Pt III: Gunpowder and Spices
'Thank you, my friend, please do come in. said James, as he beaconed Laurus in, a woman followed, who James embraced with equal warmth.
She floated in, every movement seemed purposeful but effortless. Her hair was midnight black, naturally parted and caressed her shoulders, framing delicate but chiseled cheeks and malachite coloured eyes. Harold was usually remarkably good at taking no interest in his surroundings. He took exception to Mirabelle.
Jack's heart pounded like a cannon firing on repeat. Sweat slowly rolled down his back, chest and forehead, his temperature quickly rose to a boil.
Jack, I’d like you to meet Mirabelle.
Lovely to meet you, he jittered.
The pleasure is mine, are you certain it’s mutual, you seem terrified, she sympathetically jested.
Her serene voice and effortless mannerisms bought him momentary calm.
Regaining his balance, Jack's inquisitive side compensated for his lack of charm.
How do you know Uncle James?
James? Laurus and James go years back, ever since I’ve known Laurus, James has always been around, rather like a barnacle to a boat aren’t you James.
It seems neither you nor your husband’s sense of wit got lost at sea, James jived.
I’m terribly insulted you’d suspect such a thing to ever happen, God forbid it, she retorted.
God forbid he agreed.
Laurus and I used to work together you see, we used to sail together as Merchant’s said James.
Where about were you trading, enquired Jack
All over, at times we’d be on the North Coast of Morocco, other’s around India, incredibly beautiful places Jack, he reminisced.
Laurus had swanned over to join James and Jack, Mirabelle had slipped off to entertain Harold and Popsy.
'What are they like, India and Morocco?' asked Jack, despite not having the faintest idea where either country was.
'They are all so different, that’s what makes them endlessly fascinating and beautiful. The smells, colours and people that fill the Moroccan Souks and Turkish Bazaars are truly a marvel to behold. Overwhelming, chaotic and confusing at the same time. You won't find anything like it here but there's a real energy and buzz to these places which is infectious.'
'Travel's turned you into a poet as well' chuckled James.
'Incredible what the sea and a woman can do to a man.'
'The sea and a woman, or that Tobacco you smoke in the Turkish bazaars?' James enquired.
'All three! That reminds me, I bought you some spices back, they’re in that chest we bought.'
'What are spices?'
'I’ll show you, gentlemen if you'd follow me' Laurus beckoned to Jack and his Uncle.
He picked up the golden chest and laid it gently on the table before clicking it open. As Laurus lifted the lid, scents quite unlike anything Jack had smelt before filled the air.
Harold, Popsy, James, Mirabelle, Laurus and Jack were stood around the table, the chest and scent magnetically pulled the group together.
'What say we give your folks a taste of the orient James? Mirabelle and I are in a need of something warming, and I know one of your god-awful stews aren’t up to the job.'
'I have a chicken hanging I was planning to use this evening, any bright ideas?'
Jack's gaze was fixed on the contents of the box.
Beautiful aren't they. My reaction was much the same the first time I saw them said Mirabelle. This is what Laurus and James have spent most of their time trading. The flavours are unlike anything you will have tried here. Take these cumin seeds, Mirabelle gestured towards a stack of earthy brown seeds that didn't look to dissimilar to wheat seeds.
She pinched a few seeds and passed them into Jack’s palm.
Have a taste, you won’t taste much just holding them she laughed.
The seeds flew into his mouth. There was something warm and comforting about their flavour. This was a taste of what the world had to offer way from the farm, overseas.
Mirabelle had a small handful and gave a pinch to everyone. Harold who had so easily refused Jack, found it impossible to refuse this time around.
Jack examined the other contents of the chest. It wasn't only filled with seeds of different shapes and sizes. Powders of different tones were neatly separated by interlocking wooden dividers. Scarlet red, canary yellow, chestnut brown. It was a feast for the eyes. A shrivelled fruit of some sort grabbed his attention. He picked one up and casually popped it in his mouth. Laurus had caught sight of Jack reaching for the box and watched with amusement.
An inferno rose. His cheeks flushed with fire and his mouth filled with embers. That would be a chilli, pack quite a strong punch don’t they. Fortunately for you these are fairly mild as they come, Laurus laughed.
Time for a spot of food, wouldn’t you agree Laurus? What say we russle up one of our curries? said James.
A fine idea old boy it’s been far too long.