Oct 27, 2021
2 mins read
Now, driven at last from the all-for-one-and-one-for-all-no-one-will-fall of the Welfare Hall, River Khan, Jacquard Adam's lover, comes down through Silver Lane to the Iskander workshop where they make clocks fine as any jewellery the old smiths made, and puts the kettle over the glowing fire in the prentices' kitchen, and looks at himself in the mirror over the spotless bathroom sink, and sees:
RIVER KHAN : Oh, there's a face!
Where'd you get that smug smile?
Got it from a cream-fed cat.
Give it back, bad lad.
Oh, there's a face!
How'd you get in this mess, River?
Following the wrong head, stupid,
You've got it so bloody wrong!
Oh, there's a mess!
Look at this situation!
Oh, no, you can't.
Needs a bit of fixing.
Needs an end.
Oh, there's a mess!
Where'd you get that smile, boy?
Never you mind, fool.
He doesn't love you.
Oh yes he does.
And who else loves you?
Come on, River.
You promise, then?
And very softly, his brow almost touching his reflection, he sighs and breathes and clears the smile away.
HAJAR ISKANDER : River!
RIVER KHAN : Yes, ma'am...
HAJAR ISKANDER : Where'd you go, boy?
RIVER KHAN : Where'd you think? To the Welfare? Getting tea, ma'am...
Iskander, in her great office above, puts plans and designs into folders, and whispers to herself:
HAJAR ISKANDER : That's the Olivers', there.
And that's the layout for it.
I've printed the basic plans.
I've noted the changes.
I'm meeting with her later.
... Bahur, there.
RIVER KHAN : Here's your tea, ma'am.
HAJAR ISKANDER : You can put it on the side, boy.
RIVER KHAN : There you go, ma'am. Do you need me to do anything else?
HAJAR ISKANDER : No, boy.
RIVER KHAN : Then there's nothing to do.
HAJAR ISKANDER : Go ask Maryam. Yes, ask my daughter for work. I want to get on. I must finish.
Maryam is down in a workshop laying out cogs to a design.
MARYAM ISKANDER : All these orders we need to fill - oh, the back log!
Slowly River Khan, flush-faced, hard-footed, intrudes upon her consciousness with his restless presence, nervous under his brash roughness...
MARYAM ISKANDER : Come help me lay these out for the others, lover boy.
RIVER KHAN : Like this, my love?
MARYAM ISKANDER : Just exactly so.
... and River sighs for perfect plans sent awry by simple emotions.