Saturday, June 18, 2016

Spice and Wolf Volume 10

Candles are a luxury.

On top of only illuminating about as much space as one can encircle with one's arms, they burn out after only a short time.

Thus, candles are generally only burned when conducting activities that cannot be done in daylight—activities like care-fully paring down the edges of a gold coin with a knife, sewing a secret pouch into the bottom of a burlap sack, or placing heavily taxed salt into that pouch.

When business was especially good, Lawrence might even sketch out the facade of the shop he hoped to someday own, on paper that was itself none too cheap.

And all of these activities were of a sort that one smiled to one-self while performing them.

The Church sometimes preached that smiling to oneself at night invited demons—no doubt this was thanks to the image of the lone merchant, chuckling to himself at his desk late at night.

Long ago, he himself had tossed nervously in his blanket after having seen the hunched-over form of his master late at night.

When had his habit of keeping a candle burning despite having no particular tasks to attend to begun? He watched the wick burn down slowly, staring at the wine in his cup—wine he had no intention of drinking.

No, he knew perfectly well why he kept the candle burning. For so long the night had been nothing but an obstacle to his business, but now he wanted to savor it just a bit longer—savor this quiet, peaceful time before tomorrow arrived with its inevitable noise and bother.

He could hear the alternating sighs of two slumbering. If it allowed him to go on listening to that peaceful sound, he did not mind lighting another candle.

But if he failed to sleep soon himself, his body would pay the price.

He smiled soundlessly and made as though to blow the candle out—but just before he did, he hesitated and looked at the source of the sleeping breaths.

Even in the dark, all would be well. The image lingered in his vision right up until the moment he drifted off to sleep.

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