‘So remember all those times we leapt into the rusty chariot and you propelled us to London in the future. Or ofttimes to America, that big continent with the apple orchards? Great drifting valleys, plains with grassy hillocks here and there. And blue mountains with smokey chimneys, snow and shoes like racquets for walking safely across that white, powdery, drifting snow. How it glinted in the sun? Remember?’
‘Of course I remember, it was only last week. You poured red wine on the snow. We ate the little ginger cakes with the green glazing and the dried currants. Then we explored that village, with the shiny houses and the green gardens.’
Leo continued drawing with the short stump of crow quill, dipping every few seconds into the great glass inkwell, tracing the spidery contours of the oak trees and huge cumulonimbus cloud behind. The red brown ink drying quickly on the thin parchment.
‘And mind that time we was in Englande? Another trip in the future times. It was mid-1970s I think. We found ourselves walking along a long, dusty but very hard road. And the clanking chariots were passing us at a great speed. So many of them. Green, blue and some were deep red!
You happened to make a gesture with your thumb, like Julius Caesar, and one of the chariots stopped down the road and the door opened and a hand beckoned. Then we got into the carriage and the horseman moved sticks and cart wheels and many clever cogs and such. Then we galloped off. And it became dark and how that great track curved off into the distance with glorious yellow burning lines of lanterns marking the way. We cantered down that track and over the soft hills until we reached a glittering town by the sea? Lovely lute music was being played somewhere and someone sang softly - how did it go?’
Leo started to sing in a croaky voice ‘once upon a time we dressed up very fine didn’t we - people all said beware and you thought we were all just killing meeee - and then how does it feeeeeel! Feeeel, to be rolling along like a stone, with no one direction known, just like a stepping stone?! - ha ha I love that song I so love it?’
Bron continued to lie back on the beautifully embroidered but rather mothy couch. Her feet resting on a cushion, she examined her cracked nails and blinked a few times in the sunlight.
They were in the corner of a quite narrow but high and long, vaulted room, with tall smokey glass windows running right along one side.
Leo was perched on a small, three legged stool.
Several white cats were sitting or lying flopped on the dusty wooden boards or the few carpets and rugs scattered about.
The sun slanted in.
B started to snore.
L scratched at his drawing. The quill squeaked on the parchment.
A cat licked its tail furiously and another rolled in the sunlight and rubbed against Bron’s foot.
A cock crowed in the distance and bells rang, a fly buzzed, the floor creaked and Leo’s eyes began to droop, so he put the drawing down carefully on the floor, and took the end of the sofa, lying back and allowing the sun to create red patterns through his slumbering eyelids.
As he drifted off into the first stages of sleep he began to dream he was lying on a beach. He was staring up into some tree branches where monkeys were sitting with big red chickens. Which he thought odd, chickens in trees with polecats and pine martens, a duck and several little horses... he dreamed he was called Ralph Rover, and he had two friends — Peterkin and Jack.