Note: the characters described below are purely fictional; that is, completely from the imagination of the author and not based on real people, either people he knows or people he does not. Any resemblance to any person, living, dead, or somewhere in-between, is probably purely accidental; though there might be a subconscious factor, we really don’t know. Anyway, it is and was not the author’s intent to describe any real people, and should not be taken as such. J. Carlsee, editor.
I stepped inside. The dining-room was typical for an inn: smells wafting from a busy kitchen; a clamor of voices like the sound of a waterfall; various chairs, various tables; candles, candelabra, an inviting light from the fireplace; talking, laughing, a friendly warmth. A servant took my coat; I thanked him, gave him a shilling**, and walked to the nearest table. Four men sat there. The first was an old, lithe, scraggly man, with a beard as wild as an untrimmed hedge, bright green eyes, and clothes as cacophonous as an amateur orchestra. He wore a sort of cloak, and what might have been a kilt, but all else was a hodgepodge of patches and scraps and amorphous pieces of clothing. Like his clothes, he was a strange, incongruous, droll man. His eyes darted erratically***, yet watched me with the keen scrutiny of a hawk. His hair and beard were messy and tangled, and full of sticks and leaves and other things, among which might have been fleas. But he seemed fun overall, and was a chatty talker.
The second person I noticed was a dark, gloomy man clothed in black. Not complete black, but dark colors; none of the colors of the rainbow. He wore a tall capotain-hat, an elegant cloak, and a starched-white collar. His face was like granite carved and chiseled into a rough, stubbled visage. His voice was grim and deep; his face was stern and just solemn enough to not seem cruel; and his cold, imperious eyes glinted with fury like sparks glint from steel. But what was most perturbing was his scar. It was a large slash across his face, the claws of a savage animal ripping his flesh, now petrified into him. I shuddered, and quickly turned to the others.
The third was a candid, merry, auburn-haired fellow with sly, effervescent**** blue eyes, and the fourth was a pale young man who seemed to dislike the sun almost as much as he did people. The former had a full mug of ale and was conversing cheerily, though avoiding the man with the scarred face. He seemed to be the most honest and jovial young man in the world, a person who could chatter his most clandestine affairs without any regret. He was annoying, yet impossible to hate; garrulous, yet eloquent; gregarious, yet friendly; boastful, yet sincere. His costume was elegant, with a stylish cavalier-hat, buckled boots, a loose cravat, and clothes in brilliant blues and golds, radiating wealth and gaiety. The latter sipped his ale quietly, and seemed uneasy, as though wishing to melt into the shadows. He was like a shadow himself, with black hair, haggard eyes, and a nose red from being rubbed. All light absorbed into him, all gaiety became moroseness. His clothes were as black as his hair, and whereas the former’s were elegant, his were plain and dull. Yet the two complemented each other, as gold and silver, day and night, speaker and listener. Sitting next to them, I extended my hand, and said, “Greetings! It’s a pleasure to meet you, sirs!”
*This is a revision of the original “Character Sketches” published on May 4th. I thought the original was fine, but, being the only staff member who did, I was outvoted. J. Carlsee, Editor.
**One shilling is worth about ten modern U. S. dollars. J. Carlsee, Editor.
***I know a lot of editors wouldn’t allow this many adverbs, but here at Carlsee Press adverbs are used like salt: copiously. J. Carlsee, Editor.
****I love this word. J. Carlsee, Editor.