Here is the second installment of The Three Sisters. Enjoy!
Just a few more towns, she said to herself, and maybe a little more money just to make the journey easier and they would be able to go home where she could keep her girls protected. They reached the edge of the town of Sheridan which woke Gemma from her sleep. She could feel the energy of the people around them as they entered the town.
“Where are we?” Gemma asked with a sleepy yawn, rubbing her eyes.
Diya, who was riding the horse because her legs had grown tired from walking, looked back at her sleepy sister. “We are in the town of Sheridan.”
Gemma looked around, and smelled the air taking a deep breath. “This place is much better than the last.” She said, as she laid her head back down on the pillow inside the cart.
Lillian was please that Gemma didn’t feel immediate discontent like she did in the last town. They stopped at a butcher’s shop. Lillian figured there they would be able to get some meats for their stay and information as where they might camp. The man looked up as she entered and she could him audibly gasp as if she took him by surprise.
“How can I help you, mi’lady?” He asked, unable to take his eyes off her.
“I wanted to purchase some meats and get some information as to where we, my sisters and I, could camp to bring some joy and entertainment to your lovely town.” She said with a dazzling smile.
“I can most certainly help you with whatever meats you may desire, as for the camping.” He stopped, stroking his chin. “The best place would be were the traders usually set up, just on the edge of town. People flock their daily to see what is new, to gossip and enjoy a good song now and again.”
Lillian was pleased and laughed with joy. “That will be perfect, for I sing a good song now and again.”
The butcher wrapped and filled a basket full of meat, giving Lillian a discount on the all she had asked for. He even carried it out to the cart for her. He looked up at Diya who still sat on the horse back and gasped again. “Two so beautiful.” He said. Diya just smiled. ‘’What is it that you ladies do so I may spread the word of your visit?” He asked, nearly dropping the basket.
Lillian caught it and carefully placed in the cart beside where Gemma laid resting. “I can see your future, and my sister here is a healer.” She said with a smile. “But in the evenings, we enjoy to sing and dance for the friends that welcome us into their towns.”
“Can tell the future you say? Can you see mine?” The butcher asked.
Lillian wanted to bring people to their tent so she smiled and graciously accepted his request. “Of course, if you will permit me to take your hand?”
The butcher quickly wiped his hands on his apron and held one out for her to hold. Lillian removed the glove from her left hand and placed it in his. The butcher stared into her eyes; he could not look away. “Ah,” She said. “You are not married.”
The butcher shook his head. “No, sadly.”
“But there is a girl that you have been in frequently over the past months. She only purchases small amounts.” Lillian continued, and the butcher nodded his head. “You find her pleasing to look at. If you are here, tomorrow, when she returns; she will request a pound of bacon. This will be your opportunity to begin courting her. She will accept and I see a long future with her. I see three children; two boys that will carry on the family business.”
She released the butcher’s hand and smiled. He was amazed about what she had known about the girl. Lillian quickly put her glove back on, not wanting to touch anything else accidentally. “Heed my warning though, do not deviate from what I have said. You must be here just before midday for her to come. If you are not, that future may change. It’s like a river, if you dig a new trench for the water it will flow in that direction and I cannot foresee if it will merge again in the end.”
The butcher nodded. “I will heed your warning.” He said, “And spread the word of your work and beauty.” He bid them farewell and the sisters were off to make camp.
Gemma popped her head up from under the tent that kept her covered. “I liked him. He had a good heart.”
Lillian smiled. “I felt as much too.”
“A little lonely, but a good heart. He thought the two of you were beautiful but he did not have impure thoughts of you. That is rare in the heart of men.” Gemma said, as if puzzled.
“It is because his thoughts and heart truly desire another.” Lillian said.
“ooohhh.” Gemma said. Whereas Gemma could sense the thoughts and feelings of other, her lack of worldly experience and youth made some things difficult to understand. Lillian tried to teach her as they went along that people are not perfect and will not always have positive thoughts or energy but it doesn’t mean they are truly evil people; maybe they are just having a bad day. Lillian knew how difficult the last town was for Gemma, but in some ways she was grateful for going there. Gemma learned some very important lessons there, like senses when someone was truly bad heart and soul.
Diya turned to Gemma. “So, how are feeling dear little one? How is the town feeling today?”
Gemma thought for a moment and gazed around as if she were site seeing. “I feel a lot of happiness and joy here. It is a much quieter town; my head isn’t buzzing as full of a nest of hornets.”
Diya laughed. “Good, maybe we can stay a day or two.”
They reached the end of the row of merchants and other gypsy entertainers. Gemma was mesmerized by the jugglers; their minds were relatively clear yet they always knew when to catch the next baton or ball they were juggling. All she knew is she would have to think hard. She made a mental note to ask Lillian about that later.
Lillian pulled the cart to a stop as Diya slid off the back of the horse and they began to unload. Gemma helped where she could but would often get distracted by a bird passing by or the thoughts of the traders as they haggled with customers. Lillian would have to keep telling her to focus and to bring this or that from the cart.
The tent was set, as always it was divided in three, with flaps between each. In the front is where Lillian would do her readings and sleep in the evening. To the left is where Diya would take those who came to be healed, and in the back is where Gemma remained often reading to keep her mind focused.
It was not long before word of them started to spread. The beautiful sisters and their gifts of sight and touch; the towns people found them absolutely delightful. Neither sister had set prices for their readings or healings, they always took what people wished to pay or could afford; even doing them for free on occasion. They knew the majority of their money came in the evening when they would sing and dance.
The butcher was true to his word. The sisters were not set for more than an hour and they already had lively groups of people showing up at their tents to greet them. Many took Lillian up on her offer of reading their futures. Often times, she left bad stuff out to keep people happy and upbeat. Occasionally, Gemma would snort in contradiction of her sister’s reading and Lillian would have to tell her to be quiet.
Once the person had left, Gemma would stick her head out. “They already changed their mind you know.”
“I can’t help that.” Lillian responded. “I warn them all.”
Gemma just shrugged her shoulders and ducked back under the curtain. As the day began to turn to night, Lillian and Diya would close up shop and make dinner. Gemma wasn’t as ravenous here as she was in the last place. It seemed the minds of the people around her were much more at ease. When dinner was through, Diya would change into one of her dance costumes with scarves and ribbon and Lillian would pull out her lire, setting a chair in front of the tent to settle down to sing.
They would tuck Gemma into blankets in the front room so she could hear her sing which usually lulled the child to sleep. Lillian would begin with a soft, sweet song that would bring people to circle their tent. Diya would dance a routine much like a ballet and the people would cheer. They would fill the girls’ bucket with silver to hear and watch them again, sometimes requesting songs, and sit for hours captivated in their beauty. Diya would retire for the evening and Lillian would perform one last song and tonight it would be the request of the butcher that had been so kind to them earlier.
The sisters stayed three days in the lovely town of Sheridan. They allowed Gemma to roam a little more than usual and the people marveled at her beauty. As she walked she pulsated with energy of happiness, calming and peace. The people around her found themselves happy and Gemma preferred it that way, but this took much energy from her even in a town as restful as Sheridan.
She returned to the tent, needing much nourishment and rest and snuck in behind Lillian as she read a man’s future. She was tired, but as she ate she began to feel agitated. Lillian had finished the man’s reading, and she heard Diya walk into the room and apologize for interrupting not realizing that Lillian was with a customer.
Gemma heard the man tell her it was okay, they had finished and compliment her on her beauty. Gemma became almost fitful by this time. Diya excused herself, hearing Gemma making noise in the other part of the tent. She rushed to the child and placed her arm around her.
“What is it, little one?” She asked.
“That man, he is not a good man.” Gemma responded.
Lillian had wished her customer a good day and quickly joined her sisters in the back, also wrapping her arms around Gemma. “Goodness, what happened?” She looked to Diya.
Diya shrugged. “I don’t know, she said the man that just left was not a good man.”
“I did not get a bad reading off of him.” Lillian was confused. “All I seen was much work in his future.”
“He changed his mind. The moment he seen Diya.” Gemma said, rocking back and forth.
“What?” Diya exclaimed.
“You need to calm down Gemma.” Lillian said softly, cradling her.
Gemma began to cry. “I saw it. He changed his mind. He became lustful. He wishes to possess her.”
Diya backed up, shocked by Gemma’s words. Lillian continued to cradle Gemma and softly began to sing as she rocked her. Diya remained silent, her face pale with confusion and worry. Lillian looked up at her with concern in her eyes, but continued to focus her energy on Gemma. Gemma’s tears slowed and soon she fell into a deep sleep. Lillian laid her down on one of the down blankets and wrapped her up. She stood and turned her attention to Diya.
“What did she mean?” Diya asked shakily.
Lillian shook her head and whispered. “I don’t know, but we’ll just have to keep our eyes sharp and keep you safe.”
Diya ran to Lillian whose arms were open wide to embrace her. “Do not worry, my sweet sister. I will not let anything happen to you.” Lillian said, grabbing Diya’s face gently to look her in the eyes and kissed her softly on the nose. Diya just nodded and held tight to Lillian.
They held tight together until the sound of a woman’s voice called from the front of the tent. A customer for Lillian had arrived. She slowly let Diya go but she could still see the worry in her eyes. Diya sat and watched Gemma sleep as Lillian stepped out to tend to her reading.
The day went on as usual and night began to creep over the hills as the sun disappeared leaving the sky full of purple and blue hues. Lillian closed up and took her place outside with her small harp this time and began to sing. Diya soon joined her and danced as if she had no worries in the world. The sister’s entertained and delighted their audience until the moon was full above them.
Lillian sang her last song and Diya danced her last dance; they tucked in for the evening as the crowd dispersed around them. Lillian made a modest dinner of stew and bread and fed the three of them. Silence filled the table; all of them tired from the day’s events and Gemma was ravenous. When the sisters had eaten their fill, Lillian cleaned and stowed the dishes and cookery then turned to her sisters. “I think tomorrow morning we will leave and continue our journey.”
“Where shall we go this time?” Diya asked, a slight tone of relief filled her voice.
“I think it’s time to start heading north.” Lillian responded but would say no more. She tucked Gemma back in to bed and Diya curled up on her large pillow ready to sleep until the sun appeared again in the morning. Lillian had not forgotten Gemma’s words and brought to bed with her the only thing she did not pack away from dinner; her large kitchen knife. She lay down next to Gemma and sang a soft lullaby until the three of them were taken by sleep.
Gemma and Lillian awoke a couple of hours later to Diya’s screams. “Let me go!” They heard in the darkness along with sobs of fear and pain. A silhouette of a man could be seen against the light canvas of the tent. Lillian jumped to her feet with the knife in her hands. “Let her go!” She screamed, as she pulled the flap aside to see the man trying to wrestle Diya into submission; she had already been struck once as a bead of blood trickled down the side of mouth.
The man’s eyes were full of lust and anger. He turned his attention to Lillian without words. Lillian tried to strike out at him with the knife but failed. He grabbed her hand, twisting it until the knife fell free. In that instant, Lillian held his hand and she could see he planned to take Diya and kill all three of them. She fell to her knees and searched for the knife, but the man had already retrieved it and now held it above her head.
Madness had taken over the man and he laughed as Lillian tried to get back to her feet. He pushed her back down and turned her attention back to Diya. “Now, let’s see that graceful body.” He voice was thick and gravelly.
Gemma stepped in, pulling the flap back to stare at him. He was caught off guard not expecting a third pair of eyes to be on him. Gemma was calm and watched him, staring into his eyes as he caught sight of her. “You don’t want to do that.” She whispered.
The man, already on his knees, left Diya and crawled to Gemma with the knife still in his hand. He raised it as if to strike at Gemma, but Gemma shook her head. Lillian cried out; Gemma stared at Lillian for a second and she fell silent. Gemma focused in again on the man. He began to sob and yell at the top of his lungs. “Get out of my head! You’re a witch! You’re a witch.”
Gemma never broke her gaze on the man as he broke down in front of them. He stood and stumbled out of the tent, trip and stumbling as he went. She followed him as he left the tent and could hear the sound of footsteps approaching. Gemma continued to stare at the man, almost as if he were a mouse being played with by a cat, as he stumbled again but this time landing on the knife he held in his hand.
“Oh my Lord!” A voice said out of the darkness. Gemma relaxed and then collapsed just outside the entrance of the tent. Lillian appeared and scoped Gemma up in her arms. “What has happened?” Lillian looked up to see the butcher kneeling at the side of the man’s body.
Lillian had tears streaming down her face. “He snuck into our tent and attacked my sister Diya.”
The butcher looked horrified. He leaned down and the man said his final word; simply the word “witch”.
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- Short Story – The Three Sisters pt. 1 (sastevens72.wordpress.com)