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The men walked to the side of the road facing the lake and huddled together for an impromptu meeting. Before long a few women emerged from the wagons wearing brightly colored full skirts and blouses. They also had long black hair which they tossed from side to side when they laughed. They too, looked with interest at the activity on the north shore of King's Lake.

The men's meeting broke up. A consensus had been reached. The little caravan turned off the main road onto a trail that ran to the lake, coming to a final stop at a spot on the south shore close to the water. Here they circled their wagons and got out to look around. An old woman eased herself down from a wagon painted red with yellow stars and moons. She spoke to the driver of the lead wagon, a wide-shouldered man with long dark hair held at the back of his neck with a leather tie.

"You know we won't be here more than a day before the king sends soldiers to tell us to move on." The old woman frowned her disapproval.

"What about those ships?" He pointed to the seven tall ships anchored off shore. "The king hasn't told them to move on. Look at those stacks of wood. They are making beams and boards from it. It looks to me as though they are building permanent. We may as well stay on until we see which way the wind blows here. There may be opportunities for us."

The old woman shrugged. "Ships are one thing. They come and go. Gypsy Travelers are another. A king doesn't need to worry about sailors putting down roots."

"Gypsy Travelers come and go as well. Send out the girls. Tell them to find out who is building what and on whose order." The man turned his attention to unhitching the horses.

The old woman shook her head as she made her way to the largest wagon, painted bright yellow with blue waves.

"Juanita! Esmeralda!" She peered into the dark wagon.

After a good deal of rustling noise, two pretty faces emerged at the door of the wagon. They looked as though they might have just awakened. Esmeralda ran her fingers through her long black hair and yawned. Juanita blinked at the sunlight and pushed her face forward to see where they had stopped. They both appeared to be in their late teens.

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