1861/10/15 What Is It Called?
Scene What Is It Called?
Characters Hena'e Charles
Place Kensington Forest
Date October 15, Afternoon
Scene Theme <Song>

The sun is high overhead on a slightly overcast day, but the weather is basically pleasant, even in the shade of the forest. It's fairly quiet, but a lot of that may be due to the tall man in a fancy suit who is making enough noise to scare the wildlife as he trudges through the trees. Now and then he pauses to pick up a rock, holds it up to the light for a closer look, then either tucks it into a pocket or tosses it back onto the ground. Presently, he glances up to the sky, where the sun is just about reaching its zenith, and then at the forest around him. He finds a convenient rock large enough to sit on, then settles down for a rest. He pulls a cloth-wrapped packet from his jacket, which turns out to be a hunk of bread, which he starts to eat with a distant, thoughtful sort of look behind his beard.

With the Whirlwind looking over their camp on the plain, the Goose has gone back to the shady shelters of the footland woods, to the ridges and streams that cut through the greenery just now starting to shift in patches toward yellow or brown, while the needles all promise to keep their winter hue. Like Mr. Weller, Hena'e is looking for rocks. Unlike Mr. Weller, her hide-clad feet form to each stone as she steps up the river bank and stoops low to inspect an outcropping of good flint and see what pieces she can take away in the grass-woven basket that's sitting on her hip, hugged up against her with one arm. She picks up a piece just large enough for a chipper, look at it closely, then kisses it and sets it back down atop another stone with its most acute angle facing north. Then, hearing something, or someone, tramping about through the brush, she stops, her eyes lift and she takes a step away from the bank to place her shoulder to a tree trunk and simply watch.

The stranger is either very unobservant, or his watcher is very sneaky. Possibly both. In any case, he doesn't notice that he's being observed as he eats his snack. As the last bite disappears into his mouth, he takes care to brush the crumbs off his face and out of his whiskers, then pulls out a small notebook and pencil to scribble some notes. While he writes, he starts to whistle a cheery little tune.

It's one of Spider's children. Hena'e has seen them before, has spoken with them before, but nonetheless this is a strange moment, somehow. He's not dressed like she's used to seeing. And most of them don't sit to picnic in the middle of the woods. She's staring, and before she knows it, it's gone past the moment where she could announce herself without it being terribly awkward. Oh, hello, pardon me but I've just been standing here watching you eat this whole time. And so the moments keep slipping by, and she starts to worry he may frighten if she says anything at all. Does he have a weapon? She can't see from here. She has her basket of stones, and a knife she'd knapped herself, but beyond that is unarmed. And while she takes stock of all of this, she kneels beside the tree and sets down her basket, holding it before her in both hands and looking to discern her knife from all the rest of the stone fragments in the basket. And he begins to make bird songs with his mouth. That garners her attention, for sure. What a thing to do. She lifts both of her hands to her mouth, cupping them together and blowing into them to imitate the call of a whipporwill.

The fellow does carry a knife at his belt, but it might not be easily spotted under his suit jacket. Certainly he doesn't carry it as one would a weapon, being far too difficult to reach in a moment when a weapon might be needed. He's writing away, and when the bird call sounds from the forest, he stops, going silent, and looks up, a smile already dawning on his face. His smile has a rather childish quality that is a bit out of place with his bushy beard and crow's feet, but it disappears quickly enough when he finds a woman standing where he expected to see a bird. It's replaced by a look a surprise (though perhaps not entirely unpleasant), with a softly verbalized, "Oh!"

He is a strange one, as far as Spider's children go, isn't he? Something baby-like about the way he looks at things. But babies and bards have the same sort of outlook on things, more often than not. Maybe he's a wise man after all. Hena'e does stand, slowly, moving her hands away from her mouth and in front of her, keeping them visible and palms forward, one foot pressed to the side of her basket where it sits on the rocky bank next to her. She lets him become accustomed to her being there, then breaks out her minimal use of Spider's children's language. "Hello." A greeting.

The strange man remains politely inquisitive during the pause, simply watching her to see what she'll do. When she brings her hands forward, he lifts his to show her his palms, as well. The smile returns full-force when she speaks, and his brows rise toward his slightly receding hairline. "Oh, so you do speak English? How lovely! Hello."

Hena'e bends slowly at the knee, stooping just enough to lower her arms and take up her basket in them, lifting it to carry in front of her as she steps off of the bank of the stream and through the trees, listening to him in his own language and nodding her head a few times— even if she didn't catch all of that, she can get the general idea. "Hello," she repeats. She may have a limited vocabulary. She wonders whether he's from the settlement she's heading for, and her flat, severe brow draws in a thoughtful line, trying to find the language, and finally just points in the direction of the town itself. "Are you from the settlement?" she asks, in her own language, then, knowing the name of it, at least, she adds that, "Grimwood?"

Charles rises to his feet, rather slowly, though he keeps an eye toward his unexpected company, just in case it startles her. "Me? Oh, yes. For now, anyway. I've just arrived." He tucks his notebook and pencil away inside his jacket, and smiles again. "You aren't, I can tell. My name is Charles. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Hena'e doesn't look to startle easy, and she walks the more easily the more it seems like this one of Spider's children is similarly composed. "Yes," she answers him, even though there wasn't really a question, it's more a general reply to his seeming sentiment with a word from his own language. Name, she also knows, and she tips her chin up attentively at the announcement, giving her own, lifting the pointed finger back toward herself, "Hena'e," and then down toward the beadwork on her high-waisted dress in the pattern of a goose. "Goose," she also knows the English version of her name. "Come to Grimwood. Go to Grimwood," she tries a few times. Verbs of motion are tricky.

"Hena'e Goose, what a lovely name," Charles announces, probably mispronouncing the name. "I suppose you must come to Grimwood to trade?" he offers. If he notices her trouble with the language, he doesn't comment on it. "Actually, I think you can help me. I'm looking for places where…" he hesitates for a moment, looking up slightly as he composes his request. "I'm looking for big rocks. Like a cliff, perhaps?"

It's alright. She didn't even try 'Charles.' She faintly shakes her head when he asks after trade, but isn't able to articulate anything further before he goes on and she leans in, doing her best to focus and pick out what she can. She's grateful when he slows down, and she listens more easily, lips pressed together before she takes the rim of her deep basket in hand, the other still cradling the round bottom of the repository, and in both hands she holds it out toward him. There are, indeed, rocks inside. She quirks one eyebrow questioningly.

Charles looks at the basket blanket for a moment, and then realizes what she's doing with a startled look. "Oh! No, not… Hm." He pauses a moment, looks around, and then makes up his mind. "No, I'm looking for /big/ rocks," he repeats, and this time makes an expansive gesture to indicate something much larger than himself.

"Big rocks," Hena'e echoes back, drawing her basket back against herself and setting it easily on her hip, using her other hand to mirror the hand gesture. Big… that's a good word to know. And easy to say. Big. She angles her head to the side and hugs her basket in both arms once more, giving him a momentary look to make sure he's ready to follow her before she steps back past the tree she'd been hiding behind previously.

Charles brightens when something about what he said gets through, and he goes to follow with his big stompy Spider feet. "Big rocks," he repeats as he follows in her wake. "I guess you don't speak /much/ English, do you?" he natters, as they go. "But that's probably fair, since I don't speak any of your language at all, do I?"

Hena'e doesn't, no. But he's going on to her in his language, so she switches over to hers as she reaches the stone bank of the little rivulet across which she'd been collecting fragments earlier. "This stream comes from higher on the mountain, and you can see the stone of the mountain, where the river passes through it and makes a path," she gestures up that way, looking back toward Charles. "Some rocks are broken down into small pieces, good to use for knapping, but there are bigger rocks, too. Big rocks," she says the two words in English, as well, before switching back, "But I don't know how you're going to carry them home." That's a curious thing. What could he want big rocks for? Anyhow, she starts to pick her way upstream, toward where some boulders are exposed, half-covered in forest moss and making the stream burble agaisnt them as it flows.

Charles listens attentively to her, though his vacant smile shows that he doesn't understand a word of it. "What a lovely language," he comments, for lack of something better to say. As they arrive at the stream, he brightens a little. "We could be on to something here, Miss Goose. Or is it Missus? I suppose it doesn't matter under the circumstances, does it?" He chuckles a little and makes his way upstream with her, though his eyes remain trained on the stone creek bed, even while he talks.

Hena'e hears her name, or, at least the way Spider's children call her by name. Goose. That's her. She looks over her shoulder, then turns and plants a hide-clad foot on top of a big bounder, gesturing down to it. "Big?" she seems to be looking for some sort of indication as to whether this one will do for his purposes. She does seem pretty contented with herself for being able to help, if she is, in fact, helping him at all.

Charles smiles brightly and nods. "Big enough for now, yes!" he agrees, and steps back a little to survey the whole formation. "Thank you very much…" He finds a relatively dry spot to perch for a moment, and starts digging in his pockets, pulling out various pebbles until he finally finds the one he was looking for. "These are what I'm really looking for. Things like them, anyway," he explains, and holds it out for her to examine. The stone has a shell-like curlicue shape.

Hena'e hops over to the opposite bank — it's a tiny little stream, easy to do, and give him better access to the rock she'd been standing on. She really wants to see what he'll do with it, and she doesn't bother to hide her curiosity. He hands her an example piece, then, and she looks upon it, unimpressed, at first, and then gradually more so. It's beyond her own stoneworking skills, for sure, to craft all those tiny whorls. "Did you make this yourself?" she asks him, in her own tongue, looking faintly incredulous.

Charles tilts his head a little, smiling politely at the question. He has no idea what she asked, but since she wouldn't understand the answer anyway, he offers the answer to what he imagines the question might be, instead. "They're shells of tiny sea creatures from ages ago. They turn into rock over time and then you can dig them up, if you're careful." He grins a little, and adds, "Maybe we'll find one, if we're lucky!" He gestures to the boulder, and then the bed of the stream, then to his eyes. "We'll look and see if we find anything, shall we?"

Hena'e lifts up the little pebble to the sky, watching the light and leaf shift overhead behind it, and then crouches down to set her basket by, moving over a stone or two in order to ask again, "You… you make it?" she puts her question together as she can. She's evidently curious enough not to let the answer go sailing over her head, while her thumb finds odd satisfaction in following the spiral in the stone. It's hypnotic, just about. He's gesturing for her to look down, so she does.

Charles looks confused for just a moment, but then he gives a bit of a laugh. "Me? No! I found it." Just in case there was some question about that, he squats down to sift through the stones, then mimes finding something and picks up an invisible rock. "Like that. I found it. It's very old."

"He found it," Hena'e murmurs to herself, "You found it," she repeats, in English. She's a smart one, she takes to the lessons well enough when he slows it down for her. "Here?" she asks, crouching down and beginning to look through the stones keenly, as if there might be another one somewhere, glancing up frequently to see how he's reacting.

Charles shakes his head a little, thoughtfully, trying to think of how to answer it, and then says, "Not /these/ rocks." He points at the rocks, then gestures to the side, at nothing in particular. "Other rocks. But /like/ these." He stands up and walks over closer to the boulders, and sweeps an arm along the lines where the color of the rock changes. "These lines? That means there will be more." He points back to her and the rock he gave her. "More like that one."

Hena'e leans forward onto a knee, watching where he points, looking over the lines in the boulder. Looking for lines? He indicates the stone she's thumbing obsessively, and she looks to the pebble, then his eyes, then the lines in the stone. "Lines," she nods. "Big lines?" she posits, making an expansive motion with her hands like he had earlier.

Charles nods a little and copies the movement again, sweeping his arm. "Big lines," he agrees, with a cheery grin. "Even bigger than this, if I can find them." He pushes himself back up, stretching his back a little once he's upright. "But there might be something here if we look."

Hena'e shakes her head, "Not here," she grins. Yes, full-on grinning. She knows where the big lines are. "Come," she beckons, picking up her basket and setting it on her hip. She still clutches the pebble between her foreknuckle and her thumb, twirling away at it. It's really lovely, how those lines just disappear into one another.

Charles brightens and goes to follow, but watches out for the footing on the slippery rocks at the water's edge. After a few steps, he remembers his manners and he quickens his pace to catch up and gestures to the basket. "Would you like me to help you carry that?"

Hena'e is sure-footed as a mountain-goat nd hardly waits for him to catch up to her, so excited is she to help find more of these little swirls of rock. Only when she hears him scurrying does she look behind her and glances in swift succession between Spider's child and her basket. She gets the sense he wants to be helpful, but she's used to scurrying about with it on her hip, and she shakes her head. "No," she says, but she says it kindly, with some gratitude in her voice. "Come, lines are big," she gestures, "There." By which she probably means 'That way,' because there's a tree where she's pointing.

"Oh, all right," Charles answers, not the least bit offended that she would turn it down. Possibly because he's not as sure-footed as her, and he's not exactly a young man these days. From then on, he just focuses on keeping up with her, wherever they are going.

Hena'e did quite possibly foresee Spider's child clamboring all over and toppling sideways trying to carry her burden. He seems somehow topheavy already, all teetery tottery, somehow, like a giant child. But even if she had the words to put that thought into his language, she's got manners enough to say so, and so she just smiles at him and even sends her free hand backward, perhaps drawn to help him along by some maternal instinct. A child who needs his hand held over the rough passages of the woods while she balances her basket on her other hip. It's almost second nature. But the path will get steep and the brush thicker before it gets thinner, and in time they'll break a treeline and see all of signal ridge stretching overhead with its great bands of different colored rock.

Charles gets a bit winded by the time they break the treeline, but it must turn out to be worth it, because when they come out into the open and he sees the ridge, he gives a slightly breathless laugh. "Yes! This is perfect!" He shades his eyes to look up, grinning fit to split his face. He looks back to Hena'e, "Thank you, so much."

Hena'e knows she's done well. "Big lines, big rock," she understands what he was looking for quite perfectly, now. "What— say?" she looks up at the ridge, then back to him, looking for some language to use in future. To his thanks, she nods. "Yes," she answers, as it's the only answer she has.

"What say?" Charles echoes, trying to parse what she's asking for. "Oh! What is it called? A ridge. Or a cliff." He pauses a moment, then adds, "Or sedimentary." He gestures to the basket, and adds, "Those are flint." Then he points at the fossil and adds, "Fossil."

Hena'e finds herself substantively paid back by Charles in the addition of new words and phrases to her vocabulary, including a helpful little question: What is it called? "What is it called?" she practices. This is a good one to know. Even better than cliff… or ridge… or sedimentary… flint is useful, but only moderately so, since she hardly believes any of Spider's children will be interested in her flint wares. But then she holds up the fossil and wonders at it, calling it by name. "What fossil?" she goes on to ask, now that she knows what to call the thing.

Charles looks momentarily flummoxed, trying to think up the right response to answer her question. "Well… Hm. It's very old," he says, slowly. "A very old animal. Do you know 'animal'? It's a shell. Kind of like a snail. But you probably don't know snails." He grins, apologetically. "Or very old bones. Do you know bones?"

Bones sound familiar. "Bones?" she lifts her free hand to the side of her head, thumb to her temple and fingers splayed to demonstrate an antler, brows aloft to check her answer, then glancing down to the fossil proper and trying to figure out where it might fit on an animal. Maybe a very small mountain sheep.

Charles considers that for a moment, and nods slightly, but still looks kind of doubtful. "That one isn't really… Well. Here…" He pulls out his notebook and pencil again, then slips to a new page and starts sketching. After a few minutes of this, he has a fairly decent sketch of an aquatic critter with a shell that looks fairly similar to the fossil. "This. But very old," he explains, as he tears out the paper and hands it to her.

Hena'e's eyes widen to see a creature like that come out on the paper, which she takes and looks at, then turns the fossil about until it matches up in orientation with that shown in the picture. "Here? In the ridges?" She looks quite incredulous about that. "This," she repeats, holding up the picture, "I see? No," and she shakes her head by way of confirmation that she has indeed never seen anything like that in the mountains. And she's been on her share of mountains.

Charles grins a little and gives a nod. "You haven't seen one? No, you wouldn't have…" He glances toward the ridge, and then back to Hena'e. "They are buried underground." He waves her over, and squats down again to mime digging in the ground, then pulling something out of the produced hole.

"I haven't seen one," is better copied than her first effort. "No?" Hena asks, crouching down and setting down her basket to look where Charles is miming to dig. "Underground," seems like a good word to know. Burrowing animals, these, it seems like. "You hunt this fossil," she surmises. "Why? Meat? Bone?"

Charles shakes his head a little, smiling uncertainly. "No…" He brushes his hair back, and gives a little sigh. He raises a brown, uncertainly, and then wonders, "Do you know what 'old' is?"

"Old," Hena'e repeats the offered word, but it's with a rueful shake of her head. "Old is… lives underground?" she takes a guess, based on context. She feels rather clever to have put that together, and obviously wouldn't be surprised to be right.

Charles grins a little and shakes his head. "No… Old is… Well." He points toward Hena'e. "Young." Then he points to himself. "Old." He gestures to a particularly striking streak of silver in his hair, and repeats, "Old." Then he grins again, waiting to see if she gets it.

Hena'e and Charles have plenty of distinguishing characeristics. The fossil is male? The fossil is an animal brought by Spider's children? But the hair is a clue. "Old, in seasons?" she aids in definition, beginning to nod.

Charles brightens with the word 'seasons'. "Yes! Seasons, exactly. Many, /many/ seasons." He pauses to point toward her again, "Young." Then he points to himself. "Old." Then to a tree. "/Very/ old." Then he points to the ridge. "Very /very/ old." Then he finally points to the fossil. "Very very /very/ old."

There's a deep resonant glitter of comprehension in the Goose's eye as she gets the jist of oldness, as well as 'very,' and 'very very' and so on. Then, to learn that the fossil creature is older than the mountain, she stops short with a little start, looking to the mountain ridge. "Fossil is dead, underground?" she narrows her eyes. Nothing can live longer than a mountain.

Charles nods and smiles radiantly. "Yes! Dead underground. Exactly," he answers, brightly. "But it was alive many many seasons ago." He pulls out the notebook again, and flips back to show her pages of notes, more to demonstrate that he's been writing than with any expectation that she could read it. "I dig them up to learn."

"It was alive," Hena'e repeats. "It was." She doesn't get much of a chance to talk to Spider's children, and so she's taking advantage to learn to communicate more effectively. She's going to have to once she gets to Grimwood, after all. Meeting this strange dead fossil hunter has certainly been a blessing. "You dig them up to learn… what?" she goes on to ask.

Charles seems to have trouble with that one again, struggling to find a simple way to explain it. In the end, he grins apologetically, and says, "Everything." He laughs a bit, then adds, "About the Earth. About the way things were. Before us."

Hena'e finds the smile infectious, and she catches that infection, even laughing along with him. "You are old, and very very young," she tells him. "You learn everything, and with all your seasons," she teases him, but with some real admiration for the way he looks at things.

Charles throws back his head and laughs at that. Once he recovers, he wipes at his eye a little, and nods. "Yes. Very very young, compared to a mountain," he admits, with a gesture toward the ridge. "And very foolish, but I keep trying." He glances to the basket, curiosity returning. "And what are your rocks for?"

Hena'e looks aside to her basket, still merry with the joking from moments before. She settles down out of her crouch and sits cross-legged on the ground, pulling it into her lap and then rummaging through her finds until she discovers the knife she'd made previously. She lifts it from the basket and offers it to Charles. "I make the flint— arrow points, knifes, axes." These are marketable words, though she'd just learned the word for the stone today.

Charles gingerly takes the knife and turns it over in his hand, examining it with clear approval. "You make this out of flint? It's very lovely work." He carefully hands the knife back, and smiles a little. "You trade these in town? In Grimwood?" He settles down to a more comfortable seat himself, apparently not noticing that it might get his suit dirty.

"I make this," Hena'e echoes back his words. She must sound like a total moron doing so, but she's practicing. "Out of flint. I make the arrow points out of flint," she tries stringing more information in there, and watches his face to see whether she's sounding coherent. She takes the blade back and sets it back inside her basket. "I make the basket out of…" she pauses, finishing in her own language, "… grass." She hands the basket over, now that he's sitting and probably won't drop it. It's pretty heavy, but that girl has arm muscles. "No trade," she shakes her head, "I come to Grimwood for peace." That one sounds rehearsed.

Charles takes the basket and has a closer look at it, examining the weaving and tracing a finger over the texture. "Very clever," he remarks, approvingly. He passes it back to her, taking care with the weight of it, then settles back again. A cloud does pass over his expression at her explanation. Something melancholy, somehow. He covers it with a little smile, and offers, "Well, you have peace with me. And with my family."

"I make a very clever basket," Hena'e nods, approving of his approval and not being shy or demure about her skill. She takes it back onto her lap. "My brother comes to Grimwood for peace. Father sent us to make peace. We bring gifts of peace for Grimwood from our family." Yes, she's rehearsed this bit of speech countless times in preparation for her mission here.

Charles nods a little, and his brows go up. "Ah! I see. Your brother. I do hope that I will get to meet Mr. Goose." He tilts his head a little, looking at Hena'e thoughtfully. "Is there not already peace?"

"No," the Goose answers, and she sounds fairly exhausted in saying so. "We have no peace." It's a moment before she lifts her head from gazing down into her basket of flint, a breath rousing her shoulders to straighten, her eyebrows arcing with hope. "We have peace with your family. You lead Grimwood? You are old," she points out— he should be respected there. But then, she doesn't claim to know much about how Spider's children operate.

Charles smiles uncertainly. "Well, I don't /lead/ Grimwood, no. But maybe I can talk to the people there." He taps a finger on his chest. "You have peace with me. My daughter. And I would like to talk to your brother, when he comes to Grimwood, okay?"

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