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A Traveller And A Merchant

          
Four days I'd spent out there. Four days sledding, skiing and wading through the icy, white landscape. Some would call it merciless or unforgiving but the plush, pale scene was, to me, utterly beautiful. The green of the trees was peeking out under their new, white winter coats and their titan height would humble even the most experienced traveller. 

I was going back to my winter homestead - a cosy little cabin, halfway up the mountain.

Thank goodness I had my Solmate socks, mittens and hat along with me or I might have been lost to the frost that the fresh morning winds brought around. 

The next day I woke with the sunrise and set out to continue my journey. It was not long before I came across a man stopped in front of a particularly tall snowdrift. A group of tethered huskies were yowling next to an upturned sled.

 "Hello there" I called through the wind.
 "Oh, good morning!" He called back with a great grin, "rare to see a lone traveller at this time of year."
 "I'm headed up the mountain to my cabin"
 "Up the mountain? Ha ha! Brave thing aren't you - the ice is really biting this year."
 "I grew up with ice and snow so it's no stranger to me" I smiled. "That's quite a setup you have there" I commented, nodding towards the bouncing, howling dogs.
 "Oh yes, my friends here have taken me farther than you'd think an old man like me could go. I sell bags and travel-wares, see," he motioned me over behind the sled to where a pile of assorted bags and bits and bobs were strewn in the snow, "one of the dogs got spooked by something, a hawk probably, and made the whole troupe freak out and we ran straight into this snow bank"
 "Do you need any help up-righting your sled?"
 "Thank you, that would be wonderful," he smiled broadly and began directing my efforts, "let's start with the leathers-"
 "They're beautiful."
 "Aren't they? Made by Scaramanga. Handmade from Buffalo leather following centuries old traditional methods," he explained to me as I handed him satchels and travel bags and messenger bags - you name it, it was there. "They will stay with you through a lifetime's worth of travels."
 "Where'd you get them?"
 "Scotland. Friend of a friend makes them. Oh and those?" He points to a large, strapped backpack, "Herschel backpacks, made from a strong, sturdy canvas with more pockets and space than you'll ever need - all the way from Canada too!" His pride shone through his heavily bearded smile. 

 All the bags were piled on the now upright sled and strapped down under huge lambswool blankets of vibrant blacks, reds, blues and greens.

 "So what's next?" I asked, excited to see what else he brought.
 "Now it's only the small things left - some books and bits good for travelling. Hey, you might like some of this!" He picked up what looked like a tiny hammer and another thing that appeared to be a pen but with a quick pull and push they transformed; the pen into a screwdriver and the hammer into a knife, pliers, bottle opener and wire cutters.
 "Wow! I've never seen a multi-tool like it."
 "Neat, isn't it? By Kikkerland. Well, that's everything picked up. Thanks so much for your help - it's rare to come across a traveller so generous with their time-" He put his left hand to my arm and smiled in thanks.
 "It's no problem at all" I smiled back.
 "So, as a proper thank you I'd like to repay that generosity," he took out a hammer tool and a large, leather travel bag, extending them towards me, "these are for you."
 "Really? Thank you so much; that is so kind!" I received them gingerly - in disbelief at his generosity. He mounted his sled, steadied himself behind his wares and whipped the huskies' tethers with a sharp 'snap'.
 "Good travelling, friend." He bid me farewell before taking off into the snowy landscape. The howls of his companions echoed through the trees long after his goodbye. 

And that, children, is how I came to own my faithful bag all those years ago. It's been with me on many travels since then and, who knows, maybe it will accompany you on yours.
November 28, 2016 by Beverly Small
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