The Three Travellers
by Edward D. Hoch
Page 3 of 6
Then he felt the presence of someone towering over him, and
saw it was the figure of Nevar. His right hand rested on the
sword at his waist. "I would have words with you, Gaspar."
"What troubles you?"
"My only daughter Thantia, a virgin not yet twenty, tells me
you gave her a gold coin today."
"Only because I feared the broken water jug was my fault."
"No stranger approaches Thantia! You will leave Ziza this
"We leave in the morning," Gaspar said quietly.
Nevar drew his sword, and Gaspar waited no longer. He flung
himself at the big man and they tumbled towards the fire as the
game-players scattered. Gaspar pulled Nevar's sword from his
Then Thantia broke from the crowd, running to her father.
"This stranger did me no harm!" she cried out.
"Silence, daughter!" Nevar reached for a piece of burning
firewood and hurled it at Gaspar, but it went wide of its mark
and landed on a low straw roof nearby.
"The stable!" someone shouted, and Gaspar saw it was the
herdsman Ramoth hurrying to rescue the horses. The others helped
to quench the flames with water from the well, but not before a
quantity of feed and supplies had been destroyed.
Then Gaspar and Melchior went in search of fat Balthazar, who
had disappeared during the commotion. They found him behind the
row of tents, playing the Egyptian stone game with a half dozen
desert-riders. He had a small pile of gold coins before him.
"This must cease!" Gaspar commanded.
The nomads ran at his words, and Balthazar struggled to his
feet. "It was merely a game."
"Our task is far more important than mere gaming," Gaspar
reminded him, and the fat man looked sheepish. "While you idled I
was near killed by the swordsman Nevar."
"A trouble-maker," Balthazar agreed. "I will not rest easy
until Ziza is behind us on our journey."
Then as they passed the burned stable on the way to their
tent, old Dibon approached them saying, "This ruin is your fault,
Gaspar. Yours and Nevar's."
"That is true, old man. We will stay here tomorrow and help
rebuild the stable."
Dibon bowed his head. "A generous offer. We thank you."
But when they were alone, Balthazar complained, "This will
delay us an entire day!"
"We will travel a distance by night, as you wished."
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