The Peddler’s Curse

The peddler was a small man with a thick white beard. He had tan, wrinkled skin and ragged brown and grey clothes. The sole’s of his boots were beginning to peel and his thin jacket had holes in the pockets.

His wife was descending from their wagon with a small wicker basket filled with boxes of matches, other cheap gold and silver trinkets and ribbon’s as red as blood.

“That’s nearly the last of our things.” She whispered to him as she hands him the basket, “Next we’ll be selling the old boy.” And she turned to look at the old collie dog laying by the wheels of the wagon, whose ears pricked up as they started their conversation.

“Don’t you worry my old mucker!” Said the peddler, “You’ll be with us til your last breath!” The collie dog wagged his tail and with great pain and effort raised to his feet and limped the few steps to his owner. The peddler bent down and scratched behind the old dogs ears.

“We should be thinkin’ about gettin’ a new dog. One who can actually catch rabbits before we starve to death!” Snapped his wife before returning inside their barren wagon.

“Look! Look!” Exclaimed the peddler’s children. He turned to see that his young daughter and son had set up the bender tent best they could. The poles that hold the cloth are the wrong distance apart making the tent small and unsteady but he smiles at them anyway.

“Well, look at that!” He pronounced proudly. His children skipped happily over to him, but their smiles wavered as they noticed the basket.

“Where are you going with my ribbons?” Asked his daughter. His son, who was slightly younger than the daughter, peered over the side of the basket.

“That’s all mam’s jewellery.” The little boy said.

The peddler could feel his heart ache but he forced a smile to his lips anyway, “I’m going to sell them. Down there,” he pointed down the low hill to the marsh land beyond the fern wood. The tops of houses and smoke from chimney’s is clearly visible, “that’s the village of Mourne. And tonight when I return we will eat until we can’t eat no more!”

Smiles brighten the faces of his children. The peddler sets down his wicker basket, filled with the last of their possessions and pulls his children into a hug. They feel like they were only made of skin and bone.

As he left their little camp site, ...

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Lily Larkin
May 23 2020

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