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- - Hourglass` (http://www.horseforum.com/horse-stories-poems/hourglass%60-33280/)
This is a short story that is going to be a part of my novel http://www.horseforum.com/horse-stor...y-first-31139/
Please give me feed back, it's a bit long, but not too, and this is the whole short story. Thanks.
HourglassIt was raining when Scarborough first stepped off the vessel. The good ship Minerva had rocked beneath her feet for nine months now, and only the desire for solid ground had inspired her into the driving rain. The ship had wrestled for hours in the storm and now throughly lashed to the wooden rigging, they were able to slowly progress down the gangplank.
Her Captain escorted her, amused mildly at the storm he had just minutes before deftly maneuvered. Now with the cargo safely stowed from the jetting bullets of rain, which gave no sign of residing, they
had little to do until morning. He and Scarborough progressed through the downpour with soggy overcoats and drenched hair. Captain Anton towered over her and did his best to tuck her under his coat, and shield her from the torrential rain.
"How it does seem we can't escape the water," Scarborough remarked disdainfully. Joining her Captain and lover here on his voyage had not had all the romantic connotations he had implied. There had been many sea side sunsets and fresh fish, but one could easily be driven mad by the monotony a constant landscape and diet provided. Now here in the Cape of Good Hope, all hope was lost of finding dry land.
The mud squished under her boots as she felt the land for the first time. "It's funny" proclaimed Scarborough after they had walked a short while, "it still feels as if we're rocking." The ship's steady
rhythm had an almost hypnotic affect that carried onto dry land.
A small lamp glowed outside of a tavern and they quickly shuffled inside alongside other crew members. "Make way for the Captain," cried out one of the sailors. "Step aside for the Captain and his lady," shouted another. As they entered, still wringing out their coats and hung them on a nearby coat rack, Scarborough noticed a large party in an off room toward the back.
They continued toward the bar where Anton ordered a scotch and Scarborough a cup of tea. Upon its arrival Scarborough produced a small flask and added a large amount of unidentifiable liquor to the
kettle. She smiled sweetly and proposed a toast. "To a good trading season," with that she clinked his glass to her mug and then slowly sipped the hot liquid. Anton drained his glass in one gulp and
commanded another. That was Anton though, always in command.
As the barman returned Scarborough used the opportunity to inquire about the commotion of what appeared to be a private party.
"That," said the barkeep, "Is a royal member of the court, a prince I believe, or perhaps a king. He's visiting here on business and will be staying for several weeks. He's rather wealthy as you can see by his entourage and his bill."
Scarborough smiled politely as her eyes narrowed on the section of the room where voices rose and fell with laughter. Never one to be left out, she excused herself as Anton downed his third drink. Waltzing slowly across the room, she was certainly practiced at making an entrance. And though her dress was not near her first choice to be introduced to royalty in, it hardly could mar her absolutely lovely figure. Combined with her sapphire eyes and delicate features, it was no doubt Scarborough was good at dramatic entrances.
Her hair lay in curls piled atop her head and only the rain could truly detract from her overall appearance. Even at that, the dew collected around her hair refracted the firelight and gave her an
almost angelic halo. She smiled softly as she approached the party and her presence was immediately noticed, but not in the manner she was accustomed. The prince had a glare in his eye at the onset of the
"Well, my dear," he acknowledged her, "it seems a dove has wandered in among a murder of crows."
Scarborough blushed realizing she was for the first time a minority and a commoner at that. "I only wanted to introduce myself," sighed Scarborough, "as it seems you have quite the company you are keeping. I am Scarborough, your highness."
"Allow me to introduce myself," he replied coaxing Scarborough closer, "I am Prince Abioye. I am here specifically for trade of such valuables that it required my specific attention. Diamonds mostly, one of the few things so fine as the women I choose to keep my company."
"Well then," said Scarborough her eye's brightening at the mention of diamonds, "maybe I can be of assistance. Perhaps we both may have some offers in trade."
The prince chuckled and continued, "You, my fair maiden, are far to pale for my collection. Maybe a few of your cabin boys can find something attractive about a ghost, but I always preferred dark meat."
Scarborough drew back the hair that had collected at her cheek. She almost had no reaction, at that, she hardly could even realize she had been rejected. Being this the first time it ever happened, it
hardly registered. She nervously smiled and excused herself to a nearby table occupied by sailors.
That night the rain drizzled as she and Anton walked back to the cabin. Though trading was a romantic job, living on the ocean among a crew of seamen, could make it rough. Anton had turned to piracy long ago, but still could only find small bounties that would keep the ship afloat.
Scarborough's mind reeled at the thought of the princes fortune. With a treasure like that to gain, what was there to lose? Anton would understand, he always knew she was rather flirtatious. Nine months
together onboard had done nothing for their relationship. Yes, thought Scarborough, it was time for a change.
With her target in sight, she had no other agenda than to think of a way to gain his eye, but how? Considered a flawless beauty she had never battled with this sort of problem. Scarborough was determined not to let it stand in her way.
Scarborough approached the witch doctor's hut with her wish in mind. It seemed if anyone could summon up the magic to turn a white woman to black it was he. She had heard among the townsfolk some of the small miracles he could preform. These included healing the sick and curing
the blind, but Scarborough still had doubts about getting her wish fulfilled.
"Hello," Scarborough called when she parted the curtain to his hut.As she entered, she could smell the various herbs bubbling up from a vat of boiling liquid. "Hello," no reply, "hello? Anansi?" she called again.
Suddenly she turned and screamed as she came face to face with a large tribal mask. It gave a wild and wicked grin that was betrayed by two nut brown eyes beneath the large trAntongles containing carvings of flames. A loud howl from behind the mask was emitted and a shaking of rattling gourds began above Scarborough's head.
She jumped back startled by the sudden intrusion of the dark man behind the mask. "Ah, Anansi," she forced out the words, "I have come with a proposition." Scarborough removed a small pouch which carried the distinctive clinking of gold coins.
"Oh hh," squealed the man behind the mask and he lifted it swiftly revealing a handsome dark face. The paint underneath his eyes had blurred with sweat from wearing the hot mask. He grabbed the bag and pried it open with ten long nimble fingers, revealing it's content.
At the sight of the gold he smiled contentedly.
"This," pronounced Anansi, "is quite the sum. What would such a lovely young lady need from Anansi?"
"I....I wanted to know," Scarborough fumbled for the words, "I wanted to know if you could make me a black woman."
"Well," said Anansi, "you want to become like us I see, with dark skin. That won't be easy, what for, if I might ask?"
"Oh," said Scarborough, not prepared for the question, "to gain the affections of a certain someone, who only prefers, as he put it, dark meat."
"Well," replied Anansi, "this will be tough but possible. Go to the town and purchase some of the finest crimson cloth you can find. Have them then fit it so it can wrap around your body, then return here with it."
Scarborough nodded and left for the village. It took her the course of an hour to select from a bolt of scarlet silk, which was then fitted to her body. The silk hugged her hips and truly accentuated
her wonderful figure. Whatever Anansi was up to he, sure knew how to dress Scarborough attractively. With this new dress alone she was sure to gain the affections of the prince.
She returned to Anansi's hut with the bolt only to find him squatting over a large mortar crushing various ingredients to powder and then adding them to the vat of steaming brew. She tried to imagine what could the ingredients be in the potion but when she glanced at the shelf containing jars of various bugs, cobwebs, roots, teeth, and even eyeballs, she became squeamish.
Anansi asked for the cloth and began muttering undecipherable words. He slowly dipped the red cloth in the black liquid, which surprisingly remained intact. Scarborough's eyes grew to the size of saucers as the steam above the mixture began to take shape into the many animals of the jungle. From the leopard to the rhinoceros Scarborough watched each animal take shape above the boiling cauldron. Anansi emitted low wails continuing to cast the spell which would grant Scarborough's wish. Minutes later the jungle display ended and Anansi lifted the silk out of the pot. The color displayed no sign of running despite the silk's hot bath.
She wrung it out carefully as he explained the details of the magic. The color of her skin would change only when she wore the cloth, otherwise she would be her usual self. And beware for the magic was binding and should any harm come to the man whose affection she desires, she would be cursed to her darkest form forever.
Scarborough thanked him again and Anansi gave her a wink, "No my dear, the pleasure was all mine."
Scarborough hurried back to the ship with the cloth tucked under her arm. She dragged a mirror into an uninhabited portion of the ship. There she locked the door and among the cargos she undressed fully.
She brandished the cloth with shaky fingers and began to wrap the cloth around her body.
As she looked up a small gasp escaped her lips. In the mirror looking back at her stood a black woman. Her skin was as dark as the night, her eyes once brillAntont sapphires were now the color of warm chocolate. Her hair once blonde now shined the color of a raven's wing. Even she did not recognize herself. The one thing that remained constant though was her beautiful hourglass figure. "How the red does compliment my new appearance," she said as though it were an everyday occurrence.
She spent the better part of the night locked in the room going from ebony to ivory and back again. She tried any number of ways to wrap the scarf but found its magic would only take affect when it covered a good portion of her skin. "Let's hope the prince likes my new dress," she sighed to herself removing the silk. Then she tucked the cloth into her bag and left the musty room.
The next day Scarborough emerged as a black woman. She could hear whispers among the townsfolk as to whom the mysterious woman was with the gorgeous hourglass figure. Her striking beauty seemed to gain the attention of everyone on the street. Scarborough smiled in a sly manner and strode on confidently.
The Inn where Prince Abioye was staying was rather more of a bed and breakfast. That morning he was dinning among some friends when Scarborough entered. She caught his eye immediately as she was seated at a distant table. He sent one of his men over to inquire as to whom she was.
"Ah, ah. Aurora," she replied when asked her name. This was one of the details of the plan that had escaped her, and she hadn't given it a lot of thought. Aurora would do though, she had seen it on one of
Anton's maps. It meant dawning of the new day, and this certainly was a new day. She had already gained the attention of the man she admired.
"If any harm comes to him, you will be cursed to your darkest form forever," Anansi's words echoed in her head. She sighed, what a pity. She would have to think of some other way to part him with his
She was next asked to join the party where she was seated next to the prince himself. "So my lady Aurora, why must we find you without the pleasure of any company?"
"Well," replied Aurora, she had rehearsed this part, "I was among a group of traders who were ambushed along the way. All our cargo was lost and I became separated. I wandered among the jungles for three days until I came upon your town. Now I join you here for breakfast
as it is the first proper mean I will have enjoyed for days."
Then men became enraged at the conclusion of the story and all but insisted they set out and capture the bandits. "No," pleaded Aurora, "I fear all was lost, you will hear no more from the men I journeyed
here with," With that they settled and began chatting about more interesting matters, especially about diamonds. As the talk progressed Aurora grew more aware of Prince Abioye's vast fortune.
Though she took a back sear when it came to the opinions being tossed back and forth across the table, she noticed the prince never took his eyes off of her. She was rather amused how this new Aurora could captivate him so, and yet as Scarborough she could have never done so.
Hours passed and she eventually excused herself from the party. Prince Abioye pleaded with her to stay but she complained of exhaustion and that it was not proper for a young lady to join a stranger, even one of royalty, in his private room. She ambled out slowly allowing the prince to drink in the last of her features.
Once outside Aurora hustled quickly to an abandoned alleyway. She then tucked herself behind a tree and quickly removed the red scarf. A chill prickled the hair on her body as the cool ocean breeze came in contact with her now pale skin. She was once again Scarborough. Quickly she dressed in her common clothing, a cabin maids outfit, and tucked away the crimson material in her purse.
She was surprised as she reemerged to come face to face with Captain Anton. "Scarborough, where have you been, I looked all over for you."
"Oh," said Scarborough, "well why don't I join you?" She followed him back to the place where she had just left the prince to have lunch. Neither one was any the wiser that Scarborough had only
minutes before been chatting with the prince. They ate a common lunch
of fried fish and fruit, and she sighed in a bored manner, as she watched Anton down glass after glass of whiskey. She turned his attention toward talk of trade and learned that the season was not providing as plentiful bounty his voyage had promised. The goods and cargo he had brought over were hardly marketable, and it seemed this season was particularly slow. Scarborough thought for a minute before
she developed a plan.
The next day she returned to the prince as Aurora and was welcomed graciously to the table. She assumed her natural seat at Abioye's side where she began to chat of Captain Anton and the glorious wares he had brought from across the sea. The prince gave her his undivided attention and asked she to arrange a meeting between him and Anton. Shortly thereafter Aurora left the enamored Abioye to his group of colleagues.
The following day Captain Anton went to arrange his business with Scarborough in tow. With such good fortune he couldn't be bothered as to why she insisted on joining him. Just as Scarborough suspected the prince was none the wiser of her being Aurora. In fact all the prince wished to talk of was the lovely maiden who lately had been joining him for breakfast.
Scarborough listened intently as he professed his love of the lady and how he hoped to make her his wife. Scarborough's eyes widened as Anton congratulated the prince on his new bride to be. Then talk soon faded into the mundane details of trade and Scarborough excused herself.
Once again Anansi's warning echoed in her head, "you will be cursed to your darkest form if any harm befalls the man whose attention you seek." She thought for moments about Captain Anton. Though a pirate, she did love him and couldn't imagine leaving him for the prince. But with fortunes to gain, how could she turn down the proposal. No, she thought, she had only one choice, but it all depended on if Anton could accept her in her darkest form.
Night fell and she revealed to Anton the magic cloth Anansi had given her. As she turned into the ebony lady the prince so eagerly admired, Anton gasped with shock. "You are Aurora! Scarborough how could you!" he yelled at her.
"But Anton," she cried, "it's you I love, only you have to think of the wealth we could posses if I married him. Should I?" asked Scarborough calming him down, "But I do have to warn you, I will be cursed to this form forever."
Anton grew solemn and was silent for a long time. "Yes Scarborough, or should I say Aurora, I would love you in any form. None of this matters anyway, think of the riches you'll gain from marrying him."
Scarborough then dropped the cloth showing her porcelain skin and lay with Anton.
Upon joining Prince Abioye the next morning Aurora was not surprised to find him overdressed for the occasion. She cooed and flirted with him, lavishly throwing her attentions all on him. Finally the prince could no longer control himself and he proposed right there on the spot. He presented her with a diamond the size of a cat's eye and she accepted immediately.
For the next few weeks Aurora spent time planning the wedding with Abioye, while Scarborough spent it plotting with Anton. They decided poison was the best manner to eliminate him with and all the details became a dubious plot.
Finally the big day arrived and Aurora dressed in the crimson cloth. Then she carefully pulled her wedding gown over the top of it. Only the smallest trace of scarlet above the dress, gave her away. She spent the rest of the day being fussed over by various ladies. Her hair was ready by noon and a ceremonial headdress was placed atop her head.
The ceremony was short as they each pledged unending love for each other, but "until death do us part," rang out in her mind. At the reception the moment Aurora had been waiting for happened. Prince Abioye presented her with a large chest filled with jewels. She squealed with delight as she poured over each gem. Afterwards she ordered them to be immediately delivered to her room.
As the prince opened the honeymoon suite, he carried Aurora over the threshold. She immediately drew away to another room and pulled the curtain shut. When she came out, she was only wearing the bolt of cloth Anansi had given her. She was carrying two glasses of wine and handed one to the prince.
"To us!" she cheered and they clinked together their glasses and commenced to drink. With a cough the prince began choking and slowly drew in his last breaths. She put her head to his chest and listened
to his heart beat fade.
Suddenly there was a veil of red and it seemed the shawl Anansi gave her had grown to encompass the entire room. She struggled through it with a tangle of limbs that seemed impossible. Then slowly she emerged only to find the room a hundred times the normal size. Looming above her was a tarantula, and it too was giant. It crawled delicately next to her but made no move to attack. "Hello, my dear," said the spider.
"What's going on here," shouted Scarborough.
"I told you," replied the spider, "you would be cursed to your darkest form. Did that imply a black woman?"
Scarborough looked down at her legs but couldn't see her feet beneath her, then she slowly raised her head and saw her reflection in all eight of the tarantula's eyes. She screamed, for she in fact was now a
The spider continued as if nothing had happened, "I do hope you realize I added my own personal touch." There on her abdomen was a big red hourglass.
"Who are you?" asked Scarborough panicking.
"Well it is I, Anansi," he replied, "you didn't think I would let you get away with this now did you? You will join me in my kingdom. I am the god of spiders after all. You are now timeless, my lovely, I did say forever didn't I? People will often stop to admire that beautiful hourglass figure."
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