The old man watched with calm interest as the troubadour began to sing his lay. The troubadour—like most troubadours—was ornately dressed, though he stood in a humble town square amidst folk who wore solid but simple garb.
Upon his feet, the troubadour wore fine boots of a heather-colored leather, whose rough-cut cuffs were folded over so they floated prettily beneath his knees. His pantaloons were green as was the bow that was tied about his neck, holding in place a half-cape with a high collar upon whose tips there dangled a bell and tassel. His fitted blue coat flared below his waist even as the white pleated cuffs flared around his hands. Upon his head he wore a cap adorned with a single red feather. But beneath that cap, this troubadour bore a cloud of hair that was surely a wig, for it was the vivid pink color of a flower known as the bleeding heart.
Indeed, the troubadour’s garb was reminiscent of the bright and bold colors of flowers, like the flowers that were blooming in the brick pond around which the troubadour and his few onlookers stood.
When the lay was finished, the troubadour smiled and bowed. He blew a stray lock of his rosy hair out of his eyes and asked the gathered crowd, “What story would you hear? Tell me.”
The old man brought forth a coin to ask for a story.
The troubadour said, “No, no. I have set out no vessels for receiving gifts, as you can see. There is no cost excepting the time that you take to stand and listen, if you will.”
The old man slipped his coin back into his lengthy tunic. “Tell us your story then. Tell us how the troubadours came to be.”
The troubadour’s eyes gleamed and he bowed his head to the man. The bells upon his collar jangled as he raised his mandolin and cleared his throat. Gently strumming, he began to tell the tale.
The one creature in the world who can sing more beautifully than any other is a bird. All birds sing, in one fashion or another. But there was once a bird that sang so superbly that the winds would stop blowing just to listen, the clouds would gather and weep, flowers would bloom, enemies would stop fighting, pain would fade, and pleasure would deepen.
But as with all that is truly worthy, this bird’s song was not so beautiful in the beginning. In the beginning, this bird had no song at all.
Birds were favored creatures from the first. Most were granted the gift of flight, many the gift of beauty, and a few the gift of wisdom. But there was one gift they were not given. Birds could utter no sound, and they envied the other creatures of the world who could. When wolves howled or when crickets chirped, birds would listen with longing. When serpents hissed and great cats roared, birds would listen with sorrow. Birds spoke to each other by changing the hues and shades of their feathers. Some birds had many colors and could speak many thoughts. Others had but one hue and could change it little, so they could only speak few thoughts. This language of feathers while lovely to behold was most ineffective at great distances. But there was naught the birds could do, for the ones who created the world were no more.
Those creators had sacrificed their own lives and their own gifts so they might grant life and knowledge to the creatures of the world that they made. For those who come before must perish so that those who come after may live and thrive. There would be many creators to come in the world. But the first were the greatest. There was still one left in the world.
The sovereign of the birds, a many-colored parrot of keen observation, sent her cleverest spies to find this last of the first creators, so the birds might entreat her and convince her to grant them a voice. But when the spies reached the abode of the creator, which could only be reached by birds, for it was high above the clouds, they found that the creator was hard at work on her last creation.
Day and night she toiled over a great cauldron as vast as a lake. The cauldron sat upon a high plateau above the creator’s abode on the mountain peak. The spies watched and noted and reported back to their sovereign. This last great work of the last of the first creators was a powerful potion, her gift to some creatures she would chose. She called it the “gift of song.”
When the parrot sovereign asked her spies what the “gift of song” was they did not know. So they returned to their spying and discovered something wondrous. The gift of song was the very thing that the birds most desired. It was voice. It was sound. But it was more than just a call. It was to be the most beautiful sound that a living creature’s voice could make.
This potion was a better gift by far than what the birds first sought. But the spies had overheard the creator speaking to herself of her greatest creation. She was considering one of the creatures to which she might give the gift. Humans, lumbering brutes that walked upon two legs, their plainly naked forms devoid of any plumage, not even hair or scales. Though they seemed to be curious and observant, they were also crude and graceless. Surely, they were undeserving of the wondrous gift.
The parrot sovereign herself visited the creator and entreated her to give her last gift to the birds. For humans already had the gift of speech, yet birds were silent. The sovereign presented a list of virtues that the race of birds possessed.
The last of the first creators listened to the parrot sovereign’s entreaty and considered it carefully. Silent they may be, but the birds already had so many gifts. But perhaps that was what made them ready for the creator’s final gift. Song was wondrous, but it would be a great burden. Not every creature could bear that burden.
While the creator pondered her choice, the parrot sovereign sent her spies to find out when the potion would be ready, and which race of creatures the creator had chosen to receive the gift of song. The spies found out when the potion was ready, but they did not know who, at last, would receive the gift.
The parrot sovereign, fearing that the creator had chosen another race, sent word to her people, to all the birds in the world. Through the message carried in the bright plumage of her fellow parrots, she prepared her people to be ready, ready to fly up to the creator’s abode.
At the behest of their sovereign, all the birds began to gather. The world did not take note, for birds were silent, save the fluttering of their wings. When the time was right, when the spies reported that the creator had retired to her rest until the next morning, the sovereign gave the signal, and all the birds silently flew up to the creator’s abode. They flew beyond it to the plateau where the vast cauldron stood waiting. The cauldron containing the “gift of song” potion was covered and sealed.
At the behest of the parrot sovereign, the birds began to peck at the seal.
So lost and engrossed in their pecking were they, that they did not notice that the creator had woken and was standing on the plateau. Her face showed no surprise. As the birds, hundreds upon thousands, perched upon the vast cauldron, the creator spoke.
“You seek to steal what was meant for you to begin with.”
The creator’s brow grew dark and her gaze foreboding. “It is meant for you no longer,” she said. And in her great rage, she tipped over the cauldron, breaking the seal and spilling the gift of song. The assembled birds scattered.
They feared the creator’s wrath. But they suffered no wrath, no anger, no sorrow. The creator merely vanished in a flash of brilliant light.
When their fright had faded, the birds saw that the overturned cauldron still held some potion. It was not enough for all of them, but some might receive the gift of song. The parrot sovereign went first. She hopped into the vast cauldron and drank a sip of the potion. At once, she began to trill and pipe. It was a sweet and merry sound. It was a sound the world had never heard before.
More birds began to hop into the cauldron, jostling each other for room. Before long all of the potion had been drunk. The birds who could not make their way into the cauldron, either out of timidity or politeness, tried to drink the drops that still trickled from the cauldron’s rim. When those last drops were drunk, there were still birds who remained silent. They pecked at the ground or tried to breathe in the fumes of the portion of the potion that had spilled out onto the earth of the mountain.
As each tried their voices, they found they made different sounds than the ones their sovereign made. Those who had drunk from within the cauldron, the most delicious, most golden portion of the potion sang prettily. None sang as beautifully as the parrot sovereign, for as she dipped her beak into the potion, she had changed its quality. And so it had happened with each added beak that was dipped into the potion. That was why each successive drinker’s song grew less and less beautiful, from piping to chirping to cawing.
The birds soon realized that they could no longer change the color of their feathers. Each bird’s feathers were frozen in the shades they had been when that bird first uttered a cry.
Though not every bird was granted the gift of a beautiful song, every bird was satisfied, for every bird now had a voice.
Every bird but one.
A lone bird soared through the air and circled the astonishing sight of thousands upon thousands of birds gathered around a vast and empty cauldron. Her plumes flickered from the deep blue of twilight to the vivid green of a young leaf to the soft and lazy violet of a dusky sky. But what her feathers spoke, her fellows no longer understood. For when they gained the gift of song, they lost their first language, the language of the feathers and the meaning of their colors.
Thereafter the world was filled with song. And the absence of the birds would be known by the absence of their song. The nightingale sang hauntingly at night. The rooster crowed to herald the sun. Sparrows cheeped among the trees. Doves cooed. And hawks cried. Birds now spoke in the language of song.
The golden canary, who had been among the first to drink, had a song almost as beautiful as his sovereign’s. So he sat perched beside the parrot sovereign’s side. Though she could no longer change the colors of her feathers, the parrot sovereign’s feathers had become frozen in the many colors that shone when she first began to sing. So she was still beautiful and stately.
But still there was the one bird who could find no single remaining drop of the creator’s potion, and so remained silent.
The silent bird had learned the language of feathers so well that she had acquired colors she had not been born with. Her slate-colored feathers now shimmered with the hues of spring flowers. When she was angry, her feathers turned as red as a robin’s. When she was pensive, they darkened to the black of a raven’s. But it was all for naught.
Because the parrot sovereign no longer recognized the speech of feathers, she stripped the little voiceless bird of her name and cast her out of the realm. Never again would the voiceless bird be recognized as a bird, but as a wretched creature that was the only remaining reminder that birds were once silent.
The voiceless bird, filled with sorrow and with bitterness, left the presence of the one who was no longer her sovereign.
The bitterness in the heart of the voiceless bird soon faded, for she had no use for it. But her sorrow remained. She missed her people. And she too longed for a voice. One day, she sat in a tree and looked down upon her watery blue feathers. They had been that particular hue for days upon days. For that was the color they turned when she was melancholy. She remembered how hard she had tried to learn what so many other birds never did, how to change the color of her feathers, as the greatest birds did, so she might speak many thoughts through her many colors. She would never be, nor did she seek to be, as bright and beautiful as the parrot sovereign and her kin. But she had hoped to be learned among her people.
She began to wonder. If she had learned how better to speak the language of feathers, could she not learn how to sing?
Despite the decree of the parrot sovereign, there were birds who were willing to share the voiceless bird’s company. With gestures of her wings and the craning of her neck, she was at last able to make one of the birds understand her. He was a bluebird, and his good friend was a mockingbird. The mockingbird had not just gained the gift of song, but she had the gift of mimicking the song of other birds and even other creatures.
The mockingbird and the bluebird befriended the voiceless bird, and they began to try and teach her how to sing.
The moon waxed and the moon waned. And the voiceless bird began to despair, for she felt something in her throat, a muscle that she did not know which way to strain. But she had not learned to speak the language of feathers so well by merely struggling. She had learned by studying, observing, noting, and remembering.
She began to do so with the songs of her friends. Then one day she tried to tell them that she would leave and wander the world, listening to the songs of every kind of bird. So too would she listen to the calls of other creatures and the speech of the one creature whom the birds had envied so much, humans.
The bluebird and the mockingbird did not quite fathom the voiceless bird’s purpose. But they were curious. And they left their home and followed her.
They wandered the world, the three birds. The bluebird and the mockingbird sang, and they marveled at the changing colors of the voiceless bird. They sorrowed that they had lost their first language and did not know what thoughts the voiceless bird spoke with her color-changing feathers. They did not know that every evening, before the sun’s light faded away, the voiceless bird was telling them a story that she had learned on her travels. For while they spent all day singing, she would spend her day listening.
The voiceless bird learned many stories, and she loved telling them to her friends. But she still longed to sing, so they would understand. She still strained and struggled, and felt the muscles in her throat grow stronger and keener. But she still did not know how to use them.
One day, while all three friends drank from a stream, half-frozen in winter, the voiceless bird merrily gargled. But she drank too fast and began to choke upon the water. She coughed it out at once and as she did, in panic followed by quick relief, she opened her beak and let out a loud caw.
Her two friends stopped at once and gathered around her. The sound she had made had no sense to it. Neither she nor they understood it. But it did not matter. For she had produced a sound.
She was voiceless no more.
But after all that she had learned and studied, she was disappointed that all her voice could produce was the harsh cawing of a raven. She tried to caw again and when it happened, she noted the opening of her beak, the tensing of the muscles in her throat. Then she tried, again and again, to caw. She found that she could soon caw as easily as she could change the colors of her feathers.
Though she had not yet learned the meanings of the language of song, she cawed joyously as her friends watched in awe.
The once-voiceless bird stopped cawing, wondering why her friends were in awe of such a common-sounding song. But when she realized that they were staring at her feathers, she looked down at herself and saw that her feathers were shifting colors. Even though she had uttered her first sound, her first song, she had not lost the language of feathers.
The once-voiceless bird learned the language of song quickly. She learned that the cawing of the crows and ravens, while it sounded plain and even ominous, held much cleverness and knowledge. She was able to begin telling her friends some of the stories she had told them before. Her feathers still shifted color as she cawed and cawed.
She bore a friendly envy of the mockingbird, who could sing the songs of many different birds. The once-voiceless bird studied with the bluebird. And she studied with the mockingbird.
Then one day, with her throat once again loosened by a refreshing drink of water, the once-voiceless bird began to cheep. She began to chitter. It was the language of sparrow-song. As she learned it, she became more skillful at spinning the stories she told her friends each evening as they nestled in the trees.
The three friends wandered and wandered. And the only bird who still spoke the language of feathers learned the language of many a bird’s song. She learned the pleading cry of peacocks, the high cheeping of starlings, the piercing quack of the duck, and the wistful whistling of the nightingale. She learned the trilling of her friend the mockingbird. And she learned the charming chortling of her dear bluebird.
She learned so many songs that she could soon compose songs of her own. Among her first and favorite was a simple refrain of three sounds. The mockingbird named her friend for that refrain, “troubadour.”
The troubadour and the bluebird grew ever closer, and one day, the mockingbird mockingly left her friends, goading them to build a nest together.
This they did. The wanderers settled at last, and soon, they had a brood of hatchlings.
Deep in the forest they lived. The sweet trilling of the troubadour as she sang to her children, drew the attention of the forest birds, who came to pay homage to the mysterious newcomer.
When the mockingbird, the bluebird, and the troubadour wandered, they had not drawn the attention of many creatures, even other birds, for the troubadour kept the colors of her feathers plain and unchanging, and she only sang in the song of the mockingbird. None ever knew that she was unique.
But settled in the forest, her song could be heard everywhere. When she sang, the other birds fell silent. Squirrels scrambled up to the edges of branches to hear her. Crickets ceased their chirping and tilted their heads to the sky. Even the wind seemed to cease its blowing, as if pausing to listen.
The troubadour sang to her children, sang all the stories she had learned upon her wanderings, from all the creatures whom she had studied and to whom she had listened. She sang tales about wolves, bears, herons, rattlesnakes, cougars, and beetles. She sang tales about the moon and the sun, the rivers, the trees. She told the tale about the creator and her gift of song.
And as she sang, her hatchlings cheeped and chattered in the nest.
One day, the troubadour sang to her children, not just to entertain them, but to teach them. From far below, she heard high-pitched piping that followed her own. She sang another verse. And again, the piping sounded from below.
Curious, she flew down to a lower branch. From there, she saw him standing on two legs on the forest floor.
It was a human child. The troubadour peered down at him. They had strange-looking faces, humans did, with their beaks separated and flattened. The boy shaped his lips into a circle and blew, and as he did, he made a sound almost like a snippet of the troubadour’s song.
She hesitated. Then she sang another short verse.
The human child, the boy, mimicked her. The troubadour laughed, and her laughter was like song. And the boy again whistled in nearly the same tune.
The troubadour, reminded of her good friend the mockingbird, was charmed. She had spent many days sitting by the windows of human homes, listening to their speech. She did not care to learn it, but she had hoped to learn something of the quality of sound by hearing the languages of all the creatures she encountered. She had not heard any human make such sounds before.
The boy suddenly gasped and gaped at her. Then he dashed away.
The troubadour looked down upon herself and was not surprised to find that her feathers were changing colors.
Not much time had passed. There had been no new generations of creatures since the birds learned to sing, and yet it seemed as if the world had never known otherwise. Birds had always sung. And no creature remembered a time when birds spoke the language of feathers. No creature remembered how the feathers of every bird would shift in hue, according to that bird’s kind and her skill at her language.
It was no enchantment that made it. Just forgetfulness.
The next day, as the troubadour told her children more stories, while the bluebird kept watch above them, there were more whistles and piping from below.
The bluebird and the troubadour flew down and saw that the boy had returned, and he had brought another. He pointed up at the birds.
The bluebird warned his mate not to enchant the humans too much. For they had begun to capture and keep birds for their beauty and their song.
But the troubadour was as enchanted with the whistling and the piping of the boy, and now his companion, as they were with her.
She wondered if she could teach them to sing as she sought to teach her children.
But it was not to be. For even as her hatchlings were learning how to fly, how to sing, and how to change the colors of their mostly blue feathers, they received a visitor. A welcome visitor with unwelcome news.
It was the mockingbird. She greeted her friends with singing and teasing. And she called their children her nieces and nephews. She dropped treats into the nest to occupy the young ones while she spoke to their parents of what was to come.
News of the troubadour’s song had reached the ear of the parrot sovereign. She was on her way to the forest. Though she did not share her plans with even her most trusted advisor, the golden canary, there were many who believed that she sought supremacy. Her song was the most beautiful, for it was the first birdsong.
When a thrush came to her court and told her he had heard a song as enchanting as her own, she had believed him to be impudent, and had banished him to a far cold land. After that, none dared to speak of the mysterious songbird in the sovereign’s presence, or even to her advisors. But the parrot sovereign still had her clever spies. She sent them out to learn and to listen. They followed the trail of the mockingbird, the bluebird, and the once-voiceless bird, who had learned to sing and tell tales. The only bird who had not drunk of the creator’s potion. The banished one, who learned to compose her own songs. The troubadour.
The mockingbird feared that the sovereign meant to do away with the troubadour. She warned her friends to flee the forest. But they could not, for their hatchlings were still learning to fly.
The troubadour and the bluebird both decided they would stay and defend themselves and their young children. The mockingbird, their true and loyal friend, joined them of course. She flew around the forest, spreading word of the troubadour’s need for more defenders. Many a bird was conflicted, for they loved the charming troubadour and the kind bluebird. But the parrot was their sovereign. To defy her was unthinkable.
At last the parrot sovereign and her retinue of songbirds arrived. They did not spread about the forest, perched at odd branches, as did the few but faithful allies of the troubadour. The sovereign’s birds trailed behind her in a long procession.
The troubadour and the parrot had not seen each other since the day of the troubadour’s banishment, when the name of her birth was forgotten by all birds.
The parrot sovereign, who had been clever but vain before gaining the gift of song, was even more vain after. She had bird servants who held up her long tail feathers in their beaks, so the feathers would not trail upon the ground. There was a crown of fresh red berries about her head. And it seemed she had adorned her already brilliant feathers with the feathers of other birds. The mockingbird whispered that this was because the sovereign had heard that the troubadour never lost the language of feathers. It was the sovereign’s strange attempt to change the appearance of her own feathers.
The golden canary, ever by his sovereign’s side, hopped forth to the tip of a thin branch and announced the sovereign in a syrupy song of praise. The troubadour thought it a shame that his golden voice was wasted so. She imagined him singing stories with that same voice, and thought he would sound even lovelier than she did.
The canary next announced that the parrot sovereign had heard of the prowess of the bird known as the troubadour. The sovereign had been so impressed that she had traveled all that way herself rather than summoning the troubadour to her presence.
The mockingbird whispered to her friend in her mocking song that this was not so. The sovereign had worried that the troubadour would refuse a summons, for she had defied her banishment by consorting with other birds.
The canary continued, singing that the parrot sovereign wished to challenge the troubadour to a friendly contest so that all may judge who sang the most beautifully, the most enchantingly, the most hauntingly, simply, who sang the best.
The mockingbird warned her friend to be wary, for if the troubadour won the contest, she would endanger herself and her family. The parrot sovereign had already attempted banishment. If she lost, she would not forgive. The mockingbird advised her friend to accept the challenge and do her best to lose it. The troubadour was touched by the mockingbird’s certainty that she could best the sovereign. She remembered the parrot sovereign’s song. And she too was certain that she could best the bird that was once her sovereign.
The troubadour longed to know what the bluebird would advise. He was hidden away in the forest, guarding their children. He had entrusted her to defend their children and their home.
In that moment, she chose. But before she could open her beak, a voice spoke from above.
“There is no contest,” the voice said.
In a brilliant flash of light, there appeared the great form of the last creator.
All the gathered birds, even the vain parrot, bowed before the last creator. When they raised their heads, the creator stood facing the parrot, and she spoke again. “The troubadour would enchant you so completely that you would forget your envy, your pettiness. So too you would forget your song.”
She shook her head.
“You still have not learned,” she said. Her demeanor softened as she shifted her gaze toward the troubadour. “And you, I fear, have learned too much.”
The creator raised her head and gazed brightly at all the gathered birds, and the other creatures who secretly watched. “Forgive me. This will be the last time I interfere.” She turned then and faced the troubadour. “Your former sovereign is not to be feared. Not by you. But you must not sing your best, for your song, and its great powers, would draw the attention of truly fearsome forces.”
The creator explained.
When the birds stole the gift of song, in their impatience and their envy, the gift that was to be granted to them anyway, the last of the first creators realized that the creatures of the world were not yet ready to govern themselves. Though she was meant to perish, to make way for those who would follow, she had remained in the world. She had kept watch over it. She had watched the journey of the troubadour and her friends. She had observed the reign of the parrot sovereign. She had seen the comings and goings and doings of all the other creatures in the world. She had peered with curiosity at the troubadour’s attempts to learn that which could not be learned. The creator had felt true surprise when she first heard the troubadour caw.
As a creator, she reveled in the enchanting song of the one bird in all the world that had never drunk a drop of her potion. The troubadour’s song was so enchanting that it even reached the ears of unfathomable beings whose forms were so great that their hands could tilt the heavens and scoop up all the oceans. It was they who kept the movement of the world in balance, assuring that night followed day, that the moon waxed and waned, that death followed birth. When they heard the troubadour, when they witnessed with eyes that saw beyond the limits of mortals or creators, they saw a colossal shift in the world.
They moved to correct that shift. It was in that movement that true danger arose for the troubadour.
“Terrible forces envy you, fear you, and seek to destroy you,” the creator said. “For your song reaches far beyond beauty. Your song disrupts the balance of all in favor of nobility and peace.”
The mockingbird dared to challenge the creator, claiming that all good creatures should be glad for anything that favored good. She argued too that the troubadour had earned her song, unlike the rest of the birds gathered. The troubadours song must not be lost.
“Her song will not be lost,” the creator assured. “But it must be hidden, until it can be shared, and become strong enough to resist the evils that would devour it.”
The troubadour perceived how tired the creator appeared. She wanted to sing, in the hopes that her song would heal the creator, or at least lift her spirits. For the creator was weighed down with burdens, burdens that the troubadour did not understand, just as the troubadour’s hatchlings could not understand the burdens upon their mother.
The creator gazed at the parrot sovereign, whose eyes were wide with fear. “I will use the last of my powers to grant you, vain sovereign, a punishment.” The creator turned again to the troubadour. “And you, humble songbird, a gift.”
Upon the parrot sovereign, the creator turned the last of her powers, changing the parrot’s sweet song into a caw. The parrot and all her descendants would sound so. Because of her envy of the humans and their speech, she was given speech, not true speech, but a reflection of human speech. Mere mimicry was the parrot’s punishment.
Then the creator turned to the troubadour and asked her what creature she would like to be if she could not be a bird.
The troubadour was sorrowful, for her spirits was and always would be a bird. She hoped the creator would spare her children, but even as she had the thought, the creator asked that she fetch her family. The mockingbird flew away, and when she returned, she was followed by the bluebird, and the hatchlings, who all flew behind their father. The creator told the troubadour that she did not have to transform the hatchlings, for they would only have their mother’s song if she taught it to them. They could stay with the bluebird. But the bluebird spoke, and though he too was sorrowful to no longer be a bird, he and his children would go where the troubadour went.
The troubadour could not abide a life without song, without tales. There was one creature that the troubadour would be if she could not be a bird. They were not graceful or beautiful. They were slow to learn, but they were the only other creature who could sing as birds sang.
The creator encouraged the troubadour to consider another creature, beetles could fly and chirp. But the troubadour made her request. The creator used the last of her power. As she perished, she transformed the troubadour and her family, silencing the most beautiful song in the world. The song of the troubadour.
So it came to be that the gift of song was passed to humans. For the troubadour remembered that boy and his whistling. She remembered how close he came to mimicking her own song. She remembered how the humans were using their gift of speech to make many languages, great storytelling languages.
That is why humans have voices that can create songs almost as beautiful as that of a birds. And those who were descended from the once-voiceless bird, who was transformed into a woman, they became the most skilled of the singers and the storytellers. Their voices could reach heights and depths and qualities that none other could, moving hearts, striking fear, provoking laughter, inspiring minds, and uplifting spirits. Sometimes even their colors shown in the hues of their ancestor’s feathers, in eyes of green, or hair tinted with violet. Such as these were named the troubadours.
And like the one who sired them, the troubadours became wandering storytellers.
The blue-coated troubadour strummed a few final notes to the sound of clapping from the crowd that had gathered as he told his tale.
He opened eyes that had been closed the whole time he told the story.
“So,” he said, smiling, “when troubadours come to your town, treat us well, for we may be one of the descendants of that enchanting bird. And one day, we may be transformed back into birds. And those birds may sing the songs that shift the balance of the world from evil to good.”
He bowed to the onlookers as some chuckled, some bowed in return, some applauded, and few simply walked away. Most dispersed, though some lingered.
The old man who had requested the tale sucked upon his pipe and blew a wisp of smoke. “Pesky creators, interfering when they’re not wanted, ignoring when they are, eh? I would have liked to hear that contest of songs.”
The troubadour laughed. “You see? Aren’t you glad then that I didn’t take your coin?”
The old man peered at the troubadour. “How did you come by that rosy hair?”
The troubadour shrugged and picked up his mandolin. “Shall I sing another?”
Copyright © 2017. Story by Nila L. Patel. Artwork: “Troubadour” by Sanjay Patel.