A Motley Crew

The pen tapped impatiently. Flecks of dried ink fled the nib, speckled the paper: a contract, written in block font, titled "certificate of employ." The tapper, a scruffy, hard-bitten cutter in leathers, sat alone at his pub bench. He hummed as he tapped, accompanied the fiddler sawed by the hearth.  A shadow fell on his paper, and the cutter quit […]

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With the man’s every step, a flat note tolled. An iron bell bounced round his neck. Faces turned, startled, shuffled away. Stoat turned from the bar, stared, wrinkled her upturned nose. She leaned to her friend, a lass wrapped in silk. “Can’t believe they allow that, here.” “What?” said the lass, distracted from her beer. […]

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