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Thursday November 2nd 2017Tim Candler9

 

     The first frosts had been and gone, Garlic had been planted, Ladybird Hibernation Season was in full swing, the little beauties were everywhere when the railhead finally reached the mouth of Saeed bin Saeed's dinosaur bone and bat cave. The seasonable chill meant that all the bats that were able to, had wisely flown south and under no circumstances did any of them suffer a horrible or cruel death at the hands of Railway Workers, explosives experts or engineers. In those days tunneling was pick, shovel and wheelbarrow work interrupted occasionally by loud bangs and ominous rumblings. Barbarians loved it, the whole thing was the best entertainment ever, especially when explosive experts came scurrying out of the tunnel mouth, diving for cover. In a way I guess as an entertainment it was kind of like car racing, mostly incredibly boring, but no one could ever be certain when someone might get badly hurt or mangled to death. The steam locomotive, an 0-6-0 Shunter, hadn't yet arrived in Saint Barbara, apparently it had broken down or had got itself derailed somewhere, or had got lost by FedEx because the driver couldn't be bothered to find the somewhat isolated delivery address, and there was hell to pay, so in the meanwhile rubble or tunnel tailings were loaded onto railway wagons which were pulled along the railway lines by mules and horses. These tailings were then distributed as ballast to help stabilize rail line sleepers against rain storms and other pests. Saeed and his fossil hunters had full run of the work site and at least five of six times a day they'd convince themselves they'd spotted a bit of rubble that looked like a dinosaur bone, a femur, a part of skull, or a finger bone and no shortage of teeth.

 

Past

     

      But Saeed's seamstresses had been forbidden to go anywhere near the site, not even when railway workers were having their one day off a week, which, despite dire warnings from the new batch of Industrial Magnet representatives about sin and going blind, they mostly spent at Owl's Bar. Nor had any of their prince's recent decisions fallen easily upon seamstress shoulders. The whole travel thing had been stressful, foreign climates and environments were unimaginably awful, but being asked to stay inside the tents swatting at Ladybirds all day to keep them out of the nooks, crannies and bedding was the needle that popped the balloon for the traditional relationship Omani seamstresses had with royalty. A seamstress, who would later go by the name Bronwyn Applegate, happened to spot Alejandra Pachis having another go at digging her duck pond. Bronwyn sneaked across the field and after the niceties asked Alejandra whether she knew of a local clothier or milliner who might supply her with more local type outfits and failing that maybe supply her with more local type materials out of which she might sew something elegant and at the same time more in keeping with the Barbarian sense of fashion. "You want a disguise?" Alejandra, like so many Barbarians, was often underestimated by outsiders. "Yes, I'd like six of them, please," Bronwyn answered and then as she grew in confidence, Bronwyn added, "A bit of variety would be appreciated."  And in her memoir, "My Life as a Pioneer," Bronwyn recalls, "it was probably just as well that none of us seamstresses knew the rather fun Barbarian fall headgear was made from musk rat pelts. We all thought it was an ermine of some kind."

 

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