The innkeeper and his wife were astonished at the transformation in their noble guest the next morning. Eleanor had swapped her finery for a plain, simple light grey dress and, thanks to Fulk, her hair was neatly braided and coiled under a wimple. She was nothing more than a well-dressed townsperson, or perhaps a rather poor noble. “Well I hardly want to be robbed a second time, do I?” she said angrily at the look on her hosts’ faces. “You.” she glared at the innkeeper; the man froze in fear, “Go help my man on with his armour.” The man shot off; he didn’t know the first thing about armour but he would have offered to serve as archbishop of Canterbury if it would get him away from his guest.
That left his wife alone with Eleanor and the poor woman didn’t know what to do. She did not want to offend their rich guest; she did not know of anything suitable to say, but she couldn’t just ignore her either. Eleanor solved the woman’s dilemma for her by holding out a small pouch of money, “I believe this will settle my account.”
The woman unlaced the pouch and tipped the money into the palm of her hand; it came to twice what was owed. “Thank you, my lady.” she said reverently, dipping a deep curtsy.
Eleanor ignored her, going to stand in the doorway, watching as the stable boy brought their horses round, saddled, laden and ready to go. “I always feel those unfortunate enough to encounter my aunt Adelaide deserve compensation for suffering her loathsome company.” she thought to herself, “God knows I wanted to charge for enduring her on the single occasion we met!”
The goldsmith’s apprentice looked up at his customer, a warrior still in his mail hauberk with his hand resting comfortably on his sword hilt, and sucked his teeth, “Gonna cost you, take it from me. If you go wandering off with just that ring you’re gonna get kicked in the balls and told ta get stuffed. Whatcha need is this here necklace” he whipped out a small teardrop of clear crystal set on a gold chain, “to show off your wealth and all, aye, mayhap a few other choice items too. That’ll see you home and dry, take it from me.”
Fulk drummed his fingers on his sword hilt, biting his lip to stop a smile. Taking advice on getting engaged from a brat of indistinguishable, but young, age, what a surreal experience. “I don’t think so, the ring will do.”
The boy shook his head, tutting sadly, “Look, I’m a nice chap, I like to see the hero come out on top.” He winked and nudged Fulk with his elbow, just as he had seen his master do when running this sales patter, “So I’ll cut you a deal, that there ring and this here necklace for just the five shillin’s nine pence. Da necklace’s special, it were brought in from some far off land and all. One of a kind, she’ll love it, trust me.” While the necklace was undoubtedly fine it did not look either special or unique.
“The ring, just the ring, and only the ring.” replied Fulk sternly. He did not want a necklace, especially not at that inflated price. He might be spending the crown’s money but he was still leery of paying more than he had to for anything.
The boy scratched his head, unable to figure out what was wrong. This line almost always worked for his master. “Now see here, if you wanna get kicked then that’s your business-”
“Exactly; the ring, now. I’m a busy man.”
The boy didn’t miss a beat, “-but I’m a family man and all so I’m not wantin’ ta see that, I’m on your side.”
“Oh goodie.” muttered Fulk.
“Aye, so if you’re not gonna help yourself I’ll help ya from the goodness of my heart.” He placed a hand over his breastbone, as pious as a saint. “Looky here, that ring’s a bit small like, you’ll want something a tad grander-” he pushed the ring Fulk had chosen to one side and plonked down a new one.
“No.” replied Fulk pushing the new ring, a gaudy affair with a pair of clasped hands engraved on it, back across the counter and placing his own choice back in the centre, “She’ll like that one, it will suit her, so if you’ll sell it to me…”
“So ya really wanna get turned down, fine, fine.” the apprentice shrugged, “So maybe you don’t like her or sommat? Yeh, ya wanna get turned down, right?”
“Call me confident; I know plenty you don’t. The ring…?”
“Confident? Huh?” The boy lost the thread of his sales patter, his face screwed up as he laboriously tried to work out what his customer meant. Why on earth would he be confident? The master always said gold worked with women, no gold meant no chance, and this armoured customer had very little gold. Recovering with some effort he continued his pitch, faltering and disjointed, “Er…oh yeh, so how’s about the ring and the necklace? I’ll let ya have it for four shillin’s.”
Fulk headed towards the door, “I’ll go elsewhere, thanks.”
“No!” yelped the boy, panicking. This was his first customer and he’d been dreaming about telling the goldsmith of his first sale ever since his first day in the shop. He could practically see it, the master patting him on the head and saying “Great work, Edwin. I’ll let you keep a third of the sales fee, you’re the best apprentice I ever had and you’ll be journeyman within a month.” and then he’d reply, “It were nothin’ master, honest.” and the goldsmith would look awed and say, “Then you’re a natural, my lad! You’ll go on to be the best goldsmith, nay the best merchant in the town! They’ll make you mayor and shower you with riches and everyone will love you! I’m so proud you’re my apprentice!”. Now that dream was within reach and crumbling from under his fingertips. He pursued Fulk, stopping him just as he began to open the door, “Look, see the ring’s only two shillin’s and I’ll chuck in the necklace for free. How’s that for fair?”
Fulk stopped; not a bad offer at all, even if the necklace wasn’t quite free. It appealed to the inner bargain hunter.
The boy didn’t wait for him to answer; he could feel his dream coming back to life, “One shillin’ ten pence?”
One free necklace and a reduction in the ring’s price, an offer too good to refuse. “Deal.” The money changed hands and Fulk left the shop, carefully stashing his purchases in his belt pouch. They were both fine items, but what was he was at a loss as to what he was going to do with the necklace, but it would be foolish to refuse. Doubtless the goldsmith would not be best pleased when he returned.
In the shop the boy had a broad grin on his face; his first sale and on his second week in the shop too. The master would be so proud.
Ok, so this is only part of what I planned. I'm busy.
Pint-sized medieval used car salesman
And before anyone tells me there is a ring shaped gap in the description department I shall say that is reserved for later.