In the previous episode, Celia arrived deep in the forest where she was given food, drink and a large helping of merriment, after which she drifted off to sleep, wondering vaguely what adventure she would be led on. In the morning, readers voted that these colorful people would take her to a strange city.
The next morning, Celia awoke to a great commotion. She lifted her heavy head from where it had been nestled against the soft green ground, her long black hair and white dress spread out around her. She watched the men readying the colorful caravan, directing each other with shouts, moving large trunks into it’s depths. The women were packing up what was left of the camp and herding the children together. Knots were tied, fires stomped, and horses saddled. Celia looked for Marguerite, and saw a flash of long red hair being twisted up and hidden under a scarf. She was holding the hand of the young boy who had given Celia the mutton leg the night before. Marguerite walked over to Celia and offered her a hand up.
“Come child,” she said softly. “We are moving on.
“To where?” Somehow, Celia felt that she trusted this woman completely. She didn’t know where the caravan was going or how she had gotten there, only that her place was now among these people. Wherever Marguerite led, she would follow.
“The city,” Marguerite said simply. She reached out and stroked a lock of Celia’s hair. “You will come with us. We can use good hands, and you will help us with our work.” She said no more, instead turned and walked quickly toward the caravan. The little boy by her side looked up at Celia with round, penetrating eyes for a moment before running off behind Marguerite. Celia followed them.
The interior of the caravan was dark and as the last sacks were thrown on the back and a tall man in a black cloak spoke wordlessly to the horses, readying them for the long journey, Celia was led through the cavernous labyrinth to a smaller room near the back. The room was dark and cramped, and filled with piles of fabrics, clothing, and half-sewn costumes. An old woman sat in the corner, long hair grey and curls stretched out with age. She spoke to no one, and Celia thought she could see ghosts flickering in the woman’s eyes.
Marguerite taught her to sew costumes, and they sat day after day, sewing and speaking in murmured voices. Marguerite introduced Celia to her son, Luca, and told her of her own childhood. Born on the caravan, Marguerite had been creating the delicate, beautiful costumes since she could remember. She had never known her mother, who had died when she was very young. No one ever spoke of her father, Marguerite said softly. And Luca’s father? Marguerite said little about that, only that he had his mother’s pale hazel eyes and the jet black hair of his father. At night Marguerite would sing to Luca softly as he fell asleep. Celia and Marguerite slept among the piles of fabric that they worked on all day and Celia would fall asleep to the rumbling of the wheels and the whistling of the wind as they sped on towards the unknown.
They worked tirelessly, and soon the costumes filled the room around them, so there was almost nowhere to work. Occasionally Celia would prick her fingers on the needles they used for sewing, and dots of blood would bubble up, quickly to be blotted by Marguerite lest they stain her white dress or the precious costumes surrounding them.
As Celia threaded and sewed day after day to the rhythm of the wheels, she began to wonder what went on in the other parts of the caravan. The same curiosity that had drawn her to the clearing in the woods now tugged at her again, beckoning her to explore this new unknown. One night Celia couldn’t sleep, and as she tossed and turned among the tulle and spun silk, her curiosity got the better of her. Tiptoeing softly around Marguerite, Luca, and the old woman, Celia crept quietly toward the door. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.