Historical setting: 563 C.E., a stable in La Coruña
The stable boy arrives with the rising sun this morning and shows us things about feeding these horses. The gray is a bit picky about the proper distribution of oats and my horse just takes whatever is in the trough. Umber trusts me to get it right. The Rose is questioning. Nic understands the boy’s barbarian gothic so it is Nic who receives the instruction, as it should be.
As Nic puts on his leather to keep the iron shirt from his skin the boy has a new thought. He brings out a leather saddle and sells it to Nic for some coins. It’s well padded for the horse’s back and has a seat for a man on the topside, with four horns posted – two in front of the rider and two in back to steady any Roman soldier who might be using a weapon. Nic is very pleased that The Rose will have some leather protecting him from the iron shirt as well.
The boy throws the saddle onto the back of The Rose but immediately the horse rears tossing the child aside as the saddle slides off down his back. I take hold of the horse’s rein near the bit and he accepts my calming pats as Nic gathers the child to his feet. But The Rose is not without empathy. He takes notice of the boy, and also of Nic’s gentle nature toward the child. Then Nic turns his attention back to the horse.
I suggest Nic show him who is in charge. My thought and The Rose’s instinct would be that the horse will receive a brutal reprimand. So Nic’s tone is scolding as he picks up the saddle though I’m not sure if his cursing is toward The Rose or for me. I just assume Nic will toss the saddle back onto the horse and let the mighty Rose know a horse has no say in this. But that is neither the way of Nic, nor the way of The Rose.
Nic lays the saddle in the straw where the horse can see it and investigate this strange new thing. Now Nic removes his chain shirt, revealing his own leather gambeson, then he removes this leather padding he wears and lays it in the straw next to the saddle. The Rose takes notice.
What is this strange dialogue between man and horse? Do neither of them know of the traditions of master and beast?
(Come again tomorrow)