Places of Trade

Frank Sullivan came to the trading floor.
For a moment he paused in the doorway.
Across the room he could just see the crabbed figure of the witch.
The shining straight line of Galatea beside her.
He was learned; he read in her straightness the futures that had formed her.

He began to pick his way across the floor, light footed.
News swept across him.
“The Duke is trying to corner the Orange Market!”
“Buy! Buy!”
He passed two men in suits, one padded and sly, one slender and gleeful, a frozen point in the endless tumult.
Their stillness swept the floor.
“The Market has closed!”
“Sell! Sell!”
Panic knotted around him.
A massive greyheaded figured reared up out of the mass like a whale breaching.
“Reopen it!” it bellowed. “Reopen the Market!”

The white slash of Galatea bent over Hetty, a reed nodding to the water.
She shook her head, once, and the noise and the rush drained out of the room.
The magician was left alone among the falling papers.
He pulled one out of the air.
Over and over the same words were written.
Colors, numbers, names.
All meaningless.
He bowed toward the throne, and turned away.