Drench the Wench
Ginger took a deep breath as she made her way down the main cobblestone road that snaked through the village. The round brown stones where slick with dew that fell in the night. As she breathed in, she breathed in the scents of the village. Whole chickens, basted with garlic, red pepper, sea salt and sage where roasting on a spit over a bed of gray coals in a near by shop. The smell made her mouth water. The cooking of course was done behind a counter. The patron's dinned out in the open, with simple wooden tables and chair provided. Along with pewter plates and blunt forks and knifes.
Beside the chicken roasting shack, there could be seen another eatery. This one was kind of a pizza place. Large brick ovens with a roaring fire in the back, backed the paper thin pizzas in a matter of seconds. They where then served up, piping hot.
For a minute Ginger stood there, peering at the chicken's turning on there spit's and the pizza baking in the brick ovens. Then she happen to look and notice most of those items where beyond her reach. Fair food was known for being both high and spicy.. And her dash of coins was very limited. Sighing she started to move on, the day was young after all.
As she walked, she noticed the sun started to get higher and higher in the sky. The heat of the Mississippi summer sun was starting to make her woolen dress stick to her arms and legs. The lightweight, cotton bodice started to feel like a breastplate and her soft brown leather shoes felt like iron shoes. Sighing she peered toward a cool shaded area. She had passed the cooking area now and had wondered into the shopping area.
The shopping area was a large square made of hard packed yellow dirt. A small well stood in the center of the square. Bazaars and specialty shops surrounded the square. As Ginger browsed the wares, she noticed all kind of skilled trades where on display. The first venture she visited was a leatherworker who was displaying a fine collection of leather belts, purse's and other leather goods where on open display. With the prices being written both in dollars and "Coins of the Realm".
It took only one passing glance for Ginger to come to conclusion that the price of those goods where far beyond her hand full of dollars and purse full of fake silver coins that acted as scrip or "Coins of the Realm" each silver coin was worth around one dollar. Sparing one more glance at the offered goods, she could only sigh. It was take a sack full of those cheap plastic coins or a bank account as fat as the pigs grazing on the common to buy one of those goods.
Drawing her draw string purse closer to her person, she left the tent. Leaving the tent she stepped onto the cobblestone road she been traveling on. The sun was still climbing into the sky, but already its strong rays where flooding over the land. Passing wagons and horses and the shuffle of feet was kicking up clouds of orange and yellow dust. The dust was fine as cake flour and hung in the air.
Knitting her brow, Ginger started to walk once more. As she walked, she passed women dressed in fine, colorful silken dresses and slippers. At the side of each women, there could be found a fellow dressed in either brown leather trousers, home spun leather trousers and polished black leather boots. Some wore light cotton shirts, unlaced at the chest, this allowed them to show there tanned, hard as stone chest. At there hips they wore swords. As they passed Ginger, she noticed all wore smirks and strutted around as if they where the biggest dog in the junk yard.
Ginger pushed on, passing the happy couples. As she passed one of them, one of the silken clad ladies dropped her fan and peered toward Ginger. A little smirk formed upon her face as she looked her up and down, scowling at her simple woolen dress and white cotton bodice and soft leather shoes.
"It seems, we have a farm girl from up river." She said taking a deep breath as she giggled. "You can smell one a good league. For they all smell like manure, hey and sheep." She turned toward a friend. A women dressed in gray silk.
"She must be lost, poor dear. The petting zoo is over there, by the 'Drench a Wench' booth. I think she does belong there, after all. There nothing but sheep, goats and calf's there. She'll fit right in. Among the ranch-hands and stockmen." The other said peering toward Giner with a smirk.
Ginger blinked and blinked again as she peered toward the pair of women. Her cheeks where turning a fearsome shade of red and steam was bowing from her nose and her fist where balled up in a tight fist. She was fit to be tied. She might have been born and reared in Benton, but rudeness was one thing she could not stand.
"Oh my.." The women wearing gray silk said taking a deep breath. "I think.. I think we might have hurt her feelings." She said teasing. "Poor dear, but maybe this would teach her a lesson.." She said holding up her fan and laughing a little.
Ginger saw nothing but red as she peered toward the two laughing women. Then out of the corner of her eye she spotted two cream pies sitting out on wooden table. Beside the pies was a had painted cardboard sign. The sign read. "Pudding Pies.." A dollar sign followed by the number five was next to it. Grinning she placed five silver coins down and picked up two pies.
"Oh my.." The women wearing gray silk said. "She going to eat both of those pies? What a pig?" She said giggling as she turned toward her friend and smirked.
"You know what they say, you can take the girl from the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." The other women while grinning ear to ear.
Balancing the pies in the palm of her hand. She took a deep breath and pushed the two pies into the faces of the women. Smiling softy she gave the pie tins a good twist to ensure max coverage. She then stepped back and placed her hands on her hips, pulled down one of her eyelids and stuck out her tongue.
"You little bi.." The women scolded as she felt the cream splatter on her face and felt the melted cream and warm pudding run down the front of her dress and flop on the ground. The tin and broken pieces of crust laid at her foot. The melted pie and warm pudding smeared her silken slippers.
"Itch.." The women finished.
Ginger could only smile as she turned around, stuck out her tongue again. Before vanishing down the trail. She might just check out that petting zoo after all. And that "Drench a wench" thing seemed pretty fun, maybe she should check that out as each step she took, the sun climbed higher and higher into the sky. And with each step she took, Ginger felt her breathing become harder and harder.
The humid summers in Mississippi made the woolen dress stick to her as the heat started to rise and dust from the metal capped wagon wheels roared down the hard earth packed roads. Ginger prayed for a breeze to stir the trees or clear away the dust as she walked along a lake that seemed to be at the center of the fair. But the wind remained still.
Sighing Ginger thought about turning around till the faint laughter of children reached her ears. Quickly she reached down and wrapped her fingers around the bottom of her woolen dress, hiking up high enough to show her woolen stockings. Once the dress was lifted she started to sprint down the road toward the sound of laughter.
And soon she found the source of the laugher. Children dressed as princesses smiled and laughed as they road horse power swings, teens too old for the ride and not old enough to know better necked under the cool shade provided by pecan and chestnut trees. Baby goats, pigs, lambs allowed there heads to be petted by toddlers in the enclosed pens before returning to the shelter of the barn.
Then between the petting zoo and stage with a man dressed as a bard, she noticed it. A wooden frame supporting a large thirty gallon barrel of water that turned upside down when the trigger was hit. A women with honey colored hair was standing under the barrel right now, a few feet in front of her, behind a wooden rail, two boys where throwing soft, leather balls at a target.
"Come on! Hit the thing!" She called out as one of the soft leather balls flew over the wooden target and hit the safety net a few feet behind it. The ball missed by mere inches. And sailed safety into the net. The young boy, took a deep breath and tossed a few more silver coins down upon the counter. The women running the booth handed him four more balls.
Ginger titling her head to the side, watched as the boy reached into his pocket and pulled out a stick of bubblegum. Unwrapping the gum, he popped it into his mouth and started to chew, he then reached up and turned his cap around. He then reached down and picked the ball up and started to toss it back and force as he chewed the gum.
"Okay little league all star pitcher." The women said taking a deep breath. "See if can't hit the target this time!" She said grinning as she watched the boy draw the ball back and let it fly.
The ball sailed through the air and smashed into the wooden trigger. As the trigger was pushed in, the bucket of water above the women's head tipped over and released a massive waterfall down upon her head.
A girlish yep escaped the women's lips as she braced for the down pour. The downpour came without warning, a sudden splash of water poured down upon her head, soaking her to the bone. The women looked up and smiled a little smile as the boy who soaked her exchanged hand shake with his friend.
The boys being boys smiled and wondered away, something more adventures had caught there attention. One only had to look to the left to notice a column of some twelve men at arms mounted on horseback. The band passed through the booth, totally unaware of the soaking women or the group of children following behind them. Ginger of course had her attention firmly focused on the booth in front of her.
"How much.. How much for a ball?" Ginger said in a timed tone of voice. As she approached the counter. The women behind the counter smiled and in a teasing tone of voice said.
"Five dollars for three balls, of free if you feel brave and want to stand under the bucket." She said smiling softy as she peered toward the women who was shaking out her dress. "There free mutton stew and cold ice cola waiting for you." She said hiking her hand over and pointing to the spot. The women who had just been soaked was walking toward the booth.
Ginger blinked and blinked again as she peered toward both women. She folded her arms under her breast and started to think it over. Maybe this could fun.. Maybe it would nice.. After all.. She had been gunged before as part of some silly fundraiser. What the cause again? To raise money to outfit her cheerleading squad with new uniforms? Or was it to raise money for Saint Thomas Children Hospital? Not that it mattered anymore, that was months ago.. Back during the spring.
"I'll stand under the bucket.. But what about my purse, I don't want it to get wet or anything?" Ginger said as she reached over and drew the pink, drawstring bag closer to herself.
"We'll keep your coins safe. No harm will come to them. Promise on the light." She said as she reached down and handed the women who was just soaked bag. "See, Lily here was just like you, came to us hotter than a rooster in kitchen. More scared than the oldest chicken on Sunday morning. Now look at her. Cool, refreshed, sixteen silver coins richer and going to enjoy a free meal of Mutton Stew, fresh baked bread and a ice cold cola on the house at 'Prancing Pony'." The women said as she leaned over and peered into Gingers eyes.
"Its true." Lily said smiling as she took her purse. "And its pretty fun too. I mean you get to tease people, and all they can do is sit there and take it. Heck, like a hour ago, I got somebody so mad, he just dropped his whole purse down and started to blindly throw balls at the target. The dude was insane.. He almost hit me.." Lily stated as she strapped her purse on around her waist.
"Yep, had to call the Queen's Guard in to short that little mess out. My thought on that one, should have known better Lil." The women said blushing as she closed her eyes and sighed.
Ginger blinked and blinked again. She took a small step back.
"So girl, what will it be. Lily worked her shifted, my other girl is sick with the flu. Only a few more hours to go before the fair closes down. Need to find somebody to take her place or else I'm closing down for the day."
"I don't know.." Ginger said. "This is my only dress too.." She closed her eyes. "I was not expecting to get wet.. Or messy or anything."
Lily took a deep breath and peered toward Ginger. For several long minutes she mentally took measurements of the girl. Measuring her from the top of her head to the very tip of her toes. She even measured her bust size. Before she snapped her fingers. A little thought light bulb had just turned on.
"I think." Lily said smiling softy. "I think I have a perfect dress for you to change in. Or maybe some street cloths or something. Where around the same size, you and I. So don't worry about anything girl. I got you covered." She said smiling as she pointed her finger toward Ginger and winked.
Ginger took a deep breath and smiled a little as she peered toward Lily and then toward the women. Sighing she shrugged her shoulders she reached her hand out and took the women's hand. Then smiling a goofy grin, she reached down and handed the women her purse. Then blushing she marched behind the booth toward the comical 'X' that had been painted upon the wooden boards. The 'X' was just below the barrel. Collecting her breather she stood in the center of the 'X' and waited.
She did not have to wait long, for soon the two women she pied earlier came passing by the booth. The front of there dresses still stained with now dried cream, there long curls, matted down with custard that had turned a harden yellow. One of the women spotted her standing under the barrel and whispered something to her friend, the two then started toward the counter.
"Why, its not the country girl. Found something worthy of your station in life? I must say, your outfit is way to modest to be a wench." She said giggling as she reached down into her silken purse and dipped her hands into the confines, she pulled out a palm full of shimmering plastic coins. She placed the coins on the counter top and given six, hard leather balls.
Ginger took a deep breath. Behind her there could be seen a wooden fence, she was standing in something of a half circle. With the barrel of water on top of her. A nerviest formed upon her face as she peered toward the women she had pied earlier. Shifting her eyes away from her, she noticed that above her was a sign. Big wooden letters in a arching pattern spelled out the words. "Drench the Wench!" Somebody had painted the wooden letter a pastel pink.
"Maybe the cold water will wash away some of that stink?" Teased the pie covered women as she drew back her arm and let the ball sail through the air.
The ball passed a hairs breath over the target and landed in the net behind it. The hard leather ball bounced into the net and rolled down. Ginger took a deep breath as she waited for the ball to hit and the to get drenched! But she was spared!
"Don't harm your arm.." She said smirking as she planted her hands on her hips and gave a sassy pose. "Milady would have to carry her own bags, or have thy handmaid carry them."
"You little.." The women picked up her second ball and tossed again, this time the ball fell short of the target and rolled upon the ground.. The women was quickly becoming flustered at her failed efforts to hit the target!
"Doth milady find her strength fail her? Doth she find her throwing arm weak? Then try some 'Natweed tea' a blend of herbs, spices and random objects found by the side of the road and weeds. All roasted and blended with careful care by ye old tea master of Ming Tu Chang." She chirped and smiled as the women reached over and pulled hard at her ponytail as a way of venting her frustration.
"Careful!" warned Ginger "Don't want to pull that ponytail out!" She chirped as she watched the face turn into a scowl.
"BRENDA!" She bellowed as she turned toward her friend. "YOU, YOU DUNK THIS LITTLE TWAT RIGHT NOW." She boomed, her voice carried over the noise and confusion of the fair and caused a dozen or so heads to turn and a flock of near by birds to rise from there roost and take flight into the cloudless sky above.
"With pleasure." Brenda said taking a deep breath as she strolled toward the counter. "I'll have you know wench. That I'm the star pitcher for Manchester Academy. Lady Maverick's for the win!" She said winding up and throwing the ball.
And before Ginger could say anything, a downpour of ice cold water was poured down upon her head. The sudden drenching out poor soaked her to the bone. A girlish scream escaped her lips as she watched the water pool around her feet. Smiling she just lifted her head up, pulled down her eyelid and stuck out her pink tongue!
"Good shot! Lets see if you can't do it again!"
It seemed she had finally found something she could enjoy, and getting dunked was pretty fun too. Maybe next year she could skip all those other booths and go straight toward the 'Drench a Wench'.