Story for the Day: The Commons' Chair Part 2
The same thing happened the first time Rautu sat in that chair.
The more Bryeison surveyed the detail and the craftsmanship of the chair, the more desirous he was of trying it. The mahogany carvings lining the palmette spiraled down to the back of the seat and faded into the hickory of the arm; the leather, soaked in a brilliant red tannin, radiated his warm hue and dull sheen; the soft cushion of the seat gave way under the pressure of his hand and sprang back to its curved shape when he removed it, denoting the treated sponge interior; the cloth lining of the apron festooned into fine curtains against the cabrioles down to the scrolled foot. Draeden should not have done this: so stunning an article Bryeison should be mortified to break, and though the mahogany legs appeared well-built, there was no assurance of the chair’s being able to accommodate his insuperable weight.
“You cannot tell me you aren’t in love with it,” Draeden cried with affected animation.
He was in love; he must be with so well-crafted and steadfast a piece sitting quietly beside him, the soft sponge of the seat begging to be sat upon. The oaken scent of the tanned leather, the sleekness and strength of the wood, the spring of the seat—all the best blessings of nature united to produce a most superior article. He must not be enthralled with it, but he was touching it, his fingers were browsing the palmette, he was marveling at its arching shapes and spiraling forms. Would that Draeden not had done it, but he did, and now he must relinquish all his principles to accommodate the good intention of his friend.
The wonder in Bryeison’s countenance spoke of Draeden’s success, and the phrase “You are in love with it,” said with a sly look and triumphant grin secured his friend’s yielding at last.
“It’s beautifully made,” Bryeison admitted. “This leather must have taken years to tan to this colour.”
“You insult its makers by not sharing in all its joys.” Draeden gripped the backrest and pushed it toward Bryeison’s knees. “Sit.”
His resolve was dissipating, and his halfhearted and pining “Draeden…” did nothing to discourage his friends’ further attempts.
“You don’t want to sit because you know that the instant your bottom touches that seat, you shall never want to get up again.”
It was possible that the joys of sitting in so well-crafted a chair, fashioned to fit his form, would produce such an effect, but Bryeison should never pageant himself by sprawling out in a lavish chair.
More influence was required to soften Bryeison’s determination, and with willful kindness did Draeden say, “Consider it a welcome home present.”
Bryeison seemed bemused.
“This is your first permanent residence since your parents passed.”
A notion struck Bryeison, and the grimness of it made him step back and grow mindful. Ten years it was since his parents had gone, and once their ranch was reclaimed by its previous owners, he had been left with no home other than the one to which they had sent him. He had known no one beyond the stablemaster, and he had spoken to no one other than Arhon. Dorrin’s benevolence and encouragement had allowed the prince to be his friend, and his affability and goodness had made the castle a home. The stables had been his residence, and then the barracks; he was under no mistake that his home was wherever Draeden and the king might be, but there was a solemn joy and quiet gratification in having a permanent dwelling again. He had seen much and had done more during his ten year homelessness, so much that he had only considered his being somewhat itinerant when it was mentioned. His eyes lowered, and he hummed in sobering deliberation.
“You could honour the occasion by sitting,” said Draeden presently.
Bryeison canted his head and pursed his lips in a suspicious simper.
“Are you worried about the money, the one thing that each of us accumulates and never spends?”
“I’m not concerned about the amount of it we receive,” said Bryeison, with smiling decision, “but I am concerned about the mount of it you spent on me.”
“It isn’t as thought we have lands to tend or families to provide for. My father cares very well for himself. I have only to care for you.”
Bryeison’s resolution at never sitting down and enjoying Draeden’s lavish gift at last deminished. His fingers grazed the armrest once more, his aspect pained and submissive. “It is a very…” he searched for a polite word, “…brotherly gesture.”
Draeden gasped in mock astonishment. “Is that a thank you?”
“I think it might be.”
“Don’t just look at it. You’ll make me feel as though I had only got half my money’s worth.”
A flat look on one side and motion for one to sit on the other, and Bryeison did what he never believed he should do: he sat in the wretched and prepossessing chair.
There were a few adjustments to be made at first if the fit was to be quite right: his mantle must be moved, his shoulders must be rolled and allowed to settle, his lower back and haunches must be shifted to fill out the concave splat, but once all conditions had been met, Bryeison leaned back in the chair and sighed a deep exhalation of felicitous bliss. The height of the chair was high enough to allow for him to sit with his knees bent or sprawled along each side of the apron, the width of the seat was such to permit ample shifting room for his mountainous proportions, the backrest accommodated and curved around his broad shoulders, the armrests were of the perfect height, high enough to give his arms and shoulders rest and low enough for him to hold something in his hands and read without needing to lean forward. He leaned back and gloried in the sensation that the soft leather granted, nestling his head against the top of the backrest, moving his lower back from side to side as he delighted in the support of the splat and the spring of the seat. He had thought such a perfect article impossibly made, and yet here he sat between the two arm stumps, already allowing his back to slump down, his hips to shift forward, and legs loll to the sides. The evenings of equanimity he could spend in a piece like this, unafraid to break so unexceptionable an item and willing to relish its pleasures with shameless abandon. He closed his eyes and surrendered to foolish smiles.
“Have you named her yet,” Draeden whispered.
Bryeison would not attend the derision of his friend; he would only thrum in tranquil exultation and slink lower into his chair.
“I think Uina would be a fine name,” Draeden added, pleased with himself. “Uina CreNaCille. Sounds very well with your family name attached.”
“This,” said Bryeison, in the heavy tone of unwakefulness, “is a chair.”
“Am I to assume that the bringing of your bed here would be unnecessary?”
Bryeison made a few sonorous snores and pretended not to hear.
Draeden had only to congratulate himself and watch Bryeison’s euphoric state with all the complacency his triumph over his friend’s impossible will could warrant. “I’ll tell Searle that you have made the chair your bed and not to bother about the linens.”
Bryeison agreed that was probably much best; he would be spending many nights in Uina, many evenings fondling her defined arms, enjoying the strength of her firm legs, and sinking his back against her lithe and supple seat. “I have never sat in anything so perfect,” Bryeison admitted.
No further dissention or opposition should be made: Uina was to stay, and Draeden was to be thanked and credited for her permanency in the commons. Bryeison could not wait to read with her, write his correspondence with her, fall asleep in her loving embrace, and rouse with the first light of morning glittering over her vanish. Other pleasing cogitations were summoned, but Uina was beckoning his attention and he must be quiet and obey.
Thoroughly self-satisfied at his friend’s surrender, Draeden marched out of the commons with a smile wreathing his lips and a hop in his step. Extraordinary as it was that he should triumph over his friend, even more so was it that Bryeison should openly renounce himself to pleasance. Never had he seen him so subdued, and as he leapt over the threshold and down the winding stair, he murmured a complacent, “and one for me,” and went to tell Searle that the two straw mats might be stored away while one large feather mattress and fine linens could be conveyed to the commons.