Sunday, February 26, 2017

Not Even Not Zen 69: A Bandit Accountant, 11.5

A Bandit Accountant

Chapter Red, Green, Yellow
Scene Five: Aha

The morning sun had turned from orange to yellow when Burgher Dumm showed up to the counting house. The air was brisk but with the promise of a warm, spring afternoon ahead. That was fine because they were overdue for some better weather, to Denario's mind. Instinctively he put a hand on his sword as he noticed the burgher’s approach.

Vernon Dumm hadn't bothered to bring a weapon. He wore the same breeches as before. They didn't have room to hide a dagger, not with the way his belly filled them out. He'd put on two fresh shirts, both dyed a pale shade of green. His mood and his manner of dress seemed improved from yesterday. In fact, he looked spry and well rested. His lack of cudgel seemed a bit suspicious to Denario but he found it hard to demand that the burgher go get one.

“Can you tell me who owes what, yet?” said Dumm as he got within speaking distance. This seemed to be his version of teasing. He put his fists on either side of his great stomach and waited although he clearly didn't expect an answer.

“As a matter of fact, I can tell you that one trader is owed two hundred fifty pounds of copper,” Denario answered. He took his hand off of the hilt of his baselard. He indicated the relevant string-counters. “I'm sure the orange round tiles are the copper markers. Types are separated by a double set of black beads, see. Another trader owes us sixty bales of wool and one hundred twenty rabbit hides. I don't have the names of those traders figured out yet.”

“Really?” Vernon's hands dropped from his sides. “That's ...”

“Better than you expected?”

“Yes. Well, I mean no offense by it. Your captain said you were good. But Olga Clumpi herself told me that the job was impossible and she ought to know.”

“You had your talk with Olga?” Denario's voice dropped. The old woman was eating breakfast with Senli not far away.

“Yes, me and Mark Haphnaught both. We got an earful back from her, as we expected. But she seems happy to keep matters quiet as long as she’s got a job.”

Denario glanced down Mine Street. He'd expected to see Haphnaught walking over here long before Dumm.

“Where is the other burgher, anyway? Why isn't he with you?”

“He's ...” Vernon Dumm rolled his eyes. He leaned his weight one direction, then another. He seemed embarrassed but he forced himself to appear business-like. “I suppose you’ll find out anyway. Burgher Haphnaught is indisposed.”

“Indisposed. Do you mean he's sick?”

“In a manner of speaking.” He rocked on his heels again.

“What manner of speaking is that? Was he well enough to come to his door?”

“No. His youngest son comes off guard duty at sunrise. He let me in. Mark was in bed. He said his arms hurt. His face looked bruised, too.”

“Aha,” said Denario. “I mean, that's awful.”

“Yes. I know what most people will think.” Vernon nodded. “It looks a bit like he and the wife were fighting again. They do that from time to time. But it's been years since they've had a row anything like this serious. It's not good for them, not at their age.”

“Or he could have had a fall down the stairs,” Denario suggested. He watched Vernon's face carefully to see if the man was hiding his knowledge of last night.

“His house has one story,” replied the burgher without missing a beat. He seemed to regard Denario as slightly daft for suggesting it, nothing more.

Next: Chapter Eleven, Scene Six

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