rippling fire. Keg, his dog, gambolled along the narrow deck, always so nimble and sure of foot on the slippery surfaces, running to sit by Geshel’s side.
Geshel glanced at the statue on the bank: pale in the dying light, standing in a mess of great ropes left long ago by a larger craft than Geshel’s. Tales of the statue’s magic were common up and down the river. Innkeepers offered up rounds of ale with them; children sat dangling their legs off the jetties and scared each other with them; bards turned them into song. ‘The statue makes folk see things in the water,’ everyone said.
Geshel had not paid much heed – but he saw now that these fancies were true. For Keg had been dead this last year, buried in that bit of bank just outside of Eylin, where irises carpeted the ground in spring and the sun lingered the longest before falling behind the trees. Keg slept his long sleep by the river, as was right. If joy could dissolve in water, Keg would have made the whole river taste of it.
Geshel poured the dregs of his tea in the water, and the ripples made Keg fade away. Geshel rose and began preparing the barge for the night. He would start at dawn and arrive in Bow earlier than he had planned, giving himself time before he met with the owner of Bow tavern and delivered his shipment of Cabrin ale.
For though Geshel was a practical and a careful man, he knew what his heart desired. He had a little money stored up. He would see if he couldn’t buy a puppy from Bow market tomorrow.