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An excerpt from… Children of the Moon (cont.)
By L.M. Brickwood

Alesians had an olive complexion. Their features looked a bit exotic with high cheekbones. Their hair mostly in shades of blond and brown. The children also saw a rather dark-skinned mother with a sleeping baby on her back. Curious glances shot at the three friends from under lowered eyelashes. But, nobody stared openly or stopped to question them.

Chryseis noted these details and was determined to write them down later, as soon as she got a chance.

Alun led the little group past the park, and walked straight ahead on the paved avenue towards a walled corner property painted in a warm terracotta orange. The walls were lined with rows of blue ball-shaped flowers on long elegant stems, interspersed with red cannas. The stonewall they approached was covered in a bougainvillea plant, densely dotted with masses of reddish flowers, growing vigorously into a nearby tree. Some of the shady trees along the road were not in bloom, others flowered blue and orange.

Katherine had seen similar towns in northern Italy when holidaying with her family last year. But the flowers here were so large and vibrantly coloured. Longish cypress and broad cedar trees of different heights and shapes grew in groups and rows between the houses.

A large walnut tree spread its canopy over an inviting courtyard in front of a double story house. Lending its cool shade to two older women and a mother dog suckling her two pups. The women sat on facing benches, chatting and preparing vegetables for cooking. Red and blue striped baskets were placed on the ground, with heaps of grain and vegetables on mats spread around them. A few geese were clucking and pecking at morsels here and there. The paved ground was sparsely covered with green walnut buds. They cracked softly under their feet as they walked towards the house.

"It is my elder brother's wedding ceremony soon…" Alun explained.

The colourful decorations already covered branches of shrubs and trees, and were hung around windows. The children did not understand what he said, but gathered from the bright red and turquoise embellishments around the yard that some festivity was planned or had been held recently. They smiled politely and marveled at everything they saw. Houses, plants, people and all.

The two women continued with their busy activities as they watched the children walk up to the benches. Then they returned their greeting.

"Shelanti!"

Like Alun's, their complexion was olive with strong features and grey eyes. The women were dressed in pastel coloured tunics with a bright red stripe along the hem. Polite words were exchanged. The three visitors smiled and were completely clueless as to what was being said. The two matrons didn't seem to notice. They seemed kindly and patiently listened with knitted brows to Alun's story of how he had found the threesome wandering by themselves on Shepherd's Hill. They nodded consent as he suggested that his father's home be offered to the children, until the elusive parents could be located. Their hearts went out to the poor children.

Nodding was good!

Alun's 'aunts' were ostensibly pleased with the boy's handling of the situation. They smiled approvingly, while their hands never stood still for a moment.

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