Verd, part five

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Still cataloging the last of the merchandise Arthur finally noted that Harbend must have taken the opportunity to get washed and change clothes before coming back here. The generous mass of black hair was tied into a knot on the left side of his head and he wore a pair of dark blue silk trousers glittering with an almost metal sheen. A white linen shirt hiding under a crimson, waist length jacket, glimmering as if alive, completed the outfit.

I'd bloody better start to pay more attention to what's happening around me.

He forced himself to stay alert for a while longer. "Harbend, can you sell this?"

"Of course, even though I fail to understand your need for money."

"Because I'm supposed to be a trader. If I start spending loads of money here then I guess I should make a show of having earned it first."

Harbend smiled and bowed ever so slightly. "That is the spirit of a true merchant. Yes, I will help you get the best possible price for your books. They do represent a fortune after all," he finished, still caressing a leather bound volume in his hands.

Now there was a man mentally preparing for the negotiations to follow. Harbend probably enjoyed that part almost as much as the money involved. Arthur was well aware of the fact that no one had ever brought books here before, and that in itself ought to make it all the more interesting.

"I shall take a commission. Eh, one fifth?"

Arthur grinned happily. He'd played this game early in his career and been quite good at it. "One part of twenty."

"That is not a commission, and you know it. One sixth."

"Now, that's robbery. Sure, I need you translating for me, so I might accept one out of sixteen."

"One part in seven."

"One out of twelve, net only and you have an agreement."

Harbend's face clouded. "Now wait a moment. Gods! You are a cunning one. I shall be satisfied with one part of eight, and that does not cover what I am paying for your living."

Should I continue? No. I need a happy contact planet side. Arthur laughed and accepted the offer.

Harbend tried to look dismayed but they both knew the deal would still earn him a lot more than he usually did and he joined Arthur's laugh.

"I bid you a good night then. We have work to do tomorrow," Harbend said, bowed and left the room.

Alone again Arthur felt the weight of the hour. He carefully closed his crates and, stifling a yawn, entered his bedroom.

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