The First Story

The Pedlar

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I sing of a man who deserted his home,
In search of adventure in countries afar.
O’er mountain and meadow and sea did he roam.
After many a summer, he reached Vàldovar.

One day, during the reign of King Ferdinand the Thirteenth, a Pedlar arrived in one of the small villages of Vàldovar. No-one had ever seen the Pedlar before that day, and no-one knew from what faraway land he had come. There were those who said that he had emerged from the Great Forest of the North, though others claimed that a friend of a friend of a friend had seen the Pedlar descending the slopes of the Western Mountains.
   The Pedlar was an old man, dressed in poor, tattered clothes. His grey hair poked out from beneath a hat full of holes. His back was bent, and upon it he bore a large, heavy sack containing all that he owned in the world. He shuffled slowly and with a limp, leaning heavily upon a staff, huffing and puffing (for he found walking to be hard work). All in all, he was a very sorry sight.
    At his waist, he carried a large tray. A strap, fastened to the two sides of the tray, passed around his neck. On the tray were buttons, pins, thimbles, combs, glass beads, skeins of thread, and many other small, brightly-coloured objects.