Jira Dark-Hands

In the city of Softly-Shining-Moon, during the hot summers when the breezes murmur of languorous courtships and loving caresses, a woman named Jira Dark-Hands sits and waits for her suitors.  She is neither young nor old, but the sweet curve of her mouth makes her beautiful.  Troubadors sing of her smile; hearing them, she laughs, not unkindly.

Night after night, she serves the latest woman or man a tall glass of iced lemonade, fresh-squeezed from the lemons produced by the tree in the center of the garden.  She brings a tray of honey-cakes dotted with pine nuts and triangle-shaped pastries steeped in rose water.  With her graceful hands she plays songs from faraway lands on her lute, embellishing the music with motifs from the city’s 105 sacred chants.

And night after night, as the horizon blooms gently violet in anticipation of the sun, Jira turns down her suitors, no matter how beautiful of face or form, no matter how sweetly-spoken, no matter what gifts of perfume or watered steel or cloth-of-gold they bring her.

For each suitor speaks to her of the rapturous, delicious taste of the lemonade.  Some say it’s flavored with crushed mint, others with peaches or rose petals or raspberries.  But Jira is waiting for the suitor who tastes the lemonade for what it is, takes delight in the lemon’s bright sourness for itself.  Jira has watered the lemon tree every day since she was old enough to do so, and she knows it will guide her true.

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