"Know a lot about rugs, do you?" Cheever said, inspecting the stock Pat Rin had thus far selected for purchase with the air of a man coming unexpectedly face to face with the great unknown.
A fair enough sentiment, all things considered, and not one, Pat Rin judged, that warranted another offer of terminating Cheever's employment.
Not in the least because I would be hard-pressed to do without him.
"So I should like the owner of this fine establishment to think." Pat Rin shrugged. "Master Trader, I am not, more's the pity, but in cases such as these, certain skills picked up at the gaming tables may serve nearly as well."
"Gotcha." Cheever looked impressed, although at what, Pat Rin was unable to fathom. "So why rugs? Why not pots, or silverware, or lamps, say?"
"Random chance," Pat Rin said airily. Cheever looked a little bit less impressed at that.
"Quite the gambler, aren't you? Not that I've got a problem with that. I mean, chance or not, from where I'm standing, it looks like you know what you're doing."
Then clearly, your sight is failing you. Unkind in the extreme, to judge friendship and loyalty thus. "I am gratified to hear it."
"And hey, if things get real bad, at least with a rug shop, we've got the means to get you out of there on the sly," Cheever said, grinning. "Not that that's likely, of course," he added quickly, grin fading. "Still."
Still. Having failed once, may I be so bold as to attempt to achieve balance a second time? Best if he were never to find out. "Mr McFarland, I fear that you have lost me."
Cheever gestured dismissively. "Just an old story. Some woman really needed to see some guy, so she pretended she was sending him a rug by way of a gift, but then, when they unrolled it, turned out she was right inside, and nobody the wiser."
"Ah. Something to keep in mind, certainly."
"Probably, I'm not telling it right," Cheever said. "Anyway, it's just one of them stories. Made up, likely as not, but, well, here we are, rugs all around, and I remembered hearing it told once."
"We'd best ask for them to be delivered un-rolled, then, hadn't we? To prevent any surprises?" Cheever looked faintly alarmed. Pat Rin smiled, lifting his hand. "A joke only, Mr McFarland."
"Good one." Cheever's smile was on the wry side of amused. "So how long you figure we're going to hang around here? Not that there's any rush or something. I'm just asking."
"Nearly done, I think." Pat Rin looked around. He was confident to have selected the best of what was on display. Even so, there was still something missing. Some last grand piece that would allow him to elevate and transform his place of business to be into something just a little bit more.
Any good trader knew that the average customer came as much to look and be amazed as they came to buy. What was needed therefore, was something special. Something to catch people's eyes, to capture their imagination. To make their visit to his store not only profitable, but memorable.
Something, if I have the measure of our store owner, not currently on display, yet very much on offer, provided one knows how to ask.
"If you will excuse me for a moment, Mr McFarland?" A Master Trader, such as Cousin Shan, would not have needed to ask. One who was neither trader nor pilot might still read a man's expression and find profit thereby, though, provided he played the game well enough.
And what right do I have to attempt balance for all of Korval, should even a simple seller of rugs prove to be beyond my ability to best?