Walter surveyed the main room. It was mid-afternoon, the usual lull before the evening rush, and only a few people were sitting at the tables. None of them were locals and all looked like they would be leaving soon. The Fair should bring in a lot of business, he mused, it always did. It might also bring a few ladies who would be willing to share an evening with him. The front door opened and two women, one short and one tall, walked in carrying their bags. Smiling, he went over to greet the new customers.

The short one had black hair and green eyes. She was more skinny than lithe, but he wouldn't kick her out of bed on a cold night. She greeted him and asked "Do you have rooms?"

"The Weaver is smiling on you ladies, I have one left! It's humble, but we aired it just yesterday and put fresh linens on the bed. I'll charge you only thirteen coopers a night."

"We have a horse and cart, how much for them?" the tall one asked.

Now she was intriguing! He imagined those long legs wrapped around his waist and running his fingers through that short hair. She looked like the type who'd want to take the lead and he'd be happy to let her. All right, down boy, he thought, shaking off the fantasy, keep your mind on business. "My stablehands will take care of your horse and store your cart, for an extra two coopers per day."

"Is the room quiet?" The short one asked.

"It's above the kitchen, Lady." he replied. She turned her head and looked distractedly out the window.

"Fifteen coopers," The tall one said thoughtfully. "Seems like a lot. You're outside the walls, so you probably don't pay the town taxes."

He gave a sad sigh, "Oh Lady, I may not be subject to the town tax, but the Duchy and Imperial taxes more than make up for it! I am barely afloat! However, I can see you are good people and you are probably weary from your trip, perhaps I could drop the price to twelve coopers."

She nodded thoughtfully, "If you're that close to failure, you could overcharge us. There must be other inns nearby. Ten coopers."

"There are two inns in town, Lady." he returned, cheerfully. "But I'm afraid you would have a hard time finding rooms there. The Horse Fair starts today and everything is full. But I suppose if you're lucky you might find a spot on the side of the road. Eleven coopers."

He watched them carefully, the tall one looked ready to haggle all night, but the short one turned and gave her a meaningful look. "All right," The tall one said, "eleven coopers. Does that include stable fees?"

"One cooper a day for your horse and cart, Lady." She frowned, but pulled out the coins from her purse and started counting. "May I ask how long you plan to stay?"

"Three days." she replied, handing him the money.

"Excellent. I'll show you to your room. If you'd like something to eat, my cook usually keeps something simmering in the pot for late arrivals. Will you follow me?"