Barrett soon learned that many of those at the meal were not any better off than him. Most of their clothes were similarly of poor quality, and there was even one person who had bandages covering some sores. Only the host and his wife looked slightly better off. As for Barrett… though he was given very little, at least he could count on the roof over his head being secure.
As he took in the sounds of eating a meal, Barrett wondered why he had been invited. Had he just looked so pathetic that he was invited out of pity? Perhaps, but if so, it was a sort of pity filled with kindness. Barrett hadn’t realized how much he had needed this. Not a place with real chairs, or decent food… but other people. Friendly conversation. He had been holed up in his room for weeks with only Margerit for company- and she didn’t really make for friendly conversation. Barrett didn’t say much himself. After all, he didn’t want to talk about his own family. He merely casually mentioned being rejected from the church of Ristos and that he was looking for work.
He hadn’t really thought about it, but he had to get work of some kind. He couldn’t access his money, and working was the only other way to get it. At least, that he would consider. He didn’t want to beg, and stealing was out of the question.
Finally everyone was finished eating and the talking was dying down. The host, Simon, spoke up. “I would like to end today’s meal with a simple prayer to God. May he shower mercy and blessings on all of us.” The following prayer felt more like a conversation with a friend than what Barrett was used to, but it was comforting… even if he wasn’t sure how he felt about gods at the moment.
“What did you say your god’s name was? What is his domain?” Barrett asked.
“He’s just God. Sometimes called the Nameless God. He doesn’t limit himself to any specific domain.”
“If he’s called the Nameless God…”
“Isn’t that a name?” Simon shrugged, “Does it matter, really? It’s not the point. At the very least it is a distinguishing factor. He’s not the same type of thing as Ristos.”
Simon shook his head, “None of us here are welcomed in such a church. After all, how can the unprosperous attend a church of prosperity? As for this little meeting… “ His eyes focused on Barrett, “I doubt you give one whit about my God. It doesn’t matter. You are still welcome here. Usually, we have one lunch a week.” Simon shrugged, “I have not the extra money for more. Sometimes, we will meet elsewhere. Perhaps I will see you next week?”
Barrett hesitated, then nodded. “If you would have me. I should go now…”
“Seeking jobs?” Simon sighed, his face falling. “I wish blessings upon you in your endeavors… but I think you will find the task… most difficult. Good day, Barrett.”
Barrett found that outside had warmed up considerably. At least, most of the chill was gone. He wondered where he should start first. Who always needed more work? Barrett stopped for a moment. He didn’t remember telling Simon his name. Then he shook his head. It didn’t matter for now.
The first establishment Barrett found was a blacksmith. He knew that was decent work for young men. Though he wasn’t in good shape, he was recovering, so he decided to enquire inside. The blacksmith looked him over with a frown. “How much experience do you have, young lad?”
“None, but I could help clean the forged, or press the bellows… or man the counter. I know arithmetic.”
The blacksmith’s eyes seemed to light up briefly, then he shook his head, “Sorry, we’re not looking for anyone. I have enough help around here.”
Barrett sighed. He wished he could offer to work for free, to get some proper learning, but he was doing this because he needed money… not just experience. The next stop was a grocer. However, his time there was even shorter. “What are you, diseased? Out, out!” He was shuffled out the door without even a chance to explain. Well, he had seen an assistant there anyway.
Barrett thought about what he could actually do. He knew arithmetic, reading… those were useful in some jobs. Optimally, he would be a banker’s assistant, but he could imagine how that would go. Well, he would think about trying later. Then he came upon an inn. The first thing that boosted his confidence was that there was a sign indicating that they were hiring. He entered, finding a person he presumed to be the innkeeper facing away from him at the counter. “I hear you’re hiring? I can read and write and do arithmetic.”
“Really? That’s great!” The man turned around with a smile on his face. “We’re actually looking for-” then his face fell. “Ah… that is to say, we’ve actually just filled up the position. Sorry.” The man was a terrible liar.
“Is it my face? The bandages? I could do accounts in the back… I wouldn’t bother the customers.”
“No no, we’re simply… adequately staffed now.” The man tried to smile, but couldn’t. “Perhaps you can find work… somewhere else.” He didn’t sound confident about that idea.
“Oh. Thank you for your time.” Barrett frowned. That reaction was strange. The man had seemed to be about to hire him on the spot with the initial enthusiasm, until he saw Barrett. Even so, he believe it wasn’t related to him being covered in bandages… or that was the only believable lie that the innkeeper said. Barrett wanted to try a few more places, but his legs were quite tired already. He would go back to the manor and think about things. He didn’t want to jump to any conclusions… but he had a list that was getting filled out with quite a bit more things than he wanted… and it could suddenly be filled with more.